This sumptuously illustrated coffee-table volume follows the pattern of last year’s Visual Companion to The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. When, presumably, the third Visual Companion is published next year to mark the release of the third film, The Return of the King, the three identical format books will provide a harmonious colourful and fitting souvenir.
Like the Fellowship of the Ring visual companion the new book is structured with the main characters and events in the story introduced across double page spreads, so that they can be referred to individually as well as reading the book from end to end. This concept has limitations - a lot of material is inefficiently repetitive. But the book does give a flavour of the story without revealing too much detail.
There are more than 100 full colour photographs beautifully reproduced, many of them large and dramatic. There is also a useful map of Rohan and Gondor. An impressive double sheet pull-out carries a huge annotated illustration of the climactic Battle of Helm’s Deep which is sure to be very helpful in fully comprehending its development both after watching the film and reading Tolkien’s novel.
A rather heavy-handed introduction from Viggo Mortensen, who plays Aragorn, is also included - and an Introduction that reminds one of the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. Recommended.