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!
on October 1, 2013
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!
on September 21, 2001
I am not one who usually buys books-on-tape (or CD as in this case) but I have long wanted to obtain the Lord of the Rings so as to hear this incredible story over and over. After having read it several times, my book is in tatters and so I searched for an unabridged audio recording. Many of those that I have seen claim to be "unabridged" but the fact is that they are not complete! They give parts of the books in full but leave out many sections or chapters. This set by Rob Inglis is COMPLETE!!! It is very well read with no drastic voicing of characters. Characters are easily distinguished and thoroughly enjoyable. This set is not full of sound effects and music, so if you are looking for that this is not for you. However, I personally prefer the fact that this is not an over-production and is rather quite focussed on what I wanted in the first place, the characters and the story. Inglis does a marvelous job and I am very happy with this set. Again, not to harp on it but, this is a "complete" package well worth the money!!!
on December 6, 2014
Since at this point these books no longer need an introduction, I might as well go straight into the review of this edition, the Deluxe Pocked Boxed Set. It features leatherette covers, which are soft and very well made. The colors are less saturated than they are in Amazon's picture, but that is for the better. They are definitely nice and easy to hold, and the "stand" it comes with is sturdy and beautiful. I decided to put them in my desk, and they could not have gotten a better place. The only complaint that might arise is that the font is small, but that is to be expected from a "pocket" edition, and it is readable anyway. Overall, the quality of this edition is magnificent. If you are a fan, this relatively inexpensive set should definitely be added to your collection. If you haven't read the books, stop reading this and go buy them. Seriously. Now.
on October 26, 2004
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.)
on December 17, 2000
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.
on December 29, 2000
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.
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.
on November 21, 2004
In view of the newly found popularity of Tolkien's classic, I decided to update my old Unwin Paperback edition of LOTR. I compared several editions out there (Boxed Rei, Houghton Mifflin and the sober Harper-Collins with the black cover and the single ring in the centre), and decided to buy this one. It is, hands down, the best.
The folding maps need some care, if you're like me and try to keep your books as if they were brand new. Overall, it's very well put together and makes a great addition to my library.
I'm sorry if this review seems superficial, but I feel all that should be written about the books themselves has already been written--and perhaps more. Suffice to say that this is the edition for the true fan of the books, although the whole thing makes a rather big (and elegant) tome to carry around the house.
If you want your children to read it, perhaps a less intimidating edition would be in order, though (my old Unwin set is ideal for that, and it's making its way to the younger in the family).
Note -- Tolkien's work is rated 5 stars. The physical book is rated two stars.
When you pay $100 list for a collector's edition book, you expect it to be perfect in all respects. I am on my 3rd copy of this edition and am still dissatisfied.
The first book had paper that was poorly folded. There were many pages that were misfolded. I returned that and got another copy. This one had a whole signature [one group of pages] with a tear at the top edge.
I returned that and got a third copy. This one seems OK, but the pages are not centered in the hard cover. Its rather dissatisfying, but I think I will keep it.
The publisher should take their printer/binder to task. Three strikes in three pitches is unacceptable for what is a very expensive edition to begin with.
BTW all three copies had glue that overflowed onto the inside cover pages. When you try to separate the pages, they tear where the glue had been.
I think that the publisher dishonors Tolkien's marvelous work and insults their readers by publishing an expensive edition with such poor quality control.