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TCG Review of the 2022 "The Complete Guide to Middle-earth"

1 Sep, 2022
2022-9-1 6:54:28 AM UTC

In the interests of disclosure, I was sent a review copy of the new Trade edition of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster and illustrated by Ted Nasmith. The review copy was sent by HarperCollins.

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This review is about the 2022 Trade edition of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster and illustrated by Ted Nasmith which is released in the UK on the 1st September 2022. The Deluxe edition is released on the 29th September and will be reviewed separately.

A peerless A–Z guide to the names, places and events in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, fully illustrated in colour throughout by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s works of epic adventure and fantasy, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have delighted many millions of fans since they were first published, and are now more popular than ever before.

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth has been compiled to enhance the reader’s enjoyment of Tolkien’s books by bringing together in an A-Z sequence all the key facts and information about names, places, languages and events from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Accompanied with numerous genealogical tables and a unique Chronology of the First Age, it will provide an indispensable aid to every reader’s discovery of Tolkien’s world.

The first, and definitive, encyclopedia, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is now reissued to complement the illustrated hardbacks of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and is lavishly illustrated with more than 50 full-colour paintings by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith, with many appearing exclusively in this edition.

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The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: The Definitive Guide to the World of J.R.R. Tolkien

HarperCollins (2022-09-01)

£35.00 HarperCollins (Hardback) - Availability: Click to check
$38.32 Blackwell's (hardback) - Availability: Usually dispatched within 7 days
$47.92 (Hardcover) - Availability: Now
£23.37 (Hardcover) - Availability: Now
€34.28 (Gebundene Ausgabe) - Availability: Now
€28.90 AbeBooks - Availability: Click to check

The Book


The book is a hardback and is in the same style as the HarperCollins Trade illustrated hardbacks, the boards are grey, and Robert Foster's name is on the spine, Tolkien's was on the 2003 edition which I consider to be incorrect.


The book is printed and bound by Rotolito S.p.A. in Italy. It contains a green ribbon marker. The text highlights are in light blue, and the blank line spacing has been removed between entries that was featured in the 2003 edition. The pagination of the pages has changed from the 2003 edition but I can not see any changes between the text, Bob Foster has stated that he did not provide any updates on the text for this edition, but it is possible that some errors in the text have been corrected.


The books contains an Introduction by Bob Foster and Notes on the Illustrations by Ted Nasmith. These appear to be identical to the 2003 edition entries.



This edition of the book contains 54 wonderful illustrations by Ted Naismith, the 2003 edition contained 50 illustrations. However, some of the illustrations are different between the editions. I have created a spreadsheet detailing the illustrations in both the 2003 and 2022 editions. ... a6ODTU2E/edit?usp=sharing


This book is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in Middle-earth, either new to Tolkien or someone who just wants to find out more about a character, place, etc. in Tolkien's legendarium.

It is great to have the book back on sale and for it to take its place as the definitive Guide, and this is highly recommended over other guides to Tolkien that are also on booksellers shelves.

If you have the now very rare 2003 edition of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth and are considering should I get a copy of this new edition, for me the answer is yes. The text is the same but the illustrations and the form factor of the book alone, makes it a great addition to your collection. However, if you do already own the 2003 edition, you may just want to hold out for the new Deluxe edition.

I would recommend that everyone gets a copy of the Trade or Deluxe edition of this book, or like me gets both editions.

For anyone interested in the previous publication history of this book then please see this article A Publication History of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster (Journal of Tolkien Research, 14.1) by TCG member oxonianus

Finally, Urulókë, Mr. Underhill and myself, recently sat down to talk with Robert Foster (author) and Ted Nasmith (illustrator) of the new edition of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth from HarperCollins UK. Both gentlemen share fascinating insights into their process for the book, and give details about future projects coming from both!

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1 Sep, 2022
2022-9-1 7:43:15 AM UTC
Thank you Trotter for this review.
I managed to purchase it yesterday at a bookstore in Paris.
I am a bit underwhelmed by the overall quality of the book :
- the pictures are not very well reproduced : as it was already the case for Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion, the paper used for the illustrations is the same than the one used for the text. For this edition, the paper is pure white, where the paper used for the text has a cream colour. The illustrations lack of sharpness for some of them.
- as a result, on my copy, I have the same issue noticed for some copies of the Deluxe edition of the Lord of the Rings illustrated by the author : text pages are sometimes cream, sometimes white
- some of the text entries (in blue and bold) have some shading offsetting.

So I don't know if everyone will have those issues, I guess that it will be like the previous edition of the Lord of the Rings deluxe, might be a game of chance (Rotolito lottery)...
2 Sep, 2022
2022-9-2 11:42:18 PM UTC
I’ve planned to only buy the deluxe edition for a while. Nice review, Trotter.
4 Sep, 2022
2022-9-4 6:06:45 PM UTC
Sewn or glued binding?
4 Sep, 2022
2022-9-4 6:10:59 PM UTC
Also on the same day the new HC release of Tyler The Complete Tolkien Companion was released. ... n-companion/9781035008575

Anyone got that one and can share it there are any updates?
4 Sep, 2022
2022-9-4 6:15:38 PM UTC

Jocoj wrote:

Also on the same day the new HC release of Tyler The Complete Tolkien Companion was released. ... n-companion/9781035008575

Anyone got that one and can share it there are any updates?

No updates that stand out, am planning to do a comparison with Foster's Guide of the two books.

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7 Sep, 2022
2022-9-7 12:40:38 PM UTC
Not looking good. Nasty error.

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7 Sep, 2022
2022-9-7 12:51:21 PM UTC
I wonder why that was changed, it is correct in the 2003 edition. I have let HarperCollins know of the error.
8 Sep, 2022
2022-9-8 7:03:20 PM UTC
Don't know if anyone noticed, but I found another error. It should be "daughters" I think.

Also sorry if it's a repost.

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11 Sep, 2022
2022-9-11 1:19:17 AM UTC
Question for Trotter (or anyone else possessing this book):does your book’s ribbon marker seem shorter than normal?
My copy’s ribbon is so short that it doesn’t reach the bottom edge of the book block. Usually the ribbon is long enough to hang below the bottom edge an inch or more. Just wondering if mine is defective.
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