I have to confess to being something of a Tolkien nerd. For me, this atlas is essential, and I am prepared to put in some work to get full use and maximum information out of it. However, this is also the reason I am only giving it 3 stars - because although it met all my expectations on one level, with its detailed presentations of many areas of Middle Earth and of the main characters' journeys, I can see that for a general reader, making best use of it could be somewhat difficult.
This is not because of any lack of ability on the part of the author. The late Karen Fonstad was a professional cartographer and she devoted quite a few years of her (far too short) life to developing atlases of imaginary worlds, including Ann McCaffrey's Pern and the Forgotten Realms of AD&D fame. She knew what she was doing. However in the case of this edition of this particular atlas, she is let down by the almost monochrome colour scheme to which the maps are restricted (brown, black and beige ... really could not be less helpful if it tried!) and also by some very dodgy proofreading.
'Erresea'? Where is that? And 'Aqualonde'? These two mistakes occur on the same map, p.7 of this edition. That's just careless.
I appreciate that providing full colour maps would probably have driven the price of this book up too high, but it's still a pity that neither those, nor some more effective proof reading, could be provided before the latest edition went to press. Perhaps it's not much to hope for that a future edition might address at least the misspellings. Unfortunately the maps themselves seem destined to remain almost impenetrable to anyone who is not, well, something of a Tolkien nerd.