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4.0 out of 5 stars Ted Nasmith illustrates Professor Foster's magisterial encyclopaedia, 19 May 2014
By 
Nat Whilk (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I imagine that there must be quite a few Tolkien geeks who've dreamt of compiling an encyclopaedia of Middle-earth. Well, dear old Professor Foster has made all those fancies redundant. His Complete Guide - which draws on every item in Tolkien's legendarium up to and including The Silmarillion - is as close to being definitive as any reference book that I've ever seen. Christopher Tolkien himself commends it in his introduction to his father's Unfinished Tales, and there could be no higher praise.

In its present, 2003 edition, the Guide includes a chronology of the First Age, genealogical tables and an index of sources, as well as a concluding note by Ted Nasmith. Which brings me to this edition's most striking innovation: it now features no fewer than fifty of Ted's remarkable photo-realistic paintings of scenes from Tolkien's world.

For me to comment on these is perhaps unnecessary - a search for Ted's name on Google's Images page will show you soon enough what his work is like. For what it's worth, I think that his art is most successful when he's depicting ships or seas or skies - his painting of Earendil's Vingilot sailing for Aman is to my eye surpassingly lovely. And I'd say that all his landscapes are well worth seeing too, if perhaps sometimes slightly nudged towards gloominess by the influence of the X-Filesy conifer woods of his native Canada. He's least successful, in my wholly inexpert opinion, when he's painting figures in scenes of intense drama, when there's something about the results that to me looks a touch histrionic. What's not in doubt is that all his painting shows a dedication and skill that seem almost superhuman.

Harper's Chinese printers have reproduced Ted's art immaculately, on heavy, opaque paper that has a slight sheen to it. The same paper is used for Professor Foster's text, which is printed in an unusually slender font. A consequence is that reading the text by lamplight can be a touch less comfortable than it would have been if the typeface had been bolder.

The book is designed to match Ted's illustrated edition of The Silmarillion and the versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings illustrated by Alan Lee.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and excellent, 22 April 2014
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This is a comprehensive and excellent guide suitable for anyone who is interested in the tales of Middle-earth but who, like me, has difficulty remembering every name or connection. it also has some family trees at the back that come in handy. It is very solid in hardback. I am very pleased with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent buy, 3 Jan 2014
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Brought for my 15yr old son at xmas, at first thought it might be to detailed for him, but no he absolutely loves it, really good buy and efficient service.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Nov 2014
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The essential handbook for any tolkein lore you could need to know. Absolutely class!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know about Middle Earth, 21 Sep 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
The book has a well thought out design in a dictionary form. You find information on every character, every place, and every thing. There is a section on how to read the sources and abbreviations in the book. There are appendixes with A Chronology of the First Age, Genealogical Tables, and Conversion of page references to Houghton Mifflin Editions.

Some may think this guide is geared towards those that already have a basic knowledge of Middle earth. But upon exam one finds it is like any other dictionary those with a large vocabulary may need an occasional glance; while others may have to look up the words that explain the words.

I find it indispensable.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars indespensible guide to the complexities of middle-earth, 11 Dec 2003
By 
kit (Colorado, USA) - See all my reviews
This book is wonderful for learning more about every aspect of middle-earth. It works like a glossary, and any thing you read in The Hobbit, or the Trilogy, can be looked up and is given a brief explanation. By consistently using it as your guide you will learn much of the history of the elves, and find out things such as; Arwen is the granddaughter of Galadriel. You will also learn about Galadriel, why she was denied the right to sail from middle-earth due to the part she defiantly played in an long-ago war. Gandalf is given more depth and secrets are revealed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 July 2014
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"must have" for all Tolkien fans
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know about Middle-Earth, 9 May 2013
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Almost certainly the most comprehensive guide to Tolkien's world - but it's arranged as a glossary rather than a narrative description. This is fine if you just want to look for a particular name or place/location etc., but this is not a read you can pick up and read through as it's the equivalent as trying to read a dictionary.

If you're a Tolkien fan, this is a great book; although it would be nice if it could be updated to perhaps reference the Peter Jackson Lords of The Rings films and the latest Hobbit - although hardcore fans may disagree that these reinterpretations entirely reflect Tolkien's original vision.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The COMPLETE guide to Middle Earth, 12 Jan 2004
By 
James Busby (Luton Bedfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
This is THE reference book to have with you if you are interested in the Lord of the Rings etc. It has an extensive cross-referencing system which is a bit confusing until you get to grips with it. Having said this, I found it an easy to use, easy to read guide, with lots of new information about places, people, languages, as well as historical details.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic reference but beware!, 29 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This is a great reference of just about every name, place, creature and event mentioned in Tolkiens works. Importantly, each entry refers you to the relevant passages in the books...
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The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth: From the Hobbit Through the Lord of the Rings and Beyond
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