One does not simply reread The Lord of the Rings... 

I'd treated myself to this box set quite some time ago, but after far too long a delay, I finally decided to start rereading this wonderful series at the start of the new year and have been making my way through it month by month.  

5/5 These incredible stories were well worth the purchase on their own, but this beautiful box set with intricate illustrations by the talented Alan Lee is one bookish purchase I have absolutely no regrets about splurging on. 
There's probably not all that much that hasn't already been said about these books. I guess I will just state that these stories are very special to me and it's taken me far too long to reread them. When I first read these back in High School, I fell in love instantly with The Hobbit and really enjoyed The Lord of The Rings, but I had to get used to how different it was from the Peter Jackson films and I was not prepared for the infamous Tom Bombadil. That said, these stories have stuck with me for a long time and I got so much more out of them upon a reread. The tender way that characters interact with each other, the cozy moments, the intricately crafted lore, the fascinating creatures/peoples of Middle Earth, the rich prose, and all the adventuring in between culminates into what I think is a truly unique and delightful experience. It's true that these books don't really have exciting battle sequences in the same way that the film adaptations or even more modern epic fantasy books do, but the way the conflicts are depicted was still better than I remembered it being. I do think it's important to go in with the lens that this is as much a piece of classical literature as it is a fantasy and it is foundational in many ways to fantasy as we know it today, but it also remains wholly unique in it's own way and I really don't think there will ever be anything written that's quite like it. 

The main reason I wanted to write a review is to specifically talk about the quality of this hardcover box set. To address the obvious, yes, this is a costly purchase. The way I justified things in my own head is that if you divide the cost by four different special edition hardcovers, then it wasn't such an unreasonable cost per book. I will also say that I have no buyer's remorse with this. Each of the books is well constructed with sturdy covers that sport a classically simple and understated design with the cover being a solid color and the title lettering set into it. The paper quality of the pages is amazing. The pages are so thick and the font/formatting is all very comfortably laid out. One of the main highlights of this edition is, of course, the illustrations done by Alan Lee. The Hobbit is easily the nicest of the books in terms of the number of images it contains. In addition to the variety of illustration plates that can be found across all of the titles, The Hobbit also includes a variety of pencil-style sketch illustrations that add a really nice extra layer of flare to the start or end of a chapter that I was a little sad didn't continue into The Lord of the Rings. I was glad that the style and subjects of the illustration weren't trying to be specifically reminiscent of the Jackson films. Instead, I felt like the art style was very appropriate to the overall feel of the prose and there are some absolutely breathtaking pieces, especially when it comes to the landscapes. Lee can do characters really well too, but I felt as though the environments were where he tended to shine. One complaint I do have with these books is that the publisher seemingly skimped on the material quality for the dust jackets. Personally, I typically take the jackets off when I'm reading just because I find them inconvenient, but for those that don't, you will definitely want to consider it if you end up getting this set. I didn't actually damage mine at all, but they felt flimsy to the touch and it almost seemed like the gorgeous designs were just printed on a regular sheet of paper as opposed to having some kind of lamination to strengthen it or just being printed on a better material. With the rest of the book construction being so wonderfully done, it's a shame this one detail wasn't handled a bit better. What I found to be surprisingly high quality though was the slip case that this set came in. It's made from sturdy materials and sources art from the beautiful jackets that wrap around the back and sides. 

If you are a fan of these books and have been looking for a nice edition to add to your collection, then this may well be the one for you, provided it's price tag doesn't break the bank. My experience reading through them was a delight and I am quite happy to have the set on my shelves. If you are new to the world of Tolkien, then these would certainly make for a luxurious first reading experience, but I'd never recommend anyone drop this kind of money on something they haven't read or aren't guaranteed to love. 

(+) Price point is high, but not unreasonable on a book-by-book basis
(+) Thick paper and premium interior formatting
(+) A slipcase that is as sturdy as it is beautiful
(+) Gorgeous artwork on the dust jackets / slip case, book plates, and the sketches that The Hobbit contains
(+) A classic story that means a lot to me and was even more enjoyable upon a reread
(-) Flimsy dust jackets should have been made out of better materials


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