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 17 November 2000
The effect of these books upon the reader is unique. Certainly the only books I have ever read that draw me back to re-read them again and again. They are more than just literature, they are priceless works of art. The gift of a brilliant writer possessed of an imagination that has no parallel in the history of literature to a world finding itself sadly bereft of tales of beauty and of wonder.
Drawing upon Tolkien's ancient histories and legends of Middle-earth, these tales tell of The War of the Ring and the events leading to the end of the Third Age. Tales that will bring unimaginable vistas vividly before your eyes and characters that will haunt your imagination for the rest of your life.
You simply must read these books--and what better editions? These are superbly illustrated with water-colour paintings by Alan Lee. Mr Lee is one of the conceptual artists currently assisting Peter Jackson bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen in New Zealand.
on 5 January 2002
I decided to invest in this classic but I wasn't sure which edition to buy; the boxed set or the one book. I love hardback books, especially slightly oversized and I'm glad I decided to buy this one. The dust cover advertises the beautiful illustrations inside. It also has embossed gold foil writing and at the top and bottom the foil backed Runes. The bottle green hardback is gold embossed on the spine, and depicts in gold the Smaug (dragon) on the front. Inside you will find at the front Thror's map and at the back a map of Wilderland, to guide you through the journey of the heroes, whilst reading the book.
The pages are generously sized, clear and beautifully illustrated with Alan Lee's drawings in pencil and full colour throughout (I wish it had the old tissue paper covering the illustrations of bygone days!). There is also a Lord of the Rings edition in the same format. It is beneficial to read the Hobbit before the Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit describes the adventures of a friendly, roughly 3 foot 6 hobbit called Bilbo. He is volunteered into an adventure beyond the scope of most hobbit's lives by a kindly old family friend, Gandalf the wizard. His journey is also initiated and accompanied by fourteen dwarves. Bilbo's contract is to steal the treasure back for the dwarves, stolen and held by Smaug the Magnificent. Smaug is a large and very perilous dragon. Bilbo even surprises himself by becoming a hero, despite his slight size. This is an enchanting book; Tolkien has a rare gift in creating books which capture the imagination of any age. It is beautifully written, comical, imagination stretching but with the skillfulness of convincing the reader that the story is factual and passing over a great empathy, tugging at the reader's heartstrings over the adventure's endearing characters. A must read book.
on 4 November 2013
I must make it clear from the start that I will not review the story of The Hobbit, but just this (hardcover) annotated edition in particular:
Publisher: HarperCollins; Revised edition edition (7 April 2003)
It's important to note that Amazon unfortunately merges all the reviews from one story, regardless of each edition. The edition I pointed out looks similar to an American version with the same name, though I couldn't find the differences between them on the internet and I only purchased this British one.
The build quality is superb, though I can't say I was expecting less. In fact, I was quite disappointed when I saw the book for the first time. The hardcover is quite solid but the fact that it is only a plain green front was quite unexpected. The illustration we see in the Amazon item is just the paper that comes wrapping the book (dust cover?), but the front itself has no illustration or writing at all. You could not tell what the book is only by looking at its front cover.
The side of the cover is quite another story. It contains the title and some other marks you would expect in the front. It's all beautifully written in golden letters and that is the section that gives the book the "premium feel".
The quality of the paper and the font are very good, so the reading is quite comfort.
The book contains several illustrations scattered in the right places along the story. These illustrations are usually small-sized black/white drawings published in the various different editions of The Hobbit along the years. The different artists involved (including Tolkien himself) causes the book to lack an uniformity in style, but I think that is a good idea for an annotated version, because you have some sort of historical compilation of the art of The Hobbit.
My huge disappointment about the illustrations is the lack of full-page prints and also the scarceness of colored drawings. Colored drawings do exist, but they are all grouped in the center of the book, forming a section completely separate from the context. That's even dangerous for someone who is reading the story for the first time, for if you looked at these pictures when you reach the middle of the story, you would be bombarded with spoilers. The way these colored pictures are presented makes me feel that it would be better that they didn't even exist, although I would love to see some of them in full-size in the right places along the book.
I think the annotations are indeed the strength of this version, though it's important to note that they are really annotations about The Hobbit, not about Middle-Earth. You do have some notes linking to other stories such as Lord of The Rings, Silmarillion, etc, but they are not abundant. Most of the annotations are about the differences in previous editions of The Hobbit (including really small details) and also about the biographical facts behind Tolkien that must have inspired him at some parts of the tale. So I see the annotations as some sort of historical registry of the publications of The Hobbit as well as hints behind the story linking to Tolkien's reality. In that scope I feel safe to say that they are quite complete, but they must be too cold for just a casual reader that would probably prefer more notes about the mythology itself.
I was unsure whether 3 or 4 stars would be fair for this edition. In the end of the day I removed only 1 star out of 5 to summarize all the "imperfections" I noted above. I think we can only judge a book by the success it got on its own objectives, not the objectives that we have. When our objectives are not the same of the book's, it's no fault of the book, but of the information that lead us to false expectations. I think reviews are important to align the expectations to the reality of the books. That said, I recommend this edition for people already familiar to The Hobbit and that probably won't have only this edition on their shelves. Tolkien's enthusiasts and collectors must have this book, but casual readers probably should look for other editions. This is the definitive guide of The Hobbit, not the best way to present the tale.
on 31 January 2002
I bought this book set for my grandsons as an introduction to Tolkien. The typeface is clear, the paper good quality and the illustrations are mystical. My grandsons love it.
on 22 January 2015
So, how many different (anniversary) editions of `The Lord of the Rings` can you/should you put in your bookshelf? As far as I am concerned, never enough... with this having been said, how does this 60th anniversary edition do in comparison with other editions? To make things short: It is a nice but certainly not a great edition, especially if one considers the set`s official, (non Amazon), price. This doesn`t mean that you are getting an inferior product, absolutely not, but in comparison with other available editions in a similar price range, this 60th anniversary is, at least in my humble opinion, by quality not quite on the same level.
But starting with the positive points: The set presents itself indeed nicely. It comes slipcased, with the three volumes the Lord of the Rings consists of (`The Fellowship of the Ring`/`The Two Towers`/`The Return of the King`) presented individually. In addition the set contains a fourth volume, a highly informative `Readers` Guide`. If you are one of those readers who enjoyed the appendices to the `Lord of the Ring` and feel you want to know more about the background of the LOTR, you will definitely want this 60th anniversary edition just for this extra volume. For the casual reader who is just interested in the story, this `Guide` with all its in-depth information might probably not be of too much interest.
The reason why I am not too happy with this edition is the paper quality, which in comparison with the other LOTR editions in my collection, feels somehow cheap and might in a few years show so in form of yellowing pages. I am fully aware that to many readers of this review this might come over as small minded, but as a book collector and considering the price of this set I would have expected a little bit more quality.
In conclusion: This 60th anniversary edition comes in a beautiful but not necessarily impressive design with an additional volume of valuable extra information, which would make purchasing this set worth it. The books' paper quality is o.k. but not as good as could be expected and if you are o.k. with this you will certainly be happy with this edition. For those willing to invest a little bit more money I would recommend considering to buy either the British deluxe 50th anniversary edition or - if you can still find it - the American 50th anniversary edition.
on 22 December 2005
Obviously, I don't need to blather on about how amazing the LOTR is or how much of a genius Tolkien is... there are many reviews that have already done that. Instead, I would like to comment on the actual edition of this book set - something I think will be a little more helpful to those of you deciding which set of LOTR books to buy.
Advantages of this edition are:
1. This 4-book paperback set includes "The Hobbit", which is a must-read before starting the LOTR trilogy.
2. I would describe the paper as "normal" paperback quality.
3. The presentation box is nice and sturdy.
4. The cover artwork (though not from the film) is really nice.
However, there is ONE major disadvantage of this edition:
1. THE TYPSET. The typset of "The Hobbit" is great - nicely spaced and easy to read, but don't let that fool you... The publisher has made the decision to make each of the 4 books in this set the same size (I assume for aesthetic purposes). Therefore, as each book of the trilogy is much longer than "The Hobbit", the typset for each of these 3 books is very small and very close together. Make sure you have a good pair of spectacles and/or a very well lit room and you'll be fine!
All in all a good price for a box set of 4 books. However, if you're looking for paperbacks that will get worn after re-reading many times, I would suggest purchasing the books individually in a more "eye-friendly" edition!
on 17 August 2004
Our teacher read The Hobbit to us over the course of a few of weeks when we were about seven. It's one of the few stories that stuck in my imagination from those early school days - four decades ago. Our teacher was good at reading stories. She could mesmerise us. I wouldn't expect Martin Shaw to be anywhere near as competent as that teacher. I would have been satisfied if he'd been half as good. Well, he was much better than I was expecting. He was good! The right reading style for this book is really a matter of taste and opinion. Martin Shaw's reading hit the spot for me. He conjured up different characters with different voices - all realistic and none exaggerated. I closed my eyes and I was there, with Bilbo and the dwarves.
I have listened to the BBC Radio Collection's dramatised version of The Hobbit and didn't like it at all. It was clearly produced for the younger audience and I shouldn't complain about that because, of course, The Hobbit is a children's book. I've heard that the unabridged reading by Rob Inglis is also aimed at the younger listener (though I'd like to hear it before making a judgement). I'm an adult (oh yes I am!) and this version, read by Mr Shaw, met with my total satisfaction because even though I enjoy some children's literature, I still want to be read to as an adult.
There is no mention on the CD case of the person responsible for abridging the tale, but I would like to congratulate that person for doing an excellent job. I had to check that I was actually listening to the abridged version because it seemed so complete and seamless.
I recommend this audiobook. It's one of the best I've heard.
on 5 October 2000
This is the timeless classic of J.R.R. Tolkiens' 'The Hobbit', the story is a timeless tale of Hobbits, wizards, Dwarves and dragons. The tale will keep you entertained for years. The added bonus of this pack is the C.D. of Tolkien reading the first encounter with Gollum. This is just wonderful as you start to imagine what Tolkien was creating, and the different charcters' actions within the book. The extras also include an illustrated map, and limited postcards which are colourful and excluive to this pack. I recommend this pack to all collectors of Tolkien, but also to new commers.
on 8 January 2005
The Hobbit along with The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien in my opinion must be one of the best books ever written. I thought to myself is it worth spending £60 on this special edition though. However when I received it I knew it was money well spent. The quality of the book is amazing as they have used good quality paper which is brilliant white and means the text is crisp and clear unlike the majority of books. Also the colour illustrations are of superb print quality, not forgetting Thror's Map which folds out and changes when held to the light, altogether there are 18 illustrations all well worth it. There is even a ribbon page marker which is a pleasant rarity in modern books. The only thing I think they could have improved on, in my opinion, is the cover which is very plain and doesn't do much for the book.
So, although a bit expensive, I think that once you have this book you won't regret buying it and will want to buy The Lord of The Rings which has also been published in this special edition.