A Middle-earth Traveller by John Howe


Hello and welcome to Talking Tolkien. Today I’d like to look at a book that’s just arrived it’s been recently released
and the book itself we can see here it’s called A Middle-earth Traveller by John
Howe subtitled: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor. If you’ve not heard of John
Howe before, he did a lot of work on the Lord of the Rings films so it’s
quite a chunk of life from Lord of the Rings through to The Hobbit as well and he worked with Peter Jackson on those films doing a lot of concept art so let’s go
over that much time you’re going to build up quite a lot of of work so a lot
of its been seen throughout like in the making of the end the appendices you see on the
Lord of the Rings DVDs but there’s there’s a lot more and there’s other
work that he’s done as well that’s not directly related to those stories so
this book is a nice handy way to to get a lot of that work out and doing it in quite a
nice way as well so let’s have a look at the book itself. So if we take the dustjacket off the book the first thing you notice about this is obviously it
being an art book but how nice it looks how nice they art is as we can see there
the cover with Gandalf just a really nice looking book especially without
the text there. Then moving into the book we get a full introduction from John Howe
about how he came to the work on the Lord of the Rings films and his history
there and then we get a little prologue on where the music of the Ainur came from
which condenses a lot of the stuff that appears in The Silmarillion which is
really nice contextual information. Anyway here’s the contents page so you
can see exactly what’s in here so it does cover everything it’s not specific
to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings you do get stuff from The Silmarillion
and some of the other tales there: Nirnaeth Arnoediad and all that kind of fun stuff So if you’re not familiar with that it’s nice have a bit of extra stuff in here. The paintings themselves, the pictures are really good
you get a mixture of sketches and some full-colour artwork as well but it’s
predominate as you can see predominantly pictures… a lot of… there’s quite a bit of
text as well which summarizes what what it’s talking about which is good just
again for context but the pictures are well, it depends on what you like but
I think the pictures are really nice. I’ll just point out a couple of things
that I really like about the book here to give you a bit of a taste of what’s in here so here’s Melkor and Ungoliant… now
John Howe did a lot of work on the cover of the History of Middle-earth – the
paperback books – so it touched on a lot of stories that obviously won’t covered in
the Lord of the Rings so we can see Melkor and his style’s quite unique and I
think it’s become quite distinctive. Here’s a fun sketch called ‘The Istari’:
so this is showing when the five wizards arrived in Middle-earth so we’ve got the
three we know about: Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast, but there’s also the mysterious
two blue wizards there you can see at the back which next to nothing was
written about. Tolkien wrote that they went into the east and weren’t seen
again and he explained in Unfinished Tales was released that their names are
Alatar and Pallando; I think that was mentioned in a letter he wrote as
well but it’s not really been confirmed so… and that’s alluded to in the text
here as well so there we can see the Istari. Here’s the chapter ‘Lone Dwellings
and Wide Wanderings’, so in here mentions Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, now I don’t know if it’s just me but that picture of Tom Bombadil looks like someone very
familiar… And finally here’s the Battle of Unnumbered Tears mentioned
before: Nirnaeth Arnoediad, a really pivotal battle that’s referred to in The
Silmarillion but I guess because it’s not mentioned in Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit I guess it’s still not that widely known, but yeah it’s
an absolutely massive battle so it’s nice to see that mentioned in here as well.
So hopefully that’s given a little bit of insight into what the book itself is –
whether you want to buy it or not depends on how much you like the work of John Howe and how much you identify with the Peter Jackson films really but
I really like his work I think it’s a nice little companion to have.
Little snippets of information that are in there really nice as well and it’s good
contextual information about the story and where it fits in especially a lot of the
stuff that doesn’t actually fit into the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings. I’ve
always had a bit of a soft spot myself for John Howe’s work because he drew the illustration that’s on the front cover of the first Lord of the Rings novel that
I ever read years and years ago which was a really nice shot of Gandalf
walking across this Shire. So anyway I hope that’s been useful this has been ‘A
Middle-earth Traveller’ by John Howe available now from HarperCollins. Apart from that, this has been Talking Tolkien thankyou very much for watching!

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