When J.E.A. Tyler's The Tolkien Companion came out in 1976, it was the first of its kind--a heroic attempt to catalogue Tolkien's vast legendarium. My friends and I (a band of characters who could have stepped right out of the pages of Ethan Gilsdorf's Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) cherished Tyler's encyclopedia, giving it a place of honor on our bookshelves next to Tolkien's works and our Dungeons and Dragons manuals. For Tyler's book helped legitimize our love for Middle-earth, while feeding our insatiable desire for more information about the heroes, monsters and places in Tolkien's rich universe. "Tony" Tyler was a journalist (and, by the way, the godfather of actor Daniel Craig), and approached his task of categorizing Middle-earth with a scholarly yet whimsical air. After the posthumous publication of Tolkien's The Silmarillion and other works, Tyler revised his book and it was published under the title The Complete Tolkien Companion. This wonderful compliment to Tolkien's world has been reprinted this year by Thomas Dunne Books in a handsome edition that I'm sure will sit on the shelves of many Middle-earth fans for decades to come.
Check out these 14 things you might not know about The Hobbit and Middle-earth, courtesy of The Complete Tolkien Companion.
Selections from J.E.A. Tyler's The Complete Tolkien Companion adapted by Noble Smith, author of The Wisdom of the Shire [Thomas Dunne Books, $22.99].