Customer Reviews: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Set
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on October 10, 2012
The CD set pictured is the NPR / Mind's Eye 1979 American audio dramatization -- I grew up listening to it on car trips, and even after (many) viewings of the recent films, to me, the 1979 recording is the classic version. My older son is now falling in love with it as well. For those not familiar, this recording is abridged, but includes the scenes with Tom Bombadil and Old Man Willow and the barrows (left out of other versions), and alternates between narration and dramatization by actors.

I haven't listened to the cassettes in a long time, so I can't speak to the sound quality on those, but I have no complaints about the sound on the CDs. They are just fine in our car. We enjoy the sound effects and music (short segments of some beautiful classical pieces that I'll always associate with LOTR), but the acting is what brought me back to the recording. Gandalf, Aragorn, and Gollum are particularly strong performances, and really the entire cast does an excellent job of pulling listeners into the story (even now, and especially impressive today, I think). We even tried to research the actors to find out about their other work/recordings (found very little info, someone should update wikipedia & other listings for the recording!). We haven't tried to get this recording in digital form, but that will be next. We had the old wooden box cassette set growing up, and I was excited to find the new CD release. I hope it continues to be available for future generations.
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on May 3, 2012
This is an adaptation of the books for radio and so is very highly abridged. What is there is okay, you get the gist of the stories, but it is a very lightweight version. Also, some of the character voices don't fit very well. If you are a hardcore fan, you may be disappointed...I was.
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on February 3, 2013
the narrator is good and this is a good product for the money; my only complaint is that it is not a reading of the complete book, but more of a rewritten version with excerpts from the books. nevertheless, it is very enjoyable.
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on September 14, 2014
We tried to listen to this on our recent road trip. The audio recording was so low we couldn't hear the words over the road noise, even with the audio maxed out. We have several books on CD and have never had this problem before.
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on May 16, 2014
This classic series is definitely a family favorite in mine. In today's chaotic times, its alwaus nice to steal quiet moments to curl up with a favorite book. But for times when that isnt possible... audio books are a blessing. Tolkien is genius. That is a given. I have this set in my car's player. Wonderful.
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on January 10, 2012
This set is excellent for those who find themselves busy with other tasks requiring there hands and yet wish to read these masterworks of Fantasy. The books are done in the style of a play with a full cast but do not expect the cast from the Blockbuster movies, but even as such it is well cast.

Remember however this is a recording of the books and not the movies. There are significant differences between them. This is a must have for any busy fan of Tolkien's work.
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What can I say? After over 65 years, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is still the ultimate fantasy epic. I won't go on and on gushing in praise. I will just note one of the brilliant literary devices that Tolkien uses that sets this book apart from so much other fantasy work. Tolkien weaves a complex narrative with many characters and plot twists, but also manages to set up brilliant parallels between them. For example we see two leaders (Theoden and Denethor) who face strikingly similar challenges, but Tolkien shows them responding differently. The former leads his men against evil, while the latter is cold and despairs. This use of paralleling gives the book so many layers and adds lasting value. Indeed, it's no wonder people can read this book many times over and not get bored. While the Peter Jackson movies are great, it doesn't - and can't - capture all of the nuance in the book. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a treat.
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on January 1, 2015
It's the actual book, which is good. Since it's a recorded radio drama, it has background voices and sounds that add to the story. The only thing is that Thorin sounds like a cowboy and Elrond sounds like a wheezing old man.
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on July 24, 2014
I can't say I enjoyed this book...I bought it for my granddaughter who really really wanted it! She's a young lady about to become a teacher and so enjoys audio books as she has dyslexia and reading can be tough!
But, the book is a classic, What more can anyone say? She is thrilled with it!
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on July 26, 2013
I love the Lord of the Rings books and movies, and I decided to buy the audio version for a long car ride. This version was a big mistake! Though the product does not make it clear, this is an abridged version, and when I say "abridged" I mean hacked through with a chain saw. In an attempt to make it a "dramatization," the narration of the story is almost entirely left out, leaving you missing half of what's happening in the story. Countless times I found myself remembering the narration in a scene and wondering why the narrator wasn't jumping in, because it's the thoughts and actions surrounding the characters that make the story worthwhile, not just the dialogue. This version of Lord of the Rings is highly lacking in so much of the beautiful writing that make the book worthwhile. I suppose it makes the book less dense and easier to get through, but they cut far too much of the prose.

The voice acting is laughable. In the attempt to make characters distinct from one another, a handful of actors do ridiculous impressions that are so unbelievable they detract from the story. Samwise's voice is so irritating, I almost turned off the entire book the moment I heard it. Gandalf sounds less "powerful wizard" and more "Homer Simpson's father."

The audio quality is poor, and the volume varies dramatically. For example, when the story calls for a character to be speaking from a distance, rather than simply have a narrator explain that the character called to them from afar, the production has the voice actor stand far from the microphone to make them seem distant. Which actually just results in your inability to hear the actor speak at all. So, you turn up the volume to hear the dialogue, and then some RIDICULOUS sound effect blows your speakers.

They used some absurd 1977 space-theme sound effect to indicate when Gandalf was using his magic. Rather than simply narrating the awesome scene, they stuck in an effect that could come from a bad sci-fi special. Other sound effects were too loud, too jarring, too out of place. Horrible. The music often sounded as though it came from a synthesizer, and was too loud, too long, and too abrupt.

The Lord of the Rings story is dense and sometimes difficult to read, but turning it into some absurd radio play did not make the story better. I was so distracted by the terrible quality that I finally gave up near the beginning of Return of the King and sat in silence for the last two hours of my trip. This audio book is a complete WASTE of your money. Do not buy it; I am sure there are much better, more complete versions of the LOTR in audio format.
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