November 20, 2020

The Nature of Middle-earth Announced

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Here's yet another Tolkien-related post! This post, however, announces the publication of The Nature of Middle-earth. As you can see by the editor title, this is first Tolkien book since Chistopher Tolkien had passed away. It's unclear at this point (and will likely be covered in an introduction/forward/preface) if Christopher wanted to work on this title himself. It should be worth noting that Christopher Tolkien gave this book his blessing, much like he did for The History of The Hobbit

The ISBN for it is 9780008387921, and there's no word yet on a collector's edition. It may not happen. After all, there's no collector's edition of The History of The Hobbit.

The product description follows:

First ever publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide range of subjects and perfect for those who have read and enjoyed The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth, and want to learn more about Tolkien’s magnificent world.

It is well known that J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954–5. What may be less known is that he continued to write about Middle-earth in the decades that followed, right up until the years before his death in 1973.

For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored, and the writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. From sweeping themes as profound as Elvish immortality and reincarnation, and the Powers of the Valar, to the more earth-bound subjects of the lands and beasts of Númenor, the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor, and even who had beards!

This new collection, which has been edited by Carl F Hostetter, one of the world’s leading Tolkien experts, is a veritable treasure-trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life.

November 17, 2020

The Silmarillion Illustrated Collector's Edition Revealed + Further Speculation

 

At long last, the product images and description for the forth-coming collector's edition of the illustrated Silmarillion has been revealed! Here's it's ISBN, and description. Remember, this is a HarperCollins edition, and can be obtained the same way as any HarperCollins Tolkien book. Pre-order by Feb latest to ensure you get a copy.

ISBN: 9780008433956

Limited to a worldwide first printing of just 4,000 copies, this deluxe edition is printed in two colours and is fully bound in cloth and stamped in gold foil. Housed in a matching custom-built slipcase decorated with stunning wraparound artwork, it also features two full-colour removable posters that are unique to this edition.


The Silmarillion is the core of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginative writing, a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth, through the Second Age and the rise of Sauron, to the end of the War of the Ring.

They are set in an age when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-earth, and the Elves made war upon him in his impenetrable fortress in Angband for the recovery of the Silmarils, three jewels containing the last remaining pure light of Valinor, seized by Morgoth and set in his iron crown.

Accompanying these tales are several shorter works. The Ainulindalë is a myth of the Creation and in the Valaquenta the nature and powers of the gods is described. The Akallabêth recounts the downfall of the great island kingdom of Númenor at the end of the Second Age and Of the Rings of Power tells of the great events at the end of the Third Age, as told in The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien could not publish The Silmarillion in his lifetime, as it grew with him, so he would leave it to his son, Christopher, to edit the work from many manuscripts and bring his father’s great vision to publishable form, so completing the literary achievement of a lifetime. This special edition presents anew this seminal first step towards mapping out the posthumous publishing of Middle-earth, and the beginning of an illustrious forty years and more than twenty books celebrating his father’s legacy.
Also included is a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien written in 1951 which provides a brilliant exposition of the earlier Ages, and almost 50 full-colour paintings by Ted Nasmith, including some which appear here for the first time.

This special slipcased edition is fully bound in cloth and stamped in gold foil; it includes two full-colour removable fold-out posters unique to this edition and is housed in a custom slipcase illustrated with a stunning wraparound painting.



Now, let's use the Unfinished Tales illustrated collector's edition from this year, and the 2021 Calendar as a guide to what the print could be, as well as the cover of the calendar.

Unfinished Tales used John Howe's Nazgul image ("The Hunt for the Ring") as the cover for the collector's edition, and the rear image of the standard edition's dustjacket. Going by the collector's edition for The Silmarillion, we can therefore deduce that the image used for the cover, would also appear as the rear image for the standard edition's dustjacket. ("Maglor Casts a Silmaril.")

Next, on to the print. They said there's two, but we all know that the other image would be the map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North.

The Unfinished Tales illustrated collector's edition included a print of the same same image used as the front cover to the standard edition: the Numenorean ships by Alan Lee. We can also deduce that the print included in the illustrated collector's edition of The Silmarillion, will be the same image used as the front of the dustjacket for the standard edition. ("The Ships of the Faithful.")

Finally, onto the calendar.

I am now willing to bet that the 2022 Calendar will be tied-in with this edition of The Silmarillion. The only thing I can say, is expect it to be filled with Ted Nasmith's various Silmarillion artwork (he's done a lot throughout the years). I'm calling attention to something though: the image used for the cover of the 2021 Calendar is the same used as the wrap-around image on the slipcase for the collector's edition of Unfinished Tales. Once again, going by this logic, expect the 2022 Calendar's cover the be the same as the wrap-around edition for the slipcase to the collector's edition of The Silmarillion ("The Burning of the Ships")

November 7, 2020

The Tolkien Illustrated Collection: Version 2 Complete Listing



This post will serve as a summary of what I like to call 'The Tolkien Illustrated Collection: Version 2.' Version 1, featured The Hobbit from 1997, The Lord of the Rings boxed set in 2002, and The Silmarillion from 2004. All of those matched one another, in terms of size dimensions and design aesthetics.

I will list the following titles in the order that they were originally published. This post is done for convenience and reference purposes for those that are seeking out these editions. This collection is complete, and this post may serve well for any shoppers, due to the time of year. 




THE HOBBIT

ISBN: 9780008376116

"A great modern classic and the prelude to The Lord of the Rings.

Smaug certainly looked fast asleep, almost dead and dark, with scarcely a snore more than a whiff of unseen steam, when Bilbo peeped once more from the entrance. He was just about to step out on to the floor when he caught a sudden thin and piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye. He was only pretending to sleep! He was watching the tunnel entrance!

Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a band of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Although quite reluctant to take part in this quest, Bilbo surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and his skill as a burglar!

The text of this edition has been fully corrected and revised in collaboration with Christopher Tolkien and is accompanied by a wealth of beautiful watercolour paintings and delicate pencil drawings from Alan Lee."




THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

ISBN: 9780008376123

"The Fellowship of the Ring is the first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings.

Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

The text of this edition has been fully corrected and revised in collaboration with Christopher Tolkien and is accompanied by nineteen watercolour paintings from Alan Lee."




THE TWO TOWERS

ISBN: 9780008376130

"The Two Towers is the second part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings.

Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in the battle with an evil spirit in the Mines of Moria; and at the Falls of Rauros, Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape the rest of the company were attacked by Orcs.

Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.
The text of this edition has been fully corrected and revised in collaboration with Christopher Tolkien and is accompanied by sixteen watercolour paintings from Alan Lee."




THE RETURN OF THE KING

ISBN: 9780008376147

"The Return of the King is the third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings.

The Companions of the Ring have become involved in separate adventures as the quest continues. Aragorn, revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient Kings of the West, joined with the Riders of Rohan against the forces of Isengard, and took part in the desperate victory of the Hornburg. Merry and Pippin, captured by orcs, escaped into Fangorn Forest and there encountered the Ents.

Gandalf returned, miraculously, and defeated the evil wizard, Saruman. Meanwhile, Sam and Frodo progressed towards Mordor to destroy the Ring, accompanied by Sméagol–Gollum, still obsessed by his ‘preciouss’. After a battle with the giant spider, Shelob, Sam left his master for dead; but Frodo is still alive – in the hands of the orcs. And all the time the armies of the Dark Lord are massing.

The text of this edition has been fully corrected and revised in collaboration with Christopher Tolkien and is accompanied by fifteen watercolour paintings from Alan Lee."




BOXED SET OF THE ABOVE EDITIONS

ISBN: 9780008376109


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THE LORD OF THE RINGS (the complete novel as one book)

ISBN: 9780007525546

Same 'features' as the above copies of The Lord of the Rings, except as 1 book instead of 3.



THE SILMARILLION

ISBN: 9780008433949

" Including brand-new paintings, this is a fully illustrated new edition of the forerunner to The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion fills in the background which lies behind the more popular work, and gives the earlier history of Middle-earth, introducing some of the key characters.

The Silmarillion is the core of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginative writing, a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth, through the Second Age and the rise of Sauron, to the end of the War of the Ring.

They are set in an age when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-earth, and the Elves made war upon him in his impenetrable fortress in Angband for the recovery of the Silmarils, three jewels containing the last remaining pure light of Valinor, seized by Morgoth and set in his iron crown.

Accompanying these tales are several shorter works. The Ainulindalë is a myth of the Creation and in the Valaquenta the nature and powers of the gods is described. The Akallabêth recounts the downfall of the great island kingdom of Númenor at the end of the Second Age and Of the Rings of Power tells of the great events at the end of the Third Age, as told in The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien could not publish The Silmarillion in his lifetime, as it grew with him, so he would leave it to his son, Christopher, to edit the work from many manuscripts and bring his father’s great vision to publishable form, so completing the literary achievement of a lifetime. This special edition presents anew this seminal first step towards mapping out the posthumous publishing of Middle-earth, and the beginning of an illustrious forty years and more than twenty books celebrating his father’s legacy.

Also included is a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien written in 1951 which provides a brilliant exposition of the earlier Ages, and almost 50 full-colour paintings by Ted Nasmith, including some which appear here for the first time."


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UNFINISHED TALES

ISBN: 9780008387952

"Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories.

The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such elements as The Quest of Erebor, Gandalf’s lively account of how it was that he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End; the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand; and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan.

Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Númenor before its downfall, and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantíri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were edited by Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the reader to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father’s writings."



THE CHILDREN OF HURIN

ISBN: 9780007246229

"Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, eagles and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World.

In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves.

Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled.

The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention."



BEREN AND LUTHIEN

ISBN: 9780008214197

"Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien's Middle-earth.

The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.

Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost."



THE FALL OF GONDOLIN

ISBN: 9780008302757

"In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar.

Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo's desires and designs.

Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo's designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon's daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.

At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Tuor and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.

Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same 'history in sequence' mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was 'the first real story of this imaginary world' and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three 'Great Tales' of the Elder Days."


November 6, 2020

Silmarillion Speculation: The Finer Points

 

Now that I've provided the ISBN and the news that The Silmarillion illustrated edition will be joining - and completing - The Tolkien Illustrated Collection: Ver. 2, it's time for me to ponder some of the finer points about this edition in both standard hardback and collector's edition formats.

- which illustrations will be included, and which new ones will there be?
- which image would be used on the rear of the dustjacket for the standard edition?
- what colour would be used for the book, ink, and ribbon marker? For Unfinished Tales, it was blue. Would blue be used again, or another colour?
- For the collector's edition, which image would be used to wrap around the slipcase?
- For the collector's edition, which image would be stamped onto the book itself? I've noticed that the image that appears on the rear of the Unfinished Tales standard edition's dustjacket was used as the front cover to the collector's edition.
- For the collector's edition, which other goodies would be included? For Unfinished Tales, we got a double-sided map, and an art print of the image used as the cover to the standard edition. Based on this, we could expect a map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North for the map (there's only one map for The Silmarillion) and a print of Ted Nasmith's 'Ships of the Faithful', which is used for the standard edition's front cover.
- can we we expect the 2022 calendar to be 'themed' around this publication? If yes, perhaps A Middle-earth Traveller would be the theme of the 2023 calendar....

All will be answered closer to when the book is published - and those that have ordered it receive their copies. It's fun to speculate until then, though.

Give a Tolkien Book This Christmas

 




Christmas is coming up, and it's a magical time of year - not even a virus can stop that.

I have a strong association of fantasy with Christmas: it's the time of year that I first read The Hobbit (and The Lord of the Rings not long after), as well as it was when all three of the films had come out.

As is my seemingly annual tradition, I'm going to suggest some great Tolkien editions for gifting - whether for someone on your list, or yourself.


The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again

THE HOBBIT ('young edition')

ISBN: 9780007458424

I recommend this edition as often as I can. It's great for a few reasons:
- it goes with other Tolkien paperbacks quite well
- it's a great way to get someone started on Tolkien that doesn't own any of his books yet and has expressed an interest
- it's also the only edition to offer David Wyatt's chapter illustrations. I might be biased towards those, as the first edition of The Hobbit that I've read/owned featured his chapter illustrations. Also, John Howe's cover, 'Smaug the Golden' can't be beat: in my opinion, no one can draw dragons the way that he can, and dragons are him at his best.

So all in all, a great paperback edition. It's reasonably well-priced and of great quality considering, in terms of quality of the book as a physical item in relation to the price. The font is a decent size: not too large to be considered a 'large print book.' If shopping in-store, it's possible that it might be in the kids or teen section of a bookstore, as opposed to under 'T' for 'Tolkien' in the fantasy section.

Recommended gifting method: as a stocking stuffer or under the tree.



The Hobbit

THE HOBBIT (illustrated by Jemima Catlin)

Hardback ISBN: 9780007497904
Paperback ISBN: 9780007497935

This edition takes The Hobbit back to its 'children's story' roots. Definitely recommended for 'bedtime reading', or for any younger readers. Of course it can also appeal to adults, as well. The artwork is just whimsical, much in the same way that the Winnie the Pooh books are illustrated. The art work was so appealing to me, I just HAD to get a copy! As with the edition mentioned above, it's possible that it might be in the kids or teen section of a bookstore, as opposed to under 'T' for 'Tolkien' in the fantasy section. Both the hardback and paperback editions are very well-designed.

The Hardback doesn't go with other Tolkien books, though it would look great next to them - especially The Lord of the Rings illustrated slipcased edition. The paperback, height-wise, DOES go with other Tolkien paperbacks, though it's a bit 'wider' (spine to edge of cover, looking at it cover front-on, going from left to right)

Recommended gifting method: under the tree

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THE HOBBIT (pocket edition)

ISBN: 9780007440849

Part of the set called 'A Middle-earth Treasury', this is the only  book from that set to be sold on its own - none of The Lord of the Rings books can be bought 'outside' the set. I should also add that this edition goes very well with any of the titles in the 'Tolkien Treasury' set (The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham, Roverandom, and Smith of Wootton Major).

It is a great take on the 'classic' edition of The Hobbit, and is illustrated by Tolkien himself. In terms of contents/features, it's very similar - if not identical - to the 70th anniversary ('classic edition') of The Hobbit, just sized down. It is pocket sized so it may not line up EVERY Tolkien hardback......but it DOES line up with the 'Tolkien Treasury' titles mentioned above!

Recommended gifting method: stocking stuffer


The Lord of the Rings

THE LORD OF THE RINGS (illustrated slipcased edition)

ISBN: 9780007525546

First of all I wanted to mention that this book is quite large and quite heavy. I'd recommend reading it 'table reading' style - think of Gandalf at Denethor's libraries in Minas Tirith. This will also help protect its spine. It is, after all, the complete novel as one book, WITH the illustrations by Alan Lee. The slipcase can be a bit tricky to work with. My advice is to keep it in it when it's not a book you're currently reading. (Say you're doing a read through - keep it out of the slipcase. But, once you've finished the book, cover-to-cover, keep it in there. This will help protect the book while it's not part of your reading pile, with minimal damage to both the slipcase as well as the book while 'fumbling' to get it back in. Anyone that gets it right the first attempt deserves a medal! The more you take it in and out, the more chances there'll be of either getting damaged.) 

I may personally prefer to go with the recent hardback boxed set of The Hobbit + The Lord of the Rings that came out this year when it comes to an illustrated edition; though this one is a great value & great quality for what you get. Here are some highlights:
- the most accurate, definitive text to date
- re-scanned illustrations by Alan Lee, so that the artwork looks its very best
- a ribbon marker
- maps (with red ink used) on both endpapers (Middle-earth on one, and Rohan/Gondor/Mordor on the other)
- great quality of paper (this is a great factor, considering that usually one-book editions of The Lord of the Rings may need to have font or paper quality slightly sacrificed in order to make everything fit into a single book. Though that's not the case with this edition)
- the frontispiece of the Nazgul flying to Minas Tirith appears as a full-sized image in the form of a fold-out sheet

All in all it's a great edition, and the most cost effective way to get a copy of The Lord of the Rings in hardback. It may not EXACTLY go with other Tolkien hardbacks 100%, though it would still look great with them, including the collector's editions. This is due in part to it having some of the staples of a collector's edition. If buying for someone else, they'd be beyond thrilled to receive this. If it's for yourself, it's a great treasure.

Note: this edition comes with its own cardboard box. It has the ISBN and barcode on it as a sticker. These boxes were also used for the limited editions of The Children of Hurin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. It was most recently seen with the illustrated collector's edition of Unfinished Tales (and every collector's edition after that, starting with that book). If you're getting this to 'collect' then I'd advise keeping the box, due to it being 'original packaging'.

Recommended gifting method: under the tree (with the cardboard brown box - if supplied. SOME retailers may discard it)




UNFINISHED TALES (illustrated edition)

ISBN: 9780008387952

​This year's 'main Tolkien book' is the new illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales, published to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Design-wise, it matches perfectly with this year's The Hobbit + The Lord of the Rings illustrated hardback boxed set, and looks great with the great tales books, as well. It looks great with any Tolkien hardback, really, but those ones especially.

The front of the dusjacket, depicts Alan Lee's rendering of Numenorean ships. This image does not appear in the book itself, much like the front and rear dustjacket images for The Silmarillion (1998 illustrated hardback). It features both the maps of Beleriand and Middle-earth on the endpapers. It uses blue ink in spots, much like how the new illustrated Hobbit of this year used green, and The Lord of the Rings with red.

Lots of great artwork by Ted Nasmith, Alan Lee and John Howe, including one of my favourites, 'The Blue Wizards Journeying East' by Ted Nasmith.

While nothing is confirmed, it's possible that Sept-Nov of 2021, there will be a paperback edition. This will be good news for those that collect the 2008 illustrated paperbacks of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, but missed out on Unfinished Tales from 2010. So if you're after a copy of Unfinished Tales to go with the other illustrated paperbacks, wait it out. It's also possible that this year's new illustrated hardback editions of The Hobbit + The Lord of the Rings may find their way to paperback: either by the 2008 editions being re-published, or a 'new' book (different cover and ISBN than the 2008 ones).

Recommended gifting method: under the tree


Narn I Chîn Húrin

THE CHILDREN OF HURIN ('basic' paperback)

ISBN: 9780007597338

Note: the other great tales, Beren and Luthien and The Fall of Gondolin don't (yet?) exist in this style.

A budget-friendly way to read The Children of Hurin. It features pencil sketches throughout by Alan Lee (he also designed the helm used as the cover) but not his colour illustrations. Goes with most Tolkien paperbacks.

Recommended gifting method: as a stocking stuffer, or under the tree


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THE CHILDREN OF HURIN (Collector's Edition)

ISBN:
9780618904419

This is for someone really special - or if you're feeling extra generous! The Children of Hurin is already on this list, though I wanted to post something that would appeal to collectors, as well as those who shop various marketplaces.

This edition of The Children of Hurin is out of print, hence the marketplace mention. It is the Houghton Mifflin edition - the HarperCollins collector's edition is still in print.

This is also one of the two collector's editions to get a 'mirrored' publication: the other was The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun, which only got one printing. Sigurd & Gudrun was also the last collector's edition to this date by Houghton Mifflin.
So this item on my list is a sort of collector's item because of that.

Other collector's editions offered by Houghton Mifflin are quite different from their HarperCollins counterparts - for instance, compare both of their collector's editions of The Lord of the Rings 50th anniversary edition. It can be found on Abebooks, eBay, and likely can be found on Amazon US - though not sold by Amazon themselves, due to it being out of print. 

Recommended gifting method: under the tree


Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas » MercatorNet


LETTERS FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS (various editions)

Finally, we come to Letters From Father Christmas, a great Christmas tradition, including those by Tolkien fans.

There a few different editions available right now, so I won't spotlight any particular edition. Presently, there is:
- a paperback
- a hardback
- a new, over-sized hardback
- collector's edition
- audiobook (CD and digital)

That being said,
the ISBN of the latest edition is 9780008406844. Any edition published after 2004/2005 is relatively complete - the collector's edition and this year's over-sized hardback bring a few extra things to the table, but the core of the book has remained pretty much the same with editions from 2004/2005 to present. (If you happen to own or find an older edition, that is completely fine - I was talking about completeness in terms of what's presently in print.)

The reading by Sir Derek Jacobi is not to be missed - he does a terrific reading as Father Christmas.

In short, I wanted to showcase certain editions of Tolkien's works. No matter who would receive any of these, I'm sure that they will be very well-received.

The Silmarillion Illustrated Edition Unveiled

 

The new illustrated edition (to match with this year's previous illustrated editions) has officially been announced! I'm going to copy+paste the announcement, and then the product description. At the end, I'll share some thoughts pertaining to artwork.

From the official (UK) Tolkien facebook page:
"We are delighted to unveil the cover of the new illustrated edition of The Silmarillion, featuring a dramatic painting by Ted Nasmith depicting the fall of Númenor. This new edition will be published in March 2021 in time for Tolkien Reading Day and will feature new paintings appearing here for the first time.

Published originally in 1977, The Silmarillion represented, as Christopher Tolkien wrote on the dustjacket copy to the first edition, ‘the central stock of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginative writing, a work that he could not publish in his lifetime because it grew with him. Its origins stretch back sixty years…’

Incredible to consider now, but that sixty-year span leads back to the mud and the trenches and carnage of the battlefields of the First World War, where J.R.R. Tolkien served with distinction in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He fought at the Battle of the Somme but was invalided home on 8 November of 1916, and it was while recovering in hospital that he started to write, filling battered schoolbooks with hastily written pencilled tales. Out of the darkness and horror he had experienced would arise the light and beauty of the Book of Lost Tales, early forms of the myths that would evolve into The Silmarillion.

Christopher Tolkien was born in November 1924, just six years after his father’s release from the bondage of battle, and it is fitting in this month of Thanksgiving and of Christopher’s birth to reflect anew upon the unique and peerless contribution that he has given the world.
For Christopher’s entire life, his father’s legendarium had been an essential part of his world. He himself said: ‘As strange as it may seem, I grew up in the world he created. For me, the cities of The Silmarillion are more real than Babylon.’ And as Tolkien realized that he would not personally be able to bring his life’s work to a publishable conclusion he and Christopher discussed in close detail how this might eventually be achieved. Christopher diligently followed his father’s wishes and The Silmarillion was published in 1977, just four years after his father’s death. It was an international bestseller, and was critically acclaimed around the world, hailed as ‘a creation of singular beauty’ (Washington Post) and ‘at times rises to the greatness of true myth’ (Financial Times).

This landmark literary achievement would for many be the culmination of a life, but for Christopher it marked just the beginning. In his preface to Beren and Lúthien, he remarks that ‘he then spent several years investigating the earlier history of The Silmarillion… It is done partly for my own satisfaction in getting things right, and because I wanted to know how the whole conception did in reality evolve from the earliest origins…’ There, in that statement, is the singular, wonderful essence of the man who found unceasing delight in his father’s literary creation; both a scholar who placed the highest demands on the rigor of his research and a romantic who found endless joy travelling through the tales of Valinor and Middle-earth.

He would continue his quiet, scholarly endeavours for the next four decades, producing many further volumes that have enriched our understanding of Middle-earth, from his monumental 12-volume History (which would evolve from that towering History of The Silmarillion) through to the three books that would be the capstone to his literary achievement: The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin.

He would write in the preface to The Fall of Gondolin: ‘Looking back over my work, now concluded after some forty years, I believe that my underlying purpose was at least in part to try to give more prominence to the nature of “The Silmarillion” and its vital existence in relation to The Lord of the Rings.’

With the publication of this new edition of The Silmarillion we have an opportunity to marvel anew at the literary brilliance of both Tolkiens, father and son. Out of the darkness of war, J.R.R. Tolkien brought forth the shining jewels that are the tales of The Silmarillion, and thanks to the tireless devotion of Christopher Tolkien these tales and many more will light our imaginations for ever."

And, for the product description:

"Including brand-new paintings, this is a fully illustrated new edition of the forerunner to The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion fills in the background which lies behind the more popular work, and gives the earlier history of Middle-earth, introducing some of the key characters.

The Silmarillion is the core of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginative writing, a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth, through the Second Age and the rise of Sauron, to the end of the War of the Ring.

They are set in an age when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-earth, and the Elves made war upon him in his impenetrable fortress in Angband for the recovery of the Silmarils, three jewels containing the last remaining pure light of Valinor, seized by Morgoth and set in his iron crown.

Accompanying these tales are several shorter works. The Ainulindalë is a myth of the Creation and in the Valaquenta the nature and powers of the gods is described. The Akallabêth recounts the downfall of the great island kingdom of Númenor at the end of the Second Age and Of the Rings of Power tells of the great events at the end of the Third Age, as told in The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien could not publish The Silmarillion in his lifetime, as it grew with him, so he would leave it to his son, Christopher, to edit the work from many manuscripts and bring his father’s great vision to publishable form, so completing the literary achievement of a lifetime. This special edition presents anew this seminal first step towards mapping out the posthumous publishing of Middle-earth, and the beginning of an illustrious forty years and more than twenty books celebrating his father’s legacy.

Also included is a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien written in 1951 which provides a brilliant exposition of the earlier Ages, and almost 50 full-colour paintings by Ted Nasmith, including some which appear here for the first time."

The ISBN for the standard edition (more info on the collector's edition once there's more info) is 9780008433949.

I'm curious as to which images this one will include. Would it be a replication of '08 paperback, but in the hardback format? Also, this looks to be a very indicator as to what the 2022 calendar will be.

In the past, whenever a new (or new edition) Middle-earth book is published, especially if it has a collector's edition (The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien and The Fall of Gondolin are some such examples) odds are very high that the following year's calendar will be themed around it. Those three examples are concrete evidence of that.

Going back on topic with regards to the illustrations though, here are some others that haven't yet appeared in an edition. Some were done after 2004, and others have been done from before the first illustrated edition in 1998 came out!

- Lake Halevorn: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/lake-helevorn/
- Turgon at Fingolfin’s Cairn: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/turgon-at-fingolfins-cairn/
- Taniquetil: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/taniquetil/
- Annuminas: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/annuminas/
-Luthien: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/luthien/
- Tuor Reaches the Hidden City of Gondolin: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/tuor-reaches-the-hidden-city-of-gondolin/
- Morgoth and the High King of Noldor: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/morgoth-and-the-high-king-of-noldor/
- Eärendil Searches Tirion: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/earendil-searches-tirion/
- Lúthien Escapes the Treehouse: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/luthien-escapes-the-treehouse/
- The Slaying of Glaurung: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/the-slaying-of-glaurung/
- The Incoming Sea at the Rainbow Cleft: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/the-incoming-sea-at-the-rainbow-cleft/
- Fingon and Gothmog: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/fingon-and-gothmog/
- Aulë and the Seven Fathers: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/aule-and-the-seven-fathers/
- The Nauglamir: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/the-nauglamir/
- Aredhel, the White Lady: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/aredhel-the-white-lady/
- Tuor at Vinyamar: https://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/tuor-at-vinyamar/


November 5, 2020

Speculation/Wishful Thinking: Christmas Eve and Other Stories 25th Anniversary

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October 15, 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of Christmas Eve and Other Stories, which was the first instalment in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (T-S O) Christmas Trilogy. It continued on with The Christmas Attic in 1998, and concluded with The Lost Christmas Eve in 2004. The Christmas/winter theme that T-S O has become known for, was revisited in 2012 with Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night), which I like to think of as an 'epilogue.' There have also been a few compilations, such as The Ghosts of Christmas Eve and Tales of Winter.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the Christmas T-S O tradition, I have a great idea for a vinyl set.

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It would be modelled after The Christmas Trilogy CD+DVD set, in a similar way that The Lord of the Rings complete recordings trilogy on vinyl was replicated from the original CD+DVD sets. The latest, best mixes and remastering would be used for 180g vinyl for all three albums. There's a few different routes the look and feel of the set's design can take.

The first, would be to repackage The Christmas Trilogy CD set in vinyl format, which would most likely be 6 LPs (2 per album), as well as the large book (excluding material pertaining to DVD from the original set). Christmas Eve and Other Stories would contain 'O' Holy Night' and 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' at the end of the album. The Christmas Attic would contain both 'The World that She Sees' and 'The World that He Sees'. The Lost Christmas Eve would not have the narration. If it did, it would probably be 4 LPs, as the narrated set on CD was 2 discs. The LP's could be numbered 1-6.    

The other, would be to have the three albums have their own dedicated gatefold packaging, and slide into a box bearing The Christmas Trilogy artwork. Each album would have its own book, as opposed to the big large one. This would depend on if T-S O and/or their record company would like to be have the three available separately. For this set, each LP would be named 1-2, sides A - D. More separate, in other words.

It would also be great to have all the Christmas-themed artwork that Hildebrandt had created to be included as art prints, including artwork from tours. For instance, there's two covers that could be chosen for The Christmas Attic: the original one, or the one used for the anniversary edition. All of this artwork could be included either as prints, or as imagery integrated (and expanding) the booklet.

The boxed set could also include another LP or two (depending on how much space the music would take up.) The first bonus content could be Dreams of Fireflies (which might take up an entire side of a vinyl....), as well as the bonus tracks that have appeared on a few versions of Christmas Eve and Other Stories. They are: "Whoville Medley (Perfect Christmas Night/Grinch)", and other goodies such as 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' w/ Jewel, and 'O' Holy Night' w/ Michael Crawford. If Dream of Fireflies does fit onto a single side, perhaps those extra tracks I've mentioned could appear on the other side. This would make the 6 LP set into possibly a 7 or even 8 LP set, which may be too costly to produce and sell.

I believe this would be a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beginning of a Yuletide tradition, especially considering that Christmas Eve and Other Stories and The Lost Christmas Eve aren't available on vinyl. Including Dreams of Fireflies would also be very welcome.

No matter what T-S O and/or the record label has planned, I look forward to seeing how the anniversary will be celebrated.


November 4, 2020

The Silmarillion Illustrated Edition

Taniquetil

It has recently been revealed that there are two listing for forthcoming illustrated editions of The Silmarillion: a standard hardback and a collector's edition.

Both are due out March 18, and their ISBNs are:

Standard edition:
9780008433949

Collector's Edition:
9780008433956

Expect it to be in the format and style as the illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales.

However, there's already been three illustrated editions! All by Ted Nasmith. So which one will this new edition be 'modelled' after? Here they all are:

1998:




The artwork included is:


(front cover) Maglor casts a Silmaril into the Sea
The Sea
The Lamps of the Valar
At Lake Cuivienen
The Light of the Valinor on the Western Sea
Fingolfin Leads the host Across the Helcaraxre 
The First Dawn of the Sun
Maedhros's Rescue From Thangorodrim
Eoel Welcomes Aredhel
Felagund Among Beor's Men
By Moonlight in Neldoreth Forest
Luthien Escapes Upon Huan
Morgoth Punishes Hurin
Turin and his band are led to Amon Rudh
Finduilas is Led past Turin at the Sack of Nargothrond
Ulmo Appears before Tuor
Earendil the Mariner
The Eagles of Manwe
The Ships of the Faithful
(back cover) Beren and Luthien are flown to safety)


2004:


The Sea
The Lamp of the Valar
Aule Prepares to Destroy His Children
At Lake Cuivien
The Light of the Valinor on the Western Sea
The Ships of the Teleri Drawn by Swans
The Kinslaying of Alqualonde
Fingolfin Leads the Host Across the Helacraxe
The First Dawn of the Sun
The Burning of the Ships (also used on spine)
Maedhros' Rescue From Thangorodrim
The Gates of Sirion
Eol Welcomes Aredhel
Eol is Led to the Walls
Felagund among Beor's Men
Fingolfin's Wrath
The Orc-Host is Ambushed in Brethil
Tarn Aeluin
By Moonlight in Neldoreth Forest
Luthien Escapes Upon Huan
Transformd
Beren ad Luthien are Carried to Safety
Huan's Leap
Morgoth Punishes Hurin
The Hill of Slain
Saeros' Fatal Leap
Turin and His Band Are Led to Amon Rudh
Beleg is Slain
Turin Bears Gwindor to Safety
Finduilas is Led past Turin at the Sack of Nargothrond
Turin Reaches the Abandoned Homestead
Up the Rainy Stair (also used as back cover)
Hurin Finds Morwen
Tuor Follows the Swans to Vinyamar
Ulmo Appears before Tuor
Tuor and Voronwe see Turin at the Pools of Ivrin
The Escape From Gondolin (Flight of the Doomed on Ted's website)
Maglor Casts a Silmaril into the Sea
Earendil the Mariner
White Shaps From Valinor (also used on front cover)
The eagles of Manwe
Tar-Miriel and the Great Wave
The Ships of the Faithful
The Forging of the One
The White Tree


2008:



The Sea
The Light of the Valinor on the Western Sea
Fingolfin Leads the host Across the Helcaraxre
The Burning of the Ships
The Gates of Sirion
The Orc-Host is Ambushed in Brethil
By Moonlight in Neldoreth Forest
Luthien Escapes Upon Huan
The Hill of Slain
Turin and his band are led to Amon Rudh
Turin Reaches the Abandoned Homestead
Up the Rainy stair
Tuor Follows the swans to Vinyamar
Tuor and Voronwe see Turin at the Pools of Ivrin
White Ships to Valinor
The Ships of the Faithful  (also used on front cover and spine)

However, there are also some images that haven't appeared in any illustrated edition yet. They are:

Luthien
Tuor Reaches the Hidden City of Gondolin
Morgoth and the High King of Noldor
Earendil Searches Tirion
Luthien Escapes the Treehouse
The Slaying of Glaurung
The Incoming Sea at the Rainbow Cleft
Fingon and Gothmog
Flight of the Doomed
Auel and the Seven Fathers
The Nauglamir
Tinuviel Reborn
Lake Helevorn
Aredhel, the White Lady
Tuor at Vinyamar

Lake Helevorn

So it'll be interesting to see more details about the book: namely, what the collector's edition would include, the cover for the standard edition, as well as what images are inside.

October 30, 2020

2022 Tolkien Calendar Speculation: A Middle-earth Traveller

 

Aside from thinking about and speculating which Tolkien books are coming out next year (whether they be completely new or new editions of existing work), I also ponder what the calendar will be: who the artist is, what the 'theme' is, and which (if any) book it's related to.

If not for the illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales that had come out this year, I was willing to bet that the calendar would be themed after John Howe's most recent (English! and Tolkien!) art book called A Middle-earth Traveller.



I'm standing firm by that for the 2022 calendar. It's not exactly known when Prime's Middle-earth series is set to debut; though John Howe is the lead conceptual artist on the project. Making the calendar for that year be based off his book would generate (more) interest in Howe's artwork, as well as the Prime series because of it.



Alan Lee has two art books out, for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which also got calendars themed after them. John Howe's latest art book hasn't been seen in calendar form yet. That could be another reason why A Middle-earth Traveller could be selected.

Even though it's a few years off ,the 2009 calendar was based off the 2004 illustrated edition of The Silmarillion, for example, it's the perfect time to do it.




It is also not yet known what the 'big' Tolkien book will be in 2021, for the calendar to follow. By 'big Tolkien book' I am referring to it coming out in standard hardback, collector's edition, and having a calendar related to it for the following year. If there isn't anything that would be appealing for the sake of a calendar, then A Middle-earth Traveller could fill that spot.



There are also a decent selection of colour images in the book which could work out for each month of the year. For the most part, these images aren't labelled, so I'm describing what they depict Some notable examples for contenders are:

- the new image of Gandalf, which is the cover of A Middle-earth Traveller could be used as the cover of the calendar itself, and appear inside for one of the months.
- A Hobbit's Dwelling (Bag End). Not a new image but, one in the book that could be used
- Rhosgobel, because it's always neat to see various artwork of it
- Fleeing from Shelob, specifically for October
- Taniquetil, another sight that's always worth seeing
- Gandalf and Bilbo with an Eagle (Gwahir?) standing at the edge of the eyrie
- The Lonely Mountain ("I want to see mountains again.....mountains, Gandalf!")
- The Long Lake
- Glaurung (death of Glaurung? The one of him breathing fire), not a new image, but a great depiction of a dragon. Dragons are John Howe at his very best
- The Woodland Realm (two images on the same page can be used)
- Angmar, as I've always loved to see the North depicted
- Gundabad, because a) it's in the North (see above) and b) because John Howe also specializes in sinister fortresses
- The Sea of Rhun, there are two images on the same page that could be used
- the image of the Nazgul flying away from Barad-dur, which was first seen in The Art of The Return of the King
- Lonely Capes & Wild Shores chapter 13 image at the top
- Cape Forrostar, as you can never get enough Numenor. This image would tie into the Prime series perfectly



It's also entirely possible that some images that don't appear within A Middle-earth Traveller itself could be added to the calendar, such as Smaug the Golden, Edoras, The Argonath, Smaug Over Esgaroth, to name a few 'calendar-worthy' images. After all, Ted Nasmith's depiction of Taniquetil appears in the 2021 calendar, which is themed after the illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales, however that image does not appear in the book.



John Howe is one my favourite Tolkien artists, along with Ted Nasmith and Alan Lee. Who I like 'best' depends on the image, really. For the time being, there isn't a 'calendar-worthy' Tolkien book coming out in 2021, combined with the fact that Howe is involved with the Prime series would make his art book a great contender for the 2022 calendar.

October 8, 2020

The Lord of the Rings 4K Gift Set Pre-order

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At long last, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy arrives on 4K!

The set that this blog post is about features theatrical and extended editions of the trilogy (though no special features, more on that later) and the gift set features nicer packaging, and a replica of The One Ring (unsure who by at this point).

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While the set is in 4K, and features Dolby Atmos, these films will likely - this is, as of now, unconfirmed - feature the same transfer that the blu-ray editions did. In 2021, there's going to be a new restoration/remaster, and that set will likely included special features discs. Expect that to be out for the 20th anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring at the very latest.

The set I'm discussing in this post, though, is due to be out this December. It's targeted at those who want the films on 4K, and don't care for special features or bonus material.

If you would like more info, I'd like to direct to TheOneRing.Net's announcement: https://www.theonering.net/torwp/2020/10/07/108839-uhd-4k-lotr-and-hobbit-announced-a-special-message-from-sean-astin/

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The 4K gift set can be pre-ordered through Amazon US right here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08JBB1VZR?pf_rd_r=8BR5CAZNY427XZHC59DW&pf_rd_p=6fc81c8c-2a38-41c6-a68a-f78c79e7253f&fbclid=IwAR1VXZspfocny6S8rKDf8Ohbq5xGxfd6ABpZAKPcC4Pwj7C1Xek_DUhs1cs