In the HOUSE of TOM BOMBADIL
A Book Review
I almost never read the Lord of the Rings because of the movies, but ventured upon the books with the principle that books are almost always better. I would have never learned of Tom Bombadil in the way I have had it not been for picking up books, and one book that followed by the reading of the Rings was C.R. Wiley’s In the HOUSE of TOM BOMBADIL. C.R. Wiley brings out a truly hopeful character that evidences a view of the world that was once commonplace among believers, “Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended” (p.90). One day the world will be mended.
Canon Press published In the HOUSE of TOM BAMBADIL in 2021, so it is a fairly recent book. C.R. Wiley gets this form of fantasy as writers like Tolkien and George MacDonald also did—not as literature to escape this world, but literature to help us see the realities of this world better.
C.R. Wiley argues that Tom Bombadil is a type of man who takes dominion over the world. His wife Goldberry arises from pagan myth but is baptized in Christian faith so as to show Tom Bombadil is in control per se. Unlike the other characters in the Lord of the rings, Bombadil is not controlled by the ring of power, and he has a great sense of joy while living in a world that is quite different. He demonstrates much of what the Christian should demonstrate as he conquers by faith in the Son of God.
Thus, not only does Tolkien achieve his goal of helping us see the realities of this world better through Bombadil, but C.R. Wiley gives us insight into the character so we don’t miss it. We are called to ponder this character and imitate him as he (if you will)— imitates Christ. Some theorists even think that he is a type of Christ, but if you read the book it should become clear that he is not.
I don’t have anything to say bad about the book. I’d recommend men in particular to give it a read. In terms of the genre of commentary on fantasy, this book ranks at the top. I can only compare it to writings by secular writers like Edith Hamilton on mythology while in College. Nonetheless, I find Wiley’s book superior because it is from a clearly Christian worldview.