There has just been released a very beautifully slipcased audio book collection, which includes The Hobbit, tolkien's magical prelude to Lord of the Rings, and all three volumes of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
The slipcase features original cover art by John Howe, the world reknowned leading Tolkien illustrator and conceptual artist on Peter Jackson's film version of the trilogy. He is now working on the Hobbit movies.
The audio books are a republishing of the acclaimed American productions, broadcast on National Public Radio in 1979 — fully dramatized, complete with music and sound effects, and digitally remastered. It was originally produced by The Mind's Eye and has since been made available by several different companies, like Soundelux and most recently by Highbridge.
Radio drama was a rarity in the United States at that time, and this production was very popular at the time of its broadcast. It was later overshadowed by the BBC radio dramatisations, by which it is sometimes confused.
The cast included Ray Reinhardt (Bilbo), James Arrington (Frodo), Pat Franklyn (Merry), Mac McCaddon (Pippin), Lou Bliss (Sam), Bernard Mayes (Gandalf), Gail Chugg (Narrator), Bernard Mayes (Tom Bombadil), and Tom Luce (Strider/Aragorn). Additionally, Franklyn, McCaddon, Chugg , Reinhardt, Bob Lewis, John Vickery, Erik Bauersfeld and Carl Hague were credited for "additional voices".
The radio script was written by Bernard Mayes as an abridged version of the book. It emphasised dialogue over description. The budget was small and production time was limited. The cast were local theatre players, and the effects were homemade. The script is notable for including the Tom Bombadil scenes, unlike most other adaptations of the book.
This dramatization has been broadcast by hundreds of radio stations and will soon turn out to be one of the most popular boxed sets. The art by John Howe really makes it stand out a lot.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Read by ensemble cast
The original American full dramatization as broadcast on NPR of The Hobbit can also be bought seperately, if you do not desire to buy the complete set. With the Hobbit movies coming up this dramatization will turn proof very succesful, especially since the package has been so well designed.
Bilbo Baggins, a gentle hobbit who loves the comforts of home, reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a journey to recover plundered gold from a fierce dragon. It's a tale of high adventure and astonishing courage—and a magical prelude to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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