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Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull - Lord of the Rings: Reader’s CompanionThis substantial volume, titled Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, is a very impressive piece of work indeed – Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull must be the people knowing most about JRR Tolkien’s works in the world – and now whey share their knowledge with us. If you’ve read all the books in the canon, the Silmarillion, the Lost Tales, the Unfinished Tales, and all the other bits JRR kept  just for his reference, and Christopher dredged up and published; and you still want more, then you’ve just hit gold. This the complete view of the texts and the world LOTR plays in that Tolkien never completed.

Let’s go through the sections of the book to give you an idea of what you’re looking at:

The first, short Preface is by the Authors, detailing how their work with the various books and editions, pulling them all together, correcting spelling and setting errors introduced over time, detecting and ironing out timing errors in parallel streams, and a general description of the huge endeavour that lead to the latest, corrected edition of the Tolkien books, and this volume, of course.

The next part is a short History of when Tolkien wrote what, re-wrote what, dealt with with publisher, and what came of it etc. This is followed by a chapter on Chronologies, Calendars, and Moons (no kidding!) across the entire story arc; a section on the various Maps and their origins and variants; the forewords to the 1st and 2nd edition (both by Tolkien), analyzed and commented; and finally a Prologue, anayzing and describing the world the stories play in, their history, flora, fauna, and of course people. This last bit is collected from discourses on the topic across all the books, and must the definitive overview over Middle Earth.

Then we hit the main part of the book, which consists of the Author’s work on the new, corrected edition of LOTR. It follows the 6 books, and details, chapter by chapter, sometimes line by line, the various editions of the text, relevant background information from other Tolkien books outside the LOTR series, and corrections made to wording, sentence structure, timings, moon phases (oh yes!) etc. Fascinating in short bursts, absolutely brain numbing in anything longer.

 

Appendix A is the “Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, again pulled in from all the books, and cross-referenced into all the various stories and mentions therein. Appendix B is “The Tale of Years”, a Chronology of the Westlands. Who was what when where, did what, moved where etc. Appendix C (briefly) talks about the Family Trees, and Appendix D compares and synchronises the various calendars used by the different people and areas. Appendix E is on “Writing and Spelling”, and Appendix F on the well-loved topic of “The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age”, and what happened to these over the years the story was written, published, re-written, re-published, re-set etc.

Next we get a (commented) letter from Tolkien to Milton Waldman, an editor with Collins at the time (who then published the Silmarillion and LOTR), outlining his thoughts on the format, how the stories hang together, and how they should be published and read. This is followed by a Nomenclature of the LOTR, which basically is a section on the background of names, places, concepts used, so they can be understood and translated correctly.

Then we get a summary of the changes in the new version, without all the explanations, and a full listing of the sources the Authors consulted during their work. Completists and Background junkies eat your heart out, the list runs across 16 pages! All that remaind after this is a long, detailed, and (I guess) exhaustive Index.

So, what about the book? Well, I guess it’s not something most people will read from cover to cover. But if you’re a Tolkien fan, or even if you liked and enjoyed the LOTR books, then there’s wealth of information and background in here that will make you see the stories with different eyes. The parts on Tolkien himself, the writing of the books, and his views of the whole thing make for fascinating reading.

Get this if you’re a Tolkien fan, or if you’re looking for the perfect present for the LOTR completist. If you don’t know your Arse from your Elrond then this won’t do much for you I’m afraid, go spend your money (and time) on the actual books, and then come back!

 

Title: Lord of the Rings

Subtitle: A Reader’s Companion

Author: Wayne G Hammond

Author: Christina Scull

Reviewer: Markus

Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Publisher URL: http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/

Publication Date: Oct 3 2005

Review Date: Dec 26 2005

ISBN: 000720308X

Price: UKP 18.99

Pages: 894

Format: Hardback

Topic: Fantasy

Topic: Companion

 

 

 

 

 

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