This illustrated 'Hobbit' was a joy to read. Of course the story is great, and the translation seemed clear in so far as I could judge, but what made me fall in love with it was the luxurious, rich quality of the paper and the beautiful drawings by Alan Lee. There are lots of wonderful full-page colour drawings (roughly one per chapter) and every few pages there is a pencil-type drawing; eagles, goblins, spiders, dwarves, and the scenery of Middle Earth filling every available space.
Alan Lee was one of two artists whose images were used to create the 'look' of Middle Earth for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Trilogy - his pictures are very mystical and atmospheric compared to the more realistic, homely world imagined by John Howe. Here Lee's artwork seems ancient and otherworldly, with an eerie, haunting quality. I felt as if I was reading an long-forgotten myth rather than just a simple children's story; and it is certainly nothing at all like the boisterous action/adventure rollor-coaster of the film version. When I got to the end I wanted to go back and start again, it was such an enjoyable experience!