Books by Alan Lee

THE FALL OF GONDOLIN by J.R.R. Tolkien
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 30, 2018

"This gorgeous novel is a must for more than just Tolkien fanatics."
Christopher Tolkien presents the final piece in a trilogy of Middle-earth stories his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, did not live to see published. Read full book review >
BEREN AND LÚTHIEN by J.R.R. Tolkien
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2017

"The story has it all: swords, sorcery, and pure and undying love. (Excellent illustrations, too.) Essential grounding for an epic cycle that shows no signs of ending anytime soon."
Frodo-heads rejoice: from the Tolkien factory comes a foundational story a century in the making, one yarn to rule them all. Read full book review >
SHAPESHIFTERS by Adrian Mitchell
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Percy Jackson & Co. have aroused an interest in Classical (Greek and Roman) mythology, making this collection especially timely. In this marvelous re-creation of myth from Ovid, the late Mitchell has rewritten them, as he says in the introduction, "to make them more like themselves." The language is simple and contemporary, moving from rhyme to free verse to prose and back again. The words are marvelously apropos, describing Bacchus as "all belly and beard" or rhyming "transmogrifications" with "grasshopperations." All of these stories explore mystery: the origins of flowers, mountains, lakes. Pygmalion, Persephone, Midas and Arachne all appear here. The gods, being lusty and capricious sorts, are allowed the freedom of their appetites. Lee, famed illustrator of Middle Earth, makes men and women, gods and beasts, sea, sky and leaf shimmer on the page. The last image is of a broken helmet and columned ruin next to an open book nestled in a profusion of wildflowers, elegantly echoing (Echo is here, too) the closing lines, "my words will live / while people love them." (dramatis personae, notes, pronunciation guide) (Mythology. 12 & up)Read full book review >
THE CHILDREN OF HÚRIN by J.R.R. Tolkien
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: April 17, 2007

"A fine addition to a deservedly well-loved body of work."
All your old T-shirts and bumper stickers inscribed "Frodo Lives" may have to be replaced. Read full book review >
THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS by Rosemary Sutcliff
Released: June 1, 1996

In this sequel to Black Ships Before Troy (1993), Sutcliff and Lee dig into Homer's Odyssey, with happy results. Among the volume's virtues is Sutcliff's text, which preserves a certain formality of language, yet remains accessible for the target audience. She does an especially graceful job of winnowing the windy Telemachus section down to its essential elements. All the important episodes are retained; further, the telling makes clear some details that are often vague in other versions. The second major virtue comes through Lee's spectacular paintings, which match and illuminate the text. Beautiful and detailed, with occasional gory bits to draw in readers (and an exposed breast, on the sleeping Princess Nausicaa), the pictures are obviously the result of careful research and reward close scrutiny. A gorgeous book, more than worthy of its predecessor. (Folklore. 10+)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Among the late author's finest books are renditions of the Arthurian legend; to this re-creation of the classic epic, she brought the same compelling vision and sensitivity to language, history, and heroics. Beginning with Discord's apple, inscribed "To the fairest" (it set off the competition among goddesses that led to Paris's abduction of Helen), she centers on Achilles and Hector while also recounting such significant events as Paris and Menelaus' single combat (inconclusive because Aphrodite meddles, as gods frequently do here), the funeral games honoring Patroclus, the Amazons' death in battle, and Odysseus' devious exploits. Described in vivid, exquisitely cadenced prose, both sides behave with nobility, though Sutcliff's Trojan War also involves atrocity (Hector's body dragged by Achilles' chariot), posturing, loss, and despair. After ten years, the remaining Greeks—with Helen, willingly restored to a husband whose first impulse is to kill her, plus the captive royal Trojan women—set sail for home, leaving Troy in flames; and though Sutcliff has focused on their honor and courage, she ensures that it's the ironic futility of their venture that lingers in the mind. Lee's subtly muted watercolors, on most spreads, surpass even his fine illustrations for Merlin Dreams (1988). Carefully researched, delicately detailed, rich in character and action, they beautifully evoke the setting and heroic ambience. A splendid offering, bringing the ancient tale to new and vibrant life. (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
THE MOON'S REVENGE by Joan Aiken
Released: Nov. 1, 1987

In a lengthy, fantastical tale for middle grades presented as a picture book, Aiken employs familiar folkloric motifs. Seventh son of a seventh son, Sep longs to be a violinist and gets his wish by following mysterious advice that emanates from the family clock: he throws seven shoes at the moon. But there's a price: the moon, angered by its dirty face, wills him shoeless for seven yeats; worse, his baby sister is born dumb. As the years pass, Sep finds his violin can charm such perils as a mad dog; when a fearsome dragon appears, his playing succeeds in diminishing it into oblivion, and the spell is broken. Aiken's pungent prose serves her odd, derivative tale fairly well, though it lacks both the humor and the eerie sensibility she has achieved so well elsewhere; Lee's illustrations are satisfyingly evocative of the dragon and a rocky coast that might be Cornwall once upon a time (he's especially proficient at portraying a misty distance or the inner surface of a giant wave); but although their content draws the reader in, their composition and hues lack interest. An attractive book that promises more depth than it delivers. Read full book review >