Tolkien’s World is the “unofficial and unauthorized guide to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” To start off with, this is a beautiful hardcover book. It’s big too, and I don’t mean in terms of page count. It’s 11.8×10.4×0.5 inches.
It isn’t just pictures and paintings though, it’s really more of a brief encyclopedia of all things “Middle-earth” related. It’s broken up into three sections: “The Free Peoples,” “The Enemy,” and “Legends and Lore of Middle-earth.” Gareth Hanrahan does a good job of breaking down the people, places, and items of Middle-earth into bite-sized paragraphs as what you need to know about it. I like that, as this is the type of book where some folks might try to get wordy. That’s not the case here, thankfully.
Gareth packed a lot of information in the book though, and that’s really what gives it the encyclopedia feel. I’m not the biggest of Middle-earth fans, so I’m definitely not an expert on this stuff, but I don’t see anything wrong with the information provided. It’s “unofficial and unauthorized” but it’s pretty accurate.
The real highlight of of the book though, and this isn’t meant to take away from Gareth’s good information, is the illustrations by Peter Mckinstry. Some of the images are “simple” drawings, but a lot of them are full page, full color paintings. They’re all extremely well done and it really does capture the feel of Tokien’s Middle-earth.
If you’re a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, or just the Peter Jackson trilogy of films, this is a book worth adding to your collection. There’s nothing here for folks who aren’t fans of The Lord of the Rings, but that’s to be expected. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14th, and this 80 page hardcover book is just the quick read to get you pumped for that film’s release.
Tolkien’s World gets a three out of five: SATISFYING.
* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.