Customer Reviews: The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, Book 3)
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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on May 11, 2015
Very nice books, binding seems nice. I love the covers although they are not "paperback" and are more of a fake leather material. These books are beautiful and very convenient. They are pocket-sized which is great for on the go, they aren't too small or too big (actually bigger than I anticipated which is a plus). The font size is readable, the only thing I would have to note is that the font size isn't the same throughout the different books. The font size seems to be based on the length of the books, the longer the books are, the smaller the font is (I suppose this was in order to keep them pocket-sized as well as consistent with the sizes of the other books throughout the set). If you have decent to good eyes, this set would be perfectly fine for you on the go but those people who don't have as good of eye sight, because I know some people who tend to get headaches while focusing on small font, this set may not be for you. I will upload some pics of the font comparisons, books, etc.
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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!
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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!!!
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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.
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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.)
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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 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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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).
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on May 8, 2006
"The Lord of the Rings" is so secure at the pinnacle of all fantasy that any review of it risks presumption. The measure of this work's greatness can be found in the thousands of lesser works it has inspired, some in imitation, most in homage--all pale reflections of the world, the wisdom, the wonder of Middle Earth.

Over the years, I have re-read this masterwork at least two dozen times. Yet it never ceases to delight me with new revelations. Over time, these revelations have evolved from discoveries about the book to reflections about myself. This is art in its highest form: it inspires, indeed, demands self-understanding.

In my younger days, I was drawn to the clash of armies, the glory of battle, the valour of Aragorn and Eowyn, the sacrifice of Theoden and Faramir. But as I have aged, it is the suffering of Frodo and Sam that most moves me. The deepest courage is not found in battle, but in the act of bearing the heaviest burdens alone, beyond help, beyond hope, beyond endurance, beyond even despair--"that which we are, we are; /One equal-temper of heroic hearts, /Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will /To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

This work is perfect in its completeness. It lacks nothing and is endowed with themes both timeless and universal.

Consider the role of pity. We contemplate this theme for the first time when Gandalf reflects that Bilbo spared Gollum's life for pity. Then consider Frodo's first meeting with Gollum: "now that I see him, I do pity him." Or Gandalf's rebuke of Denethor, "...for me, I pity even [Sauron's] slaves." Faramir's pity for Eowyn--"do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart"--lifts despair from her soul and permits her to live and to love again. And the pity between Frodo and Sam is the bond that endures at the last when even flesh and spirit crumble. Not least, Tolkien commands our pity: and we, in the act of offering it--to Frodo, to Sam, most especially to Smeagol--take the world of Middle Earth as our own.

Consider also that the little people do the bravest deeds and tread where the great dare not: the quest of the ring is undertaken not by Aragorn, nor even by Boromir, but by a timid hobbit from the Shire, whose quality is not in his pedigree or his strength of arms, but in his will and his strength of character. "If you do not find the way, no one will", Elrond tells Frodo, and, "This is the hour of the Shire-folk". Sad that since Tolkien wrote his majestic work, his erstwhile followers and imitators have fallen back on such tired cliches as swashbuckling heroes and impossibly clever heroines. The magnificence in Tolkien's creation is not to be found in the strong, but in the humble. It is about a gentle hobbit like Sam, who likes his beer and tends his garden and thinks simple thoughts, but who would stare down death while fighting orcs and trolls and giant spiders, not because he thinks himself noble or brave, but because he is far beyond the noble or the brave. Frodo and Sam are names for you and I.

Consider finally, the sacrifice: Gandalf's sacrifice in Moria, Boromir's sacrifice at Amon Hen, Theoden's sacrifice on the Pelennor fields, Aragorn's readiness to sacrifice himself times beyond count. But the theme of sacrifice is most profoundly embodied in Frodo. He willingly assumes a burden that endangers not only his life, but his soul. His ordeal through Mordor and his piteous struggle up the slopes of Orodruin successively leave him with no possibility of relief, of return or, towards the end, even of release. He has long left behind any hope for himself. He goes on because he alone is charged with undoing a great evil and must destroy it or die in the trying. Beyond the terrible burden of the ring, he bears the more terrible burden of his duty to all the peoples of Middle Earth. And at the last, when he saves Middle Earth, he does so for others, but not for himself.

In the end, "The Lord of the Rings" is not about highbrow thematic concepts, mythic saga or epic heroism. While it is all of these things, it is also something better and simpler: a story for you and for me, centred not on impossible superheroes, but on little people--"The Odyssey" reshaped for the common folk. The enduring power of this work is ultimately founded in its simplicity. In "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien successfully reaches the heights that all great art attains: he captures the essence and purity of transcendent truths; yet brings them home to the simplest and most innocent of sensibilities--a timeless creation not just for us but ultimately of us.
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on November 28, 2001
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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