Book Review: Tolkien, A Dictionary by David Day

Love Tolkien? This book is a must for you, then. Within its beautiful leather-like binding it does exactly what it says on the tin, providing as much information about Tolkien and Arda in a book that isn’t the size of a massive binder.

It doesn’t have every word or definition on can think up, though: Idril Celebrindal, Thranduil and Beleg Cuthalion don’t have their own individual entries for example (though the latter two do show up, sometimes several times, in the entries of others), and given that Day is trying to cram in every factoid or detail from a whole fictional world, his effort is admirable indeed. It’s the best comprehensive-like glossary you can get without delving in the back pages of Tolkien’s back catalogue which, for all those of you who have done it, you will know can end up in ten to twenty minutes of really looking everything about a word or a thing.

I don’t think it replaces books like The History of Middle Earth Collection but it is an easily accessible guide for someone who is enthusiastic about Tolkien who doesn’t feel the need to read his whole compendium to get a broader view of his world. Much like the well loved and equally beautiful Atlas of Middle Earth, this dictionary is another text which helps categorise and clarify all that goes in Arda. Dependent upon who your favourite characters might be, you might feel that their initial entry space isn’t as large as it should be (my feelings upon seeing the entry for Elwë Singollo) but I feel this is balanced out by entries of lesser known items that Day is obviously trying to give some space in the spotlight. For example, I had great delight reading about Simbelmynē and Umbar, both of which I didn’t know a lot about before.

So to sum up: a great book which has enough in it to give satisfaction to the serious Tolkien aficionado without completely alienating the casual enthusiast. It’s a beautiful book with just as beautiful illustrations inside, and I’d like to think even the great Tolkien himself would have liked it.

(photo credit:

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