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The Tolkien Companion

The Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler

ISBN10: 0380009013
ISBN13: 978-0380009015
Author: J. E. A. Tyler
Book title: The Tolkien Companion
Publisher: Avon (February 1980)
Language: English
Category: Science Fiction
Size PDF: 1738 kb
Size ePub: 1630 kb
Size Fb2: 1621 kb
Rating: 4.8/5
Votes: 721

The Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler

First Avon Printing. March 1977. Soft Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Illustrated By Kevin Reilly (illustrator). First Trade Paperback. 5 1/4" x 8". A complete guide to the legends, history, languages and peoples of Middle Earth. Contains almost every known fact, name, "foreign" word, date and etymological allusion, together with an explanation of the various Elvish writing systems, and with maps, charts and genealogical tables developed by the compiler. Light edge wear. Some creases on the spine.


With a universe as complex and nuanced as Tolkien's Middle-Earth, a guide is invaluable. Unfortunately, J.E.A. Taylor's "Complete Tolkien Companion" is far from invaluable. With barely any details and seriously unbalanced data, Taylor's book is all right as a second or third choice, but a flop as a serious guide.

From A ("Accursed Years") to Z ("Zirak-Zigil"), this book covers people, places, battles, objects and events from all throughout Middle-Earth's history. Taylor includes information from Tolkien's famous "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings," as well as the Silmarillion, "Unfinished Tales," and some other books. (Unfortunately, he doesn't include all of the history books)

Is "The Complete Tolkien Companion" worthless as an encyclopedia? No, not at all -- it's useful for some quick glances, and Taylor has a pleasant if clumsy style. But as a serious source, it fails. It doesn't have enough information, and what it does have is unbalanced and weirdly conveyed.

One of the most annoying things is that while Tyler will tell some stuff about various characters, events, and items. But in most entries, he doesn't specify which books they appeared in, what pages, or much else. Where is "Khuzdul" revealed to be a secret language? He doesn't tell you. And his handling of the information is clumsy: readers are told that Arwen Evenstar shares the "Doom of Luthien." What does Luthien have to do with her descendent becoming a mortal? Taylor doesn't say.

What's more, Taylor demonstrates a weird tendency to act like the events of Tolkien's books are a 10,000-year-old history. He claims in his preciously-worded foreword that he's going to stop, but he doesn't -- a tendency that crosses the line from fervently geeky to unsettling. What is more, he has a tendency to interject his own opinions into the text: he spends a long time explaining how misunderstood Galadriel is, for example.

To very casual fans, "The Complete Tolkien Companion" might have some worth. But for those seeking more information about Tolkien's Middle-Earth, this is an unworthy choice, in the shadow of Robert Foster's accomplished "Complete Guide to Middle-Earth."

'The Tolkien Companion' is a brilliant guide to 'The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings', and 'The Silmarillion'. It tells of many peoples, places, and things throughout Middle-earth and the Undying Lands. Anything I do not understand in author J.R.R. Tolkien's world is uniquely explained from this must-own book tribute. I highly recommend you buy 'The Tolkien Companion'!

...I am a really big Lord of the Rings fan. I have read all the books! And the Tokien companion just caught my eye. Well I bought it and this book is like a dictonary of the whole Lord of the rings. It is great, it has almost everything, all except a few elvish words, which are hard to get. But other than that it is a great book!

what a great book for a ringer to have - I love it.

and who is the sleeper in it? I originally checked this book out of the library with the intention of finding this out from it. Well, I didn't. In fact, in all the Tolkien books I have read, I have only come across one reference to it, and this, I think(I am not traipsing upstairs to my bookcase right this minute)was in Lost Tales 1(maybe 2). I think the Tower was on an island in the Shadowy Seas, and at the time of the Last Battle, the Sleeper in it will awake. However, is the Sleeper Ainu?, Maia?, Eldar?, Human???, how did the Tower get there in the first place, and what purpose did it serve? This is my only qualm with this book, but I cannot fault it any more than other Tolkien books, because no others elaborate on this subject either! Now, I am done nit-picking! This book was excellent in both the breadth and depth of its scope. Both the casual reader and the serious Tolkien lover will appreciate Mr. Tyler's fine research on this subject. It is as complete, if not more, in its listings than Mr. Foster's Guide, and on topics that require a second, deeper look, Mr. Tyler gives us more information, period, and does not hesitate to throw in some minor philosophizing that allows the mind to take what was simple and look at it in a more complex light. Also, Mr. Tyler includes some references to early European history that allow a creative mind to link past and present tales together in a way that shows how unique an author/chronicler Tolkien really was. The topics are clearly explained, cross-indexed, and the usual obscure but interesting information is there(the names of all twelve of Barahir's companions in Dorthonion, etc.). This book is well worth its price new but just as good used or on long loan from the library. Mr. Foster's Guide is an excellent and marvelously complete pocket reference, but to start philosophical discussions or to have as a desk reference, this volume will definitely add in positive ways to your collection.

no tolkien devotee should be without this!

Author J.E.A. Tyler's goal in this book is unclear. As a book to read for fun, it's not bad: it is mostly written in a flowery historical style somewhat similar to Tolkien's own histories. However, as a source of information on Tolkien's Middle-earth, it is downright bad; almost every Tolkien "expert" I've seen agrees on that.
Tyler's book has two real problems. First, he does a very poor job of distinguishing between facts from Tolkien's writings and his own extrapolations. Second, his research itself is rather poor, as can be seen even from the sample pages provided here. A classic example is the entry for "Adan, Edain": his translation "Father-of-Man" is wrong ("Edain" literally means "The Second People"), his discussion of the Three Houses says nothing of the Haladin (who in any case did not have "much to do with Dwarves"), and many of his other statements in the entry are incorrect or misleading as well.
A far better reference for information on Tolkien's world is Robert Foster's _Complete Guide to Middle-earth_. It's not as fun to read, but it's very reliable and includes page references to the source material. Better still, read Tolkien's own books, such as _Unfinished Tales_.