Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Books expand 'Fellowship of the Ring'

If today's video release can't satisfy fans' appetites, these titles might help

By Margaret A. McGurk mmcgurk@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Today's video/DVD release of The Fellowship of the Ring promises to re-fuel the passions of fans who can barely wait for the Dec. 18 opening of The Two Towers, the second film based on J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Ring trilogy.

        The enormous success of the first film, which took in $860 million worldwide at the box office, has meant a flurry of new books (many from longtime Tolkien publisher Houghton Mifflin) about the movie and the extraordinary writer who inspired it. Fans hungry for more than a DVD player can deliver may prefer to slake their thirst for all things Tolkien with books ranging from glossy photo collections to philosophical essays.

        Among the most popular titles:

        • The Art of Fellowship of the Ringby Gary Russell, (Houghton Mifflin; $35). An oversize book with an exhaustive look at the creatures, backgrounds and everyday objects of Middle-earth seen in the film, as designed by hundreds of artists, including the famous Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe. Director Peter Jackson, along with his special effects staff, art directors and costume designer contributed.

        • The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley, (Houghton Mifflin; $24.95). Copious photos decorate this detailed report on the movie production, including cast and crew biographies, and the history of the project as it moved through various studios and various concepts, the creation of its extraordinary special effects and the actual live filming.

        • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Insiders' Guide by Brian Sibley (Houghton Mifflin Co; $6.95). Aimed at younger readers, this is a trove of color photos of the cast, sets and costumes in the film, along with an overview on the long, complex journey from novel to film.

    Next up on the red-hot DVD event calendar is Nov. 12, the newly announced release date for the home version of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.
    The two-disc set will include a wealth of extra features on the George Lucas production, which was created entirely via digital means — commentaries by Mr. Lucas and his key specialists, eight deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, plus three documentaries on various aspects of production as well as the entire 12-part Web series Making Episode II.
    Full details are available at www.starwars.com.
        • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion by Jude Fisher (Houghton Mifflin; $19.95). This large-format, richly illustrated book serves as an encyclopedia-like reference to Tolkien's characters and Middle-earth locations, complete with a foldout map of Middle-earth illustrated with movie shots.

        • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Photo Guide (Houghton Mifflin; $9.95). This is a children's book with limited text but plenty of oversized photos of the movie's characters.

        • Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards: Exploring the Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings by Michael N. Stanton (Palgrave Macmillan; $19.95). This fascinating discussion of the Ring trilogy is written by an academic expert on Tolkien's work, but framed in lively, readable language.

        • Finding God in The Lord of the Rings by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware (Tyndale House; $12.99). Tolkien's Christian faith influenced his work profoundly, and religious imagery runs throughout the Ring trilogy. Chapter by chapter, this book explores Tolkien's religious themes and references and relates them to specific Biblical sources.

        • Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings by Mark Eddy Smith (Intervarsity Press; $11). A fan shares his sophisticated personal sense of the values expressed by Tolkien in a book aimed at fellow enthusiasts.

        • Atlas of Middle Earth (Mariner; $24) A new revision updates and expands the original 1981 book by professional geographer and cartographer Karen Wynn Fonstad, who mapped Middle-earth in meticulous detail. For instance, the book describes the route and timing of every important journey in the Ring series. Specialized maps describe war history, climate, geology and languages, among other topics.

        • Greg and Tim Hildebrandt: The Tolkien Years (Watson-Guptill; $24.95). Summarized — with rich illustrations — the Ring-related work of the Hildenbrandt twins who designed three calendars in the 1970s that are among the most cherished Tolkien keepsakes. It includes never-published images, including privately commissioned works, plus sketches and rejected designs.

        • Meditations on Middle Earth,edited by Karen Haber (St. Martin's Press; $24.95). Science-fiction, fantasy and pop writers including Ursula K. Le Guin, Harry Turtledove, Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin, Poul Anderson and Orson Scott Card contribute essays on how Tolkien influenced them.

        • Tolkien: A Celebration: Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy edited by Joseph Pearce (Ignatius Press; $12.95). This collection of scholarly essays and memoires features a variety of writers, including some who were personal friends of Tolkien.

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