Top positive review
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The images are amazing!
on 6 November 2001
If the look of this book is anything to go by the movie of Fellowship is going to be a real visual treat. Just look at the detail in some of these shots - the tiles on the roofs of the houses of Bree, all slightly skew-wiff and worn and spattered with bird droppings, or the fabulous carvings in Elrond's chamber, or the wear and tear in Aragorn's Ranger garb, or the gorgeous tooling on Legolas's quiver, the etched designs on Gimli's helmet, the G-rune worked into Gandalf's staff. And Bag End is extraordinary: you just want to move right in. Isengard's interior is all hard-edged, industrial-looking black metal and what seem to be some perverted form of electric lighting: exactly how you'd expect the corrupt wizard's stronghold to be. Christopher Lee as Saruman looks just right, too; in fact, looking through this book, you have to say that pretty much all the characters look spot on. I particularly like the casting of Sean Bean as Boromir and of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn: neither of them obvious for the parts, but both subtle actors who can chameleon into their roles. All the hobbits appear very individual; and as for the Black Riders and the Orcs and Uruks: looks like a real treat as far as the monsters are concerned! They're obviously keeping the Balrog under wraps though.
The text is thorough and informative - a lot more accessible than Robert Foster's Guide to Middle-earth, though serving the same sort of purpose. A useful starting point for non-buffs, but a must-have for those of us who do know our way round the books, too. There are some interesting hints in the Visual Companion, since it's based on the movie and the scripts rather than the book, of where the divergences between the two occur. No mention as we've guessed and has been reported of Tom Bombadil or the barrow wight, for example. But judging from the 'History' section, it looks as if the movie will show some of the action from the Second Age - there's a fantastic shot of the Elvish army lined up against Sauron's forces at the Battle of Dagorlad. It would be great to see some big battle action in the first movie, given that we'll have to wait till Two Towers for all the Helm's Deep action.
It's really nicely produced, this book - large format, glossy, fantastically detailed, and with a sumptuous fold-out map of Middle-earth in the centre with snapshots showing many of the key locations, not just from the first movie but also, tantaslisingly, of Edoras and Barad-dur, too. A very superior movie tie-in book and a really nice addition to my collection.