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J.R.R. Tolkien's novels of Middle-earth ? The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillian ? have become some of the most famous, and most beloved, literary works of the twentieth century. And the Lord of the Rings films by director Peter Jackson have re-ignited interest in Tolkien and his works, as well as introduced his stories to a new generation of fans.
Even if you've never read the novels and have only seen the films, you know that the ...
J.R.R. Tolkien's novels of Middle-earth – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillian – have become some of the most famous, and most beloved, literary works of the twentieth century. And the Lord of the Rings films by director Peter Jackson have re-ignited interest in Tolkien and his works, as well as introduced his stories to a new generation of fans.
Even if you've never read the novels and have only seen the films, you know that the world of Middle-earth is a complicated one. Tolkien took great care in representing this world, from creating new languages to including very particular cultural details that add to the richness of the world's fabric. Many other books have been written about Tolkien and his works, but none have come close to providing the kind of reference needed to comprehend the world of Middle-earth. That's what veteran Dummies author and unabashed Tolkien fan Greg Harvey attempts to do in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies.
As the author says in his introduction to the book, this is not an encyclopedia or quick guide to all the diverse beings, languages, and history that make up Tolkien's Middle-earth. Nor is it a set of plot outlines for the novels. Rather, what you'll find in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies is a basic guide to some of the possible linguistic and mythological origins of Middle-earth, plus a rudimentary analysis of its many themes and lessons for our world. This book can help enrich your reading (or re-reading) of Tolkien's novels, and it will challenge you to think about the themes inherent in Tolkien's Middle-earth and their implications in your own life.
Here's just a sampling of the topics you'll find covered in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies:
So, whether you're reading Tolkien's novels or watching the films for the first time, or you've been a fan for many years and are looking for a new take on Tolkien's works, The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies can help you enhance your reading or viewing experience for years to come.
Part I: The Geography of Middle-earth.
Chapter 1: The Worlds of Middle-earth.
Chapter 2: The Lands of Middle-earth and Beyond.
Part II: The Beings of Middle-earth.
Chapter 3: The Divine Ainur.
Chapter 4: The Fair Race of Elves.
Chapter 5: The Mortal Race of Men.
Chapter 6: The Hardy Race of Dwarves.
Chapter 7: Those Homespun Hobbits.
Chapter 8: The Wily Wizards.
Chapter 9: Beorn, Tom Bombadil, and Treebeard.
Chapter 10: The Enemy and His Minions.
Part III: The History of Middle-earth.
Chapter 11: The Valarian Ages.
Chapter 12: The First Three Ages and Then Some.
Part IV: The Languages of Middle-earth.
Chapter 13: Tolkien and Language.
Chapter 14: The Tongues of Tolkien.
Part V: The Themes and Mythology of Middle-earth.
Chapter 15: The Struggle Between Good and Evil.
Chapter 16: Immortality and Death.
Chapter 17: The Heroic Quest.
Chapter 18: Chivalry and True Love.
Chapter 19: Fate and Free Will.
Chapter 20: Faith and Redemption.
Chapter 21: Ring-related Myths.
Chapter 22: Ecological Themes.
Chapter 23: Sex and Gender.
Part VI: The Part of Tens.
Chapter 24: Top Ten Battles in the War of the Ring.
Chapter 25: Top Ten Online Middle-earth Resources.
Chapter 26: Top Ten Ways the “Lord of the Rings” Books Differ from the Movies.
Posted April 21, 2007
A well-written and informative introduction to Middle-earth, but sadly the product of an author bending a classic to his will. Other authors using Tolkien's works as a springboard for religious conversation entitle their books accordingly. If I buy a book called, 'Finding God in the Lord of the Rings,' I know what to expect. Not so with Harvey. Better to call the book, 'Finding Comparative Religion and Philosophy in Tolkien's Middle-earth.' Harvey calls his approach 'hermeneutics', which is as useful to the analysis of Middle-earth themes as a bicycle is to a fish and serves to tarnish the bright silver themes Tolkien wove into the narrative. To better understand Tolkien's themes, read Tolkien's letters. Harvey drops hints throughout the book, reaching his thematic climax on pg. 232, second paragraph. In trying to write an essay open to all, he dilutes his argument fatally. Buy this book for the evocative cover, or the well-written and valuable arrangement of information about Tolkien's people, places, and things. The charts and illustrations will illuminate the character relationships and Middle-earth geography. It does all that VERY VERY WELL!!! But if you're looking for clarification of Tolkien's thematic approach, go to his Letters. Namarie!
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Posted February 27, 2005
I can never seem to find the time to read the literature I really want to. For years friends would tell me what I was missing in such classics as 'Lord of the Rings' and 'the Hobbit'. Thankfully, with the advent of this genius title, I won't have to read those classics anymore! Why slog through all that flowery prose when all I really wanted was cold, hard facts about an imaginary universe?
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Posted December 4, 2003