John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After serving in the First World War, he embarked upon a distinguished academic career and was recognized as one of the finest philologists in the world. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. He is, however, beloved throughout the world as the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic works as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He died on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81.
Between the film release of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, this is the season of the magical movie, and this audiobook is an inevitable spinoff. Countless readers have grown up on the adventures of the little furry hobbits who crave good food and a warm bed, but wind up trapped in caves, attacked by spiders and burdened by a dizzying assortment of treacherous adventures. While the stories are quite intricate, the message of good triumphing over evil is always evident. This appealing theme of the downtrodden overcoming obstacles is what keeps listeners' attention. There is so much action on this dramatization that listeners may often feel pulled in many directions. The narrators, including Ray Reinhardt as Bilbo and Bernard Mayes as Gandalf, are engaging, and the sound effects (including noises in the cave or forest, or the hobbits sitting down to a meal) are also quite strong. But those not already familiar with the story may find it difficult to distinguish between the various characters or keep track of all the action. Listeners will probably want to read the book along with listening, or perhaps listen and then watch the movie. The tapes are presented in a rustic-looking wooden box, making this appropriate for gift giving. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
First published in the U.K. in 1937, this is the volume that introduced the world to hobbits, Middle-earth, Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and the Ring of power. A new edition, formatted for younger readers, was released in August and features cover art by Peter S!s (ISBN 0-618-16221-6. $18; pap. ISBN 0-618-15082-X. $10). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.