This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is horses, so I’ve chosen Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. Obviously I was spoilt for choice, so I picked a couple of covers because they featured horses and the rest of my selection are covers I particularly liked.
This cover produced by Houghton Mifflin Company in June 2001 is one of a number generated in the wake of the films. While most film-of-the-book covers tend to fall short, I think most of the covers for LOTR work really well – and this is no exception. The horse and mysterious cloaked rider outlined in the odd lighting that falls somewhere between daylight and night really evokes the otherworldly and sense of danger I recall feeling when first reading the book another lifetime ago.
This centenary edition, produced in 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is clearly special. What caught my eye is the illustration on the front. Initially I assumed this was another cover generated by the movie – until I realised that it was released a decade before the film… I love this one – particularly the runic detail and the cool font. A pity about that ugly blue box, though.
Published in 2001 by Harper Collins, this is another film tie-in cover. I also like this one – the horses galloping in a posse provide plenty of movement and drama and the red lettering of the font provides a pleasing contrast. It’s not my favourite, but there’s nothing to hate about it either.
Produced in June 2005, by Mariner Books, I had initially assumed this was a much older edition as it harks back to the feel and look of much earlier covers, which I think is a smart move. It may well have used one of the earlier covers, but I couldn’t find it elsewhere on what was – admittedly – a fairly cursory search. Again, this one caught my eye as I love the artwork and overall design.
Published in May 1978 from Unwin Paperbacks, this is something of a curiosity – as the film they are talking about clearly isn’t the franchise we all know and love. I like the impact the drama of the ringwraiths galloping towards us, but as ever, I deeply dislike the horrible text box plonked right in the middle of the action.
This cover is included because it is the one we used to own before Himself loved it to death. It features Gandulf in a dramatic pose without some of the epic backdrops we have become used to seeing with the film tie-ins. I like how the title and author have been handled and think the dark green is attractive – it’s certainly an easy book to spot around the house. What about you – which is your favourite?
Ooh I thought one but then I have three, but I think ultimately I’d trade my horses for a Gandelf 🙂
Hm… the wizard over the horses, eh? Wise choice:))
Gosh, I can only imagine how many different covers you had to choose from this week, with LOTR! The one I own isn’t shown here, but it’s a film-centric cover, with Elijah Wood (Frodo) holding Sting for the first time in Rivendell.
As for which one I’d choose from this bunch… I’m tempted to go with the HMC and Harper Collins covers from 2001, because of the creepy vibe from the Ringwraiths. But I like the final one with Gandalf, too.
Yes – the choice was a bit overwhelming… But it did give me the chance to cherrypick my favourites:)
The 1978 film was the Ralph Bakshi cartoon. It only covered “The Fellowship of the Ring” and the planned sequels were never filmed, due to disappointing box office.
Yes – I think I have seen it, but for some reasons didn’t line that up in my head with ‘film’. Thank you for the information:)
Hmm, I have to go with the second- I enjoy Alan Lee’s work illustrating Tolkien’s world. (We have a hardcover set of the three volumes with his paintings which we found for a steal- love em!) The Gandalf one is striking too. I wonder if the ‘film’ mentioned for the Unwin edition is the animated version- it was…an experience 🙂
Wow – that sounds amazing:). Oh – it hadn’t occurred to me they meant the cartoon, which yes… I have seen.
The second one does have a really nice illustration with some great detail. I like the last two as well. But you’re right, they keep ruining covers with big boxes around the text!
It is a real shame, isn’t it?
The second one, definitely. I love painted covers, and the artist for one is clearly VERY skilled!
Yes – it was the amazing artwork that drew me to this one.
I love the second and the last covers. Both lovely.
I enjoyed picking through the selection and finding my favourites, including a couple of horse ones:)
I have watched the movies, but haven’t read the books yet. I only had seen the dutch covers before I think. The dark green one at the bottom does look great. But the first one looks great too and I like how they both emphasize another part of the story.
There is a real spread of different covers – over 300 for the single volume, alone… The books have dated somewhat, but I’ve been reading The Hobbit to my small grandson and they do hold up surprisingly well.
I like the first cover best but that third one grabs me too.
Yes – I agree that the film tie-in covers are really strong with this particular series.
I like all of them, just the text boxes as you already mentioned are out of place. I guess they were in style in the 1970-80’s 🙂
Yes, they certainly seem to have been part of cover-style throughout the last century. Sadly…
Bugger! I was looking for the cover my dad had, and the one I now have somewhere. It’s a paperback from the 60s, and is filled with that curious pulp-style of stark color contrasts and landscapes without depth, if that makes sense.
Yes… well there are 300+ to choose from:). I just picked my favourites, but I didn’t go all that far back chronologically.
LOL! What do you mean? There’s more than three cover designs for this low-key, not-at-all-well-known tome? 😛
I know! Isn’t it a shocker??
I agree that the first one is very nice… for a film cover. 😉 I love the details in the second one and from the selection here I’d say this one is my favorite.
Yes – the artwork and the detail do make it special, don’t they?