This volume is worthy from the go: ''To enter faerie -- that is, a sacramental and liturgical understanding of creation -- is to open oneself to the gradual discovery of beauty, truth, and excellence. One arrives in faerie only by invitation and, even then, only at one's peril.'' Bradley Birzer posits that Tolkien's creation of the faerie world was, in essence, his way of understanding grace -- a glimpse into the sacramental and liturgical fibers that construct natural law and order. All this is based on Tolkien's belief that Myth has the power to revive us, a kind of anamnesis which brings to our remembrance the permeating breath of God in all things. The ''peril,'' as Birzer puts it, lies in relegating Myth to paganism -- as either a rival of ''Christian'' truth or a comfortably entrenched lie. But Tolkien saw his vocation as ''sanctifying myth,'' believing that truth should be implicitly told through historical and geographical incarnations rather than explicit symbolism. Each of these seven chapters examines a different aspect of Tolkien's mythology beginning with his life and proceeding to his conceptions of evil and the Good within creation, political philosophy, modernity and his own legendarium (specifically Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir, Frodo and Sam). Amidst the recent flurry of commentaries surrounding Tolkien's work, we found this one substantial and edifying -- in resonance with the magic of its subject.
An Eighth Day View:
Author Bradley Birzer offers a full and accessible treatment of Tolkien's Middle-earth mythology in Tolkien's trilogy the "Lord of the Rings, examining its religious symbolism and significance.