The Tiny Strokes of Genius
I adore a good quest. A grand adventure told really well. Tolkien certainly will not disappoint me. I have talked before of the rhythm of a writer. Each having their own unique style. If I had to put a rhythm to Tolkien’s writing, it would have to be jaunty. It has a merry feeling and bounces along with short bursts that are just lovely.
The first thing I noticed about this book is what I would call, total immersion. All good books have it. From beginning to end, the book is presented as a history and not fiction. One of the earliest signs of this comes in the form of a genius little forward:
In this reprint several minor inaccuracies, most of them noted by readers, have been corrected. For example, the text on pages 32 and 62 now corresponds exactly with the runes on Thror’s Map. More important is the matter of Chapter Five. There the true story of the ending of the Riddle Game, as it was eventually revealed (under pressure) by Bilbo to Gandalf, is now given according to the Red Book, in place of the version Bilbo first gave to his friends, and actually set down in his diary. This departure from truth on the part of a most honest hobbit was a portent of great significance. It does not, however, concern the present story, and those who in this edition make their first acquaintance with hobbit-lore need not troupe about it. Its explanation lies in the history of the Ring, as it was set out in the chronicles of the Red Book of Westmarch, and is now told in The Lord of the Rings.
A final note may be added, on a point raised by several students of the lore of the period. On Thror’s Map is written Here of old was Thrain King under the Mountain; yet Thrain was the son of Thror, the last King under the Mountain before the coming of the dragon. The Map, however, is not in error. Names are often repeated in dynasties, and the genealogies show that a distant ancestor of Thror was referred to, Thrain I, a fugitive from Moria, who first discovered the Lonely Mountain, Erebor, and ruled there for a while, before his people moved on to the remoter mountains of the North.
It’s just a brilliant piece of work. What this tiny blurb does is lends credence to his piece. It makes the reader immersed in the history and lore of Middle Earth. Something that we know J.R.R. Tolkien created, a very rich and diverse history of his creation. What a fantastic stroke of genius!
The maps themselves are pure art. There’s a genuine feel about them. The runes just add to this feeling of an ancient story that has been told forever. It’s a brilliant touch. Now, I have seen this done in other sci-fi novels and it has brought on a question in my brain. Did Tolkien first create this or did he simply do it the best? Either way, Tolkien created this unique world and he leads us, his travel companions, on an expedition of wonder.