Well, the inevitable has happened. My paperback editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have finally worn out their usefulness. The Return of the King is missing (ironic, I know). The Fellowship of the Ring is falling apart, and the others aren’t far behind.
Which brings me to this dilemma: Which edition should I purchase as a replacement? I think I have it narrowed down to the following options:
- Boxed Set, illustrated by Alan Lee in 2002 — Of the boxed sets, this one looks like the best. I like Lee’s illustrations, and the reviews seem to indicate that, unlike many other gift sets, this one is a high quality printing that should hold up for many, MANY readings. The downside is that I haven’t (yet) found an edition of The Hobbit which matches it, and it’s pricier than most other editions.
- 50th Anniversary Edition (Hardcover) — As far as bells & whistles, this one seems to have it all. Fold out maps, the “Book of Mazarbul”, great looks… the edition was overseen by Christopher Tolkien, and is apparently the book his father wanted to publish, and would have if he’d had the capability 50 years ago. The downside here is that I often prefer to have multi-volume works like this broken down into individual books, as opposed to all-in-one.
- The Annotated Hobbit — I’ve heard from many that this is the very best edition of The Hobbit, and since neither of the above options include the LOTR prequel, I suppose I’m in the market…
- The last option is just to get another cheap set of paperbacks, with the assumption that my children (who am I kidding… I’ll be as guilty as anyone!) will wear them out like I did mine.
Forgive my nitpickiness, but this is an important decision! In many ways it’s like shopping for a Bible. There are so many options, but in the end, you really can’t go too wrong.
Speaking of comparisons with the Bible… I’m not sure how I feel about the official “Amazon.com Review” of The Lord of the Rings:
A Christian can almost be forgiven for not reading the Bible, but there’s no salvation for a fantasy fan who hasn’t read the gospel of the genre, J.R.R. Tolkien’s definitive three-book epic, the Lord of the Rings …
What say you, Tolkien fans? Have you read any of these editions? Which should I get?