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4.9 out of 5 stars
Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£19.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 22 April 2014
For anyone that can't bring themselves to read the lengthy reviews of others I supply this condensed version: Quite simply an amazing artbook, perfect for Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork, and very, VERY much worth the price. For those who'd like to read more, read on...

Anyone who has already bought a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit artbook will already know both the quality and style of this book. While I maintain that I would have preferred the books to be portrait format rather than landscape, so as to better fit in with my other books, I must admit that the Hobbit artbooks do look very nice.

As to the interior I was more than pleased when I first flicked through the pages. As ever there are the stunning location designs; moody forests, soaring mountains and towns and villages that frankly make you want to pack your things and move there this afternoon. Gus Hunter's image of the Ancient Dale is easily worthy of gracing anyone's living room wall, right next to Eduardo Pena's picture of the same. What I'm saying is that there isn't just rough design work, as you'd expect from concept art books, but gallery-quality art too.

The Orcs get a nice section to themselves this time around as there are three characters in particular that play a major part in the film. Once more the designs show a lot of thought and consideration behind why the Orcs would dress the way they do or have what they have. At the heart of it I would say it's this fact which gives the work from Weta's art department so much life and realism. Things have a reason for being there, not just because they look cool, but because there's a history and a story to everything. If a creature is shown wearing a fur hide then someone, somewhere, has thought about where it came from and how the wearer came to possess it.

There is also a decent chunk of the book dedicated to Beorn; his home, his lands and, of course, the man himself. This is where we find a lot of the John Howe and Alan Lee sketch work and I'm not sure I've ever wanted a timber framed house more than I do when I look at it. They should go into business with Ikea to make a range of Middle Earth flatpack wooden houses. As ever it's not just the big picture that warrants attention but, again, it's all the little details. Things that you might not even notice when watching the film, such as the chair backs, a hand-carved chess board, archways and mantelpiece ornamentation, which the artists focus upon to make the world a living, breathing place.

But by far my favourite section of this book is the Mirkwood Elves. Forget what you know about glamorous High Elves with fine clothes and ornate buildings. What we see here is considerably moodier, darker and more menacing, yet still with the signature Elven grace and elegance. A fine balancing act for the artists to accomplish. While there is much in Middle Earth that I wish I could see with my own eyes, Mirkwood is not one of them. The images found here will leave you in no doubt that it is a hostile place and even if there weren't elves to contend with then you'd still do well to heed Gandalf's advice and 'stick to the path'.

Mixed in with all of this is the usual cornucopia of costume designs, interior and exterior building sketches, the always reassuring pencil work of Alan Lee and John Howe (which some might say is worth the price of the book alone), superbly realised tools, weapons and other sundry items and, if that weren't enough for you, there's even some work involving a dragon.

In truth there's too much amazing artwork here to talk about it all and still do it justice. Suffice to say that it is all a treat for the eyes and imagination. The work doesn't so much show you the world of Middle Earth as invite you to the table with it. This book is a must-have for any Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork. Buy it and be happy.
4 people found this helpful
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on 27 April 2014
I have only recently become a fan of Peter Jackson's LOTR movies and tried to purchase all the movie books that covered the making of these magnificient films. I have now a collection of all the Movie Guides and Visual Companions, but these Hobbit CHRONICLES are far-far better than any of the other books in design, content, and artistic value! They are amazingly well illustrated with original pieces of art, and hundreds of illustrations telling us the story how characters and places were designed. It's amazing, how much effort was put into these books. It's not just some cutscenes from the films, but rather tons of original art. I have bought the other 2 Hobbit Chronicle books which are equally amazing. This one has "The Master's portrait" a prop-replica as an extra with it. It far exceeded my expectations in content. It's an absolute MUST for any fan of Peter Jackson's Hobbit. Published by the WETA Workshop, it's absolutely outstanding, like everything they did related to these films.
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on 17 December 2013
well i gave this product five gold after seeing the movie it is a worthy companion to the said movie i also found it very informative as it shows how much effort went into bringing the novel to the big screen i recommend this book to any one as it shows what can be done with a humble pencil worth every star or more it also gives you an insight what to expect in the next chapter hmmm can,t wait well that is all for now as i could go on for ever bye for now and mani thanks
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on 21 February 2014
As a big fan of Tolkien and being the proud owner of the LOTR art books I know that these art books are well worth getting. The level of detail is amazing, every page is beautiful art with fascinating snippets of information on the conception of the subject. It really makes you think about the artists, set designers, costume designers etc that made these movies so brilliant for us with their hard work & passion not to mention their complete dedication to their craft.
If you like the films and you're interested in the art, get the books and don't hesitate. You will not be disappointed.
I have not been able to put my copy down, it quickly became my preciousss.
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on 26 September 2016
This is an amazing view into the design of the second film. There is a lot more focus on the elves in this addition, which is interesting and beautiful to look at. Put together wonderfully, a real treat for any fan of the Hobbit. I would say that it is completely worth the money if you are interested in design and concept work it gives deep insight into the working environment and process.
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on 14 July 2014
Fantastic book! Arrived super fast as we have Prime, which I would thoroughly recommend to everyone! My son is 7 years old and he adores this book, it's just such a treat for him and his sister to explore such a beautifully put together 'making of' - we're going to have to save up to get the rest of the books now!
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on 7 February 2014
This and it's companion books are superb. Well produced and filled with high quality artwork, designs and images. There are also insightful comments from crew and cast. In particular Alan Lee and John Howe. This book is a mine of information and inspiration to anyone whether a Tolkien fan or simply anyone who seeks inspiration for there own creative ends.
There is only one small let down. It is a personal one, but the fold out print inside the back cover of that insufferable 'luvvie' Stephen Fry will, in my copy, remain folded up.
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on 2 April 2015
As beautifully produced as you would expect. If you love the films and want to see a bit more behind the scenes for the creation of the places and people, then this is the book to have. Wonderful to flick through or to spend more time on to see much more of what ended up on the big screen.
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on 6 December 2015
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on 10 September 2015
I bought this as a present for my younger brother, but before you hold that against me let me just say I'm a huge fan of all Tolkeins works and the movies. This was my way of passing on that passion to him and he loved it (And so did I in the month leading up to his birthday). Worth the read.
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