Review: The Hobbit (Illustrated Edition) by J.R.R. Tolkien & Jemima Catlin


5 out of out 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw the email from the Tolkien Shop offering me a copy of this book, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been a fan of Tolkien’s work from a young age, and have been enviously eyeing up the various special editions of his works as they are released – and I certainly didn’t miss hearing about this one.

I’m not going to review the story of this book, because it’s hard to fairly review something you first read at the age of nine and have been in love with ever since. Instead, I want to talk about the illustrations in this book, how they fit into the story and the general quality of this edition.

hobbit illustrated 1

To start off, it looks absolutely stunning from the cover alone. A special cloth-bound edition, with gilded lettering and a gorgeous yet simple illustration, the colour scheme instantly appears very ‘hobbit-like’. And then you finally open the book itself, and it is an absolute delight. Many artists have illustrated works of Tolkien, both officially and unofficially, and Jemima Catlin really does his work justice. Her style is a little quirky, like Tolkien’s own writing, not too cartoon-like and not too realistic – making this edition perfect for both older and younger audiences. The larger text size also makes it a perfect edition for reading along with children, or perhaps for slightly older children to have a go at reading themselves.

The illustrations are also perfectly spread out, every couple of pages or so, plus full page inserts for big events like Bilbo and the dwarves stuck up in the trees, or Smaug attacking Laketown. The colour schemes are wonderful, with greys, greens and browns for the Company, and blues and purples appearing as we meet the elves. And then of course, as we meet Smaug, the palette explodes into a gorgeous array of reds, yellows and oranges.
Overall, this book is an absolutely stunning read – not just for the story (which I would give five stars anyway!) but Jemima Catlin’s illustrations which completely and utterly do the words of Tolkien justice, and deserve five stars in themselves. Plus, at this period in time where film-based Hobbit books are coming out left, right and centre, it’s refreshing to see an edition like this. I know that I will treasure this book for years to come, and would definitely recommend it to any Tolkien fan, young or old – and it will make a perfect gift for those hobbit lovers in your life.

 I could not be happier to have been kindly sent this book by the Tolkien Shop and HarperCollins – thank you once again to them for this wonderful chance!

hobbit illustrated 2

The photographs of the illustrations within the book are my own, but the illustrations themselves are copyright Jemima Catlin and HarperCollins. I had permission to use images from the book.

Promo + Mini Review: Wayland – The Tale of the Smith from the North by Tony Mitton and John Lawrence

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Just as the blurb says, this book is beautiful. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy by Random House, and as I do not feel I can write a properly detailed review on such a short book, I’m combining it with a promo post. The verse is stunning in itself, but combined with the gorgeous illustrations it really comes to life. For someone such as myself, who loves mythology and folklore, it would make a beautiful gift. I’d never heard the tale of Wayland before reading this – apparently it was brought to England by Vikings – and I hope that many others are exposed to the story through this book.
Honestly, the cover does not do the illustrations inside justice. John Lawrence is one of the leading wood-block engraving illustrators in the world and the exquisite illustrations within, which could tell a story all by themselves, reflect that.
Tony Mitton, who wrote the verse for the book, is an award-winning poet, and his words are the perfect combination with Lawrence’s artwork.

I would rate the book five out of five stars. Despite being short, it is wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated.

Still not convinced? Have some wise words from Philip Pullman:


“I’ve read nothing so enthralling for a long time. Tony Mitton’s verse rings with the power and clarity of an ancient ballad, and is perfectly matched by the force and splendour of John Lawrence’s illustrations… I think it’s a marvellous piece of work, and I’m sure anyone who reads it will agree.”


Wayland – The Tale of the Smith From the North is due for publication on September 5th 2013, published by David Fickling Books, and priced at £14.99.
Amazon |  Tony Mitton’s website | John Lawrence’s website