The Road Goes Ever On and On ... A Review of On the Shoulders of Hobbits

Apologies for the lack of posts this month!  Just got through the worst midterms of my life --and to top it off, my family lost our internet, phone line, and cable tv (a sarcastic thank you, company-that-shall-not-be-named)!  =)  I think God was trying to show me I should stop my procrastinating ways ... LOL.  Anyways, since Peter Jackson's spectacular finale The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is released on home media (blu-ray, DVD, digital download, etc.) today, I thought this review would be apropos.

Title: On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis
Author: Louis Markos
Published: 2012 by Moody Publishers

photo of On the Shoulders of Hobbits
(c.) 2012 Moody Publishers
Are you ready to go on a quest?  In On the Shoulders of Hobbits, English Professor Louis Markos highlights some of the many "life lessons" that can be learned through two of literature's most beloved fantasy worlds: J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth and C.S. Lewis' Narnia.  Appropriate for high schoolers and adults, this book would also be good as a discussion guide for parents and teachers to utilize with younger children.

Professor Markos separates his book in four parts: The Road (focusing on "the journey of life"), The Classical Virtues, The Theological Virtues, and Evil.  Each part of the book is broken down into chapters, which focus on a single topic such as justice, wisdom, friendship, hope, and temptation.  Though primarily focused on Tolkien's works (the Lord of the Rings trilogy and related books such as The Hobbit or The Silmarillion), Markos closes each chapter with an example or two drawn from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.  As a self-professed "Narniac" (Narnia fan), I really liked that Markos did this and it is neat to compare (and contrast) how Tolkien and Lewis dealt with different concepts (e.g. "forbidden fruit" or friendship).

Markos's states that this book isn't intended to be an academic or scholarly work (17).  I appreciated his introduction, as he gives the audience a clear view of what to expect.  Despite this, I felt that there is a more formal, in depth air to this book, compared to other Lord of the Rings and Narnia companion books I've read.  However, it is still very readable.  I also loved the "bibliographic essays" at the end of the book.  One focuses on Tolkien and Lord of the Rings and the other on Lewis and Narnia.  I've never encountered bibliographic essays in my academic career (perhaps because I wasn't an English major?) but think of it as an annotated bibliography written in essay form.  I definitely will be looking at some of the further reading suggested. 

As someone who loved Peter Jackson's movie adaptations and slogged through the books in high school only because of those films, I don't really consider myself a true "Ringer" (LotR fan). However, I really enjoyed Markos' look at the literature themselves and am inspired to take another look at Tolkien's well known works.  Anyone want to read-a-long with me this summer?  =P

Have you ever read any books like On the Shoulders of Hobbits?  What was it and what book/book series was it about?  Why did (or didn't) you enjoy it?

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have done.]


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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