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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 1, 2012
This review is for regular size paperback only, as far as the books themselves, of course they're classics. Unfortunately Amazon links their reviews to multiple versions of the same product (meaning you can write a review for an audio book and that same review show up on a paperback edition of the same title. It's really bad for music reviews, let me tell you!).

If you should by this edition of HOBBIT/LOTR really depends on what you what for your money. I first purchased trade paperback editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS back in the early to mid nineties. They're nice and more portable than, perhaps, other editions of the book if you looking for some quick reading on the beach/airport/wherever and they're economical.

However, these editions tend of have more misprints, are not as sturdy as other editions of Tolkien's classic texts, and the maps are just hell to look at. As any regular size paperback they are not as hardy as other, better found bound books.

The oversize paperback editions are better, but overall the books do not hold up as well or are durable as hard back editions. If you do want to read the stories though without having to worry about the shape the books are in then the regular paperbacks would be the way to go, as (for me anyway) I want to keep the nicer editions in relatively clean condition.

Given Tolkien's status of one of the world's most popular writers, I would recommend picking up nicer editions of these works anyway, as you can get them at reasonable prices and they are much better purchases than the paperback box sets. The only real drawback is there is no general uniformity between the editions of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS that I recommend, if that is important to you.

Douglas A. Anderson's THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, is the definitive text of THE HOBBIT, has numerous textual annotations and examines in complete detail all the different revisions Tolkien made to the work in the subsequent decades after its initial publication in 1937.

For THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the most accurate text is the 50th Anniversay edition prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. I have the one volume oversize paperback edition of LOTR and am quite pleased with it.

The only way I would recommend purchasing the boxset of these books is if they published The Annotated Hobbit and the 50th Annivesary LOTR text as a uniform set as those are the definitive versions, and personally I'd prefer to see all four volumes hardbound. I don't think I've seen a hardbound version box set of all four works, though there are plenty to be had of LOTR.

In summary, unless you are wanting cheap editions of these books, you will be better served by purchasing other editions of Tolkien's books
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
As that was only in regards to these actual editions of Tolkien's work and not reviews of the books themselves, I am also including my separate reviews I have written for Amazon of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Also included is an abandoned review I wrote for THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING all the way back in early 2000 but was never posted on Amazon, explaining how Tolkien's life work of THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy but rather three parts of one work divided up for publishing purposes
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE HOBBIT Review - Inferior to THE LORD OF THE RINGS? I think not! No, just different!, April 7, 2000

The biggest problem with this novel is perception. Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature.
The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings. It became attached to his mythology, and became as important to him as The Silmarillion.

So delineation is required if you want to read this. Do not go in with the thought that The Hobbit is a "precursor" or any such nonsense to The Lord of the Rings. Think of it like you would think of any other children's classics: children's classics. If you take it on The L. R.'s terms, this is a failure, primary because it is not written to be like that. But, on the flipside, The L. R. is as much a failure in children's fiction. It is not children's fiction, it is epic fantasy, and one should not equate it with children's fiction. That is EXACTLY what people try to do with The Hobbit. They try to put it in the same type of genre or playing field as The L. R. They are both masterpieces, and I love them both dearly. But one is for children, the other with adults.

Of course, Tolkien is part of the problem. How many books do you know that is a children's book and has an adult sequel? Not very many. The Hobbit, scarcely 300 pages, was written and published in the children's market. He then talked to his publishers, and they wanted a sequel. So he began "the new Hobbit", as C. S. (Jack) Lewis so aptly put it. He was preoccupied with his mythology, and the sequel was drawn into it. So we have two works, spanning two different genres, and as far as surface connections go its little more than prequel/sequel. Instead of looking at The Hobbit as a prequel, a precursor to his ADULT masterpiece, an inferiour version, think of as his CHILDREN'S masterpiece. The Hobbit is top of the class in children's fiction, one of the few contenders against such other great children's works as Narnia and Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings, likewise, is THE crowning masterpiece of the fantasy genre, of which its influence is incalculable to that fantasy market. Both are as important as the other, just in different fields.

I haven't talked about The Silmarillion much. I have already reviewed it, so I won't go real in-depth here. But the same thing happened with it. People, expecting another Lord of the Rings, were inevitably disappointed with the Biblical style of the published version. If Tolkien wrote that book out in narrative form as he did Lord of the Rings, it would be ten times longer than Lord of the Rings. The biggest problem with Tolkien is people have to many preconceptions that are incorrect.

So, basically, in conclusion, think of it like this:

1. The Hobbit - Children's masterpiece. He scores big with this one.

2. The Lord of the Rings - a single fantasy, not a trilogy. (Tolkien was always quick to point that out). The Crowning achievement of modern fantasy.

3. The Silmarillion - the Bible of Middle-earth. Much more for students of his work than the causal reader.
.
.
.
.
.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
***** Despite vehement critical hostility, Tolkien is among our most important writers because the way he handles Myth, 26 Sep 2007

Over the past several decades, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has sold millions of copies and is commonly regarded as one of the most influential fantasy novels ever published. Many first time readers have began their trek into Middle-earth with Frodo and the Company of the Ring in recent years. What they will encounter there has been loved by millions of readers before them, and if they allow themselves to respond to Tolkien and his Myth will doubtless become a loyal and ardent fan of Tolkien and those furry-footed hobbits. What's also notable about THE LORD OF THE RINGS is, for a book as long as it is, many of its readers reread the novel many times over. Yet despite its enduring popularity, Tolkien is often held in complete disregard by the literary establishment.

The real question is why? In the literary climate that is characterized by modernism and post-modernism where the twentieth and twenty first century is a wasteland why does a "series" of fantasy novels become one of the most beloved works in modern times?

It's because the power of myth over the human imagination works wonders, creating a longing and a hunger that, Tolkien argues, is met by the Christian religion. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the flip-sides of the same coin, with Lewis giving us accounts of the longing and Tolkien providing the books that would create that longing. And what about the longing? It's that longing for Myth, that love for those beauties which Tolkien shows us in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It's that longing that sets man apart from all other creatures in the universe: a craving for beauty and for joy. The German word for this longing is "senhsucht". In a time characterized by fast-food, cell-phones, materialism, superficiality, the account of a Hobbit working against all odds in a mythic landscape so captures the human imagination (and this is NOT hype) that an entire genre is created. It is because of how Tolkien so masterfully handles Myth that he has been so highly treasured by such a large fan base.

Still, there are a few things to consider when reading Tolkien nowadays. Looking over the reviews, it proved rather shocking to me that people have been complaining that, although it was original when it was published, much of what Tolkien has done has become cliche and that other writers are much better working with these cliches and making them more exciting than Tolkien. They complain about his "endless descriptions" of the natural world, very detailed accounts of geography and not enough "characterization." The characters are unrealistic: the "human drama" required by the book's very nature is beyond Tolkien's scope as a writer. THE FELLOWSHIP is both uneven and very weak in pacing, with so much invested in the world and its history Tolkien forgets to make us care about the characters themselves. Another fault oft cited against Tolkien is the lack of "female characters," and there have been accusations that Tolkien is racist; one of my favorite misconceptions is that Frodo and Sam are homosexuals.

Academia has no time for Tolkien, and many of our key critics have denounced Tolkien as ill-written or escapist (Harold Bloom said that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a period piece which will simply not die but just keeps lingering on long after its relevance. This is the stance taken by a lot of professional critics with a grudge against Tolkien, and wonderfully have been proven wrong). To this day, while not nearly as openly hostile as previous decades, academia in general harbors resentment against Tolkien and everything he's done. As far as they're concerned, he's done something that is actually popular and therefore unworthy of study. It's one of those "high-brow vs. low-brow" situations, and instead of producing "worthwhile" academic research, Tolkien instead writes a "series" of novels which become one of the most established authors of this century. In recent years, academic support has grown tremendously for Tolkien, but he is still a very hotly contested modern writer, unlike some other "academically undeniable" classics such as James Joyce. Unlike the academic favorites, Tolkien highly polarizes the professional literary establishment. Fortunately he has gained some ground here though.

Much of the complaints voiced against THE LORD OF THE RINGS are both unimportant and irrelevant. Tolkien is working with literary traditions not in-tune with the modern mind, but is instead handling narrative threads of Myth. Tolkien gives us solid archetypes to work with, bringing out the very qualities of masculinity and the beauties and stark wonders of femininty, but all expressed in mythological terminology. The idea of Sam and Frodo as homosexual is both ridiculous and totally unfounded. In Myth, good is characterized and seen as "White," and the evil is dark and perverted. Those who say Tolkien is racist approach him from the wrong standpoint.

As for the modern fantasy reader, those who complain about Tolkien's originality (while acknowledging it, but that later writers do a much better job with it) is like saying Shakespeare, while a good dramatist, is not that good because other people take his principals and make them more exciting, etc. I heard a story once about a person who went to see a Shakespeare play and went away complaining there were too many quotes in the play to make it any good. Shakespeare is the source of these quotes and he did not even realise it.

Most people know that Tolkien founded modern fantasy. Tolkien laid down the template for the fantasy genre in general, and anyone who reads fantasy has been touched, directly or indirectly, by Tolkien's work. Almost all of the major fantasy authors have acknowledge their debt to Tolkien, and the shadow Tolkien casts over fantasy literature is very long indeed. Because there is fifty years separating us from the original publication, it is much harder to approach THE LORD OF THE RINGS as those first reviewers, for those who have grown up reading fantasy literature are now accustomed to Dwarves and Elves and Dark Lords and Epic Quests, but when it was issued THE LORD OF THE RINGS transformed and invented an entire new genre. It is not Tolkien's fault that his vision of a mythology was so successful that everyone else decided they would try their hand at fantasy and work within Tolkien's templates. The main problem with fantasy authors in general are they are more interested in emulation than they are in true "myth-making." Much like early rock and roll, which, because rock was not an established form of music, the early musicians relied on other forms to create a new genre, Tolkien did not have this tradition to fall back on so instead he used various literatures and epic poems to create his own vision of myth. A lot of fantasy writers do not work in the context of myth any more, but rather rely on genre stereotypes which are generally found in Tolkien. Many readers who are interested in "pulp" fantasy get bogged down in Tolkien because he takes the time to fully explain his world and its cultures, because his goal is different. There is plenty of action in LORD OF THE RINGS, but those raised on the pulp fantasy will not care for it.

Ultimately, THE LORD OF THE RINGS's criticism has shown itself to be of little important on its durability as a major text. Ever since its publication in 1954, 1955, and 1956, LOTR has become one of the most important literary works our era has produced, highly regarded and passionately loved by an enormous amount of people. Despite the very vocal minority who despise Tolkien and his work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has consistently topped the polls for the best book of the last one hundred years. Whatever the critics say, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is here to stay because popular imagination has grabbed hold of Tolkien's vision and ran with it. Tolkien and Lewis have been wonderfully vindicated in their belief that there is an enormous adult appetite for Myth and fantasy literature.

For many, it's more than a mere novel. It's a glimpse of the divine.

It is like water in a dry place.
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THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy

I have been looking over the reviews THE LORD OF THE RINGS. There is one consistent problem that keeps jumping to my attention: the reviewers keep talking as if each volume in "the trilogy" is a self-contained novel. They are not actual novels. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is not a trilogy - it's a single novel divided into three parts for publication purposes. That's why they're published Part I, Part II, and Part III instead of Book I, etc.

When Tolkien wrote it and had it published by Allen & Unwin, Sir Stanley Unwin had doubts about its size and the market (remember, this was back in the 50s, and THE HOBBIT had been a book for children - now they have this book that has all the hall marks of a publishing nightmare). Instead of publishing it as a whole, they decided to divide the novel* into three parts. Because there were six subdivisions therein (although I might be mistaken, and these Books I-VI might also be publication impositions), they chose to publish THE LORD OF THE RINGS in three books. One purpose for this was to hide the sheer size of the book. The second reason for doing so was to get three reviews instead of one. Tolkien himself, however, always made it a point to tell people that it is not a trilogy but a single, unified work.

Although THE LORD OF THE RINGS basically invented the fantasy genre, from a publisher's standpoint, it was a dangerous gamble. It had to be sold at a high cost (21 shillings) to the reader, but Rayner Unwin (Sir Stanley's son) thought it a `work of genius', so they published it. Instead of usual royalty payments, Tolkien got half of all profits, which meant that if the book flopped (most probable) he wouldn't get anything, because the book had to pay for itself before either the author OR the publisher got profits. Obviously Tolkien came out far ahead on that deal than had he gone with a more traditional publishing arrangement with Stanley Unwin.
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J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings)
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $18.69
Availability: In Stock
167 used & new from $8.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This rating is for the paperback edition only, not the actual quality of the books as literature, December 15, 2011

This review is from: J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) (Mass Market Paperback)
This review is for regular size paperback only, as far as the books themselves, of course they're classics. Unfortunately Amazon links their reviews to multiple versions of the same product (meaning you can write a review for an audio book and that same review show up on a paperback edition of the same title. It's really bad for music reviews, let me tell you!).

If you should by this edition of HOBBIT/LOTR really depends on what you what for your money. I first purchased trade paperback editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS back in the early to mid nineties. They're nice and more portable than, perhaps, other editions of the book if you looking for some quick reading on the beach/airport/wherever and they're economical.

However, these editions tend of have more misprints, are not as sturdy as other editions of Tolkien's classic texts, and the maps are just hell to look at. As any regular size paperback they are not as hardy as other, better found bound books.

The oversize paperback editions are better, but overall the books do not hold up as well or are durable as hard back editions. If you do want to read the stories though without having to worry about the shape the books are in then the regular paperbacks would be the way to go, as (for me anyway) I want to keep the nicer editions in relatively clean condition.

Given Tolkien's status of one of the world's most popular writers, I would recommend picking up nicer editions of these works anyway, as you can get them at reasonable prices and they are much better purchases than the paperback box sets. The only real drawback is there is no general uniformity between the editions of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS that I recommend, if that is important to you.

Douglas A. Anderson's THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, is the definitive text of THE HOBBIT, has numerous textual annotations and examines in complete detail all the different revisions Tolkien made to the work in the subsequent decades after its initial publication in 1937.

For THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the most accurate text is the 50th Anniversay edition prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. I have the one volume oversize paperback edition of LOTR and am quite pleased with it.

The only way I would recommend purchasing the boxset of these books is if they published The Annotated Hobbit and the 50th Annivesary LOTR text as a uniform set as those are the definitive versions, and personally I'd prefer to see all four volumes hardbound. I don't think I've seen a hardbound version box set of all four works, though there are plenty to be had of LOTR.

In summary, unless you are wanting cheap editions of these books, you will be better served by purchasing other editions of Tolkien's books
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
As that was only in regards to these actual editions of Tolkien's work and not reviews of the books themselves, I am also including my separate reviews I have written for Amazon of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Also included is an abandoned review I wrote for THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING all the way back in early 2000 but was never posted on Amazon, explaining how Tolkien's life work of THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy but rather three parts of one work divided up for publishing purposes
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE HOBBIT Review - Inferior to THE LORD OF THE RINGS? I think not! No, just different!, April 7, 2000

The biggest problem with this novel is perception. Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature.
The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings. It became attached to his mythology, and became as important to him as The Silmarillion.

So delineation is required if you want to read this. Do not go in with the thought that The Hobbit is a "precursor" or any such nonsense to The Lord of the Rings. Think of it like you would think of any other children's classics: children's classics. If you take it on The L. R.'s terms, this is a failure, primary because it is not written to be like that. But, on the flipside, The L. R. is as much a failure in children's fiction. It is not children's fiction, it is epic fantasy, and one should not equate it with children's fiction. That is EXACTLY what people try to do with The Hobbit. They try to put it in the same type of genre or playing field as The L. R. They are both masterpieces, and I love them both dearly. But one is for children, the other with adults.

Of course, Tolkien is part of the problem. How many books do you know that is a children's book and has an adult sequel? Not very many. The Hobbit, scarcely 300 pages, was written and published in the children's market. He then talked to his publishers, and they wanted a sequel. So he began "the new Hobbit", as C. S. (Jack) Lewis so aptly put it. He was preoccupied with his mythology, and the sequel was drawn into it. So we have two works, spanning two different genres, and as far as surface connections go its little more than prequel/sequel. Instead of looking at The Hobbit as a prequel, a precursor to his ADULT masterpiece, an inferiour version, think of as his CHILDREN'S masterpiece. The Hobbit is top of the class in children's fiction, one of the few contenders against such other great children's works as Narnia and Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings, likewise, is THE crowning masterpiece of the fantasy genre, of which its influence is incalculable to that fantasy market. Both are as important as the other, just in different fields.

I haven't talked about The Silmarillion much. I have already reviewed it, so I won't go real in-depth here. But the same thing happened with it. People, expecting another Lord of the Rings, were inevitably disappointed with the Biblical style of the published version. If Tolkien wrote that book out in narrative form as he did Lord of the Rings, it would be ten times longer than Lord of the Rings. The biggest problem with Tolkien is people have to many preconceptions that are incorrect.

So, basically, in conclusion, think of it like this:

1. The Hobbit - Children's masterpiece. He scores big with this one.

2. The Lord of the Rings - a single fantasy, not a trilogy. (Tolkien was always quick to point that out). The Crowning achievement of modern fantasy.

3. The Silmarillion - the Bible of Middle-earth. Much more for students of his work than the causal reader.
.
.
.
.
.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
***** Despite vehement critical hostility, Tolkien is among our most important writers because the way he handles Myth, 26 Sep 2007

Over the past several decades, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has sold millions of copies and is commonly regarded as one of the most influential fantasy novels ever published. Many first time readers have began their trek into Middle-earth with Frodo and the Company of the Ring in recent years. What they will encounter there has been loved by millions of readers before them, and if they allow themselves to respond to Tolkien and his Myth will doubtless become a loyal and ardent fan of Tolkien and those furry-footed hobbits. What's also notable about THE LORD OF THE RINGS is, for a book as long as it is, many of its readers reread the novel many times over. Yet despite its enduring popularity, Tolkien is often held in complete disregard by the literary establishment.

The real question is why? In the literary climate that is characterized by modernism and post-modernism where the twentieth and twenty first century is a wasteland why does a "series" of fantasy novels become one of the most beloved works in modern times?

It's because the power of myth over the human imagination works wonders, creating a longing and a hunger that, Tolkien argues, is met by the Christian religion. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the flip-sides of the same coin, with Lewis giving us accounts of the longing and Tolkien providing the books that would create that longing. And what about the longing? It's that longing for Myth, that love for those beauties which Tolkien shows us in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It's that longing that sets man apart from all other creatures in the universe: a craving for beauty and for joy. The German word for this longing is "senhsucht". In a time characterized by fast-food, cell-phones, materialism, superficiality, the account of a Hobbit working against all odds in a mythic landscape so captures the human imagination (and this is NOT hype) that an entire genre is created. It is because of how Tolkien so masterfully handles Myth that he has been so highly treasured by such a large fan base.

Still, there are a few things to consider when reading Tolkien nowadays. Looking over the reviews, it proved rather shocking to me that people have been complaining that, although it was original when it was published, much of what Tolkien has done has become cliche and that other writers are much better working with these cliches and making them more exciting than Tolkien. They complain about his "endless descriptions" of the natural world, very detailed accounts of geography and not enough "characterization." The characters are unrealistic: the "human drama" required by the book's very nature is beyond Tolkien's scope as a writer. THE FELLOWSHIP is both uneven and very weak in pacing, with so much invested in the world and its history Tolkien forgets to make us care about the characters themselves. Another fault oft cited against Tolkien is the lack of "female characters," and there have been accusations that Tolkien is racist; one of my favorite misconceptions is that Frodo and Sam are homosexuals.

Academia has no time for Tolkien, and many of our key critics have denounced Tolkien as ill-written or escapist (Harold Bloom said that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a period piece which will simply not die but just keeps lingering on long after its relevance. This is the stance taken by a lot of professional critics with a grudge against Tolkien, and wonderfully have been proven wrong). To this day, while not nearly as openly hostile as previous decades, academia in general harbors resentment against Tolkien and everything he's done. As far as they're concerned, he's done something that is actually popular and therefore unworthy of study. It's one of those "high-brow vs. low-brow" situations, and instead of producing "worthwhile" academic research, Tolkien instead writes a "series" of novels which become one of the most established authors of this century. In recent years, academic support has grown tremendously for Tolkien, but he is still a very hotly contested modern writer, unlike some other "academically undeniable" classics such as James Joyce. Unlike the academic favorites, Tolkien highly polarizes the professional literary establishment. Fortunately he has gained some ground here though.

Much of the complaints voiced against THE LORD OF THE RINGS are both unimportant and irrelevant. Tolkien is working with literary traditions not in-tune with the modern mind, but is instead handling narrative threads of Myth. Tolkien gives us solid archetypes to work with, bringing out the very qualities of masculinity and the beauties and stark wonders of femininty, but all expressed in mythological terminology. The idea of Sam and Frodo as homosexual is both ridiculous and totally unfounded. In Myth, good is characterized and seen as "White," and the evil is dark and perverted. Those who say Tolkien is racist approach him from the wrong standpoint.

As for the modern fantasy reader, those who complain about Tolkien's originality (while acknowledging it, but that later writers do a much better job with it) is like saying Shakespeare, while a good dramatist, is not that good because other people take his principals and make them more exciting, etc. I heard a story once about a person who went to see a Shakespeare play and went away complaining there were too many quotes in the play to make it any good. Shakespeare is the source of these quotes and he did not even realise it.

Most people know that Tolkien founded modern fantasy. Tolkien laid down the template for the fantasy genre in general, and anyone who reads fantasy has been touched, directly or indirectly, by Tolkien's work. Almost all of the major fantasy authors have acknowledge their debt to Tolkien, and the shadow Tolkien casts over fantasy literature is very long indeed. Because there is fifty years separating us from the original publication, it is much harder to approach THE LORD OF THE RINGS as those first reviewers, for those who have grown up reading fantasy literature are now accustomed to Dwarves and Elves and Dark Lords and Epic Quests, but when it was issued THE LORD OF THE RINGS transformed and invented an entire new genre. It is not Tolkien's fault that his vision of a mythology was so successful that everyone else decided they would try their hand at fantasy and work within Tolkien's templates. The main problem with fantasy authors in general are they are more interested in emulation than they are in true "myth-making." Much like early rock and roll, which, because rock was not an established form of music, the early musicians relied on other forms to create a new genre, Tolkien did not have this tradition to fall back on so instead he used various literatures and epic poems to create his own vision of myth. A lot of fantasy writers do not work in the context of myth any more, but rather rely on genre stereotypes which are generally found in Tolkien. Many readers who are interested in "pulp" fantasy get bogged down in Tolkien because he takes the time to fully explain his world and its cultures, because his goal is different. There is plenty of action in LORD OF THE RINGS, but those raised on the pulp fantasy will not care for it.

Ultimately, THE LORD OF THE RINGS's criticism has shown itself to be of little important on its durability as a major text. Ever since its publication in 1954, 1955, and 1956, LOTR has become one of the most important literary works our era has produced, highly regarded and passionately loved by an enormous amount of people. Despite the very vocal minority who despise Tolkien and his work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has consistently topped the polls for the best book of the last one hundred years. Whatever the critics say, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is here to stay because popular imagination has grabbed hold of Tolkien's vision and ran with it. Tolkien and Lewis have been wonderfully vindicated in their belief that the
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 1, 2012
[This is a review of the 70th Anniversary Edition, not so much of THE HOBBIT itself. I've reviewed the book proper elsewhere, and would rather focus on the actual edition itself.]

THE HOBBIT is one of those few books that I have felt justified to buy multiple copies over the years. It is a book I have read and cherished, and a book I dearly love. THE HOBBIT is a novel that deserves to be bought multiple times over, and I always enjoy looking at new editions of this classic work. So imagine my excitement when I found out they would be publishing a 70th anniversary edition of one of my most cherished novels!

This has been a big year for Tolkien fans. Christopher Tolkien published THE CHILDREN OF HURIN, a newly completed version of Turin's legend, in April. We've gotten (at long last), THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT, expertly handled by brilliant Tolkien scholar John D. Ratcliffe and published in two separate volumes. And of course, we have the 70th anniversary of Tolkien's first primary work, THE HOBBIT, which this edition is published in celebration of that momentous occasion. And does it live up as a major new edition of this fantasy classic?

That's a pretty easy answer. The answer is NO.

First off, here are the positives. The 70th anniversary edition is pretty much how the first edition of THE HOBBIT was actually published back in 1937 with some notable improvements, and conforming to Tolkien's pretty exacting specifications, including how the dust jacket should appear, as well as the art and maps that accompany the text.

These are the notable differences between the first edition and this edition. Due to cost, Tolkien was not able from a production standpoint to have the book appear exactly as he envisioned. The 1937 publication cut some of his artwork, the map was not how he so desired, and the dust jacket, due to printing cost, was limited to three primary colours (green, black, and white). Originally, Tolkien wanted the sun on the front cover and the dragon on the back cover to be totally in red, but this was not feasible.

Obviously Tolkien's work is successful enough that these production costs are no longer an issue, and so this is a relatively accurate facsimile of what Tolkien would have wanted to publish in 1937 had money not been an object, as it too often is in the real world. For that, this edition has some worth.

Now, there are some negatives. And these are big negatives.

First off, paper quality and binding. It's bad.

Then there's the actual art work. The colour artwork is quite nicely implemented into the main text, and overall I don't have a problem with the colour artwork from a production standpoint. The paintings are bright and colourful, and remain true to higher quality prints of Tolkien's phenomenal painting. But unfortunately the same cannot be said of the black and white illustrations. Like a reviewer said before me, it appears Tolkien's drawings were reproduced on a cheap scanner. Tolkien's artwork is highly valuable, but unfortunately the drawings here are rather badly reproduced in this edition.

Then there's the advertisement for LOTR at the end that's rather annoying. They reproduce the first chapter of FELLOWSHIP and place it at the end of the novel, acting like a cheap plug for Tolkien's masterpiece. I don't have any problem with plugging LOTR, but to me this inclusion of the first chapter just cheapens the whole book, especially when it's supposed to be a major edition of a major work. We all know about LOTR. Do we really need the first chapter here? Rather tacky, to say the least.

Then there's the problem of Christopher Tolkien's forward. This is what I was most looking forward too, actually. Having read E. A. Solinas's review, I was under the impression this was a new forward prepared specifically by Christopher for the 70th anniversary of his father's work. Not the case. It's simply a reprint of the forward he wrote for the 50th anniversary of THE HOBBIT, twenty years previously.

As far as textual authenticity, I must be honest in the fact that I've only browsed it at a Borders bookstore, but I'd be very surprised if they did not use the text from The Annotated Hobbit, as it is the most definitive and accurate text yet established for the book. Still, I can't verify that that is the case.

Overall, this is a fair edition of THE HOBBIT. It could have been a lot more. What sets this apart from the other copies is this is how Tolkien truly envisioned how he wanted the book to appear, and for that fact alone, this is a valuable edition to the Tolkien collector. Unfortunately the poor production quality of the black and while illustrations, the rather tacky inclusion of LOTR's first chapter, and the disappointment of the publishers' just reprinting a twenty year old introduction to the 50th anniversary publication rather brings the whole affair down. I think I'll pass on this one.

For those looking for the best edition of Tolkien's book, buy THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, first published in 1988 and republished in a new format in 2003. The second version of THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT is the definitive edition of this phenomenal work as far as I'm concerned.
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on November 26, 2013
Nice to have this for a long car ride with the kids, but my husband wanted the Unabridged version, and this is labelled unabridged. Very disappointed that I didn't receive what was expected, but then again I didn't want to bother with a return. For the price I guess I got what I paid for. The unabridged (+16 hours) is closer to $100.
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on January 12, 2002
So you've just seen the film and you absolutely can't wait for the next cinematic installment so you buy the book in the hope of quenching your curiosity. Naive consumer I blame you not. But before you purchase the book consider this. Obviously theres lots and lots of pages to this work so first ask yourself- is this something I'm really interested in persuing? Am I ready for this level of commitment in my life? Secondly theres literally hundreds of charcters in this work which in itself requires a superlative mnemonic feat on part of the reader. Then there's those numerous prolonged descrpitive passages which do very little to move the story along and are such a tremendous bore. And those maps? All rather silly and contrived really. Their inclusion in the novel, far from enhancing the story, is quite distracting and only makes the reader self conscious of the fact that they're reading a work of fiction. Kudos to old Tolky though for writing what is basically a sound storyline even if his ambition ultimately exceeded his ability to realize it. Person who will enevitably click "not helpful" button I have but two words for you- Mervyn Peake (he did the whole fantasy schtick soooo much better).
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on January 1, 2002
I read The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers. I quit just after the first few chapters of The Return of the King but I think I'm qualified to write a review.
The Hobbit is a good book, a simple, entertaining story for children.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is completely different. It is much more ambitious in scope and filled with historical detail. Tolkien obviously put a lot of effort into world building, it's his main strength. There are many pages filled with historical accounts. Honestly I found it all very boring.
The plot is disappointingly simple and unimaginative. It's simple good vs evil. They must destroy the evil ring. They go from place to place, fighting monsters, making allies, until they succeed. You know that the main characters won't be harmed.
But in my opinion the series' major flaw is its very poor character development. Even a book with a simple plot can shine for me if the characters are well developed. I never liked superheroes vs supervillains. In this case we don't even meet Sauron, and he is just evil, period. The good guys are better but not good enough for me. It is possible to do too much character development and too little world building...
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on December 2, 2001
(...) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien gets 2 stars. It has some parts that are exciting, but not many. It contains heroes, hardships and good vs. evil, which is were the 2 stars come from. I don't recommend it. While I was reading I had to make myself sit down and read. It wasn't enjoyable like reading should be.
This fantasy story is about a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who didn't like to be bothered. One day the wizard Gandalph and about 14 homeless dwarfs come visit him in his quiet little hobbit hole. They changed everything. He is soon pulled into their quest of fighting goblins, spiders, evil orcs, and wolves in hope of finding the treasure that the great dragon Smaug protects.
Most of the book is dull and tiresome. In my opinion you could skip 5 pages every now and then and not miss a thing. For instance, Tolkien uses 24 pages to express what happened when the dwarfs first met Bilbo, when all that was needed was about 8. He wasted about 100 pages total in the book which has 304 pages.
Although The Hobbit is a bit slow, it shows the never-ending battle between good and evil. Tolkien portrays this well. When Bilbo comes face to face with evil he uses poems and riddles, which are challenging to figure out.
The Hobbit also has a worthy plot of heroes and hardships. This can relate to other books such as the Harry Potter series and Homer's Poem about Ulysses. Bilbo is said to be a hero many times when he is faced with a challenge. One of the dwarfs complain "I'm just going to lie here and sleep and dream of food, if I can not get it any other way..." They had many hardships such as food, shelter, and ways of transportation.
All in all, i would not reccomend this book. Even though it has a few good qualities such as heroes, hardships, and the relationship between good and evil, it is still boring and dull. It only deserved 2 out of 5 stars.
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on March 30, 2001
Set in a mystical countryside filled with goblins, elves, dragons, and wargs, J.R.R. Tolkien's novel 'The Hobbit' is a story about a hobbit that is trying to overcome his weaknesses while going on a journey with his friends. The main character, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, Likes to live a peaceful life at his hobbit hole in the shire. He is very neat, as every hobbit is; he likes everything perfect and has no need for anything in his life to change. Throught the book Bilbo and the dwarves run into many dangers. Not far into the book Bilbo and the dwarves run into a cave, which leads them to a mysterious item that will help Bilbo throughout his journey. Throughout his voyage Bilbo overcomes his hobbit instincts and weaknesses. At one point in the story all of the dwarves and Bilbo are captured by giant spiders. Bilbo fights off the spider who captured him, and soon finds himself fighting off hundreds of spiders to free the dwarves. While fighting he overcomes his fear of danger. Bilbo and the dwarves manage to get to thier destination in one piece, with the help of the wizard Gandalf, but there are still more dangers to come. In our opinion, the book 'The Hobbit' was an interesting and fun read. It is one of those books good for anyone to read. Any age from the fourth grade to adult can enjoy something about the book. We would definitely recomend this book to anyone if they have a good imagination and like to read fantasy books.
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on February 7, 2001
"The Hobit" is about a Hobbit(named Bilbo Baggins) who is manipulated into helping a pack of dwarves. They play on his "Took" side which is his mothers side. The Tooks were adventure seekers, they liked going on journeys. Other Hobbits found the Tooks less respectable than the other side of Blibo's family. The ohter hobbits loathe going on adventures, in fact they hate going anywhere very far from home.(Adventures make Hobbits late for dinner). One thing you should know about Hobbits is that they really like to eat and sleep. They have about six meals a day. I only gave this two stars because it seemed like the author was in a hurry so he ended the book. Like he really had to go to the bathroom, so he ended the book as fast as possible. It also seemed like the author got really into the story and when he came to the end(Last four chapters) he didn't know how to end it. I am hopeful for the other books in the seires. I want to know the rest of the story and hope the author did a better job.
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on January 30, 2001
It took me a while to actually read this book. I had started it when I was in junior high, but became too swamped with school reading to finish it. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more then. It's not that it's bad... it's just sort of plain.
I guess you have to take into account that it was written in 1937, which I didn't realize until I finished it. I had always assumed that "the Hobbit" and its earthy themes was a product of the sixties. Apparently not. So this means that the world was a very different place when this book was written.
I also tried to keep in mind that the whole fantasy genre grew out of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; so these progenitors may seem tired because a lot of what I have already read has drawn quite liberally from these sources. Or maybe I'm biased against the whole adventure story thing. The risk of the adventure story is that the adventure *is* the story and that each part of the adventure is an isolated incident with no bearing on the next. In the case of "The Hobbit", there's the orcs, then the goblins, then Gollum, and so on. And, yes, Bilbo grows with each incident. But the story is so consumed with the incidents that it includes precious little else. The characters are flat and predictable -- and I think I'm supposed to like Bilbo, but I don't. I know he's supposed to be the anti-hero, the everyman rising to the occassion. But I just find him annoying.
I have another issue with the narrator. Yes, I know it's the whole bard thing, I get it. It still doesn't stop me from thinking that there is a better way of telling this story. It's a little more aimed at kids than I remember when I attempted it a long time ago. Which may account for the lack of description, which, when included, is very vague in this novel. I want to know more than cusory details. When Bilbo gets lost in the mountain and stumbles upon Gollum, I never got the cloying sensation of twisting, dark tunnels. Instead, we are treated to something that is more akin to directions. Left. Right. Down, down, down. It cuts right to the action, so there's no tension and release. Things just happen and go away.
And that, friends, is the whole problem in a nutshell:
Things happen and go away.
I am told that Tolkien wrote this as a bedtime story. I don't know if that's true, but it does have that sort of quality to it. I feel bad saying this, because I know it's a classic, but I think I like the animated movie better...
Good for kids, adults will be disappointed....Unless, of course, you're a fan. In which case, you hate me.
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on July 12, 1999
For an Oxbridge Don, Tolkien sure borrowed a heck of a lotta ideas from Saturday matinees at the movies and did not acknowledge his debts. Note that each chapter ends on a cliff hanger and we switch to another group of travellers elsewhere to sustain the "drama". Once the world of Middle Earth is invented and mapped it does not take a huge amount of imagination to fill it with somewhat repetitive but different-each-time monsters and such. This is a tactic nowadays employed by the producers of virtual reality shoot-em-ups like Quake, unfortunately- these programmers are probably not Oxbridge so they don't count in the high-grade "literature" stakes.
Tolkien, South African originally - allows his ugly ideas on race to permeate. Note that all the fair-skinned (White) species that live in the middle of middle Earth (Europe) are all decent, elegant, noble. Note also that the "swarthy" (darkies to you and me) hordes of faceless,charachterless evil people are all living to the East and the South where it is hot and they ride beasts with big ears (Asian and African Elephants).
Those of the survivors that are considered worthy at the end, sail off across a great ocean to the West to live forever in Valhalla(USA). The goodies unfortunate enough to have lower class origins are left to wonder at their heroes and unquestionable wizard masters (Isrealis?)who leave them in this dull, spent land.
DO NOT FUND RACISM. GIVE THIS BOOK A MISS. SPEND SIX MONTHS READING AN INFORMATIVE BOOK ABOUT COMPUTER PROGRAMMING OR SOUND INVESTMENT PRACTISE: THEN YOU TOO COULD GO OFF AND LIVE IN VALHALLA.
ALternatively, Read Ursula Le-Guin's excellent A Wizard of Earthsea for a wise and intelligent tale that packs in more magic and drama in a single evening's read.
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