on 5 June 2005
This book features many of Tolkien's ink, watercolor, pencil, and colored pencil works. The detailed descriptions of each drawing include history, explanations, and dates. Quite a few maps are included, as well as illustrations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is wonderful to see how Tolkien imagined Middle Earth and its inhabitants. The colors he used are very earthy and lovely.
My favorite drawing in this book is "End of the World" done in pencil and colored pencil on a sheet of notebook paper - you can actually see the lines of the paper. It is so simple; yet, the story it tells includes subtle intricacies and complexities similar to those in his writings. I also love the pencil and colored pencil drawing, "The Tree of Amalion," which obviously blooms with the flowers of Tolkien's imagination since they do not resemble traditional flowers. Finally, the hand drawn Christmas cards are beautiful mini-stories with dancing bears and penguins, and Father Christmas making deliveries.
This book is truly exquisite, full of details and surprises for those of us who didn't know Tolkien was an extremely talented artist. It is a worthwhile purchase in my opinion.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
on 27 January 2002
This book is a beautiful presentation of Tolkien's artistist talent. Not only did he have a vast imagination for story telling, he also drew and painted many of his ideas too. It does help if you have actually read some of his works, namely The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and you should probably have read The Silmarillion too although the narrative that accompanies the pictures do explain very well the association between picture and story. This book also contains many reprodutions of his works outside of the "legendarium" which he created. Pictures from his childhood and books he wrote for his children amongst others give an insight into his life and gives the book a biographical slant too. I think it's a fabulous book and very inspiring since it is revealed that Tolkien had no formal art training (can this man do no wrong?). Great as a gift for a fan or even as a reference book.
With the reissue of Tolkien's cover of "The Hobbit" and other original drawings that he did, it seems like an appropriate time to pick up this book. Why? Because for a really complete vision of Tolkien's work (Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, and all the rest) it's probably best to see it as he saw it.
This book contains all the artwork that Tolkien created (NOT all the artwork BASED on his works, just the stuff he did himself!). Some are miscellaneous sketches and doodles, some are watercolors, ink drawings, prints, pencil sketches, and combinations of all of the above. One doodle looks like multicolored snowflakes, some are landscapes or pictures of little houses, teddy bears, owls, and so on. Very cute and cool, especially the illustrations done for "Roverandum."
And many are Middle-Earth related -- different views of the Misty Mountains or the Elvenking's hall, the evolution of what the Shire looked like, different Laketowns, different "Doors of Durin," even drawings of the tattered pages of the Dwarf Book of Moria. Near the end, even Tolkien's design drawings for LOTR book covers are included. And, of course -- MAPS! Maps of Wilderland, as well as the famous map from "Hobbit."
The text accompanying these many pictures carefully dissects all of the drawings and their importance, as well as how they evolved. (It's a bit like looking at concept art) As well as going over only Tolkien's work, Wayne G. Hammond also examines influences on Tolkien's artwork. For example, there is a fairy-tale picture that influenced a "Hobbit" picture, and a scientific drawing of a golden eagle that influenced another "Hobbit" picture with Bilbo.
This is a must-read for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, a great peek into a great mind. And it emphasizes that Tolkien was not just a brilliant writer, but a brilliant artist as well. Great stuff, definitely a must-see.
on 15 November 1998
You'll need to be something of a Tolkien enthusiast to properly appreciate this book - but if you are looking at this review, you probably already are. Beautifully illustrated and written, and casts a fresh light, for me at least, on aspects of Tolkien's artistic background and influences. You'll probably want to have read the Biography or Letters as well as Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion first. I'd much rather own this book than several 'pictures of MiddleEarth by other Artists' type of books.
Note to whoever wrote the synopsis though - TOLKIEN - NOT TOLKEIN!