If you set out to design the most deluxe version of The Lord of the Rings books imaginable, I think you might end up close to The Folio Society’s latest edition. They’re hardback, obviously, and quarter bound in burgundy leather with silver page tops — the perfect accompaniment for an apartment that smells of rich mahogany.
Most importantly, however, they feature illustrations by Alan Lee, whose conceptual design work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films helped establish the visual style of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world on the big screen. His work on The Return of the King won him an Oscar in 2004 for Best Art Direction. Lee has contributed a preface to The Folio Society’s edition of these books and has hand-signed each of the 1,000 sets produced for this limited-edition run.
The Folio Society is well-known for producing lavish editions of popular titles, and past titles have included entries from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series (including its first entry, A Game of Thrones), a short story collection from Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.
The Folio Society’s luxurious books don’t come cheap, and its trilogy of Lord of the Rings titles will set you back £1,000 (about $1,500). And that’s if you’re even able to get these as part of their initial limited run. If you’re after something a little more affordable featuring Lee’s illustrations, then the artist’s illustrations have appeared in various editions of the books in the past, including this set from 2002, this one from 1991, and this more recent one from 2020.