Here's the third of the three reviews of my book I found this week. It's by far the longest, the best-informed (from the point of view of the reviewer knowing his Tolkien), and certainly the snarkiest. The author, Andrew Rilstone, is a fellow rpg designer (who worked on the ONCE UPON A TIME storytelling card game) and editor (of the sorely missed INTERACTIVE FANTASY, the first, and only, scholarly journal examining roleplaying games), though I don't think we've ever met. The review of MR. BAGGINS/RETURN TO BAG-END takes up the second half (approximately seven pages) of his long review of CHILDREN OF HURIN and HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT together on August 21st.
Rilstone quite likes the book, I think, but pulls few punches: he thinks my book "monumental -- indeed, . . . rather too monumental" and notes that my commentary "will almost certainly tell you more than you wanted to know". But he also credits me with "Christopherian attention to detail", which I consider high praise, thinks "some of [my] literary archeology is fascinating", and considers me "very good at pointing up the thematic links between THE HOBBIT and THE SILMARILLION". Since the latter was one of my major aims, it's enheartening to hear that the message got through, and that a by no means reverent reader found it convincing. With that under my belt, I can roll with his slightly querulous hrumph about the twelve pages devoted to Radagast (besides, David Bratman already did a much wittier job drawing attention to that in his blog over a month ago: cf. http://calimac.livejournal.com/?skip=20, scrolling down to the entry for July 17th). Best of all, Rilstone puts my book to its intended use; he reads through the texts I present and draws his own conclusions from them. Nothing could be finer than to find people using my book as a starting point from which to launch Tolkienian investigations or ruminations of their own.
inside Edmund Wilson
18 hours ago