I had been waiting rather impatiently since this book was first announced, 4 or 5 years ago. It has been promoted by the publishers as a " sumptuous, large-format" book featuring preparatory sketches and rejected drawings for the illustrated edition of " Lord of the Rings", in which Alan Lee's spectacular watercolors inspired Peter Jackson to hire him as conceptual artist for the film trilogy. His involvement with the films obviously held up work on putting the book together, and, in the meantime, the book took a turn in the direction of the film. The result is a mixture of sketches and drawings that were obviously meant as illustrations to the book, coupled with some designs for props, armor, etc from the film AND some drawings done on the New Zealand locations of a few of the actors in their rols ( MacKellan as Gandalf, Blanchett as Galadriel) and maybe even some drawn-from-life landscapes with additions to make them look like Middle-Earth scenery. An example of book illustration is the section devoted to Tom Bombadil and Goldberry; the pencil drawing of Tom's house is coupled with the watercolor developed from it for the book. But there are also drawings of Tom and two for Goldberry ! There are also some sketches for the unfilmed barrow-downs scene.
The big disappointment is the size. It's certainly not " large-format" at 8 x 10 inches, and it's hard for a book to be " sumptuous" when it's that puny ! Also, quite a few of the 20 " color plates" are merely black-and-white pencil drawings on tinted paper !
That said, the drawings ARE beautiful, and many of them have never been published. It certainly is a must for the Tolkien or Alan Lee fan.