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The Rough Guide to the Lord of the Rings (Rough Guide Reference) Paperback – November 17, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Small enough to fit in a back pocket, this guide to all things Middle-earth has enough material on the Tolkien saga to keep anyone reading for days. The editors make no assumptions about how much readers know of The Lord of the Rings; they explain exactly why the trilogy is so popular and plainly delineate its plot, characters, themes and meanings. Yet this isn't a cursory, quickie guide. Chapters explore, among other subjects, Tolkien's life and times; the making of the blockbuster movies based on the books; the culture, geography and language of Middle-earth (where the trilogy takes place); and how institutions from Greenpeace to Russian politics have been influenced by the trilogy. Sidebars add a quirky aspect to the text, sharing, for example, a list of directors' cameos to look out for in the films, a round-up of writers whose work has been influenced by The Lord of the Rings, and an overview of Tolkien's religious background. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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After a series of movie stills, this extensive little guide plunges into the biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, studies of his family, his friendship with C.S. Lewis and the origins of his writings. The editors give detailed descriptions of each of Tolkien's novels, and authors (Stephen King, Ursula Le Guin, J.K. Rowling) who have been influenced by Tolkien.
But they also break the rosy picture by including the comments about the books, ranging from obnoxious (Edward Wilson's blustering remarks about "juvenile balderdash") to adoring (W.H. Auden's "No fiction I have read in the last five years has given me more joy." I knew there was a reason I liked Auden).
Then the editors turn their attention to the late 1990s, when New Zealand director Peter Jackson began turning the wheels of a big-screen "Lord of the Rings" production. There's a study of Ralph Bakshi's disastrous cartoon, a biography of the director, movie legend Christopher Lee, and well-known trivia like how the cast got tattoos, or that Jackson got rugby fans to do Uruk-hai chants. Even a few tidbits of more obscure trivia come through, like Ian McKellen being begged by a fan not to let Gandalf wear "pointy boots."
But this isn't a movie guide: There are plenty of books that detail the movies. And so the editors switch tracks to include character bios, a humorous "travel guide" to Middle Earth, as well as one to New Zealand's "Rings" landmarks. Finally, there's a mixed condemnation/ad for various Tolkien merchandise, and even a subchapter about the history of "Lord of the Rings" and rock music. Obviously there's Marc Bolan and Led Zeppelin, but also Marillion (originally "Silmarillion") and various mediocre metal bands. What IS it about metal bands and Tolkien?
Overall, this is a good little book, packed full of good information and useful trivia bits. There are some "dead" moments in this book, where it seems like filler sidenotes have been included. I mean, really, what is up with that essay on "Lord of the Rings" and old westerns? But fortunately, they tend to informative more often than not.
"The Rough Guide to the Lord of the Rings" is an excellent read for people who want to get a handle on the history and substance of the movies, the books, or both. Definitely a good read.
An easy read, I read a chapter a night right before bed. This book also had some very nice photographs and since it was printed on a real nice photo quality paper, they came out excellently.
The only bad thing about this book was that it was rushed and that lead to 2 problems for me. #1 Typos. Oh my. There were many especially in the earlier chapters. #2 in a rush to have this book out with the release (or near to it) of Return of the King, they had to address the 'maybe''s and the 'and then we'll see''s of the third movie. Maybe it's the completeist in me, but I would have MUCH rather they waited for the third movie to come out so that they could address it in the same manner they did the others.
A fun good book, I'd even buy a longer version of it, addressing all of the differences and bits of Tolkien and the myth and the stories and everything else that came from that was fascinating and I would love to see a fleshed out version of this pocket book into a full sized novel.
so when I looked at the Movie location information in this book I found it sparse and inaccurate, as if the person who wrote it had never actually visited New Zealand. However the Book is somewhat redeemed by having alot of good information about Tolkien and other aspects of the Films.
As it says a 'Rough' Guide to the Lord of the Rings.