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The Plants of Middle-Earth: Botany and…

The Plants of Middle-Earth: Botany and Sub-Creation

by Dinah Hazell

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Plants of Middle-earth is a beautiful book both in an illustrative sense and textual. The original paintings of several plants, trees and flowers that are specifically mentioned by Tolkien in his works are gorgeous. The material presented is well-researched by someone obviously familiar with the literary legacy of Tolkien, whether it is the published works in Middle-earth or his letters and other papers that are available.

Reading this book is like setting out on a journey through various lands and being reminded over and over how detailed descriptions of the flora are, especially in The Lord of the Rings. The meanings of different flowers are discussed, how they may have been familiar to Tolkien himself, with some commentary about medicinal properties in the concluding sections. This will certainly enhance my next journey into Middle-earth. ( )
  amarie | Mar 30, 2010 |
While there were some interesting insights into the role, importance and meaning of flora in the Tolkein universe, I came away feeling the author could have made a more emphatic exposition of this theme. ( )
  velvetpaws | Jan 9, 2010 |
The text is easy to read and the pictures are beautiful, but with the title "The Plants of Middle-earth" one feels some disappointment indeed when realizing that Hazell quite intentionally passes by all the imaginary plants Tolkien invented: from elanor and niphredil to mallorn and lebethron. They are mentioned here and there, but not dealt with. These are described by Tolkien, even compared to real flowers (and other real-worldly inspirations could be searched for), so the author's given explanation that their otherworldliness could not be caught in pictures etc. feels somewhat like a cop-out.

To a person who has read quite a many books about Tolkien's fiction, Hazell's style and conclusions also are sometimes a little simplistic or far-fetched. For example there is really no need to think that Filibert Bolger is named after filbert plant (with one "i" conveniently dropped), when the name in itself is an old German name meaning "much brightness" or something along the lines. (http://www.behindthename.com/name/filibert)

The book IS a beautiful object and cute read (though dragging and rambling at times). Sometimes it is even insightful, but all in all not to be taken very seriously. I think Tolkien's plants could be covered with more gravity. ( )
  Haltiamieli | Aug 11, 2009 |
Hazell does a wonderful job with plant lore, and the early chapter on the Shire is a delight. But past that, the book is largely padding. For one thing, she recapitulates the plot of The Lord of the Rings to an entirely unnecessary degree. How many people would pick up this book without being familiar with Middle-Earth? For another, she goes beyond plants to analyses of Tolkien's thought and intentions that not only seem unconnected to her theme of "botany and sub-creation" but offer only rare moments of insight beyond her many sources. However, her writing is enjoyable and the illustrations are wonderful. (originally posted at amazon) ( )
1 vote mrkinch | Aug 23, 2008 |
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