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Book Review

Book Cover

The Hobbit
The Desolation of Smaug
Cloaks & Daggers (Hardback)


Author: Daniel Falconer
Publisher: Harper Collins
RRP: £30.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 752577 5
Publication Date: 05 June 2014

Coffee table books have been a staple of film promotion as long as I can remember and when they are done well they not only represent the film well but become desirable objects in their own right.

So, you’ve seen the first two Hobbit films and probably loved the second better than the first and now the long wait until the final chapter of the trilogy. So, if you’re feeling a little in withdrawal you could do worse than pick up the new tie-in book from Harper Collins and WETA.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Chronicles: Cloaks and Daggers (2014 - 256 pages. Full Colour) is written by Daniel Falconer and takes a look at all things Middle Earth, concentrating on the skills which are needed to bring the world alive. You’re going to need a big lap as the book, unopened measures 31.5 cm x 24.5 cm. On the down side this makes it very large when opened, however this also allows for some fabulously large and detailed pictures.

Of course, the book is from WETA so what you’re not getting is a book solely based on publicly available publicity shots with a few screen grabs. This book bring you close and personal to shots and objects not to be seen anywhere else.

The first impressions from the embossed hardback cover to the thick, high quality paper is that a lot of love has gone into the book. It sports a forward by the actress Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) and an introduction by Costume Designer, Ann Maskrey.

Whilst there are pictures of various actors and shots from the films, these are minimal as the focus of the book is on the design of the film, whether that be sets, costumes, props, weapons or armour. Although the books title, or at least one of them, is The Desolation of Smaug, the book covers both films and provides information in roughly chronological order.

The book opens with the internal and external sets in Hobbiton which sets the style and tone for the rest of the book. The text is informative with vignettes from the people who actually created what you both saw and missed in the film, with contributions from set decorators, graphic artists, potters and such like, giving you real information about their craft and what they achieved on the two films.

Throughout the book there is an abundance of photographs and illustrations, some are interspersed amongst the text, while others are full page. Overall there is more space given to these than to the text. On balance this is a wise decision as you really get to see details of the sets and costumes that just wiz past in the film.

If nothing else the book goes a long way in explaining why these films cost so much to make. Every stitched shirt, sword or apple has had thought gone into them and created from scratch.

Overall WETA has put as much time and consideration into this book as they do with the films. It’s a definite purchase for fans of the film.


Charles Packer

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