For the true Lord of the Rings fan, simply owning one version of Tolkien’s books is not enough. With The Hobbit published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings published in 1954, a great many editions have been published. The number of sales are quite impressive as well: over 100 million books have been sold. Those seeking some of the very first editions pay a hefty price (how’s 3000 quid for a 1937 Hobbit edition?), but luckily there are also some more recent publications that are absolutely stunning and a bit easier on your purse. Going into one of my book-seeking frenzies, I’ve listed some of the most gorgeous covers of The Lord of the Rings.
1. Tolkien’s Own Designs
Over the years Tolkien’s very own cover designs have been used for countless editions; some of which have been listed below. One of the more interesting editions using Tolkien’s original drawings marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. Tolkien’s illustrations have been transformed into a more modern artwork, giving them a nice and simple look, while still providing us a glimpse into the world as J.R.R. Tolkien imagined it himself.
2. All three Lord of the Rings parts in one
A widely sold edition including, once again one of Tolkien’s original drawings for the book cover. It is the very edition I own myself. The 2009 Harper Collins red cover with golden letters is simple and elegant and has simultaneously been one of the more affordable options for readers of the series.
At the very beginning of the book you will find a map that transports you into Middle Earth.
3. Pocket boxed set by Houghton Mifflin
If you wish for something neat and tidy and easy to carry around, the boxed set by Houghton Mifflin seems like a good fit.
Not only are they practical if you want to take them on your commute, but they are also quite stunning. The different hues of brown really do complement each other and there’s something to say for not having this single hefty book to carry around.
4. Sleek black boxed set
Lord of the Rings, especially nearing the end, is a dark and gruesome tale of many hardships. The coal black editions published in 2008 by HarperCollins translates it wonderfully.
The books include three maps and one of the nice details is the Elfish on the box sleeve as well as the top of the spines. Another positive is that it is again one of the more affordable options.
5. One volume hardback with illustrations by Alan Lee
This, I have to say, is one of my personal favourites as it differs so much from the other editions. Stepping away from Tolkien’s designs, Alan Lee brings a beautiful illustration that captures the magical world of The Lord of the Rings. With a bright blue spine, golden letters and a transparent slipcase, this edition is definitely one for the collectors.
But that’s just speaking of its exterior beauty. Taking a look inside there are three maps, one of the Shire, Middle Earth and one more specific map of Rohan, Gondor and Mordor. Even more, there’s a painting by Alan Lee of a Nazgûl flying out on a Fellbeast. It should not come as a surprise that this book was published to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings in 2014. It celebrated it wonderfully, wouldn’t you say?
6. Deluxe brown hardback
If you enjoy a good hardback, but aren’t too fond of the elaborate drawing and bright colours of Alan Lee, there’s another options that comes in a beautiful slip cover.
This edition includes two fold-out maps as well as unpublished family trees and an exact copy of the Book of Mazarbul pages, which are illustrations by Tolkien. Now I’m not as big of a Lord of the Rings nut that I know about these specific illustrations myself, but I’m always down for any gorgeous drawing that transport me into Middle Earth.
7. Classic Lord of the Rings book cover
Want to go classic? Look, we can’t all afford a first edition of The Lord of the Rings, but we can sure pretend we have one. This book cover features the dust-jacket design as crafted by Tolkien and as used on the very first edition.
Out of the three I have to hand it to the simplicity of the very first book The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s just something about that piercing eye of Sauron looking at you.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
Any Lord of the Rings editions that you particularly fancy? What edition do you own (now don’t go make me jealous with those original editions)?
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