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A Guide to Middle Earth: Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings Paperback – 9 Dec 2004

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About the Author

Colin Duriez has also written Tolkien and C. S. Lewis; The Story of Their Friendship, The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia (described by Walter Hooper, literary advisor to the C.S. Lewis estate, as one of the most useful books I know. I look for excuses to read it (Azure 2002) and the Inklings Handbook (with David Porter). He lives in Leicester.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A Must for Tolkien Fans! 18 Jan. 2003
By Evenstar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Colin Duriez's "Tolkien and the Lord of the Ring: A Guide to Middle Earth" is an impressive book about the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion. It's divided into 4 parts.
Part 1: The Mind Behind Middle-earth: Includes background info about Tolkien, his life and work.
Part 2: The Book of the Century: A guide to LOTR, how it relates to the Silmarillion, etc. Basically a recap, in case you're a bit fuzzy.
Part 3: An A-Z of Tolkien's Middle-earth: I found this very helpful; I could look up my favorite people, places, events, and things quickly and effortlessly. This is especially helpful for those currently reading either LOTR or the Silmarillion to get extra info on what they're reading. If you are intimately familiar with the books, however, it would be more reference than new facts.
Part 4: A Look Behind Tolkien's Life and Work: Most interesting part to me. Evaluates key themes, concepts, and images in Tolkien. Allegory (or lack thereof), Christianity, Posession and Power are some of the themes explored by Duriez. Then it talks about key people and places in Tolkien's life.
It's more geared to people who are more interested in the book and Tolkien's writings than in the recent movies, so it shouldn't be confused with books like, "The Magical Worlds of Lord of the Rings."
I recommend it to anyone interested in Lord of the Rings.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Solid reference book 21 Nov. 2004
By EA Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Colin Duriez does a pretty job of creating a guide to the life and work of J.R.R. Tolkien in "Tolkien and Lord of the Rings: A Guide to Middle-Earth." While those who have read Tolkien's assorted books won't find anything new, it's a good introduction to his books for new readers, and a good "refresher course" for those who haven't read them in awhile.

Duriez starts off by introducing the book, describing his reasons for writing it. Then he speeds off into a mini-bio about Tolkien's life, followed by a dissection of the work he did, and its place in his life. And, since Duriez has written a book about literary club the Inklings, he includes quite a bit about Tolkien's friendships and relationships. For further clarification, Duriez includes a very brief timeline.

Then Duriez summarizes the entire plots of "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, followed by a book-by-book chronology, and an informative chapter on the content of the "Silmarillion," and its connections to the "Lord of the Rings" books. Then he follows up with three A-Z guides -- one to things and people in Middle-Earth, then to themes and concepts in his work (eagles, allegory, theology, quests and so on), and the people and places in his life, such as his family, his friends, the mill he played at as a boy, and the books that influenced his writing. Finally there is a list of summaries, of various books that he wrote.

Duriez has certainly done his research -- he seems very comfortable talking about Middle-Earth, and easily quotes everyone from Peter Jackson to Tolkien himself. What's more, he obviously has a deep respect for Tolkien, and an appreciation for the richness and depth of Tolkien's work. For just about anybody writing this sort of book, that's a must.

What does it not contain? Well, Duriez admits himself in the preface that it's not meant to be in-depth, and Tolkien fans won't come away with anything they don't already know. Most of this is review and recap, with the occasional essay that goes into greater study of Tolkien's work.

However, the book can be very useful -- some people are daunted by the sheer vastness of Tolkien's work, and this makes it hard for them to get into the story. Duriez makes it accessable. His outline of the "Lord of the Rings" plot might be helpful to readers who have trouble understanding what is going on in the books. Ditto with his summaries of "Silmarillion" stories like the tale of legendary lovers Luthien and Beren, or the tragic Turin. It also could be a good "refresher course," for anyone who has forgotten stuff about Middle-Earth.

Colin Duriez, who has made a career writing about Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, pens a pretty decent guide book to Middle Earth and Tolkien's life. It won't reveal anything new, but it's a good introduction to Tolkien's work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nearly the same as Duriez's "Concise Guide" 10 Jan. 2010
By Doug Vitale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains the same glossary of LoTR terms and themes as found in The J. R. R. Tolkien Handbook: A Concise Guide to His Life, Writings, and World of Middle-Earth. "Guide to Middle Earth" differs from the "Concise Guide" by simply having a different preface and the short essays, "The Life and Work of JRR Tolkien", "Introducing the Lord of the Rings", "A Guide to The Lord of the Rings and Its History", and "How the Lord of the Rings Relates to the Silmarillion". Nothing too groundbreaking here but a nice reference book for Tolkien fans.
By far the best book on Lord of the Rings 12 Mar. 2004
By C. Catherwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book on Lord of the Rings - even better than the Dummies guide! Colin Duriez actually understands Tolkien's theology as well as the complexities of the stories and it is this that makes the book superb and simply better than anything else on the market. Buy it now! Christopher Catherwood, author of CHRISTIANS MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE and WHOSE SIDE IS GOD ON?
Poor coverage of Middle Earth 9 Mar. 2014
By Gordon McQueen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've bought other books with similar titles that were far more comprehensive than this. Only about half of the names that I look up in the A-Z are actually covered. No book that doesn't cover the entire History of Middle Earth can claim to be a guide to Middle Earth. A "pocket guide" but no more.
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