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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
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Card, Orson Scott
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Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
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DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
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Jeter, K. W.
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King, William
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Lewis, C. S.
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Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
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McCaffrey, Anne
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Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
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Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
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Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
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Stevenson, Robert Louis
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Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
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Williams, Walter Jon
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Reviewing Literature
The Books of J.R.R. Tolkien

Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is considered by many (my humble self among them) to be the greatest fantasy writer of all time.  His renown comes from the intricate detail in which he created his world of Middle-Earth, inventing laguages, cultures, species and a vast epic history.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been taking people on epic journeys into distant realms since it's publication in the fifties and now an epic film trilogy has brought it into the new millennium.
Average Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 (9 books)

The Silmarillion
The epic history of Middle-Earth, this book can only be described as biblical in scale.  Consisting of a mixture of sweeping general histories and more intricate stories, The Silmarillion is such a mixture that you can't help but enjoy it.  It's finest moments include the creation of the universe in the great song of the gods, the tragic tale of Turin Turambar and the chapter 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age' which recounts, in brief, the story of 'The Lord of the Rings', but with subtle details not mentioned there, such as the fact that Gandalf bears one of the said Rings of Power.  In general, this book can be hard at times and isn't a particularly cheerful read, but it's well worth the struggle just to sink into Middle-Earth and leave the real world behind
4 out of 5
Narn I Chin Hurin: The Tale Of The Children Of Hurin
An epic tragedy set amid the turmoil of the First Age of Middle-Earth.  This story has previously been told in both 'The Silmarillion' and in 'Unfinished Tales...', but now Christopher Tolkien has edited together his father's various incarnations of the tale (including previously unpublished elements) in order to present us with a complete, novel-length version.  So, still no idea what the book's about?  It's set in Beleriand, a part of Middle-Earth sunken beneath the sea in the time of 'LotR' and here the Dark Lord is actually Morgoth, Sauron's boss.  It tells the story of Turin, whose life is beset by a curse laid upon his family due to his father's defiance of Morgoth.  Turin is a brilliant tragic character, having his heart in the right place, but constantly allowing his passions to rule him.  He's also self-destructively stubborn, which is a character trait I can really relate to!  I very much enjoyed reading about Turin's travels as he tries to find a place where he fits in, be it among the Elves or with outlaws in the wild.  Until I read this book, I had completely forgotten how well Tolkien's archaic prose fits the fantasy genre, but the flip side of that is that we are exposed to quite alot of Bob son of Rob son of Dob etc.  Also, Tolkien's habit of giving everthing multiple names gets a bit out of control with Turin, who has a new name in every chapter.
4 out of 5
The Hobbit
To my mind, the best book ever written.  (Please forgive the fact that I'm about to start drooling over how much I love this book!).  'The Hobbit' was the first book I ever read (not including such classics as 'Spot and the Red Ball'!) and it inspired in me a life-long love of literature in general and fantasy in particular.  I recently re-read the book, after ten years, and found myself completely captivated by it once more.  This book has everything a fantasy stroy should have; reluctant heroes, hideous monsters, peripheral depth and a huge battle.  Smaug is the sort of villain you'll love to hate and Bilbo is the sort of simple oaf that you just love.  Gandalf is perhaps one of the best and most loved characters in literature, both for his own heroism and for his biting wit.  If you've never read Tolkien, then I suggest you start with 'The Hobbit', which will ease you playfully into grimness of 'The Lord of the Rings'.  To my dying days I shall never forget the phrase ' "What has it got in it's pocketses?" '.
5 out of 5
The Fellowship Of The Ring
The first book of the greatest fantasy trilogy ever written.  The real genius of this particular chapter in the War of the Ring is it's deliberately slow start.  The simple lives of the Hobbits lull you into their world of ignorant peace and then suddenly that world is shattered.  You feel the growing darkness of 'the Enemy' as you read, and Tolkien's creation of tension is brilliantly subtle.  Again, it is the depth of Middle-Earth's realisation that really makes the book shine.  I would say to the poor of wallet, that there's no point in reading this book without the other two, so you'll have to get either the three separately or buy the single-volume edition.
5 out of 5
'This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history.'
The Two Towers
In this, the second book of 'The Lord of the Rings', the Fellowship is scattered along different paths and the war against Sauron begins.  The various storylines can leave your mind scattered, but in general they are each strong stories and very appropriate for the characters involved.  Merry and Pippin escape captivity and must rouse the powerful but reluctant Ents to march against the corrupt wizard Saruman.  Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas accompany Gandalf to see the king of Rohan, Theoden, in order to recruit the Rohirrim into the War of the Ring.  Finally, Frodo and Sam must trust the treacherous Gollum to lead them into Mordor.  In 'The Two Towers', the relationships between the characters truly blossoms and the triangle between the Ringbearer, his gardener and Smeagol is particularly well written (although there are hints that it might actually be a gay lover-triangle, but I shall say no more).  This book's finest moment is the Battle of Helm's Deep, which is to my mind the greatest fantasy siege ever created.
5 out of 5
'Aragorn sped on up the hill.'
The Return Of The King
The final part of the most epic fantasy ever (I know I'm repeating myself, but I don't think I can stress the series' brilliance enough!).  Here the separate stories of 'The Two Towers' come together once more as Sauron's armies march forth.  The heroes of the Fellowship use their new experience in the ensuing battle; Merry fights among the Rohirrim and helps Eowyn to face the Witch King, Gandalf and Pippin try to urge the men of Gondor into battle, whilst Gimli and Legolas follow Aragorn's mission to take on the mantle of king that he was born to assume.  Meanwhile, in the cruel land of Mordor, Frodo is succumbing to the power of the ring, kept sane only by his friend Sam.  But Gollum continues his pursuit of 'the precious'.  Dynamic, action-packed but with a strong emotional and spiritual core, 'The Return of the King' is the perfect climax to the saga of Middle-Earth.
5 out of 5
'Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf's cloak.'
The Lord Of The Rings
Whilst travelling in New Zealand (setting for the LotR movies) I decided to read Tolkien's masterpiece in the manner the author had intended; as a single volume.  Once more I was gripped by the depth and wonder of Middle-Earth and all it's inhabitants and there's little I can add to the above reviews regarding the book's story and content or Tolkien's masterful grip of epic storytelling.  However, to those who have never read 'The Lord of the Rings', my advice is now most strongly that it should be read as a single volume.  The length and peril of the road from Bag End to Mordor and back was so much more poignant when reading it as a continuous story.  The breaks between the books when read separately allow you to take a breather and gather your wits before going onwards.  But to truly understand the story and the journey the characters take, you need to read it from beginning to end as one book.  As a final note I will say that, in the long spaces between reading (or re-reading) Tolkien's books, I too often forget just how much I love his style of writing in the fantasy genre.  It has become a cliche for fantasy authors to be measured against Tolkien, but the truth is he is simply the best and all others will always be running to catch up.
5 out of 5
'This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history.'
Unfinished Tales Of Numenor And Middle-Earth
Lacking the narrative and completeness of 'The Silmarillion', I nevertheless think that 'Unfinished Tales...' is the better book.  Here we get another wide range of stories from Tolkien's wonderfully structured fantasy world, ranging from tales that are interwoven with the ancient stories of 'The Silmarillion' to the account of Rohan's defeat at the Fords of Isen when Saruman's army attacks.  We also get to read essays about some of the peoples of Middle-Earth, my favourite being the one regarding the Istari (the five wizards).  In that particular story we learn that Gandalf the Grey, Saruman the White and Radagast the Brown are, in fact, Maia; a caste of demi-gods that includes such others as Tom Bombadil, the Balrog and even Sauron himself.  There is here one story that distressed me a little; it's Gandalf's account of the events leading up to those portrayed in 'The Hobbit'.  It distressed me because Gandalf, in his own unique style, manages to take all the mystery and heroism out of the events of my favourite book!  I think that this book is an excellent read for fans of LOTR, but essential for those who wish to see 'The Silmarillion' from a different angle.
5 out of 5
'Rian, wife of Huor, dwelt with the people of the House of Hador; but when rumour came to Dor-lomin of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and yet she could hear no news of her lord, she became distraught and wandered forth into the wild alone.'
Tales From The Perilous Realm
This book contains three unique Tolkien stories, as well as a collection of poems and songs from Middle-Earth which includes 'The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil'.  Bombadil is not a great character in my opinion, but his poetic adventures here are lighthearted and give you a little more insight into one of the stranger and more enigmatic characters from LOTR.  The other tales here are of high quality, 'Smith of Wooton Major' being a pleasant fairytale and 'Farmer Giles of Ham' which is a jaunty story very much in the style of 'The Hobbit'.  But the true gem of this little collection is 'Leaf By Niggle'.  As well as being perfect for Tolkien fans, 'Leaf By Niggle' is a brilliant and deep piece of English Literature that I think should be much better known that it is.  In general, this collection tends to be a bit expensive for it's size, but it's nevertheless worth reading.
4 out of 5
'Aegidius de Hammo was a man who lived in the midmost parts of the Island of Britain.'

If you like Tolkien:
Being the father of modern fantasy, Tolkien fans should be able to enjoy almost any fantasy story written since.  However, I'd particularly recommend 'Pawn of Prophecy' by David Eddings, 'Magician' by Raymond E. Feist and 'The Sword of Shannara' by Terry Brooks.

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