Horne explains what made Tolkien the man he was with clarity and incisiveness. Tolkien’s early love for languages, his forbidden relationship with his future wife, and his struggle with losing friends in the great war mark his early years. As life moved along, his struggle to support his family coincided with his perfectionism and his inability to ever consider his work finished (this explains why The Silmarillion was never published in his own lifetime). His friendship with C. S. Lewis which degenerated over time is also telling.
I was most pleased by Horne’s account of Tolkien’s Christianity. Christianity was a way of life for Tolkien—it was more the substructure of his life than a passion. Horne doesn’t try (in a “Christian Encounters” book) to turn Tolkien into someone he’s not, or read Christianity into his works. He simply reveals Tolken for the man he was: a brilliant perfectionist who lived and loved like the rest of us.