It has been fifty years since the Professor sailed into the West, and the Tolkienverse is still thriving. Which is great news for any who wish to pass along the passion as part of their holiday gift-giving, or perhaps pass along that personal hint to your favorite Father Christmas. It’s time for the OneRing staff to gather our collective guidance and bring you our annual Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: the Middle-earth Edition! We’ve pored over a lengthy lineup, narrowing our recommendations down to twelve, one for each day that you and your true love may be mingling under the proverbial pear tree. May you find your Arkenstone somewhere on the list!

For book lovers
  1. Let’s start with something to warm every book purist’s heart: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition. This is probably the consensus number one pick across all of our TORn staff Fellowship. Just released on November 14, and available broadly from your favorite source for books, this updated edition sees Humphrey Carpenter going back to his original typescripts and notes, restoring more than 150 letters that were excised from the 1981 edition to achieve what was then deemed a “publishable length.” Fortunately our appetite continues to grow for more content on Tolkien and his world in general, and especially commentary on his writings. Anyone for an expanded “Letter 131”, hearing more about a plot summary of the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, or getting Tolkien’s vision for publishing his “Tales of the Three Ages”?

2. Our senior staff member greendragon tends to split her time between America and her home in Scotland, which also boasts one of her favorite sources for unique and beautiful Tolkien-themed gifts: Oscha Slings. And Oscha has just released a number of new items on their website. greendragon enthuses: “In past years, I’ve picked one of their shawls and a throw as gifts; this year, however, I’m excited because their clothing line is back!  The Oscha Wear range includes t-shirts, hoodies, and more, in a variety of sizes and styles – and there is even a range of baby grows! Oscha’s woven pieces are incredible, and are an investment; but now you can add some of their stunning designs to your wardrobe at a lower price point. T-shirts for all the Middle-earth fans in your life this holiday season!  (If you ARE up for splurging, to treat yourself or that special someone, check out Oscha’s new Imladris design. I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor, after seeing this…)” And don’t forget to check out their Middle-earth Mug collection!


3. It’s the 20th anniversary of The Return of the King! We’ve even got some staffers – such as deej and Madeye Gamgee – heading to the Land of the Long White Cloud next month in search of Kiwi celebrations. But those are a bit tough to fit into a stocking. No fear! New Zealand Post has once again got you covered. Having already marked the last two years with commemorative collectibles celebrating The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, they’re now ready to help you complete the set! Check out some amazing RotK pieces – coins, stamps and pins – that will put you in the mood to celebrate the Days of the King!  Beautiful stamps show images from the final movie in the trilogy, complete with ‘hidden messages’ – an iconic line from the film hidden in each design. Or along with some of us staffers, you might prefer to receive for the holiday season a set of the stunning coins. There are four in total, depicting Meduseld, Gondor, the Beacons, and Gandalf crowning Aragorn. They tie together beautifully as a set, and would be a wonderful addition to any collection. 

4. Staffer Justin has been enthusing lately about Wizards of the Coast’s entry into Middle-earth through its massively popular Magic: the Gathering line.  Last June the Wizards released a highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. For gamers, the “Universes Beyond” card set has integrated Magic’s deep and strategic game-play with settings from Middle-earth (and not just the movies). With the holidays upon us, November 3 saw a new release to expand the set, including a special collection of four Scene Boxes that portray iconic LotR moments, each scene combining six borderless cards that together create a large scene that you can display on the included easel. New booster packs offer the chance to score alternative art, courtesy of the classic 70’s era Hildebrandt brothers, or some very funky “poster art” cards that have some of us humming The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as we open our boosters.  Fun!

5. The OneRing’s “Collecting the Precious” champion, Elessar, has passed along a couple of favorite gift-giving treasure troves, starting with our friends at Weta Workshop. Weta has been prolific with a host of new offerings aligned with the 20th anniversary of the PJ films, and you can find an array of figures, environments, prop replicas, t-shirts, art posters, etc. on their site. Elessar has highlighted a collection of them designed to fit many budgets, from new entries in Weta’s mini-epic and mini-statue lines like the King of the Dead, Sauron and Treebeard; to additions to their classic figures like a stunning Gondorian Fountain Guard; all the way to the threatening new environment, The Black Gate. Plus, Weta typically offers some great Black Friday promotions, so keep an eye out!


6. Elessar has also had his eye on a growing list of companies offering new Lord of the Rings lines, like Diamond Select Toys. You’ll find dioramas (like Aragorn), a collection of blind box mini-figures, and action figures galore (like a Nazgûl) on their site. Plus they have some terrific new offerings that you can pre-order now for delivery in early 2024. (I would be remiss should I fail to mention my man Sam in that lineup.)

7. Judging from our social media feeds as well as our own obsessions on the OneRing staff, Rivendell has been a glorious new addition to the Lego Lord of the Rings universe. Boasting 3 stunning sections, 15 mini-figures, and over 6,000 pieces, you’ll need (and want) to find a generous space in your home to keep Elrond and company on permanent display. Bonus points for any who add on one of the special lighting kits available from multiple vendors like Lighttailing and Light My Bricks.

8. It’s back to the books for Madeye Gamgee, this time with a glorious new edition of The Hobbit. Published in September, the book features over 50 sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The additional art pieces from the author – although exhibited and published elsewhere – have never appeared within the pages of the book itself. You can find the hardback edition broadly, or for a book this beautiful, you may want to splurge on the special deluxe boxed edition, which comes with two poster-size, fold-out maps revealing all the detail of Thror’s Map and Wilderland, an illustrated 88-page booklet, and a printed art card reproducing Tolkien’s original dust jacket painting.

9. Staffer Mithril has some kingly gifts to suggest. First up is the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck from Insight Editions.  Written by Casey Gilly and illustrated by Tomás Hijo, Mithril describes this as “like getting a mini gallery of art and a Palantír in a box.” It’s available at and on Amazon.  If you’re in the mood for some Middle-earth inspired ornamentation on a more standard card deck, take a spin over to the King’s Wild Project or Theory11 for some amazing embellishments for poker night.


10. Our friends at Badali Jewelry have expanded their licensed offerings to a multiverse of fandoms, but their Middle-earth collection has always been like the Three-Farthing Stone in the Shire: right at the center. Check out their array of offerings like the Arkenstone, Shieldmaiden earrings, or their Palantir Locket.  Staffer Mithril is a particular fan of their latest line of the Nine “Rings of Men”, with notable affection for the Ring of Númenor. Pick out your own Ring of Power! Captivate your friends! Watch out for shieldmaidens with swords!


11. Staffer Tanya keeps an eye out for sources of attire fit for hobbits, elves, Rohirrim, and  other Middle-earth denizens.  Three in particular have caught her eye and heart this year. She writes of Linennaive as offering “several options for Hobbit costuming, focusing on creating dresses using natural fibers. It currently has a Black Friday sale at its website, which assists with the slightly higher pricing for quality work.” Next up is Holy Clothing, a regular shopping spot for my own Rosie. Tanya writes that they’re “an ethical clothing brand out of Asia that pays their tailors fair wages, and gives 15% of their profits to charities. They have dresses named ‘Arwen,’ ‘Eowyn,’ and ‘Tauriel,’ and I admit I am eyeing up this excellent cloak for my own Christmas list.”  The final entry on Tanya’s shopping list is Scarlet Darkness: “they have a variety of extremely affordable outfit options that are still perfectly acceptable at, say, a congregation of Elves at DragonCon, or your local renfest. (I might have used this site for DragonCon myself!) The pricing is very fair, and the quality holds up through all your Hobbit parties or journeys into the west.”  Another clothing site option you may want to check out comes from Mithril: Her Universe, which has a new line of Middle-earth fashion.  “Their clothes have great details and are always high quality and comfy to wear. Check out this Fellowship Cardigan. With both front and back filled with LotR graphics, it would be great for cozying up by the hearth in style.”

Her Universe Galadriel dress

12. Rounding out our “Durin’s Dozen” in this Holiday treasure trove is a unique gift spotted by one of our OneRing founders, Calisuri: a set of four pewter shot glasses each attired as one of our favorite hobbits!  From Nemesis Now, and available from a number of sources, including Walmart and Amazon, the glasses come in an attractive gift box. And while they won’t hold a full pint, you still might consider getting one!

13. Ok fine. How about a “Barliman’s Dozen” then. We’ll add one more bonus entry to this year’s list, particularly fit for any fan with knitting needle facility: The Fellowship of the Knits book. Who couldn’t use a handy set of “Watchful Eye” mittens this winter? Or a “You Shawl Not Pass”? Thanks again to Mithril for the suggestion – it might be worth learning to knit!

We’re just skimming the surface, folks. You can also check out an array of additional options for the Silmarillion-smitten loved ones in your life, from next year’s classic Tolkien calendars to art prints by TORn’s good friends Jay Johnstone, Donato Giancola, Justin Gerard, Jerry Vandersteldt, Jenny Dolfen, and the CaveGeek. The Shire Post Mint has a whimsical collection of coins from all across Middle-earth, and the Hero’s Armory is your source for some very stylish Middle-earth fashion, from socks to neckties to cufflinks and tie clips. You may just want to soak in the bath with a rubber duck version of your favorite LotR hero (or villain) from TUBBZ. Our friends at Sideshow and Asmus boast some terrific Middle-earth offerings, and you can even find some versions for your littlest Tolkien fans-in-training from the Fisher-Price Little People Collection. Or why not launch out into the artist and maker world of Etsy – who knows what you might discover? Maybe a set of silverware with engraved LotR quotes? Or a One Fire Ring to Rule them All?

Happy hunting, and happiest of holidays from all your friends at!

First published in 1981 and now expanded with more than 150 new letters, excerpts and additional notes, this new edition of the oft-cited book, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, gives fans and scholars a deeper insight into the man behind The Lord of the Rings.

Get the new updated edition at your favourite bookstore or online (Amazon).

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, first edited by Humphrey Carpenter with assistance from Christopher Tolkien, is the definitive source of Tolkien’s personal writings. If you have ever seen a quotation cited from “Letter 131” it’s a reference to the numbering of this book. Some call it a biblical bibliography of Tolkien. In this new edition the numbering remains the same, with additional content added in context via a “203a… 203b…” system. Several letters have expanded, with the 8+ page Letter 131 now 40% longer from its originally edited form.

We learned on the podcast this week how these letters continue to be discovered, with some fetching over $100,000 at auction in recent years. Tolkien was prolific in his communications to fans and family over his lifetime. In one series of letters, he talks about the wonderful quality of storyboards presented in a film pitch meeting – drawings by Ron Cobb who went on to design Star Wars, Alien and Back to the Future.

The following is extracted from a much longer (and more collector-focused) review at which also includes a PDF tracking all the changes big and small in this new 2023 edition.

From The Tolkien Collector’s Guide Review

Review by onthetrail, Mr. Underhill, Urulókë and Trotter

This edition will give fans of J.R.R. Tolkien a greater understanding of his family life, his work, and his secondary world.

We see the first change come in the June 1925 letter to the “Electors of the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford” but it is not until January 1934 in a letter to his son John, at that time a 16-year-old pupil of the Oratory School in Berkshire, that we see the first new letter.

We notice very quickly that early letters are sadly not found here and Humphrey Carpenter in his introduction to the original edition says that “among the omissions is the very large body of letters he wrote between 1913 and 1918 to Edith Bratt, who was his fiancee and then his wife; these are highly personal in character, and from them I have chosen only a few passages which refer to writings in which Tolkien was engaged at the time” so omitting those early, private letters shouldn’t be too surprising, and that attitude still holds.

This new edition allows us to see the editorship of Humphrey Carpenter, with Christopher Tolkien’s assistance, in a brand-new light. Originally, the book was far more general, and generous with the inclusion of many excerpts which show J.R.R. Tolkien’s love and concern toward his sons who were either engaged in battle or training to be during WW2. With enlightening passages to Christopher Tolkien, we witness J.R.R. Tolkien talking openly about the horrors of war, and the impact on those involved. The published edition was cut down, as said already, but only with this new edition do we see how Humphrey Carpenter did not simply reduce it for size, but also for thematic purposes. If the original edition is a letters volume which focuses mostly on J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagined writing, this new edition gives us the filling, it shows us the backdrop to it all and offers more on J.R.R. Tolkien’s routines around his working and home life. We see J.R.R. Tolkien exchanging with his sons now at school and what comes across is more of the concerned father, it exemplifies (if one needed any such confirmation) the relationship he shared with his boys and the concern for their education, life choices, financial matters, and love. With open and honest assessments of the relationships his sons were beginning to experience, J.R.R. Tolkien’s role as a father is brought into sharper focus.

The more astute reader among us will read some newly published excerpts and know that they have read portions or all of the quotes previously in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, and this is true, not every new passage found here is truly new, but they are reunited with topically connected letters and offer us yet more glimpses into J.R.R. Tolkien’s life. There are of course still treasures to be found among the details found in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, and readers should use the two books side-by-side to explore further.

We learn more of the work that J.R.R. Tolkien put into The Hobbit through his letters to his publisher and being able to read what J.R.R. Tolkien was sending to George Allen & Unwin. But we also see some stories about his family life, and how his children were very much his children. For example, you will learn that Priscilla Tolkien could “take any amount of dragon, and a reasonable dose of goblin; but we recently had to change all the handles on the chest-of-drawers in her room, because the former handles ‘grinned at her’, even in the dark.”

In November 1937 we get the first bulky new letter – sent to his friend E. V. Gordon. We learn more about Gordon’s Pearl and Tolkien’s role in the creation of this book, which would not be published until long after E.V. Gordon’s untimely death.

The revisions and additions in this new edition gives a greater insight into J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and allows us to find out more about the mind and thinking of the Professor. These letters are of great use to general readers and J.R.R. Tolkien researchers when looking for answers in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.

During the late 1930s and through the war years of the early to mid 1940s, Tolkien wrote to his sons a lot, and this volume has a healthy group of excerpts, mostly to Christopher Tolkien and we witness the closeness of the two. That Christopher Tolkien became his father’s literary executor is no accident. These letters demonstrate further how essential Christopher Tolkien was to his father’s creative endeavors.

Our first glimpse of 1951 is where the new edition really pays off. J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous letter #131 to Milton Waldman (of Collins) has always been a favorite among readers, but now, we see just how potent this letter is. The original was always known to be longer, and the portion which dealt with The Lord of the Rings was wisely not included. Now the two pieces are reunited, as we now know was Humphrey Carpenter’s original intent. But there is more! A portion which we do not believe to have been known is included at the conclusion and it is J.R.R. Tolkien’s “proposed for publication” list which is a wonderful gift to those interested in how Tolkien saw his writing, and what he believed was important for publication.

After that we learn more on proofs of The Lord of the Rings, the artwork for it and the pressures of Tolkien’s life at that time. Still a busy academic, he now faced increased demands from those interested in adapting his work and the new selections provided highlight that fact further.

For the next decade of his life, J.R.R. Tolkien would spend his time on revisions, dealing with piracy and how he will enlist fans’ help in informing people of its harm to his financial welfare, adaptations, translated editions of his work, academia, and all manner of other responsibilities which would keep him from completing his epic work on The Silmarillion. We can understand through these letters more than ever just how much J.R.R. Tolkien had on his plate. But also we can deduce that J.R.R. Tolkien would flit from one project to another. He would decide that Sir Gawain must be dealt with, only for him to delay it to complete the Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien was nothing if not an expert excuse maker and those who love his excuses need not worry, there are plenty of new additions here to keep fans happy.

From Letter 131, which is 40 per cent longer in the new edition. Previously edited for space.

And this carries us through the book to its end. It gives us new details on a myriad of subjects. We learn more about J.R.R. Tolkien’s professional relationships and his family, his losses, and his achievements which make him a house-hold name. This edition shows more keenly the shifting of time and with it we see both his and Edith Tolkien’s health decline far more closely than in the original edition.

The Index at the back of the book, compiled and revised for this edition by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, is comprehensive and does allow for easy retrieval of a letter based on subject. 

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded edition is a welcome addition to Tolkien studies, for both readers and researchers and it is to Humphrey Carpenter’s credit that this volume can stand on its own as a monumental work, but it also makes the original a more impressive read because we can now see how the editor shaped and crafted it into an absorbing work.

A volume like this can be a curse and a wonderful gift all at the same time, and it delivers both in equal measure, especially for those who hold J.R.R. Tolkien, Edith Tolkien, and their family in their hearts. We meet these people again through this expanded selection of letters, and it is brought home to this reader that they have all passed into the West and we are given these new memories to remember them by. The new book is an essential addition to your Tolkien library, as it supersedes the earlier edition.

Read the entire collector-focused review over at the Tolkien Guide.

More Context and Perspectives joined TORn Tuesday show for a 2-hour deep dive on the biggest changes and most enlightening additions to the book.