Tolkien Trivia is just want it sounds like: a book of trivia about Middle-earth. It’s written in question and answer form; the questions are on one side of the page and the answers are on the back of the page. The trivia is split into different sections: The Mythmaker (about Tolkien himself), A World of Hobbits, Elves, & Dwarves (more generally about Arda), Frodo & Friends (more specifically related to LotR), and Roads Go Ever Ever On (about Tolkien’s impact on culture). While Tolkien Trivia focuses mostly on LotR and The Silmarillion, there’s a generous helping of movie trivia and “real life” facts. William MacKay is apparently not as much a Tolkien scholar as a trivia writer. According to the book’s dust jacket, he also wrote the Presidential Trivia Quiz Book and White House Wisdom in addition to co-authoring The Book of 1001 Trivia Questions. While this may not be impressive to Tolkien fans, MacKay certainly seems to know his stuff.
Good and Bad
I liked that instead of just giving nuggets of info the trivia is presented in question and answer format. It makes Tolkien Trivia more valuable in that you can use it for an actual trivia game if you so desire. The subject matter is also well-rounded, which gives every Tolkien fan the opportunity to shine. My biggest problem with the book is that some of the questions are way too broad to be reasonable trivia. Questions like, “How did Tolkien view World War I?”, “Do Orcs make good dinner companions?”, “Are the Ents powerful?”, and “Did the films receive any awards?” are either (annoyingly, in my opinion) misleading or broad enough to be the topic of an essay. I ended up getting rather frustrated as I read through the book and tried to answer the questions.
Should You Buy It?
I would recommend purchasing this book as a gift (that’s how it came into my hands). It’s a fun idea and good for light, snackable reading. It’s not the kind of thing I would ever buy for myself, since I prefer much meatier books. However, if I had more friends who were as deeply interested in Middle-earth as I am, I would probably enjoy this more. It would be a fun way to challenge others.
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Photo Credit: Taylor Leopold