A Middle-Earth Traveller: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor by John Howe

When it comes to the visual interpretations Middle-Earth, there are three artists whom I rank as personal favorites.  First, there is Tolkien himself, whose illustrations accompanied the original editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  And then there is Alan Lee and John Howe, whose magnificent illustrations informed Peter Jackson’s cinematic versions of these stories.  Sadly, my personal Middle-Earth library did not have a book dedicated to Howe’s work… until now.

A Middle-Earth Traveller features the pencil sketches and paintings from Howe’s concept art for the films alongside his pre-existing Middle-Earth work.  And best of all, it also contains dozens of new art exclusive to this book.

Specific characters, races, houses, towns, cities, citadels, monuments, iconography, creatures, weapons, musical instruments… virtually anything that could give Tolkien’s realm a visual identity is presented here, encompassing the original books, the films, and even The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.

If you’re familiar with Howe’s work, you already know this is an embarrassment of riches, lush in detail, epic in scope, at once familiar and otherworldly.

It’s inadequate to say just how awestruck I am by a collected portfolio like this.  Books like this are, for me, a never-ending source of inspiration, a direct connection that instantly recalls entire stories, transporting me to Tolkien’s realm just as quickly as the professor’s own words.  I don’t know of any higher praise I could offer.  If you’re a fan, you need this book in your life.

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