Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10
Audience: I'm not sure if children would be interested in all the mythological elements or not, but I think Colbert writes about them in an interesting enough way that a child could like this book. But, of course...I was always a very advanced reader for my age as a child. ;) Amazon puts this book as for readers 18 and up.
This book is really, really good. I started reading it in snatches in between cleaning or before a shower or something like that - which is easy to do since the book is divided into manageable sections so that you can read each in a couple of minutes. Then I read the rest of the book all at once because I kept coming for more because it was so good. Why? Because the book has so many cool facts about LOTR that I didn't know (and this is coming from a person, who considers herself as knowing more than the average fan)! One of the things this book does is go over various mythological stories and legends that inspired Tolkien, which I thought was very cool - and some of these legends have given me some ideas for my own fantasy novel. ;)
I definitely recommend this book to any LOTR fan. And if you haven't finished reading the books, the author has made the attempt to not include any spoilers for you. How awesome is that?
I think it's good to always read a few reviews from different people before you decide whether to read a book or not, so here are some reviews from Goodreads:
Subtitled The Amazing Myths, Legends, and Facts Behind the Masterpiece, this book was obviously put together with the audience in mind that has been only now exposed to Tolkien's work through the latest film treatment. For instance, the final chapter discusses Frodo's actions in Mordor and since Peter Jackson, at least, has not put his vision of this on the silver screen, the chapter is segmented off as a "spoiler." Author David Colbert knows how to do these books, as he wrote the successful The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter. However, even the would-be Tolkien scholar and hardcore fan with well-worn and well-known copies of all the books will find this tome interesting. The index, bibliography and glossary make for handy entrances to the book, laid out like an encyclopedia. Colbert initially places the Tolkien mythology into the greater sphere of ancient European and Near Eastern mythology. This is pretty tenuous and could be good fodder for heated debate among those that appreciate Joseph Campbell as much as J. R. R. Tolkien. The inspiration from Tolkien's knowledge of ancient English and North European lore is well-trodden ground for the initiated, but this presents it in an easy to read manner with plenty of line drawings that will be entertaining for any reader, whether they just saw the movie or can quote Gandalf chapter and verse.
This book is a quick read which gives a decent amount of background information on Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings books. Most information is aimed at unraveling how Tolkien came up with certain elements, and what sources he was referencing.
Not as interesting as Colbert's book on Narnia but that could be because I know so much about Tolkien already. Easy, easy read. A tad boring.