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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition
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822 of 906 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is not a review of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". Its having been voted "The Greatest Book of the Millenium" here on Amazon.com says more than enough about the worth of Tolkien's work. Rather, it is a review of the several hardcover editions of this fantastic story.
There are for major hardcover editions of LOTR, all published by Houghton Mifflin Co. They are essentially the same price, so I will not take that into consideration.
The best of the editions (5 stars) is the blue Alan Lee illustrated version printed in Nov 1991. I have owned this book for several years, and read it three times. It is durable, beautiful, and has no flaws that I have found. The illustrations are wonderful, though most Tolkien fans will have seen these pictures before.
The red edition printed in Nov 1974 is also a solid edition of the book (4 stars). It is every bit as good as the blue version, but does not have the illustrations. If you are the type of reader that prefers to leave everything to your imagination, this is the version for you.
Both the blue and red versions have matching editions of "The Hobbit" (Houghton Mifflin, Sep 1997 or Oct 1973, respectively). I found both of these editions to be satisfactory.
The other two major editions of LOTR - the white three-volume edition from Oct 1988 and the black seven-volume edition from Jan 2000 - are not recommended (2 stars). The print quality in both is poor, and the durability is less than that of the red and blue versions. The only advantage of these editions is portability, as the red and blue versions are single-volume and quite hefty.
Ramble on....
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991 of 1,094 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While the price of this book is steep, this is easily the best version of this book in print. The gilded pages and high-quality leather look, smell and feel wonderful. This is not the questionable quality leather used on previous versions, this is the real deal. More importantly, this version has, as J.R.R. recorded in letters, reproductions of the Book of Marzubul. These are the pages from the Dwarven book found in the Mines of Moria by Gandalf and the Fellowship. In the begining and ending of the book are also included maps that fold out to render Middle-earth for the reader, again as the author originally wanted.

This is the book that Tolkien dreamed of having published but couldn't due to the realities of post-WWII publishing costs and questions about a 400,000 word publication.

For me, there is an emtoional response to this book for two reasons. One, it is as fine or better than the book the author originally wished to have published and two, it is a beautiful piece of art all on its own, suitable for display. If you love books or love Tolkien or both, this is a must have and the centerpiece of any worthy collection.

(Some are commenting that the book isn't actually leather. Be sure to check your version as there are others available, but the information provided to me stated my copy was leather and if it is fake, it fooled me.)
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1,270 of 1,412 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Everyone knows the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are wonderful stories, and I fully agree. The reason for my bad rating of this PARTICULAR edition of JRR Tolkien's works is that the books are riddled with typographical errors, some so severe that they change the meaning of sentences, effectively reversing the author's intent. One example: "The Breelanders locked their doors at night, which was also not unusual in the Shire." The word "unusual" should have been "usual"--i.e., the Shire Hobbits don't usually lock their doors at night. But exactly the opposite idea is conveyed by this typographical error! And there are many more errors where that one came from. I counted THREE errors on ONE PAGE! AVOID THIS EDITION at all costs!
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996 of 1,107 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As someone else mentioned, we all know the Lord of the Rings to be by the far one of the greatest works of writing of the 20th century. It is all a game we play with Tolkien, for he too took it much more seriously then any other Fantasy of Science Fiction writer ever has. He made up languages that existed in relationship to languages and dialects that we have in english, and thus created a nightmare for Translators. He told stories of all sorts of perils of creation, and made sure everything was done right. Thus, when an edition like this comes out, it is truly painful. For one, originally, Tolkien created some of the most beautiful maps of Middle Earth, spending time making sure that all of the proportions were accurate. He didn't just jumble down some lines for the coast line, for example. He spent many hours making sure everything was proportinate and made sense. However, sometime after 1988, Ballantine started to release editions of the triliogy with completely new maps, all signed by some Shelly Shapiro. In either case, these new maps were plauged with problems, from being too cartoony and unproportinate to having names of locations from the original maps done away with. The maps, from the very beginning, have been essential to the LoTR books, and having cheap maps made is annoying beyond belief. It shows a sign of disrespect from the editors. To me, it says, "People won't notice anyway. Lets make a smaller sized book with less detailed maps and save some money." If you truly want to expierience this epic (or history, more accurately) as Tolkien envisioned it (not some editor at Ballantine), spend some extra cash and either get a different edition or buy a good map (there is currently an excellent one made by Christopher Tolkien, which is much larger and detailed). Of course, were the map adequate, this edition still suffers from annoying miscopies and misprints and so on. Don't sell out for cheap editions. You've been warned.
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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Houghton Mifflin Co published three editions of the one-volume LOTR, all of which include the complete text and the appendices:
This 1991 centennial edition has largest text. It includes durable binding, smooth white pages, glossy illustrations, an illustrated cover jacket, and an red ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding. However, the book is the largest LOTR book I've ever seen in my life -- It's quite hefty.
There is a red, faux-leather collector's edition published in 1974. It is slightly smaller in dimensions compared to the centennial edition and weighs considerably less. The cover is beautiful and unmatched in elegance. Chapter headings and margin headings are in orange red. The pages are slightly tinted yellow, as smooth as the centennial edition, and seem to emit a pleasant flagrance. However, there is "broken type" on nearly every page because the text is not conventionally set, but rather a photo offset from another edition. (Conventionally set text would read like a Word document printed with a laser printer. Photo offset would be as if one had scanned that laser-printed World document into a JPEG, and reprinted out that JPEG.) The binding of this edition also seems to be of lesser quality than the 1991 centennial edition.
There is also the LOTR Movie Art Cover edition printed in June of 2001. Like the centennial edition's cover illustration, this edition's movie art is also on a cover jacket. I am not too familiar with this edition, but from casual browsing, I've found that the text, though smallest, looks the most "conventionally set," and the pages are of the same quality as the centennial edition. The book is smaller in height and width but thicker than the collector's edition. The binding looks solid enough, but there is no movie art in the book.
My personal favorite is the centennial edition.
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126 of 136 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
First off this review is about this edition only. The three volume box set 2002 illustrated by Alan Lee.

If you are reading this, I am sure your questions are is this worth the money given that I probably have a set or an edition of LOTR already. For me the answer was yes.

I highly recommend this. The quality is top-notch. I was concerned because some of the reviewers seem to say that it is hard to read and or blotchy ink. It has neither of these problems.

It is on very nice, very clean, very white paper with a large font. The books are substantial even bordering on heavy. They have beautiful red cloth covers with the J.R.R.T. symbol in gold. The dust jackets are beautiful with a different Alan Lee print on the cover, back, and spine.

The box is very nice with Bilbo's trolls and an elven ship leaving the Grey Heavens on the front and back.

The prints are all watercolors and they take up a whole page. Love them. I have always been partial to Alan Lee's work. Is it worth the $50 roughly you can find the box set for? Depends. If you do not have a nice hardback version of LOTR I would say for sure get this. The prints are delightful, the printing is great and very readable and it looks awesome on the table between the no admittance bookends. I love it and say it is worth it for sure.

There is a one volume book with the same illustrations by Alan Lee. I think this is vastly superior as the books here are easier to handle, the three dust jackets are each suberb, and the box is very nice. Alan Lee is a great with watercolors and they are produced very well with these books. I think the high contrast of the print makes it easier to read. Think of this as a great work of art. First Tolkien's art. Second Lee's art. Third the art of printing a good crips text. All 3 come together here for a neat package that you will treasure for years or decades.
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260 of 286 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a particularly beautiful edition of The Lord of the Rings (ISBN: 0618260587 ), and is probably best suited for someone who is already a fan of the book, rather than for someone who is reading the book for the first time.
The format of this edition is larger than most books tend to be making it very difficult to read in any position other than sitting upright holding the book on your lap or on a desk. Each of the three volumes features a beautiful glossy dust jacket and is filled with a dozen or so full color illustrations by the famous Alan Lee.
My main problem with this edition, besides the weight and size of the books, is that the pages containing text are glossy paper. The glare caused by this type of glossy paper make it a little irritating on the eyes when reading for long stretches of time. It would have been much nicer had they published this edition with matte paper for the text and saved the glossy solely for the illustrations.
If you are a fan of Alan Lee's artwork, and don't necessarily intend on READING this edition, though, this is a great piece to pick up and will most likely be the type of book you end up treasuring for years to come -- even if it isn't the one you give your kids to read.
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502 of 557 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2001
Format: Imitation Leather
What can be better than reading the three greatest books--"The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," and "The Return of the King"--ever written? Having a leather-bound volume with all three together is better. If you are a fan of the books or you have a loved one that is, this is the best edition to own. It has a big fold-out map in the back for reference, all the references you can think of, and a really neat red leather cover. I have had this edition for 20 years and it's still in excellent condition. Well worth the cost.
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242 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I have read The Lord of the Rings countless times and have always enjoyed it. I have listened to, and enjoyed, the BBC "radio play" version, but this unabridged reading by Rob Ingles was far superior. To say that Rob Ingles "reads" the book misses the point. He ACTS the book, and he is wonderful. Each character has his own voice, his own mannerisms of speech. The songs are sung and stories are told, not just read. By listening, you are cast into the world of Middle Earth. You are along for each moment of the journey, each excrutiating step of the bearer's quest.
Listening to this story read aloud brings the full richness and complexity of this timeless tale to life. It has been a wonderful experience. I know I will listen to this time and time again.
Plus. . . It's worth the whole price just to hear Gandalf's voice!!
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664 of 739 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2000
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is not a critique of Tolkien's work; rather it is a condemnation of Houghton Mifflin's hardcover boxed set. Thirty years after first reading "The Lord of the Rings" I decided to read it again. Besides the engrossing and detailed story, I had a renewed interest in the technical aspects of Tolkien's craft and his use of the English language. I am not disappointed and I am enjoying the reading immensely.
I bought the Hardcover Boxed edition published October, 1988, by Houghton Mifflin Co (Trd); ISBN: 0395489326 ; because I wanted a high quality, permanent copy with good typesetting and larger print. When I received this particular edition I was shocked at the extremely poor quality of print and generally poor quality of every aspect of the presentation. In two of the volumes the maps are incorrectly bound so that they are impossible to unfold. It is not even possible to cut the map out of the book because important parts of the middle of it have been sewn up in the binding.
But the damning point of this edition is the printed page. Every single page has both drop outs and extra ink everywhere. The printing weight varies from page to page, at times fading to a medium gray, at other times a dense bold face. I am not exaggerating when I proclaim that most paperbacks are printed more carefully and more clearly than this.
Buy the books, read them and enjoy them. But benefit from my misfortune and stay far far away from this edition.
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