Good Tolkien criticism is sadly rare. Given the amount of fan fluff that's out there, this collection of 14 essays, edited by well-established Tolkien scholars Verlyn Flieger and Carl Hostetter, comes as welcome relief. The essays, all of which are based to varying degrees on the mammoth 12-volume _History of Middle-Earth_ (hereafter abbreviated as HoME) that was recently completed by Christopher Tolkien are divided up into three main sections. Section 1 deals directly with the contents of HoME and what it tells us about Tolkien's creative processes, the history of his ideas and his constantly niggling and tweaking of them. Mostly, these essays help 'make sense' out of the complex assemblage of texts, fragments, etc., that make up HoME. One essay also considers the literary value of HoME, raising the thorny question of whether it's useful only as a scholarly tool or whether there is some actual literary merit to the drafts and fragments contained within. Section 2 is rather short and has three essays on Tolkien's invented languages, focussing on how HomE contributes to our understanding of the development of those languages. The last section deals with more conventionally literary questions, specifically examining how the material in HoME sheds light on questions about plot, influences, sources, structure, etc. A particularly insightful essay here is Paul Thomas's essay on Tolkien's narrative voices in the The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the various drafts thereof-- noting specifically how (and speculating on why) Tolkien changed the nature of the narrative voice between drafts and final product. A few essays in this latter group revisit topics that have already been discussed near-exhaustively (e.g. the influence of Germanic mythologies on Tolkien), but the scholarship is sound and rigorous all the way through. Highly recommended to Tolkien scholars and to Tolkien fans who want an example of what *real* scholarship (as opposed to fannish pseudo-scholarship a la Michael Martinez) looks like.