A Tolkien Bestiary

By David Day

Rating: 4 stars

This book is more an encyclopaedia than a bestiary, since it covers various peoples and even individuals as well as races and creatures. The art is lovely, not necessarily what I would associate with Tolkien, but strong and beautiful nonetheless. There are line drawings spread throughout, pretty much on every page, and there are a number of colour page spreads clustered in a few areas as well. It’s pretty comprehensive, using all of Tolkien’s primary works of Arda, and with an index to primary sources at the back as well as a general index of the book itself.

Parts of it did make for rather uneasy reading, though, generally where races of men other than the Edain/NĂºmenĂ³reans were mentioned, as they were inevitable dark skinned and either evil in and of themselves or under the sway of Melkor/Sauron. This is something that may be easier to ignore in The Lord of the Rings, as they come up less, but in a book about races, it’s rather more stark. This doesn’t stop me from loving either book, but it’s a reminder of the world that Tolkien grew up in and the cultural shorthands he took for granted.

But looking beyond that, it’s a gorgeous book, impeccably researched and illustrated that deserves a place on the bookshelf of every Tolkien fan.

Book details

ISBN: 0855331887
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley
Year of publication: 1978

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