J. R. R. Tolkien, Author , as broadcast on NPR. High Bridge $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56511-551-4

Between the film release of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, this is the season of the magical movie, and this audiobook is an inevitable spinoff. Countless readers have grown up on the adventures of the little furry hobbits who crave good food and a warm bed, but wind up trapped in caves, attacked by spiders and burdened by a dizzying assortment of treacherous adventures. While the stories are quite intricate, the message of good triumphing over evil is always evident. This appealing theme of the downtrodden overcoming obstacles is what keeps listeners' attention. There is so much action on this dramatization that listeners may often feel pulled in many directions. The narrators, including Ray Reinhardt as Bilbo and Bernard Mayes as Gandalf, are engaging, and the sound effects (including noises in the cave or forest, or the hobbits sitting down to a meal) are also quite strong. But those not already familiar with the story may find it difficult to distinguish between the various characters or keep track of all the action. Listeners will probably want to read the book along with listening, or perhaps listen and then watch the movie. The tapes are presented in a rustic-looking wooden box, making this appropriate for gift giving. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2001
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