Tolkien Collector's Guide
Sign In
Tolkien Collector's Guide
Important links:

Guide to Tolkien's Letters
Winner of the 2019 Tolkien Society award for Best Website

5 February
2024-2-5 6:04:15 AM UTC

Amon Rudh wrote:

I have not read any DD books but am aware many state opinions as above.
What's the issue with them as such? I can understand calling out someone who states errors as 'fact' but if expressing an opinion, what's the difference between DD doing it and someone else jumping on the gravy train? To my mind at least unless stated meanings are specifically explained or confirmed by the author, surely it's all speculation?
It's a genuine enquiry, made in an attempt to understand the enmity against DD specifically 🙂

Here's a general overview of what some critics have said of Day's books (

The Tolkien Society does not recommend any of Day's books in their suggested readings (preferring Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth instead)[4] whilst David Bratman, editor of the Tolkien Studies journal, makes the same suggestion that David Day's books are "Not Recommended".[5] Troels Forchammer noted in his blog that "Day is infamous in Tolkien circles for his creative re-interpretation of Tolkien's work"[6] whilst Michael Martinez made the sterner observation that "In Tolkien scholarship the worst insult one could deliver at any point for many years was equivalent to 'That sounds like something David Day wrote'."[7]
5 February
2024-2-5 10:18:02 AM UTC
Cheers Jlong. My main driver was a dislike of herd like attack which seems so prevalent in the world these days, often when people have not e.g. read a single DD book. This is the reason for my asking the question I did. Although based on this piece it appears that his books are simply not great nor reliable as a knowledge base. Or at best case, there are more accurate alternatives.
Reading that article it seems he states his speculation as fact rather than e.g. suggesting it as a possibility or as his interpretation along with getting some things wrong and stating them as fact. Perhaps there's an element of arrogance given his success and e.g. the Oxenmoot 'scandal'.
I am thankful I avoided his books in my days of first purchases and stuck with HC and other official Tolkien Estate volumes. To be fair, his books whilst not recommended, are listed on the DD page as external sources which seems to be quite generous!
5 February
2024-2-5 3:16:14 PM UTC
My goodness.David Day again.Right,this is hopefully not part of a herd like response,which I didn't really notice or felt on this site, but rather a deeply felt personal view from someone who has been deeply affected by Tolkien's magical writings.David Day's simplistic books try to portray his half truths and unfounded surmises as bona fide specialist Tolkien facts.An expert in all things David Day is not.He often gets things wrong...sometimes he is right but I've later found some of this pre-dating elsewhere.He consistently dumbs down Tolkien complexity and Tolkien has been a cash cow to him for many years and it is obvious he's not an admirer. Tolkien would have been pretty incensed by Day's books and he would have found his books to be false,poorly written,lazily researched,simplistic,and the opposite to being informative as often leads fans down false trails.Read Tolkien direct and make your own notes.So The Silmarillion was not a success....what planet is David Day on,certainly not Middle-earth for the advance pre-order for the Silmarillion was eye watering and I remember at the time,friends of mine had great difficulty getting their hands on a copy for some time.Yes,it was not as commercially successful as LOTRs,a 'monster' in Christopher Tolkien's eyes,but for other writers and artists it was so inspirational,and still is, and many good selling authors would die to have such a big selling book which consistently sold well every year....Book publisher Raynor Unwin was most grateful,emotional (Tolkien,a friend,was not long deceased) and relieved for the publication.The Silmarillion is a masterpiece,Tolkien's greatest one, for this huge interrelated body of work includes Unfinished Tales,the 12 vols of History of M.E,Nature of M.E,as well as The Silmarillion and LOTRs/ is an indivisible achievement that is unparalled.Tolkien had DONE IT...a mythology for England no less.A most singular imaginative tour de force that is right up there with Shakespeare,Milton,Blake,Dickens,Joyce etc...add your own genius. It is extraordinary,and becomes truly mind blowing when one factors in his significant full time academic career,and being a loving parent,grand parent etc.Tolkien was and is intensely inspirational,a trail blazing genius. I get NO sense of this,no wonder,no enchantment,no inspiration from Day's banal repetitive books.I feel the same way about Day as I do Rings Of Power but there are some signs of a sea change in Amazon Primes approach,AS LONG as the writers,this time read and absorb Tolkien's History of M.E and not base it on David Day's flat lifeless guides but do not hold your breath.Us 'fans' I feel want to support Tolkien related projects but please treat the subject,and us, with respect and not a cash cow.INSPIRE
5 February
2024-2-5 4:13:05 PM UTC
Great comments Olorin and I agree wholeheartedly with much of what you say. For clarity, I was not suggesting there is a herd approach necessarily on TCG, and cited comment "after not reading a single DD book", just by way of example of the sort of thing that adds fuel, sometimes without justification.
I actually think Rings of Power is a good example of what I mean. You rarely see anything but bad reviews and on this basis, most would avoid it. Personally I actually enjoyed it and whilst it is not in any number of ways remotely canonical, I found it entertaining as a loose adaptation. Would I have preferred a more rigidly accurate adaptation? Who wouldn't?!
5 February
2024-2-5 5:06:58 PM UTC
Like Amon Rudh I have not read Day myself, but there are a number of reviews out there (or at least that used to be out there) which give in-depth reviews of his works. The biggest problems seem to be that he rephrases Tolkien's stories in his own words and does not do so carefully. In this way, misleading impressions are created. Secondarily, he implies (or outright claims) things are factually true that Tolkien never wrote. It would be one thing if this had happened in a few books and when receiving criticism he stopped these practices, but it would appear that he has continued with these careless (or at this point perhaps intentional) practices.

You can see one such review of the issues at this archived link (via Wayback Machine): ... ry-A-David-Day-Fact-Check

The words in red on that post are the David Day quotes. It highlights a number of issues just from one single entry on the "Ainur" that experienced Tolkien readers will note problems with (For example stating as fact that the Ainur were "given a mighty voice so that [they] could sing before Iluvatar for His pleasure," implying that the Dwarves were bound to the fate of the Music as the Elves were, stating as fact that "nobody but Iluvatar knew the fate of Men," claiming that the Valaquenta tells about Almaren, Utumno, and Angband when they are not mentioned until the Quenta Silmarillion or later, and that it was "the Elves [who] divided [the Ainur] into the Valar and the Maiar.").

This post notes similar issues with other entries in the same book:

It notes, for example that Day asserts as fact that "all haunting spirits were named Dwimmerlaik" by the Rohirrim including "the Elves of Lothlorien and the Ents of Fangorn" and that the descendants of Aragorn were "calling themselves the Telcontari."

Based on comments and reviews of other Day's books, it seems many of them share these same issues - either of actually false statements, or at least false implications or impressions being implied by the way Day re-words or summarizes Tolkien's works.
5 February
2024-2-5 6:08:52 PM UTC
I understand where you are coming from Amon thanks and I was not disagreeing but trying to explain that my coming response was sincere but jaded over many years of the perennial issue of David Day.There is an awful lot of regurgition by Day including his own previously published stuff. The late Tony Tyler,author of The Tolkien (complete) Companion first published in 1976 (written part time,like Tolkien's fiction),told me at a gig (he also used to be editor of The New musical Express and author of a great book on The Beatles etc),that he kept "revising" his Tolkien Companion,partly to update his book from "the wealth of fascinating glorious writing coming out " in the Christopher Tolkien era and partly to correct the David Day "nonsense" by providing a real and useful guide for "serious" Tolkien fans."Don't talk to me about David Day" was his reply when I asked for his opinion which he later found out that I shared with him. Tony's and Robert Foster's guide/companion were so much more consistently reliable and crucially published BEFORE The Silmarillion as there was very little around to flesh out what on earth The Silmarillion's content might be,the scope,the style,the plot,The content,the format,the art....we were desperate for anything that might help in those pre-Silmarillion days and these books caused me to literally salivate,like Carcharoth of which of course I knew nothing about back then, with what was to come.We were grieving the loss of the Professor and we were not sure if the Silmarillion would ever be released as that was how it felt at the time. The loss and the waiting. It's hard to explain the impact of The Silmarillion being published just 4 years after Tolkien's death.I marvelled at what Christopher managed in his grief and I will always be grateful to Christopher for what he achieved. Even the years for some time after The Silmarillion were relatively thin on quality supplementary supportive material for the Tolkien universe. I also agree with what Tuor has just written.
5 February
2024-2-5 6:32:32 PM UTC
Great posts, cheers guys. Ironically I think that being relatively new to serious Tolkien reading I have actually 'rekindled' old wounds of long time 'JRRT Colleagues' for whom this subject has probably been raked over many times. Perhaps I should do more googling before asking in future but in many ways I like and trust views on here, especially when enhanced by avenues to follow for further reading. 👍
5 February
2024-2-5 7:55:57 PM UTC
While I agree with much that's already been said I would like to add one perspective. I made my one and only DD purchase as a 15 year old when i was desperate for any tolkien related material. At that point in time that book helped fan the interest especially the illustrations, many of which I still find interesting. I already had Fosters guide so i didnt need it as an encyclopedia, and not much later i read Tom Shippeys 'the road to middle-earth' which opened the world of Tolkien scholarship to me, but for a young boy starved for Middle-Earth material in a distant corner of Arthedain DD had a place for a short time.
5 February
2024-2-5 8:07:31 PM UTC
There certainly is a bit of a herd mentality of people paroting critiques of Day that they have read and not reading him themselves to form their own opinion on this. But this doesn't invalidate the criticism.

Day writes "lore books" aimed at the types of people not well qualified to identify the problems with them, and the people who are qualified typically aren't interested in reading "lore books". I think that much of the current trend of online wikis and YouTube "lore videos" is ultimately derived from Day (sometimes through several layers of copying), which can be seen a lot in the way that many of his invented ideas get perpetrated and are still prevalent online even by people who have never touched a David Day book. There is obviously a spectrum here in terms of quality, but for the crowd happy to consume or create YouTube lore videos in lieu of engaging with Tolkien's texts directly, you're probably not going to be that much worse off with Day. (And there isn't really a good substitute for Day. People recommend Foster a lot. But while Foster is good, it's pretty outdated and is written for an entirely different target audience. The people who would be able to write such a book would typically be writing actual scholarship, not just lore encyclopedias.)

I've also never read Day thoroughly, but I have looked at his books when tracking down the sources of some "facts" I've seen brought up. It's very frequently I'll come across something that seems a bit "off", that I don't remember actually reading about myself, and while I'll usually brush it off as something I've forgotten, when I actually look into it seems to more often than not be a David Day invention.

I think one of the best examples is David Day's timeline. For whatever the reason is, he invented a whole timeline for the events for the events of The Silmarillion where he coined titles for different time periods (e.g. "Years of the Lamps") and decided that the First Age didn't begin until the first rising of the Sun. (Probably having completely missed the line in Appendix F which described that period as the end of the first age.) Day's terminology is very frequently used by fans, and his absurd definition of the First Age is used as well.

Another issue with Day is his online presence. I'd speculate that his goal with this news article is part of his effort to clean up his wikipedia page, by taking advantage of wikipedia's policies for credible sources. Though my favorite online interaction I've seen from him was on TCG.
5 February
2024-2-5 8:12:01 PM UTC

Amon Rudh wrote:

Great posts, cheers guys. Ironically I think that being relatively new to serious Tolkien reading I have actually 'rekindled' old wounds of long time 'JRRT Colleagues' for whom this subject has probably been raked over many times. Perhaps I should do more googling before asking in future but in many ways I like and trust views on here, especially when enhanced by avenues to follow for further reading. 👍

No worries, and I hope you didn't take my post as overly critical or anything. My interest is in Tolkien's own works or in scholarly analysis, and so I have never really been interested in books like "guides" or encyclopediae like Day's (or even Tyler's and Foster's), so I wasn't really aware of the criticism of Day to begin with until I started joining online groups in the last few years and saw it brought up repeatedly there. I do think some folks take it a bit too far and even make comments about gifts given to folks which is too over the top for me. By all accounts the Day books are well-designed and beautifully illustrated and if someone gave one to me as a gift I wouldn't dare complain to them that they had bought me something I didn't really appreciate.
Jump to Last
All original content ©2024 by the submitting authors. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us