There is a lot of hidden wisdom in Tolkien’s writings, seldom explicit (he hated allegory) but usually simple and always profound. His stories are famous for being “Catholic” without being religious, per se. The worlds and plots he crafted are simply soaked in his worldview; they grew out of it organically. This is a good thing.
“Hobbit Lessons” attempts to mine and condense Tolkien’s wisdom found in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. Unfortunately, most of the insights and lessons seemed strained, forced and trite–even banal at times. I felt like one could easily extrapolate the same ideas from many other works of fiction with little editing. Obviously, that is impossible to avoid entirely (Solomon was right that there is nothing new under the sun), but this book did so to the point where the insights hardly felt uniquely tied to the source material. In the places where the analysis and application were the strongest, I had encountered them elsewhere. Methinks publishing the book made good business sense due to the concurrent films, but I found it underwhelming.
On the plus side, the sketched illustrations were delightful. I’m not sure whose work they were, but I didn’t recognize them from various editions of The Hobbit I’ve seen, so perhaps they were original to this book.
Overall, there are much better Tolkien companions out there.
A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review.