THE POWER OF TOLKIEN'S PROSE: MIDDLE-EARTH'S MAGICAL STYLE by Steve Walker . Unlike the Robinson that arrived just before the trip, this one is a hardcover (from Palgrave Macmillan). Despite its relatively slim size of 173 pages of text (or a total of 213 once you add in notes/bibl/index), it costs a whopping $80 -- more than you'd pay for H&S's two-volume COMPANION & GUIDE set on amazon.
I can't put up an interim report on this one, because it turns out to be impossible to skim. It's a dense-argued, carefully written examination of a major topic that's gotten remarkably little attention over the years: Tolkien's style as a writer -- how he achieves the effects he does with his prose. It's a topic I'm greatly interested in -- it was after all the main focus of my TOLKIEN STUDIES piece. It looks like Walker builds on Brian Rosebury's excellent but too-little-read 1992 book, but aside from noting that Walker & I seem to reach the same conclusion (p. 172), I can't say much more than that without giving it the slow, careful reading it deserves. And so the 'must-read' pile just got a little higher.
So, highly welcome, but definitely not a fast read.
One interesting side-note: Walker is a professor at Brigham Young University. Of the five authors who provide back-cover blurbs I don't think I've come across any Tolkien work from any of them before, aside from Orson Scott Card. Two are listed as the author of books on Tolkien I d never heard of, which on checking turn out to be an honors' thesis and a master's thesis -- both of which sound interesting, esp the first.* I was not aware of work being done on Tolkien from that quarter, so that's a new discovery for me.
*Jeff Swift, "The Horror of War: Tolkien's Realistic Representation of Battle in The Lord of the Rings." Honors thesis, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2008.
Jonathan Langford, "Pathways into Maturity: Coming-of-Age among Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings." Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1990.