Colin Duriez has appeared as a commentator on several mainstream documentaries, has authored biographies of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and studied for several months under Francis Schaeffer at Swiss L'Abri before reading English and philosophy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He writes books, edits, and lectures.
Reviews - What do customers think about The J. R. R. Tolkien Handbook: A Concise Guide to His Life, Writings, and World of Middle-Earth?
a good place to start Apr 20, 2004
I borrowed this book from a friend and then realized that i had to buy my own copy because it really helped me while i was ready The Lord of the Rings and I know it will continue to help me as I read the other books Tolkien wrote. Although I understand it is not entirely inclusive of all the characters, places, ideas, theologies, etc, that Tolkien wrote about (the list would be infinite!!) it does provide the reader with a very comprehensive guide and foundation to begin to understand the journey Tolkien went on and the background for probably the most crucial and important aspects, people, events, places and ideas of Middle-Earth.
The book also contains suggested readings so you can further your study of certain topics, which (as a rising Tolkien scholar) i found to be MOST helpful.
I thoroughly enjoy (yes, present tense, as in, continue to enjoy!) this book and would recommend it to any fan of Tolkien who needs a little help organizing and understanding ALL that is Middle Earth and that is Tolkien!
You cannot understand Lord of the Rings without reading it Mar 12, 2004
You just cannot understand the wonderful Lord of the Rings trilogy in print or on screen without reading this wonderful book. The authors are both insightful, easy to read and great fun - buy this book before you go and read the books again! Christopher Catherwood, author of CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE and WHOSE SIDE IS GOD ON?
Good for newbie Nov 30, 2002
This book is good for somebody new to Tolkien. There are some more complete handbooks/encyclopedias for Tolkien's writings out there, but I think that a newbie might find them overwhelming.
This book is firmly focused on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, drawing information from Tolkien's other books only if it provides useful background to people or events in the Rings trilogy. For instance, there is background on an ancient marriage between a human man (Beren) and an elf woman (Luthien)that sets the stage for the romance between Aragorn and Arwen. My understanding is that Tolkien's other writings contain many other stories, characters, and settings that are not necessary for the understanding of the Rings trilogy.
The Rings movie was my introduction to Tolkien. Since then, I have read the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. I fully expect that as I continue to read Tolkien and continue to be fascinated by the world he created that I will buy a more complete handbook. But for now, this is a good source of information.
Decent Affair: 3 Stars, one subtracked because of subtitle Jun 9, 2000
It seems Mr Duriez has also written a "Handbook" (the In-Print Encyclopedia) on C.S. Lewis. I don't know the quality of that work, but I do of this, and I mean to tell you about it. It might be good, but I would be wary of it, because this volume promises similar things but does not deliver its high promises. Instead, it offers SOME information, but nothing comprehensive.
The best counsel I can give unto you is to stay away from this book. There's a reason it's out of print people. It's only an average work, not even amounting to 300 pages. It's crossed reference, and in the end, feels like the work of someone wanting to cash in on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There's much better works (such as Karen Wynn Fonstad, Paul H. Kocher, and David Day) on the literary creations of Tolkien. This book, calling itself comprehensive, is hardly that. This is the subtitle to make others look and buy - but withhold yourself on the hope that this is a first class volume. Its not. Its not a terrible volume, but neither is to an excellent volume. It's average, and for those who really want to get into the works of Tolkien, I would suggest to have this on your shelves along others, for different perspectives. But it's only use is that. On its own, no. With the money you were going to buy this, I'd recommend the much more interesting LETTERS OF J.R.R. Tolkien. If you are looking for something on Lewis' Narnia, go with Paul F. Ford's Companion to Narnia - a first-class reference work (the revised version). That's what a reference work is supposed to be like people, not this average affair.