David Day’s “Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary”

A Must Read 300This week, I am reviewing a book that is more on the informative side of reading, though it is certainly fictional in nature: David Day’s Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary. I received this book as a gift from family, and let me just say, it is an incredible collection of information on some of the most mysterious aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. If you have ever read any of Tolkien’s books on Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings series, for instance), then you will have undoubtedly stumbled onto one of the reasons that Tolkien is regarded as an almost unmatched writer: he created a living, breathing world. Middle-Earth is filled with lore, from fascinating beasts to epic mythologies and locales. This book covers just about all of them. I hesitate to say “all” only because this book has shown me just have much of the lore I did not know, and I have read Tolkien’s work extensively.

Besides being incredibly thorough in its histories and descriptions, the guide has one other feature that sets itself apart. The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous. The majority of these illustrations, contributed by eleven different illustrators, are all black-and-white, and it is apparent (due to the absolutely absurd attention to detail) that they were hand-drawn. Other illustrations, namely those of locations, are rendered beautifully in full color. The creatures look disturbing and sharp where suitable, and the locations are all vibrant, springing off of the page. You will spend as much time looking at the illustrations as you will reading the expertly compiled mass of information. If you aren’t a Tolkien fan, then this obviously isn’t for you. That being said, if you have a love for the living world that Tolkien crafted in the thirties, then David Day’s Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary is a must-have compliment to the masterful series.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor