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The complete guide to Middle-Earth, from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion Paperback – Import, 1978
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From Publishers Weekly
With the release of The Fellowship of the Rings in movie theaters this December, Tolkien enthusiasts might consider Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: From The Hobbit Through The Lord of the Rings and Beyond as essential to their viewing pleasure as popcorn. For anyone who's ever wondered "who's Beren?," "where's the Great Shelf?" or "what's the Council of Gondor?," this A-Z reference describes every person, locates every place and explains everything in Tolkien's saga.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
`Middle-earth is the country of J.R.R. Tolkien's tales - the territory of Sauron, Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Sam Gamgee - whose legends, history, geography and inhabitants combine to make a unique fictional world. This Guide is a comprehensive reference work to every name and event in Tolkien's books, from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion.'Daily Telegraph `Mr Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-earth supplies, as I have found through frequent use, an admirable work of reference.'CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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If you are totally into Middle-Earth and don't already own it, this should make a fine addition to your collection.
I purchased it to "hopefully" help my middle school kid better understand and relate to this classic series as all he knows of them at this point are the movie versions. Not knocking the movies as they are all great entertainment and worth the watch but like all movies, great as they are, they are not the fully-fleshed-out literary works that I feel should be part of everyone's pleasure reading and literary education.
I heartily concur. Having read the Pentalogue (Silmarillion-Hobbit-Lord of the Rings) twice, and this book clears up many of the obscure people, places, and events. Sometimes I have found the indices in "The Return of the King" to be wanting, or have wanted to have more of a dictionary- or cyclopedia-type entry. This book meets this need.
(In plain English, if you have a term paper to write, then get this book and save your grade.)
In fact, this book has no equals, and only two rivals: Tolkien's own indices, and Peter Kreeft's philosophical concordance found in "The Philosophy of Tolkien." (ISBN: 1586170252).
I have only two critiques. The first problem is that we have too many editions of Tolkien. We have no "Standard Text" with a universal pagination. This is really a problem that only the estate of JRR can solve. To his credit, Foster has a conversion formula on page 569, which is on some help. However, I still find myself flipping pages with my newer film tie-in editions.
Secondly, I would have like to have an enlarged edition of this book. I would keep the entries, but also expand them. Entries would include literary aspects of the characters, Christian symbolism of the characters, and also "behind the scenes" information form the 12 Lost Tales books and Tolkien's letters. (Such as the comments on Tom Bombadil. ) A model for this book is the Star Wars Databank web-page. This may require a multi-volume encyclopedia. So be it--Tolkien is worth it.
Until this big book get compiled, we can count upon Foster's book to do the job that we need it to do, and this is to enliven Tolkien's masterwork.