Mae govannen, dear readers. It may come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that we are being gifted an edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that contains J.R.R. Tolkien’s artwork for the first time. A kingly gift indeed.
Houghton Mifflin Court and HarperCollins announced last Thursday that a special edition of LOTR is being released this October, and it will feature Tolkien illustrated scenes throughout the book. We’ve gotten a taste of Tolkien’s artwork before, as other editions contain the map of Middle Earth he created, as well as his renderings of the Doors of Durin and Balin’s Tomb in The Fellowship of the Ring, and other LOTR-adjacent publications have contained more of Tolkien’s illustrations, but never compiled into the trilogy itself.
The new edition will have two options: the regular edition with 30 of Tolkien’s illustrations and a special edition that also includes a slipcase and fold-out maps.
This is an absolute treat for LOTR and Tolkien fans, and in honor of such a cool collectible arriving soon, I thought I’d highlight other pretty rad Lord of the Rings special edition sets that are available.
This paperback version, which gives you the bonus of The Hobbit to round out the series, was published in 2012 by Mariner Books, and features really lovely minimalist cover designs.
This mini paperback set is just the right size to fit in a bag and carry LOTR with you for a reread, and also includes The Hobbit. Published in 2014 and clocking in at a hand-sized six inches, it’s a nice little edition leatherette-bound in the warm colors of Rivendell in the fall.
HarperCollins released this Diamond Anniversary edition in 2014, and it features Tolkien’s gorgeous dust-jacket designs that he crafted in the 1950s, but were never used. This also includes The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, an annotated guide to the series. The spines of these books are simply *chef’s kiss*
This elegantly bound edition only just came out last year, and also includes The Hobbit. This set stands out because its full page illustrations are done in watercolor by Alan Lee, the conceptual designer on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films. Feast your eyes on the seventy pages of watercolor illustrations that really bring Tolkien’s world to life.
I think we can safely say this edition has the most epic book spine design. Juniper Books created the Sauron’s eye-inspired illustrations, and you can order it in either black or white. The series also includes a fold-out map of Middle Earth.
Juniper Books strikes again with this complete Tolkien set, which includes the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion, all wrapped up in custom-made jackets the color of Greenwood the Great in spring, before the shadow came and it was thus renamed Mirkwood. This set also includes a fold-out map of Middle Earth, and would look absolutely gorgeous on any bookshelf.
The Folio Society edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy comes with a stunning slipcase and covers designed by Francis Mosley, which look like dwarvish art designs you’d find in Moria when the kingdom was thriving. It contains 67 black and white illustrations courtesy of Ingahild Grathmer and Eric Fraser, and printed map endpapers. I am absolutely in love with the illustrations in this one.
This edition has it all: Not only do you get the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it also comes with The Hobbit and The Silmarillion to complete your collection. These leather-bound beauties boast gilded pages, satin ribbon page markers, and frontispiece art by Michael Hague, and would look right at home in the libraries of Gondor.
For more Tolkien nerdiness, check out our LOTR Archives!