Why did I love this book?
A no-brainer, of course. I first read the old (I mean the very first) Ballantine paperback edition in junior high school. I had never dreamed a writer could achieve something like this – not only sustained plot interest through classic storytelling, but genuine exaltation of the spirit. What Tolkien’s friend C. S. Lewis called “Joy.” The chase through the mines of Moria. The Ride of the Rohirrim. It was like discovering a vitamin I’d been deficient in all my life. Only later did I understand how Viking lore, which already fascinated me, informed Tolkien’s mythos by way of the sagas and the Eddas. Often imitated, never equaled.