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on 19 May 2014
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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on 18 June 2014
I had good expectations regarding this book but when it got delivered it surpassed those in an instant. The print quality is excellent, the book itself is huge and the level of detail is very satisfying
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on 8 March 2017
Nice book
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This detailed guide was compiled to assist readers of The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion by placing historical events, characters and places in the context of Tolkien’s vast cosmology. As such it is an indispensable concordance for the serious fan of Tolkien’s world. The history of Middle Earth and Aman was woven together with great attention to detail so that all the stories fit together in perfect cohesion. The main body of the work has alphabetical entries from “Abyss” to “Zirak-Zigil”, while Appendix A is a chronology of the First Age from the creation of Eä to the birth of Elrond and Elros, and Appendix B contains genealogical tables like that of the first house of the Edain, the lines of Isildur and Anarion, the descent of the Peredhil, the house of Hurin and the Rohirrim. Many of the Elvish entries have translations of their meaning, e.g. Aragorn = “Royal Tree”. The treatment of languages, like variations and different shades of meaning, is quite detailed and interesting. Important races, places and characters have extensive commentary devoted to them but there are also many single line entries. This comprehensive reference work makes one appreciate Tolkien’s achievement all the more. I recommend it to all who are seriously interested in his brilliant creation that has come to life again at the beginning of our third millennium with the release of the excellent Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy. I would also like to recommend David Day’s book “A Tolkien Bestiary” which contains maps, chronologies and wonderful illustrations. These two titles together are all you need to have a complete reference to Aman and Middle Earth.
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on 9 January 2003
this guide has proven invaluable to me whilst reading the tolkien books.
you find yourself looking up one person or creature and then spotting another on the same page that grabs your attention.
it goes into great detail and gives an enlightened insight into tolkiens world.
until you own this book you will never realise the true genius and hard work that went into the books of tolkien. you will finally understand the loyalties, relationships and linkages of middle earth... it has everything!
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on 16 July 2004
My thirteen-year-old daughter has become a solid Tolkien fan, and picked up this book for further study. Organized into dictionary form, this wonderful book contains all of the information on people, places and things found in J.R.R. Tolkien's books on Middle-Earth. Do you want to know more about Elrond or the great Wizards? What about the Grey Havens or the Rings of Power? Well, it's all here!
The information is nicely organized, including translations (where necessary) and source reference. Now, the one thing I must say is that if you have not read the Silmarillion, then a good deal of the information here will not mean much to you. If you have read it, then this book will be a great resource for you. If you haven't read the Silmarillion (like my daughter), then you will still find this a treasure trove of fascinating information. My daughter and I both highly recommend this book to you!
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on 22 August 2000
A great book for Tolkien fans! I've been reading "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" and both are full of names, places, things and persons. This book displayes all these names from A-Z and explains a little about each one. It contains information on everything from "The Hobbit" to "The Silmarillion". This book has helped me much understanding the world better J. R. R. Tolkien created.
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on 25 May 2004
This book is really fabulous with its enormous detail giving very thing about the character or place with as much detail as can be found about it in texts.
Its expansive text was a must have for me and gave enormous detail about such subjects as details about the seven fathers of dwarves and the folk of durin as well details about what aragorn did in his youth against the corsairs of umbar.

It also tells about many things not even mentioned in the book- like all details concerning helm hammerhand as well as all is known about the palantiri and the hoards of easterlings that invaded gondor and nearly brought it to its knees as well as virtually all that is known about the istari and sauron.
This book has great detail(so much so that even christopher tolkien recommends it) but I found its only shortcoming was that it hardly had many details about genealogical tables which I had wanted to know about and huge gaps were found in several places in that way.
But other than that I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in middle earth with a guarantee that they will be pouring over it for hours.
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VINE VOICEon 9 February 2004
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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on 12 August 2011
Along with Karen Fonstad's Atlas a very useful and informative friend (I didn't want to say companion) to make re-reading LOTR more enjoyable.
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