Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-25 Dickerson, a teacher at Middlebury College in Vermont and devoted student of Tolkien, begins his work with a strong thematic link to the very popular The Lord of the Rings movies: epic battles. Against the criticism that The Lord of the Rings glorifies war, he argues cogently that Tolkien's original written treatment of these battles provides a very different picture than the films or spin-off video games. He demonstrates how Tolkien offers a deeply nuanced understanding of the nature of war, and how the trilogy criticizes self-aggrandizing glory in battle. As Dickerson moves into the more central, philosophical themes of the books-free will, moral responsibility and ethical absolutes-readers may lose interest, especially when he punctuates discussion of very basic concepts with obscure references from Tolkien's Silmarillion, a work that few will have read: "In contrast to subjective morality, or moral relativism, objective morality is independent of the individual subject.... Feanor's evil deeds, for example, especially the tragic Kinslaying at Alqualonde, are going to be judged." Dickerson's exploration of the nature of the ring's evil power and his final conclusions about the pervasive theological structure behind these stories are engaging, but the verbosity and academic trivia of other sections may alienate some readers. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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