Posted January 2, 2014 by Amy in Books

Middle-earth Envisioned (Book) Review


Tolkien fans, rejoice! This is your one-stop look into all things Middle-earth.

Rarely are books so loved by so many. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have inspired love and creativity almost from the start, and continue to be favorites for screen, stage, and more to this day. From video games to tabletop setups, radio to comic books, everyone seems to want to put their stamp on Tolkien’s work. Middle-earth Envisioned is a sturdy hardcover volume that attempts to bring all of these tributes into one handy place.

The book begins with an introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien and some background on how the books finally made it to print, along with some really great photos of the author. A brief synopsis of The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers follows, giving those needing it a quick refresher on the story. Middle-earth Envisioned is separated into four parts – The Hobbit, The Lords of the Rings, Middle-earth on Film, and The Cultural Legacy. Each of these offer a fascinating look at how Tolkien’s works have been adapted in a variety of ways around the world.

The first two sections of the book, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, focus first on audio adaptations. While most of the first radio recordings of the books are no longer available (the custom at the time being not saving recordings), there is a lot of information on the many recordings that were made – both authorized and not. While the ways the many different adaptors used to condense such lengthy volumes into workable radio versions are quite interesting, what I found the most fascinating is the way Tolkien himself viewed how his works were presented. In addition to audio, these sections also cover television adaptations around the world, comic books, stage productions, and games (of both the video and board game varieties). While we all know how beloved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are, it is truly eye-opening to see how many different ways (and in different mediums) they have been adapted.

Part III in Middle-earth Envisioned is devoted to Middle-earth on Film. Naturally, the Peter Jackson’s epic films are a centerpiece, with artwork, stunning photographs, and behind the scenes information making you itch to get them out and watch them all over again. But there are also informative pieces on early attempts to adapt to film, as well as animated versions. Finally, we have the final section, which focuses on the cultural legacy of Middle-earth. From artwork and music to fan-spired film, Tolkien’s works have had a huge impact on many. Again, Tolkien himself and his reactions to early works are a big part of the appeal, but the full color (and often full page) illustrations and photographs in the book are awe-inspiring in their rites.

Middle-earth Envisioned is a must-have for Tolkien fans. Featuring adaptations of his works around the world, from radio and television, to comics, board games, video games, Legos, and more – this is a book that truly covers all things Middle-earth.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)