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The Complete Guide to Middle-earth

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The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
Cover of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
AuthorRobert Foster
PublisherRandom House Publishing Group

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is a reference book for the fictional universe of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, compiled and edited by Robert Foster.

Originally published in 1971 as A Guide to Middle-Earth, before the publication of The Silmarillion, the first edition contained only information from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In 1978, a new edition (The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion), containing material from Silmarillion, was published.

A revised edition was published in 2001, as one of many reprints intended to ride the commercial wave of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy.


Detailed information on the early editions.[1]

  • 1971: A Guide to Middle-Earth. Baltimore, Md.: The Mirage Press. xiii, 284, [7] pp., geneal. tables. 22.5 × 14.5 cm. (The Voyager Series, V-105) (The Anthem Series, A-1009)
  • 1974: Paperback edition: New York: Ballantine Books. 283 pp., geneal. tables. 18 cm. ISBN 0-345-24138-X (pbk)
  • 1978: The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion. New York: Ballantine Books. xvi, 575 pp., geneal. tables. 18 cm. ISBN 0-345-27975-1 (pbk)
  • 1978: British edition: London: Unwin Paperbacks. xii, [i], 441, [8] pp. 19.5 × 13 cm. ISBN 0-04-803001-5 (pbk): £1.50; ISBN 0-04-803002-3 (hbk)


No edition of the book includes info on post-Silmarillion material (i.e. Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth series) and therefore in points it is outdated or in error.


Foster speculates that the tragic relations with his father and wife were because he left no male heirs. The later published text Aldarion and Erendis elaborated this situation.


Foster supports the usual misunderstanding that Bladorthin's spears were not delivered because he died early, while the text doesn't mention it.[2]


Foster mentions the singular of mearas as meara (cf. entries for Shadowfax and Snowmane) while the correct Old English form is mearh[3].


Foster relates the Elvish words ambar "world" and umbar "fate". In the entry of Ambar, he mentions it is a concept related to fate of the world. The Etymologies showed that the two have different roots; a distinct word ambar is actually linked to the root for "home".


  1. Bertenstam, Åke. A Chronological Bibliography of Books About Tolkien