Tolkien Throwdown Transcript: I Scour The Shire

Read transcript here

I was invited to participate in a live Facebook debate with David “wordboydave” Dickerson (author of How Tolkien Sucks). David hates The Lord of the Rings with a passion many people reserve for stinky things stuck to the bottoms of their shoes (or the loathing Gollum has for cooked food), although he admitted during our conversation that he actually loves The Hobbit.

Tolkien’s writing style, plotting, characters and use of alternate languages are anathema to David. His screed How Tolkien Sucks is actually pretty funny, but I think he’s missing a few important points about Tolkien’s conscious effort to write in a “high style” and the context in which the books were written. I made my best effort to scour him from the Shire and set him straight.

When David went off in the debate about how much he despises the long prologue to The Lord of the Rings, this was my response:

“I loved that slow entry into Middle-earth. The Lord of the Rings would never get published today. And if it did it would have to start with Ringwraiths attacking Hobbiton on the first page and burning it to the ground. Bless Professor Tolkien. An orphan at the age of 12, a survivor of the trenches of WWI, an obsessive fantasist and lover of languages who created a world that millions of people around the world have inhabited in their hearts and minds. People will still be reading his books hundreds of years from now.

To read the entire transcript click here (and be sure to click the “View Previous Comments” button on the Facebook page). I look forward to more debates with David, and I’m convinced one day we’ll sit around drinking beer together, reading our favorite passages of The Lord of the Rings out loud. Maybe we’ll even sing one of Tom Bombadil’s songs! Errr…maybe not.

Over a hundred people followed this debate live. Thanks for coming!



  1. How fun! Would never have thought of Facebook for a debate. Will be interesting to see how that works, too! Best wishes, Noble!

  2. I enjoyed the debate and honestly, I quite liked Dave 🙂 I think you guys actually agree on how important Tolkien is. He just doesn’t seem to take any enjoyment in his particular writing style. But he wouldn’t have fantasy as he knows and enjoys without Tolkien!

  3. Like listening to music, reading is a very personal experience.

    For me, the LOTR series was a mind opening and uplifting event, with relevance for these modern times. Consider the metaphor: The burning of Fangorn Forest is the death knoll from the industrial revolution and a call to action. Both the battle of The Ents and Samwise’s own green ethic are messages of hope. It’s the very ecological battle we see today over massive coal exports terminals and Stephen Harper’s Tar Sands Crude, developments that will eventually choke our beautiful planet. If you don’t find that a worthy metaphor, Dave, and don’t agree that these Noble Ideas are “worth fighting for,” then perhaps you think that corporations are people.

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