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A Tolkien Bestiary

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,434 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
Here is the comprehensive reference guide for the millions of fans of the Hobbit and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. All of the imaginary beasts, monsters, fauna, and flora of J.R.R. Tolkien's lush fantasy worlds of the Middle-Earth and the Undying Lands are presented in more that 100 black-and-white illustrations and 36 full color paintings. A Chronology of all the histori ...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published January 1st 1979 by Ballantine Books (first published 1978)
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Katharine_ann Inside the cover it states: "Some or all of the material in this book originally appeared in A-Z of Tolkien, The Tolkien Bestiary and/or The Tolkien…moreInside the cover it states: "Some or all of the material in this book originally appeared in A-Z of Tolkien, The Tolkien Bestiary and/or The Tolkien Encyclopedia, copyright Octopus Publishing Group 1979, 1991, 1993." Hope that helps. :) (less)
Ami I found mine on for less than $6. Paperback, printed in 2001 and good condition.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
In ye olden days of the mid-1980s books and bookstores focused on money and power. Finances and the law were hot topics...elves and magic, not so much. So when I, a humble Tolkien fan, discovered this brilliant tome of all things Tolkien I nearly cried.

A Tolkien Bestiary is an illustrated collection of Middle Earth creatures. The drawings are stark, they are beautiful, they evoke emotion and brought to life the author's work at a time when there was little else to go on visually aside from - tho
Barry Cunningham
I recently found this book, an early edition published in 1983, at an antiques fair in Newark, UK. Being an ardent Tolkien reader and fan of his creation, 'Middle Earth', I snapped it up for a mere £5 note. What a stroke of luck! This book is a masterpiece, a truly wonderful depiction of Tolkien's creations by a group of gifted artists and illustrators, beautifully brought together by David Day. This is a very comprehensive work that all fans of Middle Earth and it's inhabitants (also of The Und ...more
Jo Woolfardis
Of course I haven't read it cover to cover. Which idiot would? Okay, maybe a lot of people would, but I did not. However, it is a wonderful, wonderful book and, despite what many people think, is as close to Tolkien truth as possible to get.

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Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien Enthusiasts
Shelves: fantasy
Although you will find many detractors from David Day's work, it has come to my attention that this book is 100% accurate.

Many people who claim that David Day's compilation is "trash", are those who insist that he makes up entries to satisfy white space.

This could not be further from the truth. Being a Tolkien enthusiast, I have done a great deal of searching throughout Tolkien's books, letters, and notations made by Christopher Tolkien. In my search, I have found evidence of direct citations us
Adrian Anderson
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Thoroughly engaging and informative, this book is so, So, SO much more than a simple bestiary of Tolkien's worlds. It is almost a complete history from the Making of Arda ----> and beyond. Reading it one can see at a macro level all that has transpired of note.

It details races, animals, monsters, EVEN TREES! Major events are also prominently featured in beautifully rendered color artwork. It is truly a work that I believe Tolkien would have been proud to see affiliated with his universe. Exce
Crystal Puckett
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fantasy, art
Although there are movies to give visuals, and tons of books about Tolkien's beloved fantasy world, the Tolkien Bestiary stands out to me. It is definitely worth reading. I really love the artwork in this book; no, it's not by Alan Lee or John Howe, but the art is beautiful in its own right and doesn't need to be compared to them. I like the way the creatures are drawn; a bit more "medieval" in style, which I think adds to the overall feel of a fantasy world. The illustration of the "Thousand Ca ...more
Beau Johnston
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I bought this book many years ago, mostly out of idle interest. I played D&D for a year or two before I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so my knowledge of fantasy critters was already well rounded.

This book is a great reference guide to all the creatures Tolkien writes bout in his stories, and the different folklore that inspired him. Some of the artwork is a little abstract for my taste, but it doesn't detract from the book.

Even all these years later, I still enjoy flipping throu
A sumptuous feast for the eyes to any lover of illustrations or fantasy art. Almost refined to a science, Day lists in logical order every beast, humanoid, age and other major Tolkien factoids.

But the illustrations, created by various artists from across the fantasy art spectrum, is what drew me in.
Charley Robson
Don't mind me, I'll be sitting in the corner stroking the cover and crooning quietly to myself. Mmmm. Preciousssss...

Of David Day's three Tolkenian guides, this one is probably the least - that is to say, you probably want to buy it with at least one of the others (I would recommend all three, because they are very pretty and imminently handy for cross-reference). As usual, the material is pretty thorough and well-researched, but as with all guides, it cannot go into the detail that would satisf
This is a joyfully detailed guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien from the people and races to the animals and plants that play integral roles in the Middle Earth stories that Tolkien unleashed upon the world, and not just LOTR either. Day has made sure that all of those beings and beasts that Tolkien conjured are represented and discussed and with a passion and eye for detail that is deserving of Tolkien himself (I'm not biased...honestly). Added to this Day has brought together an excellent tea ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across an older version of this beautiful book in my high school library a few years ago. I'll admit, I would occasionally skip class sometimes just to go and read it. Though a lot of it covers what's already in Tolkien's Silmarillion, it is still a great source of knowledge. The pictures are beautiful, for all that they're strange and a little scary. They really capture the feel of Tolkien's creatures and world.

So when my 16th birthday came around, I asked my father to get it for me. He
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fu uno dei miei primi acquisti ai Remainders di Milano, nel lontano 89 o 90.
Un'enciclopedia tolkeniana, illustrata con uno stile particolare, molto lontano, per certi versi, da come mi immaginavo io la Terra di Mezzo all'epoca, quando praticamente solo il cartone animato era stato prodotto.
Ma il bello di esser vissuto e aver letto Tolkien prima dell'arrivo di Peter Jackson è anche questo: nona aver avuto la fantasia visiva condizionata dai film.
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
As with David Day's other book, 'A Guide to Tolkein', Characters of Tolkein is a comprehensive resource, listing the characters you are likely to come across during any exploration of the Tolkein mythos, be it reading the books, watching the films, or even playing Tolkein-based games. Excellent for those of us who want a better understanding of the subject material, whichever media you may choose to explore it in.
Hal Johnson
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the one hand, this book is a lot of fun. On the other hand, Tolkien is the last author to read a bestiary about. Time and again you read a term and it's just another name for elf. Tolkien was better at thinking at names for elves than he was of thinking about different kinds of "beasts."

This is still a light criticism of the book because Tolkien was REALLY GOOD at thinking of names for elves.
J. Aleksandr Wootton
More like an illustrated Middle-Earth encyclopedia inspired by the medieval bestiary tradition than a true bestiary. There's much more Tolkienic lore here in than just a guide to beasts, and the illustrations are hardly reminiscent of an Audubon guide - more often they depict scenes, events, and moods than field-guide art. A decent resource despite the misleading title.
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
clearly the author knows his shit, but for a bestiary there's far too few illustrations. and more damning, no entry for the main villains of the series wtf? got time for a plant but not for melkor. shame shame
Noel G
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A treasure of a book. One that I can see myself dipping into again and again. Packed with information for the Tolkien addict.
Marko Vasić
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, fantasy
Fascinating <3 Small Tolkien's vocabulary or handbook for better understanding the Middle-Earth characters, landscapes and realms. Never gets tedious and the one should read it every month or so.
Not much of a bestiary per se, but still a decent guide to Tolkein's world and the peoples, creatures, and places that he devised.
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien
That brief, shinning moment - when a neighbor gives permission for you to peruse their library, when you should be helping them dust and shift trash.
Always take it, never can tell what you may find on other's shelves that might interest you.

Much was the same with me, when this was pulled from a cramped shelf of Choral binders. To say I was surprised is an understatement; to say I was thrilled can be measure best by the richter scale.
I had never known of this book, I come from a long line of 'G
This book is a great tool to use when I need to look up something quickly. What I like most about this book is that it contains a lot more detail than you would expect while maintaining concise entries. These are not just a one or two line definition of names; instead the book offers a context for the name, giving details about how it fits into the world of Middle-earth. Still the entries remain brief enough that you’re not sitting and reading for forever. You can get a firm understanding very q ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien
An oversized paperback with a purple cloth "binding", this guide is a great companion piece to many of the worlds Tolkien wrote about. Creatures just mentioned here and there have full definitions and oft times an illustration, albeit most all of the illustrations are in black and white and at times are a bit jumbled with so much going on in the scene.

The glossary of beasts is set up alphabetically. I would advise a reader to use this as a companion piece only as a straight read through is a bit
William Quest
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. There was much that I never knew, and even more that I had forgotten. David Day did a fantastic job with the in depth summarizing of the entries. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Middle Earth.

The only criticism I had was in formatting. I would rather have had sub-headings under certain main headings. Like having a heading of Elves, then with subheadings of Vanyar, Silvan, Noldor etc. discussing each in turn, all in one sectio
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This maybe isn’t the best book to read cover to cover, since it’s laid out like a traditional encyclopedia, but man is it a great source of information about every aspect of Middle Earth! Obviously it doesn’t go into as much detail about the topics as the novels, but it gives solid outlines (longer than I expected in some cases) so that readers can easily cross reference events, places, groups of characters, etc while reading the novels. My only real complaint is that the author chose not to sim ...more
I feel this book should have had a different title, especially after reading the introduction. It isn't really about the characters, but is a bestiary of the differrent species, races, plants and animals that are mentioned in Tolkein's great novels. Because of the nature of the book, there is a lot of repetition - different species can have many different names and are often listed individually. The stories of these people are also repeated many times, which can get a bit tiring if reading from ...more
i sleep on a mattress on the floor. my bedside table is a wooden crate. on top of the crate is a lamp, the light of which i read by. inside the crate is my alarm clock so i can get up insanely early to practice yoga. next to the alarm clock is return of the king which i am currently reading before i pass out at night. and next to return of the king is this book, which i use as a read-along. it lists every animal, place, plant, character, mystical race, etc. in all of tolkien's middle-earth books ...more
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien Fans and Collectors
This is a terrifically fun reference work on Tolkien's world, with some of the best illustrations of Tolkiens legendarium ever (I am not much of a fan of most Tolkien illustration, so I am saying something here). It includes the only satisfying representations of the elves, to my eye, that I have ever seen.

The text itself was composed after The Silmarillion, but before Unfinished Tales, so that many key ideas and much information revealed in the latter work are not reflected here.
Kevis Hendrickson
One of my personal favorite books based on Tolkien's work and ranks right up there with Letters and his biographies. The art style is nothing like what you would expect, especially if you saw the movies first. Thankfully, I didn't. So I have an increased appreciation for what Middle-Earth looks like in my mind, as opposed to Peter Jackson's. Highly recommended for the Tolkien enthusiast. But the purists may still want to stick with their own vision of Middle-Earth. Me? I say bring it on. You can ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an older one in my collection. It is such an amazing book. The art is what grabbed me. It is such a strange and otherworldly type of art and I have it featured on another book, Eaters of The Dead, by Michael Crichton. Same artist did both. I don't know, it just seems that when the right art and explanation of the meaning of that piece art married the words have some much more depth and the mind and imagination delve into deep places that alone, either words or art might not take us as de ...more
Dan Buchness
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ready The Hobbit & LoTR, this will recap all of that, and introduce you to the entire Tolkien world (all Ages and all of the key players). It's written documentary style, but has all the iconic art you normally associate with Tolkien's work (and incidentally used in the movie). Just does a SUPER job of summarizing everything in terms of beasts and beings.

This is actually what got me more determined to continue reading the Silmarillion--just about the hardest read I've ever encounte
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David Day (b. 14 October 1947 in Victoria, British Columbia) is a Canadian author of over forty books: poetry, natural history, ecology, mythology, fantasy, and children's literature. Internationally he is most notably known for his literary criticism on J. R. R. Tolkien and his works.

After finishing high school in Victoria, British Columbia, Day worked as a logger for five years on Vancouver Isla
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