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The Hobbit: Location Guide and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Chronicles: Art And Design Book Reviews

The Hobbit- Location Guide Book The Hobbit- The Battle of the 5 Armies Chronicles- Art and Design Book

“The Hobbit: Location Guide” is a lovely travel guide.

“The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Chronicles: Art And Design” is more engaging than the movie.

Now that “The Hobbit” trilogy has wrapped up, Harper Design has released a couple more tie-in books with “The Hobbit: Location Guide” and “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Chronicles: Art And Design.” What are these books all about? Read on to find out.

For the past 3 years, Harper Design has been releasing “The Hobbit” tie-in books as part of their Chronicles series and the latest (and presumably last) in the line is the hardcover edition of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Chronicles: Art and Design.”  Written by Daniel Falconer once again, this book is packed to the gills with concept art (pencil, color, and digital art) and models of boats, characters, Smaug, Dol Guldur, costumes, Nazgul, The Necromancer, Erebor, Dwarf characters, weaponry, armour, orcs, creatures, treasures, city of Dale, Ravenhil, and Bag End. Additional content includes an intro by concept art director John Howe, a foreword by costume designer Bob Buck, a collectible art ad, a detachable Sauron cardboard poster at the back of the book, and hundreds of quotes by art directors, graphic artists, WETA Workshop designers, costume designers, and prop designers talking about creative intentions, design changes, Peter Jackson’s vision, and details about how certain items were created.

As with past releases, there is a staggering amount of detailed work throughout these pages. From the jaw droppingly stunning Lake-Town house models to the 2 page spread of orc designs (some of which would have been better than what we saw on screen), there’s no shortage of mindblowing artistry on display.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect here is comparing the book’s images to what we see on the screen. Like many folks out there, I viewed ‘Five Armies’ as a disappointment, but the book gives fans at look at what COULD have been. The darker Dol Guldur pieces, the cut Beorn bit, the alternate Galadriel costume and Goblin designs are particularly noteworthy here. In fact, a lot of the material here is distinctly more moody, vivid, and atmospheric than the final product. It’s because of these presented possibilities that this Chronicles book is far and away my favorite of the lot.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the “The Hobbit: Location Guide” book (or “The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy: Location Guide- Hobbiton, The Lonely Mountain and Beyond” if you prefer the full long title). Written by Ian Brodie, this particular book is not part of the Chronicles series. Instead, it’s essentially a small hardcover travel guide.

As most everyone knows by now, the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy were filmed in New Zealand. Year after year, many fans embark on a pilgrimage to the country to see famous film sights. In order to help tourists out, Brodie has crafted a handy guide to filming locations from “The Hobbit” trilogy.

The “Location Guide” primarily tackles the North and South Island locals including villages and geographical locations such as Aratiatia Rapids, Waitomo Caves, Wellington, Lake Wanaka, Milford Sound, and Dunedin. Each location contains breathtaking photos of the spot and a connected image from the film in addition to a detailed written blurb about the place.

Of course, this book isn’t entirely comprised of tour information and suggestions of places to scope out. Readers are also treated to a foreword by Peter Jackson (in which he chats about NZ, his parents, and nature), behind-the-scenes photos, film stills, writings from Jared Connon, Andy Serkis, Dan Hennah, and John Howe and stories about seeking out Middle Earth locations, sets and constructing Hobbiton.

Even if you never plan on traveling to NZ, “The Hobbit: Location Guide” is simply a well made travelogue that is filled with inspiring natural beauty. Virtually every page has a gorgeous view of a mountain, grassy landscape, or astonishingly beautiful waterfalls. On top of all of that, Brodie crams in an overwhelming amount of information about locations and information that is crucial for any LOTR/Hobbit fan wanting to take a dream vacation to “Middle Earth.”

Overall Thoughts: Despite how one may feel about “The Hobbit” trilogy as a whole, these two books are still superb companion pieces. Both releases are highly recommended.


February 5, 2015 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , , , ,

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