Working in other bookshops has many perks: you get to see all the latest releases, you can spend your breaks reading anything you fancy, we have tremendous staff discounts…
But working in a bookshop in Oxford is a little bit different.
Working in Blackwell’s allows you to meet J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandson.
Many of you know by now that I am a bookseller in Blackwell’s, Oxford. This means that I get to see many famous authors come and talk about their latest releases—right now we have Randall Munroe and Richard Dawkins lined up for future events, for instance. I have also been lucky enough to meet Philip Pullman, Nigel Warburton, Theodore Zeldin, and many more.
But on the 29th of June, we were specially lucky.
We had Tolkien’s grandson in our bookshop.
And what’s better: I was asked to film the event.
Simon Tolkien is a crime and historical fiction writer known for publishing Final Witness, The Inheritance, The King of Diamonds, Orders from Berlin, etc. He’s quite the prolific author!
This time, he was invited to talk about his latest release, No Man’s Land, a title that explores Adam Raine’s journey from childhood into adulthood. Going from misery to misery, Adam will finally find himself in the trenches at the Somme.
As Simon told us that day, this book was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s experience of the Great War. Though the famous author never talked about the war at home, his time there permeated his writing style. Simon argues that, after seeing the devastating effects of the new weapons that entered the stage during that war, Tolkien became convinced that technology was an evil. This may have been one of the reasons why he chose to write fantasy, where nature prevails and evil arises from the technologically developing lands of Mordor and Isengard.
Simon Tolkien goes into so much more depth about his work in No Man’s Land and his grandfather’s experience of the war. But don’t let me tell you about it: I filmed it, so you can watch the whole talk, too! Please excuse the poor quality of the image—I was specifically requested to reduce the quality of the video in favour of length.
What do you think about Tolkien’s book? Has his talk changed the way you think about J.R.R. Tolkien and his world-famous trilogy?