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Book Review

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The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Hardback)


Author: Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
Publisher: Harper Collins
RRP: £25.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 810575 4
Publication Date: 08 October 2015

With the recent discovery of an original Tolkien map inside a copy of The Lord of the Rings, it seems an appropriate time for Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull to publish their follow on book from The Art of The Hobbit with The Art of The Lord of the Rings (2015. 240 pages. 27 x 3 x 27.3 cm).

Harper Collins has produced a quality coffee table style book, which comes with its own cardboard box cover, printed on high quality paper. Both the book and the box are adorned with Tolkien illustrations.

Hammond and Scull have done their best to collect together all existing examples of Tolkien’s art work, which falls into four general categories. By far the largest portion of the drawings are cartography. One of the things which gave LOTR its sense of reality was the care that Tolkien put into his world building. This involved drawing numerous maps of Middle Earth. Some of these are quite detailed while others are quick sketches.

Tolkien had provided illustration for The Hobbit and so it would not have ben unusual for him to presume that the same might be required for LOTR. Included are both sketches and finished art, some of which had been intended for publication and some which Tolkien chose to do for personal pleasure. Lastly, the book includes design work, for both the published book and some that were not used.

Tolkien drew on almost every sort of paper, from his formal drawings to doodles at the edges of exercise books. They have been reproduced as close to the original as possible, although in some cases the overall colour has been darkened to bring out detail. Overall, the book contains a little under two hundred illustrations.

As well as the pictures, the book contains extensive text which places then in both a historical context as well as placing them in the narrative of the novel.

The book reflects Tolkien’s comprehensive attention to detail and in some cases the drawings allow us to witness the revisions which places and objects underwent as the book progressed. The material has been placed, as near as is possible, in chronological order to match the original story.

This is the perfect companion piece to the Art of the Hobbit, which was released a number of years ago, and an essential purchase for fans of Tolkien.


Charles Packer

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