Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: J.R.R. Tolkien by Colin Duriez

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: J.R.R. Tolkien is the authoritative collection of facts about the man behind Middle-earth, and his remarkably detailed imaginative world of Hobbits and Elves.

Though undoubtedly an academic, there was much more to J.R.R. Tolkien. He was ‘kidnapped’ as a baby in South Africa, orphaned, and mentally scarred from the bloody Battle of the Somme of World War I. His major book, The Lord of the Rings, one of the most popular and successful stories of our time, was expected by its doubting publisher to make a big loss.

From ordinary places that inspired Tolkien, to imaginary creatures or settings, or from his world of scholarship to the faith that sustained him, wherever you go, you will be certain to find clues and insights that explore all aspects of the incredible Tolkien phenomenon.

What is the connection between J.R.R. Tolkien and Bletchley Park?
Did J.R.R. Tolkien predict the great storm of 1987?
To which character in The Lord of the Rings did Tolkien compare himself?
Does Sam Gamgee really bribe Gollum with fish and chips?
How did C.S. Lewis write J.R.R. Tolkien’s obituary from beyond the grave?
Find the answers to these and many other intriguing aspects of the man behind Middle-earth in this absorbing collection of stories and trivia.

Anyone who knows me personally will be well aware of my undying love for J.R.R. Tolkien and anything he put his pen too. My editor, Lee, knows this, as we have had many conversations on the subject, and so when he was contacted by the publishers of this little book he had no hesitation sending it my way.

According to the back of this book there is an entire series of “Amazing & Extraordinary Facts” books covering such topics as James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, London, and the Olympics.

The one I’ll be reviewing is, unsurprisingly, J.R.R. Tolkien.

The book is a small hardback full of over 130 pages of interesting factoids about J.R.R. Tolkien, his life, his writing, and the world around him. It is, in all reality, the easiest way to find out about the man behind the most important fiction of the 20th century. I’ve read the Humphrey Carpenter biography of Tolkien which makes a lot of this book redundant and incomplete, but for those who aren’t as fanatical as I am this book is a gem.

The book covers a whole host of topics: whether J.R.R. Tolkien had any connection to the World War II intelligence agency at Bletchley Park, whether he predicted the Great Storm of 1987, and did Sam Gamgee really try to bribe Gollum with fish and chips in a book that is supposed to take place in a fictional world many thousands of years ago?

If I could find anything to be upset with it is the brevity that is a necessary part of the book. I’m too much of a fanboy to want my Tolkien knowledge boiled down to one page summaries. That being said, there is a market for books like this, and anyone with even a hint of love for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit will want to get their hands on this great collection of Tolkien lore.

8/10 Great collection of Tolkien lore.

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