Like his other major book about Tolkien, Author of the Century, this book benefits tremendously from the affinity for his subject that being a fellow philologist gives Shippey. The picture that's built up of what Tolkien achieved with his major works, what he was trying to do and how he went about it is detailed and convincing. There's a tinge of sadness too that Tolkien was unable to do more than he did. This is the third edition and takes into account not only the 12-volume presentation of the "History of Middle Earth" brought to us by Christopher Tolkien but also the masterful three part film adaptation by Peter Jackson. What Tolkein did and the way that he went about it is unique and Shippey gives us a series of fascinating insights into the great depths of what was going on that complements perfectly the view of the breadth of the corpus provided by the "History" sequence.