|Tolkien's World: The Paintings of Middle Earth|
|summary||Paintings and images of Middle Earth|
Tolkien's World, The Paintings of Middle Earth, coincides with the centenary of his birth. More than a dozen artists, already famous for their interpretations of Tolkien landscapes, some newcomers to the trilogy, have created more than 50 paintings published therein ($15 from Harper Collins).
The full-page images are all illustrated with text from Tolkien's works, and they bring the stories to life in a way that is sometimes dark, sometimes lively, usually haunting. The book is clearly organized -- text on the left, painting on the right.
At the end, the artists -- they are from all over the world -- explain their interpretations and drawings and where applicable, their personal experiences with the trilogy. For a Tolkien afficionado, it's immensely satisfying to match your own imagination against those of artists like Michael Hague and Roger Garland. John Howe's "The Great Goblin" is amazing, and Inger Edelfelt has painted a stark, strange and simplistic "Gollum." As the Hobbit himself put it, "deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don't know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum -- as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face." There is more good writing in that paragraph than in plenty of fictional and mythological tales.
"Thorin, Prisoner of the Elves," "The Arkenstone," "Frodo and Gandalf." "The Haven of Morionde," "The Brandywine River " -- the collection will intrigue readers who want to prep for the movie, or newcomers who want a sense of what Tolkien's worlds might look like. It would also work beautifully for kids.
The art is uneven -- certain painters' images might not square with your own. But some, like Ted Nasmith's "Glittering Caves of Aglarond," or John Howe's "Gandalf," will make you want to frame them and hang them up. Tolkien's World is a first-rate creative achievement.