Some of Tolkien's early drawings seem positively amateurish, but I find many of the finished pieces simply breathtaking in their beauty. This book demonstrates that the painstaking care he put into his writing applied equally well to his artwork. Since maps play a large role in creating the scope of Tolkien's Middle Earth, it's gratifying to see their development here, as his skills improved and his story concepts changed or expanded.
Being a publication design nerd, I especially appreciated the attention paid by the text - and by Tolkien himself - to even the smallest things, like the decorative elements embossed on the hardcover.
This book may have been timed to coincide with the release of the upcoming motion picture, but this is no quickie tie-in product. It's a substantial volume in its own right.
The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
144 pages, $40.00