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On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis Paperback – October 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"The mistake that Uncle Andrew made was not because he believed that wealth could be brought back from Narnia. His mistake was in refusing to bring back the right kind of wealth -- it is wisdom we need, not more steel and battleships. Louis Markos has remedied that problem, importing a great of wisdom from Narnia, and Middle Earth as well, with plenty to spare. I am happy to recommend On the Shoulders of Hobbits."

 Douglas Wilson, author of What I Learned in Narnia

 "Thoughtful, helpful, insightful, On the Shoulders of Hobbits reminds us just how much is to be gained by standing on the shoulders of Tolkien and Lewis, those Christian literary giants."

Michael Ward, Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis

 “A book that richly celebrates the place of story in our lives—even as it invites us to walk the road with, and glean life lessons from, some of J.R.R. Tolkien’s finest characters.”

Kevin Belmonte, editor of A Year with G.K. Chesterton, and lead historical consultant for the film, Amazing Grace.

 "Louis Markos' thoughtful exploration of virtue through the writings of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis is a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and young people seeking models and guides for living a life shaped by, and infused with, the richness of Christian virtues."

Holly Ordway, Houston Baptist University and author of Not God's Type


From the Back Cover

Classical virtue has been lost.


Courage, valor, trust, and friendship seem to be things of the past, of a different age and era.  But is that because we have simply forgotten how to see them and learn them?


There was a time when virtue and vice were learned not through mere lessons and propositions but through stories. Real life truth and goodness was communicated powerfully through fantastical fiction. Louis Markos takes us back to that day and that reality.


Through the iconic works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis we are reintroduced to classic virtues, both good and bad. Markos shows the reader how powerful stories and their characters act as teachers and examples of what to be and not to be in real life.


Rediscover the power of stories and the importance of virtue through this beautiful work.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802443192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802443199
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louis Markos ( holds a BA in English and History from Colgate University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Michigan.

He is a Professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, where he teaches courses on British Romantic and Victorian Poetry and Prose, the Classics, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and Film.

Dr. Markos holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities and lectures on Ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance for HBU's Honors College.

He is the author of eleven published books and two lecture series with the Teaching Company/Great Courses (The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis; Plato to Postmodernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author).

He has published over 120 articles and reviews in such journals as Christianity Today, Touchstone, Theology Today, Christian Research Journal, Mythlore, Christian Scholar's Review, Saint Austin Review, American Arts Quarterly, and The City, and had his modern adaptation of Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris, Euripides' Helen, and Sophocles' Electra performed off-Broadway.

He is a popular speaker in Houston, and has spoken on such topics as C. S. Lewis, apologetics, education, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and Dante in two dozen states and in British Columbia, Canada, Oxford, England, and Rome.

He is committed to the concept of the Professor as Public Educator and believes that knowledge must not be walled up in the Academy but must be disseminated to all who have ears to hear. He lives in Houston with his wife, Donna, his son, Alex, and his daughter, Stacey.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
On The Shoulders Of Hobbits is a pleasant and often inspirational look at the role of Virtue in the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Louis Markos, a professor at Houston Baptist University, has done a fine job of describing the classical and theological virtues as they are depicted in The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. He writes as an admirer of both authors, a well educated and thoughtful man, and a deeply believing Christian.

Markos is a good writer. In this book he purposely set out to appeal to the general reader rather than specialists, and he is successful, though it would be helpful to his readers if they have some background knowledge of Plato and English literature as well as the Bible. In his introduction and in sections of the text I found his chip-on-the-shoulder attitude towards modern culture somewhat jarring, but that does not extend throughout the entire book. And I thoroughly enjoyed his discussions of the importance of stories in our lives and his bibliographical essays with suggestions for further study.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Achilles on November 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Louis Markos in his enchanting book about the Lord of the Rings and Narnia has managed to baptize my imagination (I wrote this review before I read Dr. Peter Kreeft's introduction in which he suggests that you allow Professor Markos to baptize your imagination) and set my heart on fire for the works of two of the best authors of the 20th century.

I must admit that I was not a great fan of either Lewis or Tolkien. I had tried to read the Chronicles of Narnia as a young student without much luck. I mistakenly thought that Lord of the Rings was science fiction and never put my full attention to it. However, who has not heard what wonderful authors these two are? I was willing to believe that they were fine authors. But still, I could not seem to appreciate their writing and the last cause I suspected was me. After reading On the shoulders of Hobbits, Professor Markos managed to turn my hard head and my hard heart towards some of the best literature of the 20th century. He removed road blocks, opened up new vistas and in the best way, he led me to an understanding of the true meaning of these tales. Professor Markos also makes clear why Tolkien's and Lewis' works will surely stand the test of time. I think Professor Kreeft put it like this: "they have the fingerprints of God all over them."

Professor Markos' love for the great enduring stories that tell us mere mortals about our true ends and purposes, and in particular his love for Tolkien and Lewis, is infectious. He has a gift for transmitting that love through the written word for those with the ears to hear through the din of modernity and for those with the eyes to see through emperor's new clothes of todays false literacy are in for a trek perhaps not even hoped for.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Vogt on December 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
It's not surprising that Louis Markos likes C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. After all, millions of people admire the two Inklings. What is unusual is that he's also an English professor at a Baptist university. The two literary giants typically draw liturgical Christians and evangelicals. It's rare to find Baptists who admire both men. This isn't to say they're incompatible with Baptists, just that Tolkien's devout Catholicism and Lewis' high-Church Anglicanism usually rub Baptists the wrong way. Yet Markos is the rare example of someone who finds not just congruity, but suitability, but congruence.

I've been following Markos' work for years, including two excellent books on Lewis. He's become one of my favorite non-Catholic Inkling experts and his newest book, On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis (Moody Publishers, paperback, 234), continues that trend.

Markos argues that the iconic works of both Tolkien and Lewis do more than entertain. They help the reader inculcate classic virtues like courage, valor, trust, and friendship. By following Frodo's moral development, for instance, our own courage and persistence are strengthened. The opposite is true, too.

By studying the villains throughout Middle-Earth and Narnia, we can detect sin in our own lives and destroy it. Tolkien's Sauron provides one example of sin, in this case pride, exposed through the Light of humility:

"The reason Sauron has not guessed the true purpose of the Fellowship is not that he is a fool or even that he is prideful, but that he simply cannot conceive that someone would willingly forsake power.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gerry L. Smith on November 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the examples from the the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia. This book brings together the spiritual, as well as the physical journeys we all are on. Loved it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Johnson on June 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author starts with an introduction all about what the book is not. And made me so depressed I put it aside for a few months.
However, once I started reading the main part months later, it was a delightful book.
Mainly using the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, it also quotes a lot from Lewis and Tolkien's other books, the Illiad, Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, Dostoyevsky, and others. It uses examples from these to teach Courage, Endurance, Temperance, Wisdom, Justice, Friendship, Faith Hope and Love. Even about the "Byronic Heroes". Better known as the anti-hero, like Darth Vader or more to Tolkien, the nasty Gollum, who saves the world by stealing the Ring and then falling into the Fires of Doom.
Among the things the author swears he will not be doing is giving a commentary on the LOTR, yet he does manage to illuminate parts of it extremely well.
Jolly good show!
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