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Reviews Written by
Brooks Onley (Pocomoke City, MD USA)

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Celebrating Middle-Earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization
Celebrating Middle-Earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization
by Dr John G West Jr.
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.21
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent little book--but be aware..., Sept. 18 2003
To keep this review short and sweet, I'll get right to the point: the sub-title of this book should, in my opinion, read "The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Christianity." Not that defending Christianity is necessarily a bad thing; but I, for one, was led to believe (both by title and by the [non-user] reviews given on this site) that this was an explication of the pro-Western views (whether of culture, or religion, or morals, or war, etc., etc.) embedded within Tolkein's texts. Instead, a substantial portion of the book was dedicated to a rather pedantic style of critique wherein lines of quoted material were trotted out and then favorably compared to Christian idea(l)s, preceded or followed closely by the particular author's hearty agreement with said material, and possibly supported by their own personal brand of apologetics.
However, I should hasten to add: all of this is not to say that "Celebrating Middle-Earth" is not informative or otherwise valuable to the Christian philosopher or apologist, or even to the non-theist Tolkien fan...because it is. Though not a Christian myself in the traditional American sense, I have nevertheless learned a good deal here about the motifs behind the story and the mind-set behind the man, and have enjoyed doing so. But, again, as I've implied: if your preference is for a purer form of literary critique, or for a slightly more "neutral" analysis of Tolkien's themes, then look elsewhere.

The Stars the Snow the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness
The Stars the Snow the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness
by John A. Haines
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars This book is prose at its best!, Dec 9 2002
Haines is best known as a poet, and you can see it here--the ideas and descriptions are spare and powerful. He gets right down to flesh and bone, the essences of things: the people he's met, the traps set, stories heard, the bone-cold loneliness of the place, it's all right here to be read, as if everything superfluous has been chipped away and all we have left is the experience in itself, what the land has told the writer. For anyone who wants to see what a master can do with the English language, or who wants a glimpse of a land and a way of life the likes of which few will ever see again, here's your ticket.

Dark Inheritance: A Novel
Dark Inheritance: A Novel
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Edition: Hardcover
39 used & new from CDN$ 3.48

3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing idea, disappointing follow-through., Dec 24 2001
Though I went into the book with the thought 'Jurassic Park re-vamp', I decided to give it a chance any way. Besides, I'm a sucker for a good techno-thriller, and most take some time to get all of the relevant details in order for the plot to work (as does this story--probably the first third of the book!).
I can't say that "Dark Inheritance" ever took off the way I was hoping it would.
Admittedly, it was a good try; there's definitely something here worth working with. But the characters seemed cliche, more like simple foils than real people; there was no *life* there! And there were no surprises--once the main characters had been stirred in, seasoned to taste with the proper bit of background info and plot-centered jargon, the mix was poured straight into the mold, with no doubts as to outcome.
Overall, an OK read as a distraction, but not really for those looking for deep characters or enthralling storyline.
As an aside, I must mention something that, in light of this review, may seem a tad minor, but nonetheless rankled my sensibilities as a student of biology. Page 119:
"Jim, we don't know for sure that she's a human-bonobo cross."
"She can't be," he protested. "Humans and apes can't interbreed. Apes have twenty-four pairs of chromosomes. Humans have twenty-three. Somwhere in our past, two ape chromosomes merged into a single human chromosome. That number two chromosome makes interbreeding impossible. Assuming a human sperm met an ape ovum, that chromosomal difference would create nonviability at the first mitosis."
Which is not necessarily the case, as Mr. Gear, being a physical anthropologist, should be well aware. Gibbons (lesser apes) of distinct evolutionary lineages (and widely varying chromosome counts) have been know to produce viable (though infertile) offspring. The same is true in the case of the mule (whose parents, the ass and the horse, also differ in number of chromosomes). Hybrids of differing chromosomal counts mix and match all the time. They just can't reproduce (which might have been what the Gears were grasping for here.)

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