Arranged in a handy A-Z format, this book explores and explains the creatures, plants, events, and places that make up these strange and wonderful lands, and is essential reading for anyone who loves Tolkien’s works and wants to learn more about them.
Some or all of the material in this book originally appeared in A-Z of Tolkien, The Tolkien Bestiary and/or The Tolkien Encyclopedia, copyright Octopus Publishing Group 1979, 1991, 1993
Published: 2001 Edition
Why I Chose It: I love to read extra material about Tolkien’s works, and this seemed just right to add to my small collection!
This book is more an encyclopedia than anything else, but it’s a great tool to use when I need to look up something quickly. What I like most about this book is that it contains a lot more detail than you would expect while maintaining concise entries. These are not just a one or two line definition of names; instead the book offers a context for the name, giving details about how it fits into the world of Middle-earth. Still the entries remain brief enough that you’re not sitting and reading for forever. You can get a firm understanding very quickly, and I really appreciate that in a reference book such as this.
I did put this book to the test! I had a friend come over who is also very into Tolkien’s works, and while we sat and re-watched the second Hobbit movie we discussed many facts, names and places. Throughout the conversation I constantly looked up items in the book. The Guide was actually incredibly helpful, offering information to supplement our discussion and giving us further insight than we had on our own. Unfortunately, there were a few names or places that were not in the Guide, which was disappointing, but I think it should be expected when dealing with a volume of this small size.
The Guide also contains many pictures of different Middle-earth creatures and beings. These drawings are all done in black and white and I think they are beautiful. They capture so many aspects of the world, and do a great job representing the descriptions given by the Guide.
This is not a complete guide to Tolkien; it is missing some names and places, and some entries might be considered brief. It’s a great book to have for my small Tolkien-related collection, as it’s the perfect size to grab and flip through. This guide works really well for those moments when you need a quick reference. :)
Rating: 5 / 5
“Bag End: Bag End was considered by Hobbits to be one of the finest hobbit-holes in the whole of Hobbiton, if not the entire Shire. Built in the 28th century of the Third Age, at the end of Bagshot Row, it was the home of three generations of Baggins’s: Bungo, Bilbo and Frodo. In 3018, when embarking on the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo sold Bag End to Lobelia and Lotho Sackville-Baggins.” p 23
“Gimli: Dwarf of Erebor. Born in 2879 of the Third Age in the Blue Mountains, Gimli went to live in Erebor in 2941 after the death of Smaug the Dragon. Gimli’s father was Gloin, a Dwarf of Thorin and Company. In 3018, Gimli went with his father to Rivendell where he was chosen for the Fellowship of the Ring.” p 104
These entries are a bit longer; I only wanted to represent the type of information each entry contains. :)