Book Review of David Day’s The Battles of Tolkien – Father’s Day Gift Idea

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David Day’s The Battles of Tolkien

I was given a free sample in exchange of my honest opinion.
I asked my brother-in-law to give his honest opinion an he was not required to write a positive review.

Review By Nathan R. Kloetstra

First impressions of this book are very positive. The cover is a very vibrant red pleather, with gold printing for its title and spine. Its cover illustrations are not simple drawing or prints they are imprinted into the cover material. Not just on the front but the back as well, giving it great depth, texture and detail. The book is 255 pages in length. But don’t let it put you off, for this book has a great many (more than half) of it pages are or have pictures on them. These vary from simple sketches to full page and double page full colour art. On first impressions alone I would give this book a 10/10.

I have been a fan of Tolkien’s work since my father introduced me to The Hobbit one summer vacation when I was between the ages’ of 10-12. I couldn’t get enough, fast enough. I kept trying to sneak it away from his hiding spots to read it. Then when we finished it I got my hands on his copies of The Lord of the Rings. I was hooked. I read The Hobbit once or twice a year from then till I turned 18 and The Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year as well. I got a copy of The Simarillion for my 16th Christmas and read it cover to cover. It was a harder read but I made it through without giving up. I also have two other of David Day’s books based on Tolkien’s works, Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia and The Hobbit Companion. Enough about me, back to this book.

The Battles of Tolkien begins with a brief 8 page introduction about Tolkien’s writings, his personal history, specifically around the World War’s, and a bit of explanation into what we will find in this book. This is help full for readers and the one piece of caution the reader may find use full when referring to the maps of the battles we find throughout the book; ‘they are works of art born of the imagination of creative artists, informed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. These maps are illustrations that are no less interpretive of source than other original illustrations of the characters, creatures, and landscapes in this book – and therefore can be seen as well informed, but not authoritative.’ For me, as a fan, this statement was helpful as I skimmed through this work before reading it and viewed some of the maps without this needed context. However, that said as you do read the book, and especially if you are enjoying reading Tolkien’s novels again or for the first time, the maps bring another dimension to the entire experience.

This book is full of notes, snippets and comments from Tolkien based on his works. The little things that are behind the work. The why he included this or that thing. Why he created the Dwarves and their difference from Dwarfs. The how and where his study of language and history, and his living through momentous events, effected his each of the novels. David Day took us through the various stages of the history of Middle Earth to get a scope of the length and breadth of not only the conflicts, for there are many showings of conflict thought out the stories, but also how each one effected its place in the story.

David Day breaks the history of Middle Earth down in to 6 parts. The first part is Battles of the Valarian Ages. This is where the creation mythology of Tolkien’s universe is introduced and its breaking is discussed. The second part is the Battles of the First Age; this is a working thought the major battles and wars, as well as ideas, found in The Simarillion. Part three The Second Age: Wars of the Elves and Numenoreans and the fourth The Third Age: Wars of the Dunedain bring us through Sauron’s entry into Middle earth and his on-going conflict with Elves and Men along with the mythos of rings of power. Part five brings us to events portrayed in The Hobbit with The Third Age: Wars of the Dwarves. Part six is The War of the Ring taking us into the battles, events and background of the various parts and players in Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

In conclusion, after reading this book and considering all I have learned, through it, about the various writings of J.R.R Tolkien I must give it high praise, 10/10 – for fans of Tolkien’s works. For many who don’t have the same love of the great authors’ work I do, I would say there are still little bits and pieces you will find interesting. And that is just in the writing, the art and maps are also very enjoyable and will add to the reading pleasure.