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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Annotated Hobbit
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491 of 524 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2003
Okay, so I say that this is the best way to read The Hobbit. And I am dead serious.
I know that annotated books can be difficult to navigate, filled with useless, pointless, or just plain boring information, and can be grossly oversized. That is not the case here.
So - here's the scoop.
The original story is very nicely presented, with all original illustrations in color when possible, and in black and white elsewhere. The type is nice and clear, very easy to read. (Many cheaper editions are also rather hard on the eyes. Check the print before you buy, folks!)
The illustrations are printed very clearly, and with very good notes on what they are.
And then the annotations - useful, engaging, and very well done. You will WANT to read these. We discover how the book was written, and what was changed between editions. (There were many changes made so that The Hobbit would conform more easily to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.) There are fascinating tidbits about Tolkien's life and the experiences that made their way into the story.
The forward tells about the writing of the novel, and the appedices give additional details about the text.
There are also many illustrations from other editions of the book. These are varied, from thought-provoking to not-provoking.
And the book is not too big. Some editions are simply too big to be read, but this book is reasonably sized so that you can actually READ IT! In fact, I have not read any other edition of The Hobbit for years, since the original annotated version came out.
The new edition is very much worthwhile. Enjoy!
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149 of 157 people found the following review helpful
I just wanted to take the time to update anyone who is interested in purchasing this illustrated edition of The Hobbit. As you probably know, there aren't many illustrated editions of the hobbit and most that are illustrated aren't all that incredible. So far, my favorite edition has been the one by Alan Lee. I must say, it's hard to top his work. Alan Lee really helped bring the story to life for me when I first read this incredible adventure by Tolkien. However, because I believe that The Hobbit is a tale directed at the hearts of children and adults that are young at heart, I believe that Jemima Catlin's illustrated edition has topped even the great Alan Lee's. First off, the quality of this book is excellent. The book has been wrapped in cloth so the book feels high quality and soft to the touch. Also, the cover has a beautiful illustration from the book that includes carefully placed gold etching on the leaves, title, and author's name. This really gives the book a nice luster and shine. The book doesn't come with a book jacket and honestly I think that was smart based off of how high quality the book feels and looks. It just doesn't need a cheap paper jacket to cover such a beautiful looking book.

The illustrations that are presented in the book are a thing of beauty. Not only are there a great many (every two or three pages or so) but they are incredibly colorful and really pop when you look at them. I do think the illustrator's style is to appear more colorful and simple at first glance, but at the same time you will look at the illustrations carefully and see the amount of time and effort that she put into this work. I love this style of simplicity and use of color. Though not the exact same style, I feel like it reminds me of illustrators like William Steig who just have this incredible knack for bringing out amazing details with small illustrations. In fact, I truly and desperately hope that Jemima Catlin will be commissioned for Lord of the Rings. If you happen to read this Jemima, I just wanted to say thanks for putting so much passion and hard work into this book. I look forward to reading this to my children someday and plan on using your version when I do! As a side note, I should mention that some of Tolkien's original maps are included in the front and back of the book.

Lastly, it wouldn't be an appropriate review of The Hobbit without mentioning how amazing this story really is. If there is any part of you that believes in things like magic, risk-taking, adventure, friendship to the end, finding faith in the smallest of people or things, and good triumphing over evil, this is the book for you. I fell in love with the characters of this story and am thankful for authors like J.R.R Tolkien for having that God-given ability to captivate readers through these characters and the adventures they set out on. Every time I read this book I feel like I'm a kid again and that in itself is a great thing in my eyes. However, as an adult this book not only brings about those childhood feelings, but also strengthens my personal faith, and leads me to believe that those who truly live life to the fullest are those who go against the flow, take risks despite the fears or consequences when they know that it's in the name of doing what they feel is right inside of there hearts. I think there really is some of Bilbo Baggins in all of us and we learn a great deal from his adventure.

If you cannot tell, I love this book. It is saying a lot for me that this is my favorite edition of the book so far. This truly is a high-quality, gift edition that you will be very proud to own. Don't hesitate to purchase! Thank you J.R.R Tolkien and Jemima Catlin!
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172 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2000
My father introduced the late great Mr J.R.R. Tolkien to me when I was 8 years old, at a time when I had an insatiable appetite for literature of all kinds. From one night to the next I used to long to hear of events that - somehow - had been happening during my daily absence.
"The Hobbit" only added to my impatience. The animated tones of my father's voice as he described Bilbo Baggins's journey into the middle earth, created images of green mist, rugged mountains and dark woods that only a childs mind can see so vividly. Yet I can remember the look on my father's face as he turned every page to rejoin the adventure. And I realised that this book - this fantasy land - had captured my fathers imagination as it had mine.
For years after my father read me "The Hobbit", I longed to recapture the feelings that I first encountered in Bilbo's adventure - to learn more about Gandalf, and conjure up further images of dark, mysterious scenery. But maybe that time was too special. Maybe I'm never mean't to find another book with such magical power ..... because maybe I was lucky to be introduced to one in the first place.
There are a lot of maybe's in life - questions that go along unanswered - as there are in this book...... that's the magic.
In my adult wisdom (!?) I now know that I'll never truly recapture the feelings that I had as a little girl. But - when the time arises - I will strive to provide the same atmosphere in which my children can realise the magic of reading. And "The Hobbit" is the book that made me realise how important the magic is.
So Mr Tolkien, wherever you are, I give you 5 stars.... for the thousands that you have already given me.
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99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2002
This newly published, annotated version of THE HOBBIT is excellent for fans of the book. It may be TMI ("too much information") for the first-time reader. The text of THE HOBBIT settles in the center of the book while Doug Anderson's notations appear in the outer margins. At times it's a bit busy - but there's always fascinating reading! Tolkien fans are sure to get excited over this one.
Doug Anderson includes lots of sources in his notes. He quotes Tolkien's own letters, other fairy tales and legends that may have inspired Tolkien, as well as previous versions of the section he's noting. The Gollum section ("Riddles in the Dark") is interesting. Tolkien did some tinkering with the original Gollum story as its follow-up (LORD OF THE RINGS) was taking shape. Seems that George Lucas is not the only person who's revised previously released work! Tolkien was his predecessor.
Also interesting are the many black and white illustrations that Anderson includes, many from foreign editions of THE HOBBIT. Some of the art is hilarious, as it does not resemble Tolkien's characters at all! There is a nice color section of illustrations in the center of the book.
THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT is a handsome, interesting book to own if you're a fan of Bilbo and his adventures with the dwarves (or dwarfs? That's covered in the book as well!)
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2012
This is a review of this particular publication of The Hobbit

I bought this book to read to my 2nd grade son. I wanted to get away from the picture books I was reading him at bedtime (they were boring me) and I hoped that this might help expand his vocabulary, provided that it could keep his attention. This particular version was bought as it includes a number of very nice illustrations, which were helpful for understanding the action in the story.

In general, I found that the material was often above his level of understanding (and at times I think I was more involved in the story than he was). To help, I always recapped the story line after each reading in order to make sure he understood what was going on. This really helped as he would then look forward to the next reading, even reminding me of what had happened last.

I think if you are looking for a version of The Hobbit to read to a child, this is a good option. It is also a good book for a child to read on his/her own: this is the version that I read as a child and I remember really liking the fact that the story came with pictures.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2009
This is the version produced by National Public Radio a long time ago. This is not the BBC version, which is IMHO an inferior product compared to this one. In fact, when I first bought this product, it was on cassette tape. I firmly believe that this version is the best audio presentation ever produced of tolkiens work. Why? Well, its really a voice character based play complete with ambient sound effects, it's theater of the mind set in tolkiens universe. It's NOT a plain old voice of one person doing his best to give you a read over like some grandpa reading a bedside story (not that i'm against that mind you, it's just not my cup of tea, ya know). My kids grew up hearing this on long car trips, and it kept us all entertained with a shared universe we could all enjoy at the same time. My tapes had gone bad and I thought we would never be able to hear this great and wonderful audio play again. Lo and behold, its on CD and Amazon has it. It's now playing behind me as I write this review and my youngest, home from college on break, is enjoying it with me. "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit", go Bilbo, go Tolkien, go Amazon and NPR.
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82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2002
This version of the Hobbit is a pleasure to long-time fans but will also serve new readers well. Anderson released the original "Annotated Hobbit" years ago but this new format with the annotations in the column most often directly next to the orginal book text is supurb.
Included are Hobbit illustrations around the word, a rich addition, but the real joy of this book is learning background and details about The Hobbit, author J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings. At times the footnotes are scholarly and at other times they are amusing gems.
Anderson has compared all of Tolkien's revisions and has researched the 'whys' 'hows' and 'whens' that helps reveal to reader the meaning of the text and the personality of the author.
My favorites are anecdotes about Tolkien's personal life that involve his family and personal history. They are facinating and at times touching.
WIthout rambling on too much, I can confidently recommend this version of "The Hobbit" as the best available.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
`The Annotated Hobbit', annotated by bookseller Douglas A. Anderson is published by J.R.R. Tolkien's American publisher, Houghton Mifflin (important because it means the cover of this book uses the same art as the cover of the most popular hard-covered American edition of the Hobbit, published in the 1960's).

Let me be perfectly clear that this is first and foremost a review of the Annotation, not of the novel, `The Hobbit' itself. I have an almost reverential respect for the original novel, having bought my first copy of this work on a cold February day in 1965 in the Lehigh University bookstore. I began reading it on the bus on the way home from my college classes at about 1:00 PM, and simply could not put it down. I finished reading it at about 8:30 that evening. The experience is not unlike some cinematic versions of experiences like Dorothy's opening the door of her Kansas house to step out onto the grass of Oz. I am totally unsurprised by a statement in this annotation that says that the entire first page of `The Hobbit' has been reproduced in `Bartlett's Familiar Quotations'. There are few more magical or evocative openings to novels I have read in my whole life. And, while I can appreciate that there are adult readers, my Hemingway loving uncle being one of them, who simply `don't get it', I am often driven to the point of dispair when I can't interest young readers or listeners in `The Hobbit'. Like `Winnie the Pooh' and `Alice in Wonderland', I really think these are books designed much more to bring back memories of childhood in adults than to engage young readers. And oh how much I enjoy reading `The Hobbit' aloud!

But back to this Annotation'. Like similar annotations to works of fiction such as `Alice in Wonderland' and the Arthur Conan Doyle stories of Sherlock Holmes, there are four different subjects for annotation. One is internal; where names and events are cross-referenced to other parts of the work to explain, elaborate, resolve, or point out inconsistencies. The second is external, where correspondences can be made to sources or, in the case of Conan Doyle or Carroll, events of the day that may have found their way into the fiction. The third is references to the author's unpublished notes and letters. Tolkien's works should be rich sources for all three types of annotation, as the world of `The Hobbit' and `The Lord of the Rings' is based on an enormous body of Norse, Celtic, and Teutonic mythology, fable, and epic literature. Also, standing behind `The Hobbit' is the great events of `The Lord of the Rings', `The Silmarillion', and over twelve volumes of Tolkien writings compiled and annotated by Christopher Tolkien.

So why are the annotations in this volume so sparse? The author certainly does not limit himself to only one kind of annotation. There are examples of all three references to other Tolkien works, notes and letters, and other sources. The author does give us lots of illustrations of scenes from `The Hobbit' published in translations of the work from around the world. There are also a few illustrations from books that certainly influenced Tolkien, such as `The Marvelous Land of Snergs'. The one thing that all these illustrations tell me is that, on average, they are not very good, oriented primarily towards a children's audience rather than some of the more heroic art familiar to us from modern fantasy illustrators. It seems to me a lost opportunity also to not include Tolkien's own color illustrations for `The Hobbit', as they appeared on the very first `Tolkien' calendar in, I believe 1966 or 1967.

I will give just a few illustrations of where I think the author may have disappointed his readers. By far the most interesting character in `The Hobbit' next to Bilbo and Gandalf is Smaug. And yet, the book has next to nothing to say about the fictional antecedents of that delightfully cagey old worm. One of my only fond memories of the rather insipid cartoon version of `The Hobbit' done several decades ago is the gravely voice of Smaug done by Paladin himself, Richard Boone. If you couldn't get John Huston, then Boone was certainly the next best thing. To the whole conversation between Bilbo and Smaug, there are but two notes regarding Smaug and dragons. At least we get a reference about the source of Smaug's name, a primitive Germanic verb, `smugan' meaning to squeeze through a hole. Tolkien confessed that this was `a low philological jest'. In the wider story culminating in the great events of `The Lord of the Rings' coming at the end of the Third Age, it is much more important to Gandalf to remove this great dragon from the field so Sauron could not use him as a weapon in the War of the Rings than it was to restore a small band of dwarves to their treasures. The book has practically nothing to say about this, or the fact that the character of the `necromancer' who takes up residence at the southwestern tip of Mirkwood forest is actually either the leader of the Nazgul or Sauron himself.

I keep thinking, as I turn each page of ample, empty white margins, all the things that could have been included.

In balance, this is not a bad book or even a poor purchase, especially if, like me, you simply must have a copy of every different version of Tolkien's works imaginable. It has a very nice bibliography and an Appendix of all textual changes between the 1937 and 1966 editions. For those notes it does have, it is great as a version to read to children where you can record your own notes with answers to their questions.
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2011
This review concerns the Kindle edition. I paid $9.99! I would think at that price the publisher could have somebody edit the e-manuscript! There are numerous paragraph breaks where there should not be as well as some typoes. This detracts from the reading experience! Please fix! (the book itself is a fantasy classic and deserves better treatment than this slipshod editing)

Edit 6/7/11 - looks like they reformatted the kindle version to deal with those errors. I don't know for sure if they caught them all because I haven't had a chance to look at it all - even if I had made bookmarks for the errors I wouldn't have been able to check because downloading the new version means the old bookmarks get deleted.
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153 of 186 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 1996
Tolkien's Hobbit takes the imagination on a wonderful flight
of fantasy. I read this book on a yearly basis and each
year I am delighted and captivated by the world of Bilbo

Bilbo is a reluctant member of an adventure that will
forever change his life and the lives of those around him.
He accompanies 13 dwarves on a mission to reclaim the gold
and mountain kingdom of their ancestors from the dragon,
Smaug. They have many adventures and mishaps on their
journey to the lonely mountain including the climactic battle of
five armies. Bilbo finds a magic ring along the way which
leads, not only to a rise in his stature, but also to a new
adventure for his friends in "The Lord of the Rings."

Tolkien is a master storyteller and the depth of his skill
is best seen in this tale. In the following trilogy, "The
Lord of the Rings" the story is continued, but the sheer
delight of "The Hobbit" is never fully recaptured.

This collector's edition is beautifully bound. Even more
enjoyable are the illustrations and paintings by the author
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