This one was easy! J. R. R. Tolkien is my favorite writer! The Beloved Husband disagrees with me actually, but I’ll always say that Tolkien is one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time.

Beyond the fact that this man began writing his own stories at the age of seven and then began constructing his own languages in his early teens, Tolkien’s genius comes out through his love of words. He displays a reverence for language and how it is used that, I think, enhances his writing. He always chooses the most precise words for his stories – like, instead of describing a hill as just “green”, he’ll use terms like “verdant” or “emerald” or any number of synonyms that give specific shades. It’s why his world of Middle-Earth lives on – his descriptions are so vast and vivid that readers can see it and become attached to parts of it.

The Beloved Husband complains that Tolkien falls down in his character development, and to some extent, I see his point. In Lord of the Rings, characters like Boromir and Eomer seem decidedly un-fleshed out. I think though, that this was done on purpose – because the scope of that story mirrors that of The Odyssey in that the characters are mechanisms by which the reader moves through the world. The story isn’t about them, it’s about their journey and their environment. In that sense, the roles have been flipped – the characters are a backdrop for the setting instead of being the other way around.

I love the emotion that Tolkien manages to weave into his world. I cried when the Shire was defaced and marveled at the beauty of Lothlorien. You can tell the Tolkien loves his world and the passion and affection that he pours into his words gives readers the opportunity to share that love. That, I think, is what makes his writing truly great.