Hike Books Forward – August 24

I was able to read (listen to) two outstanding audiobooks this week. Neither one was written this past year, or during the past decade, or even in this century, but both are very worthy of consideration for your reading list.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R.Tolkien

Listening time: 10 hours and 24 minutes.

I have read the hobbit twice before, but this was my first time listening to it as an audiobook. The narrator of this incredible tale was Andy Serkis, the actor who played the part of Gollum/Smeagol in the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings movies. His oral interpretation of the text was fabulous including the singing of the many songs presented in the book.

Bilbo Baggins comes alive as such a likable, humble, and quick-humored hobbit. The adventure is intense, the action flows, and the humor is so well done. Gandalf, the company of 13 dwarves with names that just crack me up, and the magnificent Smaug (or is that Smaug the Magnificent?) make the cast interesting and varied so that the story-telling moves at an exciting pace.

The book was published in 1937 (14 years before the Lord of The Rings series) but the writing style and the vocabulary seemed to transcend time as takes the reader into another land and an alternative history where the words and expressions “fit” the Middle Earth perfectly.

I love the movie experience of the Hobbit and I appreciate some of the additions/alterations of Hollywood, but the book is so complete and such a masterpiece that it is worth reading and listening to often.  

Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers  

Listening time:18 hrs. 30 min.

Book #1 (A Voice in the Wind) is a must-read to fully appreciate this second novel (Echo in the Darkness, published in 1994) in the Mark of the Lion series. I thoroughly enjoyed book #1, but I think book two is even better. The plot was full the individual stories involving the major characters of the cast: Marcus, Julia, and Hadassah, as well as the weaving of situations and circumstances that bring the lives together to a dramatic conclusion. This powerful story of redemption is written from a Christian perspective and shares the good news of Jesus with clarity. The powerful character of Hadassah, a humble, submissive Christ-follower, who is thought to have been killed by lions in the arena, not only survives but she ties this story together and is the major focal point of the novel. She continues to impact and serve the Valerian family within the veils of a hidden identity and a role of healer/caretaker.

The spiritual journey of a prosperous yet grieving man, the hopelessness of a selfish woman, the misunderstandings of a well-meaning physician, the misguided loyalty of a patient, the pagan society that provides many gods to appease, and the miraculous power of the Sovereign God are some of the elements that blend together to contribute to this enjoyable read by Francine Rivers.    

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