on 17 November 2000
The effect of these books upon the reader is unique. Certainly the only books I have ever read that draw me back to re-read them again and again. They are more than just literature, they are priceless works of art. The gift of a brilliant writer possessed of an imagination that has no parallel in the history of literature to a world finding itself sadly bereft of tales of beauty and of wonder.
Drawing upon Tolkien's ancient histories and legends of Middle-earth, these tales tell of The War of the Ring and the events leading to the end of the Third Age. Tales that will bring unimaginable vistas vividly before your eyes and characters that will haunt your imagination for the rest of your life.
You simply must read these books--and what better editions? These are superbly illustrated with water-colour paintings by Alan Lee. Mr Lee is one of the conceptual artists currently assisting Peter Jackson bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen in New Zealand.
JRR Tolkien's `The Hobbit' is, of course, one of the greatest children's books to have been written in the twentieth century. Based on the stories he told to his children and originally published in 1937, it is an almost perfect blend of fantasy, magic and adventure. It follows the adventures of one Bilbo Baggins, as he sets off with thirteen dwarves and a wizard to recover a great treasure stolen from the dwarves by Smaug the dragon. Along the way they get into various scrapes with goblins, trolls, elves, shape shifters and, of course, a dragon. Through a mix of extreme good luck and his own resourcefulness Bilbo comes through all these adventures, only to find things are not as he left them at home.
It's a great story and works on many levels. For the younger reader there is the straight adventure story, which many will find thrilling. For the older reader there is the subtle growth in Bilbo's character, as he changes over the story from a passenger on the expedition to a main player and the person people look to for help. There is a study of human nature, and the effects of greed upon people. In some respects it is a morality play. But for all that, at heart, it is a great entertainment. There is a reason it is still so affectionately regarded by readers world wide of all ages. 5 stars.
on 25 December 2012
It seems crazy to me that Amazon lump together reviews for different products, which is why I've written this note. This review is for the 19 CD set of the BBC radio adaptations for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was written from that product page & so belongs with that product. If Amazon put it somewhere else, that's their decision, not a result of this review...
It may seem expensive, but this product does contain 19 CDs, although the CD with music from The Hobbit is rather short at under 10 minutes.
The first 13 CDs are the BBC Lord of the Rings radio episodes, presented as 1 hour episodes, one episode on each CD. Each episode contains opening and end credits - it is not the re-edited version which was brought out a few years ago with a new introduction by Ian Holm. The 14th CD contains music from the series.
The next 4 CDs consist of The Hobbit - 2 half hour episodes presented per CD, without opening or closing credits. The final CD is, as mentioned above, is a CD of music.
The radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is widely acknowledged to be a classic, and I'd go along with this; it's wonderful! Jsut to pick out a couple of highlights; I particularly like the exchanges between Frodo and Faramir in Ithilien, which are much superior and truer to the book that those in the film, The Two Towers. Another classic section is the last episode "The Grey Havens" which adds more detail to the end of the story than the film.
The Hobbit adaptation isn't as good in my opinion. There are a lot of excellent parts, but there are some intrusive special effects at times, and some grating mis-pronunciations of names (Gollum = Gol-oom). nonetheless, considering it was first broadcast 45 years ago, it has dated well.
All in all, a good version (It would have to be for me to pay good money for something I've already bought before; I have a copy of the re-edited version on cassette) and highly recommended.
on 4 November 2013
I must make it clear from the start that I will not review the story of The Hobbit, but just this (hardcover) annotated edition in particular:
Publisher: HarperCollins; Revised edition edition (7 April 2003)
It's important to note that Amazon unfortunately merges all the reviews from one story, regardless of each edition. The edition I pointed out looks similar to an American version with the same name, though I couldn't find the differences between them on the internet and I only purchased this British one.
The build quality is superb, though I can't say I was expecting less. In fact, I was quite disappointed when I saw the book for the first time. The hardcover is quite solid but the fact that it is only a plain green front was quite unexpected. The illustration we see in the Amazon item is just the paper that comes wrapping the book (dust cover?), but the front itself has no illustration or writing at all. You could not tell what the book is only by looking at its front cover.
The side of the cover is quite another story. It contains the title and some other marks you would expect in the front. It's all beautifully written in golden letters and that is the section that gives the book the "premium feel".
The quality of the paper and the font are very good, so the reading is quite comfort.
The book contains several illustrations scattered in the right places along the story. These illustrations are usually small-sized black/white drawings published in the various different editions of The Hobbit along the years. The different artists involved (including Tolkien himself) causes the book to lack an uniformity in style, but I think that is a good idea for an annotated version, because you have some sort of historical compilation of the art of The Hobbit.
My huge disappointment about the illustrations is the lack of full-page prints and also the scarceness of colored drawings. Colored drawings do exist, but they are all grouped in the center of the book, forming a section completely separate from the context. That's even dangerous for someone who is reading the story for the first time, for if you looked at these pictures when you reach the middle of the story, you would be bombarded with spoilers. The way these colored pictures are presented makes me feel that it would be better that they didn't even exist, although I would love to see some of them in full-size in the right places along the book.
I think the annotations are indeed the strength of this version, though it's important to note that they are really annotations about The Hobbit, not about Middle-Earth. You do have some notes linking to other stories such as Lord of The Rings, Silmarillion, etc, but they are not abundant. Most of the annotations are about the differences in previous editions of The Hobbit (including really small details) and also about the biographical facts behind Tolkien that must have inspired him at some parts of the tale. So I see the annotations as some sort of historical registry of the publications of The Hobbit as well as hints behind the story linking to Tolkien's reality. In that scope I feel safe to say that they are quite complete, but they must be too cold for just a casual reader that would probably prefer more notes about the mythology itself.
I was unsure whether 3 or 4 stars would be fair for this edition. In the end of the day I removed only 1 star out of 5 to summarize all the "imperfections" I noted above. I think we can only judge a book by the success it got on its own objectives, not the objectives that we have. When our objectives are not the same of the book's, it's no fault of the book, but of the information that lead us to false expectations. I think reviews are important to align the expectations to the reality of the books. That said, I recommend this edition for people already familiar to The Hobbit and that probably won't have only this edition on their shelves. Tolkien's enthusiasts and collectors must have this book, but casual readers probably should look for other editions. This is the definitive guide of The Hobbit, not the best way to present the tale.
on 22 January 2015
So, how many different (anniversary) editions of `The Lord of the Rings` can you/should you put in your bookshelf? As far as I am concerned, never enough... with this having been said, how does this 60th anniversary edition do in comparison with other editions? To make things short: It is a nice but certainly not a great edition, especially if one considers the set`s official, (non Amazon), price. This doesn`t mean that you are getting an inferior product, absolutely not, but in comparison with other available editions in a similar price range, this 60th anniversary is, at least in my humble opinion, by quality not quite on the same level.
But starting with the positive points: The set presents itself indeed nicely. It comes slipcased, with the three volumes the Lord of the Rings consists of (`The Fellowship of the Ring`/`The Two Towers`/`The Return of the King`) presented individually. In addition the set contains a fourth volume, a highly informative `Readers` Guide`. If you are one of those readers who enjoyed the appendices to the `Lord of the Ring` and feel you want to know more about the background of the LOTR, you will definitely want this 60th anniversary edition just for this extra volume. For the casual reader who is just interested in the story, this `Guide` with all its in-depth information might probably not be of too much interest.
The reason why I am not too happy with this edition is the paper quality, which in comparison with the other LOTR editions in my collection, feels somehow cheap and might in a few years show so in form of yellowing pages. I am fully aware that to many readers of this review this might come over as small minded, but as a book collector and considering the price of this set I would have expected a little bit more quality.
In conclusion: This 60th anniversary edition comes in a beautiful but not necessarily impressive design with an additional volume of valuable extra information, which would make purchasing this set worth it. The books' paper quality is o.k. but not as good as could be expected and if you are o.k. with this you will certainly be happy with this edition. For those willing to invest a little bit more money I would recommend considering to buy either the British deluxe 50th anniversary edition or - if you can still find it - the American 50th anniversary edition.
on 10 August 2012
I bought these books after watching the Lord of The Rings films, so, they arrived very quickly, although I picked super saver delivery. I was slightly reluctant, when they arrived, as I heard they are slightly hard to read, and that they have slightly different language from then today, as I am only 13, I am 1/3 through the hobbit, which fantastic, the travelling parts, can get a little bit boring, but the suspense, and wanting to read more at the action bits, make up for that.
AMAZON TAKE NOTE: Because this version is so different from the book I think Amazon are wrong to lump all the reviews together and treat them as a single product. This will confuse buyers and create inaccurate ratings.
This version of The Hobbit is an audio play first broadcast by the BBC in 1968 (it is NOT an audiobook - ie someone reading the full book version out aloud). It features a whittled down version of the book in play form, with a narrator and audio actors coming together to tell the story.
For keen collectors of Tolkien, this would no doubt be a valued item. Though it was before my time, it is apparently considered a classic of sorts, and is bound to inspire nostalgia for those old enough to have heard it the first time round. The story moves along quickly (much quicker than the book) so you never get bored, although of course, far less detail can be shared in this format. It's very much of the old-fashioned BBC era - so the langauge used is quite amusing and dry in parts.
Many of the scenes had a lot of shrill background noise - for example, when the dwarves are all talking in the background, or groups of elves or goblins were around. Although this was likely done to add atmosphere, it actually makes it hard to understand what the lead characters are saying at times. Sound levels could have been adjusted better so that this wasn't a problem. I was listening via a laptop - so it's possible that better speakers would have reduced this.
Good for Tolkien collectors but if you're looking for an introduction to The Hobbit - read the book. It's much better and this version just doesn't do what is a brilliant story the full justice it deserves.
*This review is specific to the BBC Radio adaptation of the Hobbit, broadcast 1968, released on CD 2012, ISBN-10 1445846632*
JRR Tolkein's `The Hobbit' is, of course, one of the greatest children's books to have been written in the twentieth century. Based on the stories he told to his children and originally published in 1937, it is an almost perfect blend of fantasy, magic and adventure. It follows the adventures of one Bilbo Baggins, as he sets off with thirteen dwarves and a wizard to recover a great treasure stolen from the dwarves by Smaug the dragon. Along the way they get into various scrapes with goblins, trolls, elves, shape shifters and, of course, a dragon. Through a mix of extreme good luck and his own resourcefulness Bilbo comes through all these adventures, only to find things are not as he left them at home.
It's a great story and works on many levels. For the younger reader there is the straight adventure story, which many will find thrilling. For the older reader there is the subtle growth in Bilbo's character, as he changes over the story from a passenger on the expeditin to a main player and the person people look to for help. There is a study of human nature, and the effects of greed upon people. In some respects it is a morality play. But for all that, at heart, it is a great entertainment. There is a reason it is still so affectionately regarded by readers world wide of all ages.
The 1968 radio adaptation presented here is a bit of a curate's egg. It follows the book pretty closely, but the style is very much of it's time. Actually, no, the style is very much of the time the book was published, and was out of date even when the play was produced. The very affected delivery of lines and the very plain production are quite striking. After a few minutes though you just get drawn right into the story, and the delivery actually helps at times. Though I have to say the stressed and affected pronunciation of various names by the narrator continues to grate all the way through - Gandalf becomes `Ga-andilf', Thorin `Toreen' and oddest of all Gollum `Gollooom'. It's an of it's time very formal BBC fashion (actually the production really reminded me of those BBC Shakespeare adaptations from the late seventies, with the vocalisations and the simple music)
Not much care has been taken with the sound quality - I know the series was recorded 43 years ago, but I have a lot of radio shows older than this (Goon show and Navy Lark from the fifties) and they sound a lot better. I can see that a lot of this stems from the original recording, but there are obvious flaws that could have been cured with remastering, especially an annoying crackle in the last few minutes of episode 2.
The play is in eight episodes, on four discs. The fifth disc consists of music from the play and is an interesting addition. There is no booklet or any liner notes other than a cast list and some production credits. The five discs are collected into a spindle case.
In all a great book, adapted into an OK play that is actually an entertaining listen with the occasional duff performance. A lack of attention to detail in the remastering marred the whole thing a bit for me. 3 stars.
on 6 January 2016
The book is amazing and I'm loving the looks of it without the paper that's wrapped around it.
The pictures in its description can be deceiving though (I'm not implying it's done intentionally of-course). But I'd buy it eitherways. To elaborate, the books' hardback is plain black, there's nothing pictured or written in their hardbacks, except on the spine, where there are golden, excellent quality, gilded letters, the classic Tolkien mark, and the Harper Collins mark. The pictured "minimalistic" drawings on the books, are but (not very) hard paper, wrapped around the books, and it is NOT sewn, meaning that it can be wrapped and removed at will. It kind of gives you a choice, to use the coloured paper around the book, or to keep it just with the plain black, classic-looking, hardback.
The case, is also black, very similar to the hardcover of the books, with golden gilded letters on either sides, and the "picture" of the Fellowship of the Ring that you can see in the item description pictures (the ring, the elf-letters, the 3 rings around it), golden gilded again of-course.
The only negative comment about this boxxed set, is that the paper back that I have spoken off, is not perfectly aligned in two of the books (the spine is a little bit off to the right or left), which messes a lot with my OCDs, but, for other people, it might not even be noticed.
There are some photos following which people can advise to check what the item looks like. On the 2nd photo you can slightly see the alignment issue I've mentioned above.
on 31 January 2002
I bought this book set for my grandsons as an introduction to Tolkien. The typeface is clear, the paper good quality and the illustrations are mystical. My grandsons love it.