With the release of the final installment of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, interest in J.R.R. Tolkien may be greater than ever as millions of people have been introduced to the Christian author. A Google search for J.R.R. Tolkien turns up 714,000 sites on the Oxford professor. To help you digest the media overload, we've complied the best Tolkien information on the web.

The man:

Christian History: The Man Behind the Myth—CT sister publication Christian History recently released an entire issue devoted to Tolkien and his Christian faith.

The Tolkien Society—The Tolkien Society aims to encourage and further interest in the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Their web site includes information about Tolkien, his books, news related to Tolkien and the movie trilogy, resources for Tolkien research, society events.

J.R.R. Tolkien in Oxford—This site has an enormous amount of biographical information about J.R.R. Tolkien and his life at Oxford.

Marquette University Library Collections—Marquette University has Tolkien's original manuscripts of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and others.

The books:

The Encyclopedia of Arda—This site has hundreds of pages detailing absolutely everything you could ever want to know about Tolkien's writing: races, characters, languages, places, creatures, songs and poems, calendars, weapons, and more from Adanedhel to Zirakzigil.

Middle-Earth Tours—This site has paintings, drawings, and pictures of characters from The Lord of the Rings books and movies.

Cabed-en-Aras—Cabed-en-Aras is another site with everything about Tolkien you could imagine wanting.

The Grey Havens—Another site with tons of Tolkien information including chronologies, characters and creatures, songs and tales, and explanations of anything and everything.

The movies:

The Lord of the Rings.net—The official movie site has tons of information about the movies, trailers, photos, news about the movies, and character information.

TheOneRing.net—The One Ring.net is a Lord of the Rings fan site. It has extensive information and speculation about the movies, chat and message boards, art and multimedia, and tons more.

There and Back Again—There and Back Again has information on Tolkien, the movies, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, art and wallpapers, characters, and book details.

National Geographic Beyond the Movie: Lord of the Rings—National Geographic has information about Tolkien, the movies, the northern European myths that inspired Tolkien's tale, and the European languages on which Tolkien based his Middle Earth languages.

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The Inklings

C.S. Lewis and the Inklings resources website—Run by Dr. Bruce L. Edwards, professor of English, at Bowling Green State University, this site has tons of resources on the Inklings, the Christian literary club which Tolkien and Lewis were a part of.

The Mythopoeic Society—The society is a literary and educational organization for the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantasy and mythic literature, especially the works of Inklings members J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams.

The news:

Tolkien story had roots in WWI trench | Tolkien survived the 1916 Battle of the Somme, where the British suffered 600,000 casualties in four months, but a bad louse got him soon thereafter, and he spent the remainder of the war convalescing. During this time he wrote "The Book of Lost Tales," published as "The Silmarillion" 60 years later, which describes the historical underpinnings of Middle Earth, the mythological setting for "The Hobbit" and its 600,000-word sequel, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaska)

Middle Earth is God's country | Lord Of The Rings 'cultus' often ignores Tolkien's devout Catholic faith. (Toronto Star, Canada)

For some, it's the spirit that moves them to 'Lord of the Rings' | Increasingly, the grist of religion—evil, redemption, forgiveness, social justice, integrity, life and death—is being played out in popular culture, from J.R.R. Tolkien's Mordor to HBO's Tony Soprano. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Scholars see Christian values in Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' | Harry Potter battles bad guys and black magic, but the kid wizard's story is still too profane for many Christians. Why, then, have so many Christians embraced J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy, Lord of the Rings? Tolkien's 1,500-page trilogy has plenty of wizards, elves and magic, and it doesn't mention deity. It has no prayers, no rituals, no sacred scriptures and no clearly spelled-out dogma. (Salt Lake Tribune)

'Rings' trilogy stirs religious argument | there are other ways to interpret this scene and the whole 500,000-word trilogy, noted the actor inside those wizard's robes. As an openly gay atheist, Sir Ian McKellen said he had no problem putting his own spin on Tolkien's visions. The key, he said, is that this is a work of cultural myth, not Christian allegory. (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)

The Shul of Middle Earth | While the Lord of the Rings has defied allegory, countless scholars and fans have tried to attach religious, philosophical, and political meanings to it. Is there something Jewish to be found in Middle Earth? (Jewsweek)

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Related Elsewhere

Baylor professor Ralph Wood reviewed the The Return of the King and criticized some plot changes.

Film Forum reviewer Jeffrey Overstreet also has a review, in which he praises the makers for the Christian virtues in the film.

CT articles on Tolkien include:

J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, a Legendary Friendship | A new book reveals how these two famous friends conspired to bring myth and legend-and Truth-to modern readers. (Aug. 29, 2003)
Space, Time, and the 'New Hobbit' | C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien discuss science fiction. (Aug. 29, 2003)
Saint J. R. R. the Evangelist | Tolkien wanted his Lord of the Rings to echo the "Lord of Lords"—but do we have ears to hear? (March 14, 2003)
9/11, History, and the True Story | Wartime authors J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis help put 9/11 in perspective (Sept. 13, 2002)
Why The Lord of the Rings Is Dangerous | The authors of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues and J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth talk about the Christian life in Faerie. (Dec. 18, 2002)
Does The Lord of the Rings Teach Salvation By Works? | The authors of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues and J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth talk about whether Tolkien was too ignorant of evil and other subjects. (Dec. 19, 2002)
Hobbits Aren't Fence-Sitters | The authors of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues and J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth discuss why Tolkien hated modernity and thinking about evil—and whether he was right to do so. (Dec. 20, 2002)
Lord of the Megaplex | The onscreen Fellowship of the Ring launches a new wave of Tolkienmania. (Nov. 12, 2001)
Soul Wars, Episode Two | The second Lord of the Rings film raises the spiritual stakes. (Dec. 18, 2002)
Fantasylands | How to tell an orc from an ewok. (Dec. 19, 2001)