on 3 January 2009
To all the people who've given this a low mark, and all seem to have the same gripe with it - you all fail to understand that this is not a novel in the sense we've come to understand as a fantasy novel these days, so it's not fair to judge it as such.
Tolkien was not a career author, he didn't set out to write a searing page-turner, a wizzbang tale of derring-do in 500 sizzling chapters. Gandalf doesn't hurl raging fireballs at enemies, Aragorn doesn't have a sex scene with Arwen while doing Eowyn behind her back, there's no pandering to the lowest common denominator to flog a few more copies.
Tolkien barely cared if no one ever read it. He was writing it largely for himself and his friends and family.
You're all guilty of confusing the result of Tolkien's legacy and influence (virtually every other fantasy novel, movie or game) with his actual work, and expecting to see in the father what you've seen in his unruly children.
Judge it for what it is, not for what you wanted it to be as a modern fantasy reader.
on 23 April 2005
We all know that the The Lord of the Rings is a work of genius, so this review covers this particular published version (The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition). First off this book is expensive and in format it is only a little larger than the paperback version. Also apart from the three pages from the book of Mazurbul there are no illustrations. First impressions will probably leave most people wondering where their money went. So what do you get for the money?
Well, clearly the publishers have spent some time thinking about how to add both quality and usability. There are two fold out maps printed in black and red. Not spectacular and in size these cover no more space than if they were printed across two pages. However, because they are fold out they are easier to read and if left "folded out" can be referred to whilst reading text on other pages.
The slip cover works well and is has a sturdy feel. The paper has a quality (non glossy) feel and is much whiter than other versions (especially the paperback) I have seen. Combined with a very crisp font this makes the book easy to read, something I struggle with in some of the cheaper published versions. Somehow when the book is closed after use the pages easily compress back to their original size making the slip case easy to use without the case being oversized.
It would have been easy for the publishers to have fallen into the trap of printing this book in the larger format of some Lord of the Rings books. However, the Lord of the Rings is a long story and these larger formats are very difficult to read due to the weight of the books. This book can actually be used!
Overall the book has an understated feel of quality which will grow on you. However there is no getting away from the premium price. If you are looking for something to give a more immediate impression there are cheaper versions, printed on glossier paper, in larger format and with more illustrations.
This makes this a book for the dedicated Lord of the Rings collector, if you just want a book for everyday use or to read for the first time I would suggest one of the mid-price versions.
I had the privilege of working in the same building as Rob Inglis (at the same job, as it happens), the actor chosen to record these verbatim recordings, for a brief period some years ago. We weren't friends as such, just acquaintances. At the time I was unaware of his Tolkienian pedigree, but I was well aware of his mellifluous voice and amiably charismatic persona: it was a quality that made that particular place of work a lot more palatable for me, and no doubt many others.
Now, on to the LOTR adaptation in question, by way of a tangential question: would you expect a painting to work on your senses in exactly the same way as a piece of music? Whilst there might be similarities, parallels, and so on, essentially the answer is no, because the two mediums are fundamentally different. Some reviewers here seem to miss that kind of distinction. This version of LOTR is the equivalent of a fireside reading of yesteryear (in itself a wonderful thing, and part of a distinguished cultural heritage that predates the instant pleasures of TV and the iPod by many millennia), not a full cast dramatisation complete with sound effects. And taken on those terms, Inglis does a fantastic job. To expect one person to create a world as deeply multifaceted as can be recreated by a large team of actors, producers, engineers and so on at the BBC is clearly a bit dumb. Sure, I prefer the music in the BBC version, but they had a composer to work specifically on it, plus various singers (inc Oz Clarke, of wine-tasting fame) to flesh it out. On the other side of the equation, they had to cut out large tracts of the text to make the series a manageable size. What the Inglis version lacks in production values and vocal technique it more than makes up for in being a complete reading.
There are also people submitting reviews of this item who are in plain factual error. The reviewers that suggest Inglis wasn't familiar with his material are clearly unaware that Inglis was selected for the daunting task of verbatim readings of both The Hobbit & LOTR precisely because of his familiarity with the material. He'd already been doing Tolkien material on stage as a solo act, something that almost beggars belief, both in conception and execution. And to any serious Tolkien reader (at least amongst those I know), the mention of Ms Rowling's world in the same breath as Tolkien's is a bit like trying to compare the works of Picasso with a child's first drawing, i.e. something ignorant people all too frequently do. Whether or not you like either world is beside the point. Tolkien's was born out of a donnish/professorial obsession with language and ancient myth and culture that gives his world a far more cohesive depth than the meandering fancies of 'muggles' and 'quidditch'. The first three Star Wars films were great fun, and at the time represented the tip of an iceberg in a seismic shift in cultural reference points, but, as the three 'prequels' made very clear, this was a world with about as much depth as a puddle when compared to the oceanic depths of Tolkien's personal mythos.
As a Tolkien lover I have room in my life for pretty much all of the Tolkien adaptations I've so far encountered, with the books themselves and the BBC dramatisations coming out a clear first and second. But I'm incredibly happy that somebody went to the trouble of recording verbatim readings, and think Rob Inglis does a sterling job (to those sniping at the enunciation, it's worth considering that Inglis is of Antipodean extraction). So, if you know and love your Tolkien, you'll most likely be able to derive a great deal of pleasure from these recordings, as it would seem most other reviewers have also.
I will not waste words here raving about the Lord of the Rings. Most people already know that it is one of the greatest stories ever told and has been reviewed more eloquently elsewhere.
If you are a fan of Tolkien then this box set is a wonderful collectors item. It is presented in sturdy hardback to survive multiple readings over the years. It also has some of Alan Lee's wonderful illustrations, which clearly demonstrate the influence they had over the visualisation of Peter Jackson's movies. Some of these pictures look like they might have been taken straight out of the movies.
All in all, as a fan whose previous paperback editions have fallen apart, look forward to enjoying these hardbacks for years to come.
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 15 December 2002
This radio dramatisation is remarkable and has now been re-edited onto 12cds with a running time of 13 hours 15 minutes
including the final disc which is Stephen Oliver's complete musical score (and now includes a demo of John Le Mesurier singing Bilbo's Last Song).
I can't say that i'm too keen on some of the singing which is contained in this production but the music otherwise is excellent, the story adaptation is great, and the casting is superb.
Peter Woodthorpe in particular is excellent as the snarling, stammering, schizoid Gollum.
Ian Holm who plays Bilbo in Peter Jackson's films is Frodo in this production and John Le Mesurier plays Bilbo.
There are four cds for each volume of the book, although the fourth cd of Return Of The King is the aforementioned musical score cd.
This edition differs from the radio transmission as there isn't the introduction and credits for each episode, it has been re-edited so that each of the three volumes of the book is continuous with newly recorded prologues and epilogues by Ian Holm.
This explains how they managed to squeeze it all onto 12cds; previously this was available as a 14cd set, with each of 13 1-hour episodes on a seperate cd and a final cd of the music.
The sleevenotes also say that it has been rearranged so that it better matches the chronology of the book.
Anyway, if you love the Lord Of The Rings you'll love this too.
on 30 June 2014
It's perfect! The images became better (colours is richer) and it's more detailed comparing with the 3-book HarperCollins illustrated edition from 2002. The slipcase is cool and simple. The book came in a special cardboard box from HarperCollins. It weigt 2,410 kg and it has 1217 pages. The chalk overlay paper is thick enough. The font is clear and of a good size (neither too big nor too small). Two maps are on the endpapers (the large-scale map of Middle-earth at the end of The Third Age & the detailed map of Rohan, Gondor and Mordor) and one more (Shire map) is indise on a page of the book. This new edition features a special 3-page foldout frontispiece showing the complete version of Alan Lee's painting of a Ringwraith flying out from Minas Morgul towards Minas Tirith. This complete version of the painting has never been included before. In addition to this, all 50 paintings have been reproduced from brand new digital scans provided by Mr Lee and they look stunning. It's a really ultimate edition! I wouldn't say it's too bulky, but as a story told inside, the book is monumental outside) You will like it, I'm sure! It is of the highest quality!
P.S. And one more thing to tell. I found that the pagination is quite different from the usual (like in 3-volume HarperCollins illustrated edition from 2002). So now it doesn't fit my "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (Hardback)" 2005 year edition (ISBN 13: 9780618642670). I can't use the LOTR references from this book. I guess if they corrected the pagination in their new "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion" 2014 year edition (ISBN 13: 9780007556908). ADD: I found that they had not corrected it.
on 2 November 2003
Other reviewers have said plenty about the contents. I want to talk specifically about this illustrated hardback edition.
Lee's paintings make a beautiful accompaniment to the celebrated story, though some are a little 'washed out' for my own taste. But this is *not* the edition to buy if you are buying the book to read for the first time, or particularly if you are buying it for a child.
The Lord of the Rings was originally envisaged as a single book, but was issued as three, and now I own this edition I can see why. It's enormous: heavy, clumsy, and difficult to read anywhere but sitting up at a desk.
I was also a little disappointed that this 'de luxe' edition, despite its size, skimps on the maps, reproducing them in miniature form rather than the full-size foldout versions Tolkien envisaged.
This is a nice edition for a fan (I am one), but I'm going to have to buy the paperback multivolume set so I can actually read it again (my original copy has finally dropped to pieces).
on 18 March 2002
JRR Tolkien's book "The Lord of the Rings" needs no introduction. It's a timeless classic that should at least be given a try by absolutley everyone! That said, this edition is just great! I was quite surprised when I first saw this edition with my own eyes. The books are large, pages are thick, the covers and the illustrations are a feast to look at and the text is big and clear. If you are looking for an edition of "The Lord of the Rings" that is a bit more special than the cheaper ones, this is the one to get!
on 11 July 2004
Then Rob Inglis will read you the best story ever written.
Story telling is a tradition that predates book writing and reading by thousands of years. These days it's a luxury to be able to listen to the story teller. I've read Lord of the Rings too many times to be able to remember but up to now, nobody has ever read it to me. Rob Inglis has remedied that sad deficit. It took me a short while to get into the unfamiliar 'listener' state of mind because listening is a different discipline, a different skill, to reading. Somehow, it takes more concentration but perhaps that's just because of lack of practise. Once the right level of concentration was achieved, Rob Inglis's voice and the images it conjured, filled my mind to the exclusion of all else. It's hard to imagine the craft of story telling being executed any better than this.
This story teller managed to reproduce the voices of hobbits, men, elves, dwarves, wizards, eagles, nazgul, orcs and Gollum - all different and all very fitting for the characters represented. Not only that but he sang each song from the book, unaccompanied and they all sounded good.
It's the best present anyone has given me and I expect to listen to it at least as many times as I've read the book.