Book Review: Tolkien’s World: Paintings of Middle-Earth

Rating: ★★★★☆

Every lover of literature has an opinion about whether a particular story is enhanced or diminished by adding visual interpretation.  When an image is compelling enough, it has the power to shape the reader’s mental image of the story forever.  For those who watched Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, their perception of these novels will be influenced by the movies which, although outstanding, are limited in how the plot and characters are presented.

For those who wish to postpone exposure to the movies, but would still enjoy some kind of visual interpretation, this collection of paintings might fit the bill.  A selection of artists, some famous and some “yet to be famous” — including Inger Edelfeldt, Alan Lee, John Howe, and Ted Nasmith — have produced a collection of paintings inspired by Tolkien’s story world, with scenes from The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and a few from The Silmarilion.  The artwork varies in quality — for example, I believe Michael Hague’s style is better suited to lighthearted scenes than Tolkien’s serious magic — but most Tolkien lovers are likely to find something that resembles their own image of how the story ought to look.  Each painting is accompanied by a relevant passage from Tolkien’s original text, and each artist also supplies a brief essay explaining their personal interest in Tolkien’s work.

Tolkien’s peerless literature needs no embellishment, but these paintings are an evocative tribute to his world of magical imagination.

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Publication Information: Various. Tolkien's World: Paintings of Middle-Earth. MFJ Books. 1998. ISBN: 1567312489.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 08-12, Age 12-16, Age 16-18, Age Adult

Posted on October 1, 2011


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