Middle-earth Envisioned Book Review

MEEnvIf there’s one franchise that certainly hasn’t suffered from a lack of attention over the past decade, it’s J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The trilogy of films, released in 2001-2003, garnered critical acclaim and won over audiences worldwide. With Peter Jackson at the helm, tales of Middle-earth and the battle for the One Ring were beyond anything anyone had ever seen on screen before. Years later, we are now coming up to the second movie in another trilogy – this time covering the prequel book The Hobbit. Still wowing cinema-goers all over the world, Tolkien’s tales manage to capture the hearts of millions decades after they were originally published.

With the Extended Editions of the movies available on DVD and Blu-ray, Jackson focused on documenting every step of his journey through Middle-earth. No movie series has ever been covered in such a way, and fans have been treated to an overly-extensive recollection of all things Tolkien. Not only documentaries and featurettes, but numerous books on the processes of movie making and the analysis of the original source material. Just when you think you’ve seen it all and more, along comes Paul Simpson and Brian J. Robb to prove us all wrong once again.

Middle-earth Envisioned is a stunning analysis of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings ‘on screen, on stage and beyond.’ Through history to the present day, this hardcover book shows the influence of Tolkien’s realm on an artistic level, whether that be photos, paintings, the movies or even video games. The number of adaptations and pieces related to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is nothing short of incredible, and all of the best are featured here in a glorious colourful presentation.

Whether you’re a Tolkienite or simply a casual fan, there is genuinely something for everyone here. Even the best educated who have sat through every special feature known to man will find something new in this book, especially as Mary Fairburn’s lost art appears here for the first time in print. Fairburn was an English schoolteacher whose paintings of The Lord of the Rings were favoured by Tolkien himself, and it’s not hard to see why. They bring Middle-earth to life and it’s clear to see how so many artists and others have been greatly inspired by the world of Hobbits and more.

Regarding the extensive focus of Jackson on his movies – this isn’t something that is simply repeated here. The authors do acknowledge their existence but clearly know that there are other mediums available that cover the movies in far greater depth than they ever could. Instead we’re treated to a wider view of Tolkien’s works and how they have been interpreted in various fashions. Over the 216 pages, we are taken through a journey from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings historically through TV, audio and stage adaptations. Each version comes with its own artistic interpretation, especially the comics and games – the former being heavily artist-based while the latter relying on gamer imagination. Beyond the obvious, we are treated to artwork and musical influences as well, where Tolkien’s work stretches far beyond anything you could ever imagine.


The popularity of Tolkien’s stories is nothing short of astonishing and certainly looks to continue for many years going forward. Middle-earth Envisioned is a perfect way to celebrate the world that he created and the magic that has spread around the world in various forms. Simpson and Robb have encapsulated everything that makes Middle-earth so magical with a book of true celebration that will sit proudly on any bookshelf. This is a book that has had as much love and enthusiasm put into it as Tolkien put into creating his masterpieces.

Middle-earth Envisioned is available now from Race Point Publishing.

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