Tuesday 20 February 2024

Book Review: The Nature of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien (Fantasy)

Title: The Nature of Middle Earth
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2023
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Birthday Gift

The first ever publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide range of subjects and perfect for those who have read and enjoyed The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth, and want to learn more about Tolkien's magnificent world.

It is well known that J.R.R. Tolkien published
The Hobbit in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954-5. What may be less known is that he continued to write about Middle-earth in the decades that followed, right up until the years before his death in 1973.

For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored, and the writings in
The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. From sweeping themes as profound as Elvish immortality and reincarnation, and the Powers of the Valar, to the more earth-bound subjects of the lands and beasts of Numenor, the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor, and even who had beards!

This new collection, which has been edited by Carl F. Hostetter, one of the world's leading Tolkien experts, is a veritable treasure-trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien's shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life.


The Nature of Middle-Earth is in many ways a fascinating read with its detailed look at everything from geography to the measurement of Elvish lifetimes and reproductive cycles. However, because of this, I must stress it's not a 'story' set in Middle-Earth, but rather a collection of Tolkien's background notes about the world he created. To follow this book, you need to have read everything published under Tolkien's name, including the full History of Middle-Earth series. I have read it all, but that was a fair time ago, so even I had to try to refresh my memory as different characters and events were referenced. In conclusion, I would say this is an interesting resource for die-fan Tolkien fans but perhaps not so captivating if you pick it up simply on the basis of enjoying the movies. As such, I am giving it 4 stars.

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