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on October 11, 2006
While a Lord of the Rings fanatic myself, I don't see a reason to write an extensive commentary on the trilogy. If you want a review on the book there are more than sufficient amounts of widely varied opinions below my own that should satiate one's curiosity as to the virtues (or lack thereof) of Tolkien's most acclaimed work.

I feel it more important to note that the item you will be receiving is NOT the one portrayed in the image, but rather a boxset of the three individual novels from the relatively recent Harper Collins reprinting. These three novels are the mass market stylized black ones which have a ring of yellow, red or green on the covers, distinguishing one novel from the next, as well as the glossy black background markings. Unfortunately, I had ordered this item thinking that it was a different printing (due to cover art) that I didn't yet possess and upon receiving the product, I was a little put out to discover that I now have two identical boxsets of black covers. The second will still make a great gift for someone else, but you should be aware that this item is inconsistent with the picture.
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on February 9, 2010
Only an balrog could object to an revised 50th anniversary edition, with corrections beyond those in the the standard revised version. BUT...

This edition is *not* "leather bound:" it's a less-than-ordinary hardcover binding with paper-thin faux-leather glued over paper boards. The bookmark ribbon breaks the binding. Signatures are glued rather than sewn together, not held together by the 'leather', but glued onto the paper end sheets, which are separated from the paper spine. Poor production generally: end papers badly centred, more than a little random glue and rubber cement on the covers that really mars the appearance. [See annotated Customer Image #2]. Reviewers elsewhere have commented on uneven type quality; this 2nd printing does not have that problem.

It's an OK one-volume edition, given the revisions. *Not* a 'collectible', definitely not worth the CDN$86 list, barely worth the discounted $56 given the disappointment factor. Don't give this as a gift to a Tolkien fan, expecting rapture. I kept mine for the revisions, first-time readers look elsewhere.

Amazon: please *stop* advertising this edition as 'leather bound': it is *serious* misrepresentation of the product.
review image
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on November 15, 2004
As an owner of numerous editions, I welcome this latest revision in honour of the 50th anniversary. The soft leather cover is quite nice to the touch and the printing quality is superlative. The numerous revisions to the text are welcome and the two-coloured printing in spots is similar to the deluxe editions from 30 years ago.
If you desire an excellent edition at a very affordable price, this is the one to get. Highly recommended.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon February 12, 2009
The description from the book jacket is rather accurate and I'll quote it here:

-- Start quote --
In The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook Alan Lee reveals in pictures and in words how he created the beautiful watercolour paintings for the special centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings. These images would prove so powerful and evocative that they would eventually define the look of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy and would earn him a coveted Academy Award.

The book is filled with over 150 of his sketches and early conceptual pieces to show how the project progressed from idea to finished art. It also contains a selection of colour paintings reproduced in full-page glory, together with numerous examples of previously unseen conceptual art produced for the films and many new works drawn specially for this book.

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook provides a fascinating insight into the imagination of the ma who painted Tolkien's vision, firstly onto the page and then in three dimensions on the cinema screen. It will also be of interest to many of the 100,000 people who have bought the illustrated The Lord of the Rings as well as for budding artists interested in unlocking the secrets of book illustration.
-- end quote --

Full coloured paintings are few actually. But this book has an amazing collection of pencil sketches. The chapters are sorted by places that appear in the book, in chronological order.

With the author's comments, it makes this book sort of a "Making of" book together with it being an "Art of" book. So that's really a plus.

It should interest concept and fantasy artists. Oh, and also Lord of the Rings fans.

There are more pictures on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.
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on December 18, 2004
For anyone who is a true fan of Professor Tolkien's works, this is a must-have book. The quality of the pages is fabulous and the case and cover are first-class. I have the paperback version of the book, which I will continue to use for reading purposes ... This beautiful 50th edition book needs to be put on your bookshelf on display. It is a collector's edition that will be passed on from generation to generation.
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on November 6, 2000
This is not a critique of Tolkien's work; rather it is a condemnation of Houghton Mifflin's hardcover boxed set. Thirty years after first reading "The Lord of the Rings" I decided to read it again. Besides the engrossing and detailed story, I had a renewed interest in the technical aspects of Tolkien's craft and his use of the English language. I am not disappointed and I am enjoying the reading immensely.
I bought the Hardcover Boxed edition published October, 1988, by Houghton Mifflin Co (Trd); ISBN: 0395489326 ; because I wanted a high quality, permanent copy with good typesetting and larger print. When I received this particular edition I was shocked at the extremely poor quality of print and generally poor quality of every aspect of the presentation. In two of the volumes the maps are incorrectly bound so that they are impossible to unfold. It is not even possible to cut the map out of the book because important parts of the middle of it have been sewn up in the binding.
But the damning point of this edition is the printed page. Every single page has both drop outs and extra ink everywhere. The printing weight varies from page to page, at times fading to a medium gray, at other times a dense bold face. I am not exaggerating when I proclaim that most paperbacks are printed more carefully and more clearly than this.
Buy the books, read them and enjoy them. But benefit from my misfortune and stay far far away from this edition.
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on May 6, 2015
Frodo's group have gotten separated following the premature passing of Boromir who succumbed to fatal injuries when fending off goblin troops. Aragorn, Gimli (Gloin's son), and Legolas Greenleaf put his body to rest on a boat to cast it off into the mournful stream. Where the currents will soon carry him away to his dearest brother, Faramir. Elsewhere, the two Hobbits Pippin and Merry eluded their captivity of the Orcs. They unite with the Ent trees backed by jolly Treebeard so they can confront the traitor warlock Saruman at Dark Tower Orthanc for mercilessly chopping down and killing numberous Ents. Gandalf fans need not despair anymore; the wizard had triumphantly come back from death and had been revived as Gandalf the White! We're introduced to the infamous Grima Wormtongue: Theoden's faithful servant and Saruman's underhand spy with a manipulative streak! Meanwhile, Gollum remains on the loose, having somehow escaped imprisonment by the Wood-elves. Attaboy! He again tracks down Sam and Frodo by nightfall, despite detesting moonlight. But Bilbo Baggins' nephew manages to subdue the imp. Frodo brings out the nicer Smeagol personality in Gollum, and he agrees to help him and Sam out on their venture in destroying the One Ring as a guide. Samwise Gamgee continues to be wary of ''Stinker'' and suspects he's hatching some sort of scheme.

I had been pleased J.R.R. Tolkien finally decided to place focus on Gollum by his long-awaited reappearance in Book Four of The Two Towers. The imp played too small a role back in The Hobbit, and I really have a thing for that Middle-earth character. He cracked me up in certain parts of the second Lord of the Rings novel! Had no idea the little rascal's a finicky eater! Whether Smeagol will stay good or regress back to his devious Gollum self, I will not say. Read on and find out what happens!!
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on September 15, 2008
While the books are awesome and I, a huge fan, I ordered this edition over a year ago from this site. this particular edition, with the cover art done by one Geoff Taylor was the first edition I ever read, therefore has sentimental value. I'm surprised to see amazon has not changed the picture of this to account for the complete change in cover design. This particular edition portrayed above contains three books, covers run from Green, to Blue, then Red. The Edition you will actually be recieving is the very common Black covers with the coloured circles. Attractive, but ultimately completely different. I would ahve thought amazon fixed this when I was refunded over a year ago... Hardcore fans beware!
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on 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.
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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.
Comment | Permalink

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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on December 19, 2001
The ONLY reason why I chose to buy this particular edition was because of the incredibly low price tag it carried for FOUR books. However, once the package arrived and I had worked my way past the first and second chapters (of the Hobbit) it became obvious WHY this particular printing had been such a steal.
For someone like me, who has read the ORIGINAL Hobbit (Unwin Publication), this edition was as close to a rip-off as one could get in the book-publishing world. Let me make a list here.
1. Typographical errors
2. The RUNES of the map are not correct either. It should read, "When the Trush Knocks", instead it reads,"Hwen the Trush Knocks"
3. The ENTIRE introduction by the author, (On Runes and their history, from where I learnt to read them 15 years ago) is MISSING! I wonder what anyone who reads this publication will think of Tolkien's runic writing without the authors guiding words.
Sadly, I have now lost the original Hobbit book (I lent it to a friend who lost it) so I will have to make do with the one from this boxed set. It's something. But it certainly WILL NOT PLEASE ANY FAN OF TOLKIEN.
If you are a Tolkien fan, or want to enjoy the TRUE magic of the Ring, DO NOT BUY THIS BOXED SET!!! This is strictly for the casual reader who cannot tell Tolkien from Eddings!
(...)
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