The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad
I'll admit, it looks awesome. According to the reviews, it mostly talks about the Third Age, which is when Hobbit and Lord of the Rings took place. It also has some about the First and Second Ages, where Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales occurred. Mind you, I'm getting all this from reviews and the info on Amazon. There are regional maps (of the Shire, the Misty Mountains, Mordor, etc) and thematic maps (of the vegetation, climate, population, language spoken, etc). Now I really want to read it...and I'm in luck! Our library has it.
The Lord of the Rings Weapons and Warfare by Chris Smith and Christopher Lee
I'm just going to say it once more here. Everything that I'm saying is from either the reviews that others have left on Amazon, or from the product information there. Okay? So. Though I may tell it as truth, it's not from my personal experience. It has information about the Lord of the Rings characters, and even a little history from before the trilogy! I'm presuming this is probably before The Hobbit too. It does indeed appear to be written from a military perspective (duh, take a peek at the title), but has plenty of pictures. It even talks about the Dead Marshes!
The Making of the Movie Trilogy by Brian Sibley
It apparently has over 300 photographs, from all three films. Sibley talks about the actors, the wardrobe, the miniatures, the computer graphics. He goes into baking lambas (you know, the elf biscuit things), creating Treebeard, the moth used by Gandalf for a messenger, etc. Also quotes from the actors, and interviews with a couple. One reviewer states that it's more about the movie and the graphics than the actors.
The Art of The Lord of the Rings by Gary Russell
Russell looks at the concept art in the trilogy. Pictures include everything from storyboards and pencil drawings to paintings and action shots. Some of it doesn't appear in other Lord of the Rings companion books! It also has a bunch of pictures of maquette models: apparently these include things like trolls, Shelob, Treebeard, etc. It's organized by artist as opposed to by object. Over 200 pages, and apparently the pictures are really awesome!
Right quick, I want to point out that Gary Russell also wrote "Art of" books about each of the individual films. I have had a friend tell me that the one for Fellowship of the Ring, at least, was quite good. So check into those if this interested you.
The Lord of the Films: The Unofficial Guide to Tolkien's Middle-Earth on the Big Screen by J. W. Braun
This one is said to be a scene-by-scene breakdown of Lord of the Rings. Apparently there are also games (?) and interviews with the filmakers. It also mentions mistakes that ended up in the final movie (though you could mostly find that on imdb.com) and a look behind the scenes. Some say there's a lot of the stuff that makes you say, "Awesome! I didn't know that!" I love those things.
The Complete Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler
It's said to be the "complete guide to lands, legends, histories, languages, and people." It explains everything and anything you can find in any of Tolkien's books concertning Middle-Earth, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion, etc. Tyler fully explains the Elvish system of writing, as well as including maps and family trees. Now, having looked at customer reviews, several are saying it's awful and mixes "fact" with "fiction." Also they say it's a bit confusing. So there are better ones, perhaps, but this is one to consider. For example, see the one below.
The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster
Having done some more research, I'd say this is a better Tolkien companion than the one above. It has way more ratings in general, and definitely more 5-star and fewer 1-star ratings. So. What does it have to offer? One reviewer states that it has definitions for pretty much every word, person, and place that Tolkien uses. It looks like Foster did a ton of work on this, referencing characters where they have several names by each name. He seems to report the "facts" without mixing in his opinion, unlike some. I'd say, go for this Tolkien guide, thought it's a little outdated.
The Lord of the Rings Complete Visual Companion by Jude Fisher
I've known ever since I first saw the movies that I would want a book full of pictures from Lord of the Rings. I considered buying all the individual books, since they have one for each of the three movies, but this one seemed the most complete and the cheapest. :) I still don't own it and have never read it, but I hope to someday! Hundreds of photographs. Everything is in here, from places to people to animals. This guide includes the pictures from the other three pictoral guides, plus rounds it off with finale pictures. There's even a chapter about Aragorn and Arwen's wedding and coronation! Also final ones about the hobbits. I'm definitely buying this one as soon as possible.
Now here's one that I actually have read:
The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley
Well, I have to admit I didn't think a whole lot of this one. Sure, it had some pictures. Not nearly as many as I'd hoped for. It had a one page bio about each primary character, plus a large picture. I was hoping it would be like my Narnia movie guides for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, but compared to them, this was a flop. Now, this is all my opinion...you might think very differently. But I recommend that you read it before you buy it!
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Photo Guide by J. R. R. Tolkien
This book appears to be aimed more at kids. And it's not a movie guide, whatever the title. According to the product description, it's "the official children's storybook covering all three Lord of the Rings movies." 250 some photographs in 160 pages. If I bought this, it'd just be for the pictures. Because I read the real books. :) There's only one review on Amazon, but it's a positive one. So!
The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films by Doug Adams
I didn't hear of this until today. And I'm not going to go out and buy it. But it does sound a bit interesting! This set includes original manuscript scores and a talk with the composer, Howard Shore. Also includes a rarities CD. For more, see the really long review on Amazon. It's over my head.
Note that photo guides/visual companions have been done for each film by Jude Fisher and David Brawn, seperately.
Other books you might enjoy include Creatures of the Two Towers by David Brawn and The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook by Ian Brodie. There are no doubt many more. :)
Coming someday soon...a post with a variety of Lord of the Rings movie posters! :)
PS: If you've read any or all of these...I'd like to know what you thought of them!