IV. External Resources
While this FAQ is intended to provide a complete introduction to discussions of Tolkien and his works online, there is clearly far more information available than could be recorded in a single document. Some frequently asked questions require a more substantial answer that could possibly be given here. In this section are collected a few resources that address such questions. (Only resources that address specific questions asked frequently in the newsgroups are included here: this is not an attempt to list all of the excellent Tolkien web sites in existence.)
Because most of these resources are located on the World Wide Web rather than on Usenet, it is always possible that they could move or disappear without notice. A reasonable effort will be made to ensure that the addresses here remain valid, but if these resources go away there really isn't much that we can do about it. (Please do let me know if a link here is broken.)
IV. A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
- The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
The Tolkien Meta-FAQ is not a resource of its own, but a unified index to this FAQ and the other FAQs listed in this section. By organizing all of their content in a consistent way with cross-references where appropriate, it will hopefully make finding the answers you want faster and easier. It is on the web at
- The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
Years ago, William D. B. Loos compiled two superb lists of frequently asked questions and answers. They are well written and well documented, and most of the conclusions that they reach have stood the test of time (some have even been strengthened by information that has been published since they were written). They are posted to the newsgroups roughly every four weeks. For convenience, they are also available in HTML form; the web addresses follow, along with each FAQ's summary.
The Tolkien FAQ consists of "Frequently Asked Questions about the author J.R.R. Tolkien: questions commonly raised by the first reading of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings; details of the background mythology and invented history which relate directly to the stories; biographical matters." It is on the web at
The Tolkien LessFAQ consists of "Less Frequently Asked Questions about the author J.R.R. Tolkien: questions on his lesser known works; questions on deeper and/or more obscure details of the invented history, background mythology, and matters philological and theological." It is on the web at
- The "FAQ of the Rings"
Questions about the Rings of Power arise quite frequently in discussions of Tolkien's work, and it would be difficult to do them all justice in a general FAQ like this one. Because of this, Stan Brown has created a "FAQ of the Rings" addressing many such questions in depth. It can be found at
- The Letters FAQ
Many of the questions that arise in discussions of Tolkien's works are addressed in his letters, collected in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As it can be difficult to find the letters that relate to a given topic, Mike Brinza has compiled a list of common questions and where to look for their answers. This can be found at
- Google's Usenet archive
The only way to learn the details of all the positions in a debate on the newsgroups is to read the debates themselves. The best Usenet archive currently available is hosted by Google, which contains posts all the way back to the founding of Usenet in the 1980's. Google's advanced newsgroup search page is at
To search specifically on the Tolkien groups, enter "*tolkien" in the "Newsgroup" field (without the quotes, of course). The main interface on this page is mostly self-explanatory, and should be familiar to anyone who has used a web search engine.
IV. B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?
One of Tolkien's primary motivations for creating Middle-earth and its history was to provide a home for the languages that he invented. The interest in those languages among his readers has given rise to many books, journals, web sites, and other resources for those who wish to learn them, and we could not even begin to list them here.
Perhaps the best list of such resources can be found at the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship web site:
For actual details regarding the languages themselves, one of the best web sites is Ardalambion, located at
A group of excellent Truetype fonts for writing in Tengwar and Cirth (together with a good introduction to using those alphabets) can be found at Dan Smith's Fantasy Fonts for Windows page:
Another excellent Truetype Tengwar font family is Tengwar Annatar, created by Johan Winge; it can be downloaded from
IV. C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
- What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
Every edition of Tolkien's books is different, and before you buy a copy it's worth knowing what those differences are. Mike Brinza has created an excellent guide to the editions of Tolkien's books currently available in the United States, which is on the web at
His main site also includes a list of British editions, although it does not have the level of detail of the US edition list.
One book that deserves its own mention is The Hobbit: many find that The Annotated Hobbit, edited by Douglas A. Anderson, is the most satisfying edition of the story. It contains illustrations from many other editions, as well as detailed commentary on the text and its history (which can, of course, be ignored if you're not interested).
- What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
A variety of verbatim audio book recordings and adapted dramatizations of Tolkien's books have been produced over the years. A good overview of these can be found at Mike Brinza's site:
Even those who are not interested in audio books or radio plays should take note of the recordings of Tolkien himself that are available. In particular, The J.R.R. Tolkien Audio Collection is a set of four CDs including J.R.R. Tolkien reading and singing excerpts from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, as well as Christopher Tolkien reading lengthy passages from The Silmarillion. Separate recordings of interviews with Tolkien are also available.
- What is the groups' view of the recent Lord of the Rings movies?
By this point, virtually everyone with any interest in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is already quite familiar with them. Detailed information on the movies is inappropriate for a general FAQ, but there are many websites dedicated to the project. One good place to start is
Tolkien fans' opinions on the movies vary enormously. Most (but certainly not all) of those on the Tolkien newsgroups who have seen the films seem to have enjoyed the experience, but most found at least some aspects of them quite disappointing, too. (The second and third movies deviated from the books more than the first one did, and generated correspondingly more frustration.) This is obviously a matter of personal taste, so it is important to be polite to those whose reaction was different than yours. In the end, Peter Jackson's own words are as good a description as any: "Sure, it's not really THE LORD OF THE RINGS ... but it could still be a pretty damn cool movie."
Discussing the movies on the newsgroups is certainly allowed: the rec.arts.books.tolkien charter explains that "The group would be open to discussion about art works which are based on Tolkien's works (e.g. graphic depictions of scenes from his worlds, musical settings of his ballads and poetry)." There has been a mild effort to limit movie-only discussions to alt.fan.tolkien, so that those who prefer to avoid movie talk can stay in r.a.b.t, but this is less important now that movie-related discussion has died down somewhat.
- Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?
Many musicians have been inspired by Tolkien's books, enough that this FAQ could not hope to list them. Instead, we refer you to the Tolkien Music List by Chris Seeman, at
The list is organized alphabetically by artist, and the lyrics for each song can be found by clicking on its title. The artist/title list is all on one page, which makes it possible to search for a title, but be aware that the page is very large and may take some time to load.