Hobbits and wizards and Sauron--oh, my! Mild-mannered Oxford scholar John Ronald Reuel Tolkien had little inkling when he published The Hobbit; Or, There and Back Again
in 1937 that, once hobbits were unleashed upon the world, there would be no turning back. Hobbits are, of course, small, furry creatures who love nothing better than a leisurely life quite free from adventure. But in that first novel and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo and their elfish friends get swept up into a mighty conflict with the dragon Smaug, the dark lord Sauron (who owes much to proud Satan in Paradise Lost
), the monstrous Gollum, the Cracks of Doom, and the awful power of the magical Ring. The four books' characters--good and evil--are recognizably human, and the realism is deepened by the magnificent detail of the vast parallel world Tolkien devised, inspired partly by his influential Anglo-Saxon scholarship and his Christian beliefs. (He disapproved of the relative sparseness of detail in the comparable allegorical fantasy his friend C.S. Lewis dreamed up in The Chronicles of Narnia
, though he knew Lewis had spun a page-turning yarn.) It has been estimated that one-tenth of all paperbacks sold can trace their ancestry to J.R.R. Tolkien. But even if we had never gotten Robert Jordan's The Path of Daggers
and the whole fantasy genre Tolkien inadvertently created by bringing the hobbits so richly to life, Tolkien's epic about the Ring would have left our world enhanced by enchantment. --Tim Appelo
'An extraordinarily imaginative work, part saga, part allegory, and wholly exciting. -- The Times
From the Publisher
A beautiful illustrated boxed set collecting the two most popular Tolkien hardbacks - the Centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings
and the 60th Anniversary edition of The Hobbit
, both illustrated by Alan Lee.
About the Author
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd January, 1892 at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, but at the age of four he and his brother were taken back to England by their mother. After his father’s death the family moved to Sarehole, on the south-eastern edge of Birmingham. Tolkien spent a happy childhood in the countryside and his sensibility to the rural landscape can clearly be seen in his writing and his pictures.
His mother died when he was only twelve and both he and his brother were made wards of the local priest and sent to King Edward’s School, Birmingham, where Tolkien shone in his classical work. After completing a First in English at Oxford, Tolkien married Edith Bratt. He was also commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the battle of the Somme. After the war, he obtained a post on the ‘New English Dictionary’ and began to write the mythological and legendary cycle which he originally called ‘The Book of Lost Tales’ but which eventually became known as ‘The Silmarillion’.
In 1920 Tolkien was appointed Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds which was the beginning of a distinguished academic career culminating with his election as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. Meanwhile Tolkien wrote for his children and told them the story of ‘The Hobbit’. It was his publisher, Stanley Unwin, who asked for a sequel to ‘The Hobbit’ and gradually Tolkien wrote ‘The Lord of the Rings’, a huge story that took twelve years to complete and which was not published until Tolkien was approaching retirement. After retirement Tolkien and his wife lived near Oxford, but then moved to Bournemouth. Tolkien returned to Oxford after his wife’s death in 1971. He died on 2 September 1973 leaving ‘The Silmarillion’ to be edited for publication by his son, Christopher.
[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with THE HOBBIT.]--These mythical tales of Middle Earth were bestsellers when they appeared in the 1950s and '60s and are now enjoying a revival of interest including the popular movie LORD OF THE RINGS. These recordings are not readings of Tolkien's novels, but are adaptations of both works for full-cast radio production. If you want all of Tolkien's words, this is not the choice. If you want a full-scale production with sound effects and music, this is a very good choice. While it's difficult to say what a dwarf, an ork, or a wizard should sound like, all of the voices in this production seem entirely appropriate to the characters being portrayed. Some of the sound effects, such as horses endlessly clomping, are repetitive, but in general the sounds add to the sense of atmosphere. R.E.K. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.