The Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day Thirteen

“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no good reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Happy Bonfire Night, everyone!

Day Thirteen: Your Favourite Writer

That would be, yes, you guessed it, good old Prof. Tolkien. He’s still the father of fantasy, still required reading for every SF or fantasy fan out there, still the guy to whom everything looks back. Arguably, without Tolkien we’d not have Harry Potter, or the Discworld series, The Dark Tower, Stephen Donaldson, His Dark Materials…you name it, Tolkien is there somewhere.

And he’s a really good writer. I don’t mean that his characters are particularly developed or that they face particularly complex moral dilemmas, but that like all writers of myth and legend he deals in abstractions. What you learn from the Fellowship’s journey is not that one does not simply walk into Mordor, or how to kill orcs, but that “in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing”. And even in Middle-earth, the land of high deeds and legend, the small can make the greatest difference there is. Tolkien isn’t really an author. He’s a story-teller. The distinction is subtle, but it makes all the difference. You can imagine people telling the tale of Frodo and the Ring of Doom around a fire thousands of years after all books have gone. And how many other stories can you say that for?


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