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Book Review

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The Lord of the Rings
The Art of the Lord of the Rings (Hardback)


Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Editor: Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
Publisher: Harper Collins
240 pages
RRP: £25.00, Cdn $40.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 860141 6
Publication Date: 11 May 2023

As he wrote The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s mental pictures often found expression in drawing, from rough sketches made within the manuscript to more finished illustrations. Only a few of these were meant for publication; most were aids to help Tolkien conceive his complex story and keep it consistent. Many do not illustrate the final text, but represent moments of creation, illuminating Tolkien’s process of writing and design. In addition to pictorial sketches, numerous maps follow the development of the Shire and the larger landscape of Middle-earth, while inscriptions in runes and Elvish script, and ‘facsimile’ leaves from the burned and blood-stained Book of Mazarbul, support Tolkien’s pose as an ‘editor’ or ‘translator’ of ancient records. The Art of The Lord of the Rings collects these drawings, inscriptions, maps, and plans in one volume...

The Art of the Lord of the Rings is a reissue of the 2015 book, now long out of print. It's a companion piece to The Art of the Hobbit and uses a very similar format, to ensure that the two volumes work well as companion pieces.

For avid fans of original The Lord of the Rings books comes a little slice of history. The opportunity to witness J.R.R. Tolkien's original drawings and rough sketches and notes on his ideas gives readers the opportunity to flesh out the world they know and love as seen through the eyes of the author.

More than 180 images are included, all of them printed in colour from high-quality scans and photographs. The book is edited by Tolkien scholars, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. They also provide introduction and detailed comments throughout.

For those who are interested in learning more about Tolkien's world building, this is a lovingly crafted work of art. It's certain to find a place of honour on any true fan's bookshelf.


Nick Smithson

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