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on September 22, 2014
Having only an old 1994 worn paperback edition of the Lord of the Rings, I wanted to purchase a version that I could read and display for many years to come. I did a ton of research and decided upon this version (ISBN 116-1749849-2513827), illustrated by Alan Lee and published by Harper Collins in June 2014 (I am adding these details because the Amazon.com site does not make it clear what this version is). Please note that this particular printing is NOT available in the US but any Tolkien or LotR devotee should not be deterred (Frodo wouldn't have been!). I must say that this is the finest published one-volume version of the LotR that I have ever laid eyes upon, and is well worth every penny. It includes approximately 50 high-quality color illustrations by Alan Lee, which even for a 30-something like me makes the reading experience exceptional. The front and back covers are made of durable, high-quality cloth (as shown), with a strong and handsome turquoise binding. The pages -- not just the illustrations but the entire book -- are glossy and made of "whiter" paper than you generally find, the margins large, and the typeset easy on the eyes.

For those who care about such things, the printing is based on the 2004 corrected text, with even further corrections. There are updated introductions/forwards by Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, authors of the authoritative "LOTR Readers Companion," as well as by Douglas A. Anderson, who provides a detailed publication history of the Lord of the Rings. The full appendices are included.

Two-page red and black maps of Middle Earth and of Gondor/Rohan/Mordor adorn the front and back covers, with a map of the Shire before the first chapter. Also present are other essentials such as the Doors of Moria and the Tomb of Balin. The only drawback is that the facsimile pages of the Book of Mazarbul was not included, which I found to be surprising and a bit disappointing Also, the ring inscription and the Gandalf "rune" are printed in black rather than silver and red. Probably the main issue is the clear plastic slipcover, which is barely bigger than the book itself, and it is difficult to slip the book back inside it after taking it out. You are more likely to scuff the corners of the book. That being said, these are far from dealbreakers, and the joy to be received from owning this edition far outweighs these issues.
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on February 19, 2015
I purchased this illustrated edition of The Hobbit, primarily to be a gift to my adult children to read to their children. I have read The Hobbit numerous times over the past 50 years or so, along with the Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and other works by J.R.R. Tolkien. Some have expressed dissatisfaction with this adaptation, whether because some parts were left out or glossed over, or the illustrations weren't what they expected, or the illustrations had too much dialog covering them. J.R.R. Tolkien himself commented on the reception his books received while he was still alive. He had received letters asking for more information about Hobbits and Middle-earth, and others saying that there was too much. I believe that he understood that no book or story would please everyone on every point, and that one must do the best they can on what they do, and not worry about pleasing everyone. Clearly, this edition does not please everyone, but I don't believe that it was intended to.

There are two releases of the illustrated edition, with two different covers. The copies that I purchased were used, and shipped from private bookstores through Amazon, but not from Amazon. Both releases have the same story illustrations in them, but the illustrations before and after the story are different, Also, the covers were illustrated by two different artists, but the story was illustrated by a third artist.

This edition stays true to the tale in J.R.R. Tolkien's, The Hobbit. Unlike Peter Jackson's movies, which change the storyline in significant ways, this adaptation does not change any of the storyline, though with only 134 pages, it does not go into great depth. It does address the major points of the story, and illustrates them in clear, well drawn illustrations.

I have read The Hobbit onto a set of CD's that my older grandchildren listened to when they were little and again as their younger siblings listened to them. I know that they will enjoy this illustrated edition, and the parents or older siblings will read the story to the little ones, discuss the pictures and help the little one's understand the story.

Graphic adaptations to stories don't appeal to everyone, particularly those purists who love the original works and don't want them changed. I consider myself a Tolkien purist, but can appreciate the quality of the illustrations and the accuracy of this adaptation. I would recommend this illustrated edition to those who want to share The Hobbit with children they hold dear, or for the child in each of us who wants to rediscover the story in a new way.
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(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!) -

Tolkien never fails to entertain. I love his writing, I love his creativity and this book was yet another reminder of his brilliance. Did anyone else keep noticing the differences in the books from the movies? Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the movies and watch them all the time, but I have questions Peter Jackson! I’d forgotten so much from the books and some of the changes I don’t get the reasoning. Like the fact the sword was remade long before in the book. I love that it was too. Just read this quote when Aragorn and crew first encounter the Rohirrim:

“Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Andúril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. ‘Elendil!’ he cried. ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!’

Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Èomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed in the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.”

Y’all – dang.

Or even how much it meant for Èomer to let the three travel freely in Rohan. Or that scouts never threw Aragorn over the cliff on the way to Helm’s Deep. Or the key character-revealing fact that Faramir never forced Frodo and crew to go to Minas Tirith. How about Pippin “tricking” Treebeard and the Ents to see Isengard since they had decided not to join the fight in the movie? Oh and Frodo snapping at Sam on Stairs of Cirith Ungol? Didn’t happen. Plus them going through Shelob’s Lair together further showed their bond of friendship. I promise I still like the movies, but since it’s been over 10 years since I’ve read the books, I found the changes rather surprising (and often unnecessary). Maybe that’s just me though!

I need to take a few moments to talk about the Ents. I liked Treebeard so much more in the book (not that I disliked the movie version), but there were just some things that couldn’t be portrayed in the movie. Like this description by Pippin of Treebeard’s eyes:

“One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present; like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know, but it felt as if something that grew in the ground – asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years.”

I feel like the movies made them Tree Eeyores… But they much deeper and awesome. The fact that Trolls were made in mockery of Ents (and Orcs of Elves) by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, proves they are legit like Mc Hammer. I’m also going to try to bring this into everyday vernacular: “By root and twig, but it is strange business.”

“There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men bad enough for such treachery. Down with Saruman!”

I really love the friendship between Gimli and Legolas as well – watching it play out in the book made me laugh and appreciate friendship, much like the movie. Okay. So….Helm’s Deep. Can I also share a few words about this as well? Èomer and Aragorn fighting together = awesome. Again, Aragorn having Andúril was way better. He’s the king I tell you! Then there was the wild men who fought, the conversations Aragorn had with them right before dawn and the fact that oh, you know, Legolas was the only elf there. Why must you change the Tolkien awesomeness?! Kay, I’m done with Helm’s Deep.

Then there’s good ol Saruman. I think my favorite reaction to Saruman’s final persuasive attempts was Gandalf:

“Then Gandalf laughed. The fantasy vanished like a puff of smoke.
‘Saruman, Saruman!’ Said Gandalf still laughing. ‘Saruman, you missed your path in life. You should have been the king’s jester and earned your bread, and stripes too, by mimicking his counsellors…I fear I am beyond your comprehension.”

That’s called Gandalf dropping the mic.

I still think one of the best characters created in literature is Gollum. (He’s portrayed so well in the movies too!) His split personality, wanting to refer to himself as “Lord Sméagol” or “Gollum the Great,” to how readers really do pity the creature, to his sly remarks…I love it.

Have I mentioned how much I love Sam?

“Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer

As always here’s some questions, feel free to answer any or all!

1. Did you notice the differences as much as I did? Is there something you would have liked to stay the same as the books?

2. Favorite character(s) or ones you wish were in the movie?
Sam. He’ll be one of my favorites in Return of the King too. He’s the perfect character. Like when he was ready to take on Faramir?? Love him.

Faramir. Such injustice done in the movies! He may not be the eldest, but he’s commanding in his own right.

I wish Quickbeam the Ent has a more prominent role in the movie. He’s funny and passionate! Such a missed opportunity.

3. Any favorite quotes?
“But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

4. What do you think happened with Shelob?
First off, I’m pretty sure Tolkien’s description of Shelob shall haunt my dreams until forever and then some. Personally I think she crawled back in her hole and died a miserable and slow death. No less than she deserved, as Bilbo would say.

5. As always, any other random thoughts are appreciated and welcomed!

Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2015/04/15/the-two-towers-by-j-r-r-tolkien-inklings-series-discussion/
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on October 13, 2013
Okay, so really it isn't just a little extra, it is fully annotated and brings to life the author's thoughts, history, influences - at least from accounts of the time and old notes. It isn't just the Hobbit - it is The Hobbit Unleashed!

The Hobbit, or the prequel to the Lord of the Rings series, follows the life of Bilbo Baggins. and his adventures. Bilbo is the original Baggins adventurer - and like his nephew, didn't exactly sign up by choice. He is a hobbit, after all, and enjoys the simple, calm life of his race, relaxing and eating in his shire.

But alas, you most likely already know the story of the older generation hobbit. This is more about the book. This book, with the sidebar annotations is full of extra information that any true fan of Tolkien would enjoy. There are historical photos, drawings, and so much more.

The overall feel of the book is good as well. Some publishers have opted to make cheap book bindings that won't stand the test of time. Books are supposed to bring us from today to tomorrow - and last throughout that time. How many people have come across old books written so long ago - and have found a life they knew nothing of before. That is what The Annotated Hobbit brings to the ready. Good quality, good size (not too big, not too small), and well printed. The text is easy to read, the side annotations do not take away from the story itself (if you just want to read it through and then go back and read the extra notes - that works too). And honestly, this is one of many of Tolkien's masterpieces.

If you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien - then you'll enjoy this book.
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on March 9, 2015
I have several versions of The Hobbit, which I've accumulated over the past 4 decades. Not that I have all of them, not even of the English speaking versions. Naturally the artwork of the movie trilogy eventually led me back to wondering if I've missed out on some great newer book version, and I ended up buying 2 more copies, this being one of them.

Since the words in every English edition of The Hobbit are all the same, having been written by the same guy, it's the extras like the artwork, the commentaries, the bindings and the what-nots that may lead you to love one edition more than another.

I must admit there is a lot to like about this edition. Principally the annotations, which very much like the annotated Alice in Wonderland continue upon every page, with fascinating stuff not found in the actual text of the novel. But the illustrations are also quite good. From the standpoint of illustration alone, I think my favorite remains the 1984 edition with illustrations by Michael Hague. Hague's illustrations were hardly on every page, but neither were they sparse. What makes them nice is that they take up the full page, they are in color, and they are scattered about from beginning to the end of the book.

In The Annotated Hobbit, besides the wonderful annotations, there are a large number of <alas> black and white, and partial-page drawings by various artists. The drawings are quite good (and I am sure would be absolutely splendid in color and full-page). Thankfully though this is NOT ALL. In the center of the book are 8 full color pages of illustrations by 7 different artists. Mostly they are two illustrations per page, and mostly they are Tolkien's own, but nicely supplemented by the visions of 6 other skilled artists.

I guess, all things considered, this might be the nicest overall edition I own. One can always wish for MORE full-color illustrations, and indeed I seem to have fully lost track of one other, really luxuriously illustrated though soft-backed edition. But if you want the fine bonus of the annotations plus both B&W and full-color illustrations by 7 artists, this version should be yours.
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on July 7, 2017
This hardcover boxed set illustrated by Alan Lee is nice. If I could have found a paperback version with Mr. Lee's illustrations though, I would have bought that instead, because lightweight books enable you to read in a wider variety of sitting/laying positions. This edition's pages are also a bit shiny, which makes them harder to read in direct light.

I also have a single-volume edition (also illustrated by Mr. Lee) which is just too heavy to not be a constant and uncomfortable distraction while reading.
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on August 9, 2017
Absolutely beautiful book. The Hobbit is one of my favorite books and the illustrations, whether big or small, add even more character and charm to the story. It doesn't come with a dust jacket, the picture on the front and back cover is expertly pressed/dyed onto what feels like a cloth-like covering on the book. The letters on the cover and spine, as well as the ivy and some of the animals, have a gold brushed accent. The book has a little weight to it and seems very sturdy. None of the pages are loose or seem like they'd fall out easily. This book is well made :) I am extremely happy to have this version of The Hobbit in my book collection.
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on December 15, 2013
There is something magical in THE HOBBIT that grabs you from the very beginning, Tolkien's voice that can be heard in your head, in the tradition of the legends told and told again, by the fire, or with the accompaniment of a harp. I left like he was talking to me, and I was that kid sitting with my eyes open, listening to a fascinating story that had hobbits and elves and dwarves and orcs, and wizards, and dragons, and skin-changers, and many more amazing creatures and peoples of whom I never heard about but who became so very real on the pages of the book that I felt like I was there, together with them, taking a part in an adventure. And that's the beauty of this book, it speaks of the most basic and simple things we experience every day in our lives, without trying to make them complicated or burdensome or load then with extra meaning. It's this simplicity that grabs you, because it's how history has been made. People called things the way they saw them, like kids. So it is in this book. The hill where the hobbit lives is The Hill. The hobbit goes on an Adventure. To the mountain that is Lonely. Bilbo likes his comfort, his tea time, his home. There are things we can all relate to, but this is where fantasy takes over, and we get to see ourselves through the multitude of characters, the stubborn proud dwarves, the greedy gold-hoarding dragons, the light-footed magical elves. And then, of course, Bilbo is an unlikely hero, someone who has to learn to fight, to steal, to bargain, and to survive as he goes. That's how it is in life, isn't it? None of us are superheroes, we're just people thrown into this thing called life, trying to make the best of it and learning as we go. I think that's why this book has withstood the test of time. Every generation has to learn life anew, and every generation has to do it from ground zero, as there is no manual on how to live life, unfortunately.

Well, to the story itself. It's a tale of a hobbit, a short sweet fella with hairy feet, who by a strange turn of luck lands himself into an adventure. Or, rather, you could say it was all Gandalf's fault. Wizards are like that, they like to fool you, and Gandalf is, of course, a great wizard. A dozen and one dwarves pile into Bilbo's hole, to his surprise, and bewilderment, and even a little irritation. They speak of a quest, a quest for Lonely Mountain where the vast treasure lies, pillaged by dragon Smaug from the dwarvish kingdom of old. Bilbo is supposed to be the burglar, and he doesn't approve of the idea, no, not at all. At first. Despite himself, he joined the traveling party and embarks on a journey unlike any other, and one that will change his life, and not only his, but the lives of many many others, from dwarves to elves to men to… well, I can't tell you more, because if you haven't read THE HOBBIT, you are truly in for a treasure. Stop reading this review and go read the book. You won't want to stop, and when you have to, you will look up at whoever it is (or whatever it is) that interrupted you with eyes completely blank, your head back in the Bag End, or Mirkwood, or wherever it is you have last seen our friends Bilbo Baggins and his adventure companions.
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on December 26, 2012
I just wanted to reassure those thinking of purchasing the Kindle version, that yes, all appendices of the books are included! I was concerned that they may not be, and truly delighted to find them in full, along with maps, etc.! While I will also purchase the print version, I really wanted the Kindle version while I traveled through the holidays. And I am delighted to say that it was all that I hoped for and more! If you enjoyed these books, do not hesitate to acquire the digital. This all in one version translated beautifully to Kindle digital. Happy reading!
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on June 16, 2017
I bought this book as a gift but when I was reading reviews for it before buying it, it was described differently than what I received. It looks exactly like the picture and it's all-in-one. But there are none of the illustrations and if you buy it paperback it might get easily damaged because of it's size. (The cover is kind of flimsy) Not to mention it might be kind of difficult to carry around if you like to read on the go.
I was expecting a collection of all the books as individual books, if that's what you're looking for then this is not for you.
I wasn't too bothered by the fact that I didn't get what I expected because I knew it didn't look like a collection when I bought it and the price was still good! The point was to give it as a gift and if they love it, then that's all that really matters.

(BUT if you want to buy them the best version possible, either buy this as a hardcover or don't buy it at all)
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