Connor Salter | Contributor
David Day is a well-known expert on J.R.R. Tolkien's stories and writing process.
In "Heroes of Tolkien," he outlines the major characters and species that appear in Middle-Earth, from characters in "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" to more obscure characters mentioned in "The Silmarillion." As Day describes each group, he also talks about Tolkien's writing process and the various stories that inspired his creations.
Day gives some excellent insights in this book. He covers all the various kinds of species, from Hobbits to Valar, with plenty of great details. He even brings up some interesting facts that will surprise most Tolkien fans, such as the fact one "Lord of the Rings" character was based on Tolkien's good friend C.S. Lewis.
Readers interested in the spiritual ideas within Tolkien's mythology will find the book very helpful. Day takes time in several places to note how Tolkien's Christian faith influenced his work, including how the Old Testament inspired Middle-Earth's origin story. This makes the book a fun starting resource for anyone wanting to learn how Tolkien's faith and writing connect together.
The artwork provides another interesting component. Illustrations, from pencil drawings to elaborate paintings, appear on almost every other page. They all look terrific and integrate well with the text, but also give an interesting perspective. With so many art styles, readers get to see how various artists portray Middle-Earth and its inhabitants, showing just how versatile Tolkien's fantasy world is.
The book does have one potential downside. Day clearly wrote it to be more of a popular manual than a scholarly resource. Readers who want to find what sources Day used so they can do their own research into Middle Earth will be a little irritated that the book doesn't include a list of sources cited or recommended further readings. Still, the book works well as a basic overview.
Whether you are a fantasy writer, a "Lord of the Rings" fan or just an Inkling buff, this book provides a great primer on Tolkien's work.