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Kent Turner’s “Into the Dragon’s…” Dives In, Treads Water

In response to Kent Turner’s 517‑word review of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug on School Library Journal 

http://www.slj.com/2013/12/books-media/into-the-dragons-lair-slj-reviews-the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug/

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In “Into the Dragon’s Lair | SLJ Reviews ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’”, Kent Turner demonstrates what excellent analytical assessment is all about… then abruptly demonstrates how to render all that excellence moot.

From the time they glance at the first sentence, the audience will likely conclude they are in the capable hands of a seasoned professional - an author who knows how to capture the readers attention, inspire their imaginations and deliver a palpable and entertaining tale to satisfy their sense of adventure. And their judgement would not be unfounded. This is indeed a truly well-worded assessment of the subject, and one that is chalk full of vividly rich details, dramatic plot twists and colorful metaphors that illuminate the world the author creates and plant the reader’s feet firmly within that world from start to finish.

Now for the bad news. Despite all the bravado, embellishment, and opinionated musings, it’s never clear where the author’s allegiance ultimately lies. Judging by the size of the tome and the lengths he goes through to elaborate on the underlying themes and subplots, one would suspect Turner has nothing but admiration for the subject. However, an interesting twist near the end all but throws that theory out the window. And yet it is still not certain that the author is condemning either. This confusion does little to inform and advise the reader, which is the principal reason they are perusing this piece in the first place.

Much like the author’s indecisiveness, it is difficult to recommend or condemn this work as a whole. On one hand, there is some excellent writing on display here. Creative, moving, engaging and wholly entertaining from start to finish. But even the most masterfully told tale without a satisfying conclusion is little more than a meandering showcase of the author’s own eccentricities, and it is unfair to the reader who graciously donates their time expecting and deserving much more.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation