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John is one of the two lead artists who worked on The Lord of the Rings film. In his latest book Lost Worlds he explores places, mythical or not, that have fascinated people. Some of the places include Eden, Babylon, Troy, Pompeii, Asgard and more -- 24 in total.

The hardcover has a circular cutout holding a magnifying plastic -- glass would probably break if not handled properly -- peeping into a burning Atlantis. Pretty cool idea.

This is a children book -- says 3+ on the back cover - or a book you would read to children. It's sort of like a National Geographic magazine covering archaeological stories, except there are more stories on mythology. The writeup isn't that technical and stories are not really long either. The art is not some major new creation but a re-interpretation of the places -- think National Geography style art.

This book is recommended to parents with kids, obviously. I didn't realise this is a children book when I bought it. It's not a bad purchase but I'm not the target reader. It's still quite interesting to read.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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John Howe is a maker of magical worlds -- anybody who's seen his "Lord of the Rings" art knows that he's a master of elegantly detailed pictures, glowing with vibrant colors. But "Lost Worlds" is not just an art book, but a moderately exploration of "lost" places... some of which have been lost to time, and some of which technically never existed except in people's minds. And yes, the art is gorgeous.

Some of these lost "worlds" did once actually exist as ancient cities and countries throughout history -- Babylon, Thebes, Troy, Timbuktu, the giant statues of Rapa Nui, Mohenjo Daro, Teotihuacan, Persepolis, the ancient site of Cahokia, Pompeii, Knossos, and perhaps the Garden of Eden (it's a bit hard to prove the specific existence of someplace with no buildings).

Then there are the ones that are all about the imagination --the realms of the gods known as Asgard and Olympus, Camelot and Avalon, the sunken city of Atlantis, Ultima Thule, the seven cities of Cibola, Shambhala, Uluru, the mythical kingdom of Prester John, the realm of Faerie, and the whole legend about a Hollow Earth. I'm not sure why Ker-Ys isn't included in the mythical funfest.

Some of these "lost worlds" were real (or our information of them is commonly based on something real), some of them may have been mistily attached to something real, and some are pure flights of fancy. But they do all have something in common -- John Howe explores their backstory, with archeological photographs and explorations, and historical records (such as a papal letter to King Prester John... which is a bit confusing since nobody can find his kingdom).

None of it is terribly in-depth -- usually the text stretches no further than two and a half pages, and it seems aimed at younger readers sometimes. But it is highly informative and full of intriguing, and Howe seems to have done plenty of research. And his focus has a wide range, from Australia to southern Asia, the South Pacific to Egypt, the Americas to ancient Britain, Greece, and Rome. It also has a nice little foreword by Sir Ian McKellen, describing the sensations of reading this book (and reminding us, "Not that John is some conjurer of cheap tricks").

And since it's John Howe, it has artwork -- rosy-hued skies, great grey-blue tsunamis and rivers, shadowy bull-monsters, warm-hued stone walls and obelisks, the bloody eruptions of fire and volcanoes, horn-headed sea serpents swimming near a misty shore, murky floating wall art, shimmering white castles, twisted trees and a "North Pole hole" that illuminates the the vast darkness of space.

"Lost Worlds" is a very lovely art book that also explores the origins, legends and history of all these various places -- whether they're imagined, or just lost. I mean, really lost. And the artwork simply sweeps you away.
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on 3 October 2009
The illustrations in this book are wonderful - although this is classed as a childrens book adults will love it too. The book covers a wide range of 'lost worlds' and the text perfectly accompanies the illustrations - why not order John's other new book at the same time ;-) Fantasy Drawing Workshop: A Drawing Course in 10 Step by Step Projects
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I've been a fan of John's art for years now and as such he always manages to bring something new to whatever it is that's being created. Time can be easily whiled away whilst you explore his pieces so its with a wonderful touch that he's been unleashed on bringing the lost cities of the world to the fore to the next generation. The subject is fascinating, the wording simplistic to allow young readers to grasp the tale for each different section but binding it together is that wonderful artwork that really is a joy to behold. If you want something different for the younger reader interested in not only history but perhaps the chance to explore then this is definitely going to be a sure fire hit.
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on 26 January 2017
The illustrations are beautiful and make the story feel magic stories of lost worlds and city's wonderful book I would highly recommend this book to anyone. 96 chapters learn about lost city's.Lost city's
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on 30 December 2014
I like the work of John Howe so I thought I should buy this book. Very nice illustrations, and I am very satisfied with the buy. Great deal for me as it was cheap.
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on 5 March 2010
Whilst this book is beautifully produced and the illustrations are excellent and well researched I have serious reservations about the concept of mixing fantasy/ mythological places with those known to archaeology. I cannot comment on the other chapters, but in the case of the chapter on Mohenjo-daro there is not only one basic spelling mistake - harappans does not have 2 r's, but there is a strange assertion that they called themselves 'The Civilised'. This is not factual, because we do not know what they called themselves, because the Indus Script remains undeciphered, and seems to be based on a word used in Mesopitamian texts which IS THOUGHT TO describe the Indus Valley region which means the opposite of civilised. Many theories some of which are outdated or proven to be wrong by recent archaeology are stated as factual, and that is misleading. It is often said that there was no warfare, but not all, albeit a minority archaeologists concur with this interpretation, ditto no defensive walls... its just not that simple. It is true however that many "senior" archaeologists in this field tend to express their theories as facts, so this may have misled the author. This is one of the worlds great civilisations, but we do not have any surviving narrative of events and unlike Egypt, very little organic evidence has survived, there are no tombs stuffed with treasures etc...so everything is based on the evidence of archaeology and that is always open to interpretation, so if you write about this topic, the public should know that.
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