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3.9 out of 5 stars18
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 23 November 2003
If you are a Tolkien collector, an admirer of John Howe's superb Middle Earth paintings or a lover of beautiful books, then you will love this. But be warned, if you want highly detailed maps of Middle Earth overlaid with route plans and information, then you will be dissapointed. If you want detail, instead buy Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth or Barbara Strachey's Journeys of Frodo.
This package is beautifuly presented containing howes 4 Middle Earth maps in a hardback folder (the maps are Middle Earth, Beleriand, Numenor and the Hobbit map) with an informative hardback book by Brian Sibley explaining the role of maps in Tolkien's creations and containing a gazetter of place names for each map. The whole lot is bundled into an attractive slipcase.
Howes maps are not over detailed, and are bordered with representations of scenes from the books painted by Howe. However, the maps contain as much detail as the maps drawn by JRR and Christopher Tolkien. Howes purpose was not to create detailed cartography surpassing the original maps in detail and annotation, but to create artistic interpretations of the maps.
In other words, view the maps as art rather than detailed guides to Middle Earth and then you will not be dissapointed.
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John Howe and Brian Sibley are both towering figures in the "Lord of the Rings" fanbase -- Howe has been known for years as one of the two finest Tolkien artists, and Sibley gained fame in the past few years as the guy who chronicled the behind-the-scenes information on the movies. Together, their "Maps of Tolkien's Middle-Earth" is a solid release that adds an extra dimension to ordinary maps.
Howe presents four fold-out maps of Middle-Earth: Wilderland, the areas traversed by Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit," a general map of Middle-Earth, a map of Beleriand and other lands of the north, and the land of Numenor. The latter two haven't been released in this country, which makes them especially interesting.
Admittedly, the maps aren't too detailed or intricate; they seem rather basic. But Howe hasn't just drawn colorful maps -- he surrounds the maps with his exquisite illustrations of trees and hills, castles, Bilbo and the Dwarves at Bag End, Gandalf on Shadowfax, the seashore and mountains. With Howe's intricate, Celtic-looking borders separating the illustrations from the maps, each poster takes on almost the look of a medieval tapestry.
The foldout poster-maps are exceptional on their own. But Brian Sibley's accompanying guide is almost as good -- he has a separate section for each map that details the various cities, mountains, and other important points. What's more, Sibley details the history of each map in Tolkien's life, and the importance of that part of Middle-Earth in his ongoing story. Sibley's essays are well-written and interesting, and his descriptions of the locations in Middle-Earth is quite well done.
Don't expect something too earth-shattering -- "Maps of Tolkien's Middle-Earth" is precisely what the title implies. It's map posters, accompanied by an insightful guide book. Both are well-done and masterfully illustrated, especially Howe's accompanying illustrations in Sibley's book (both rougher black-and-white pictures, and polished color paintings). And Sibley's talent for writing breezy, pleasant prose serves him well when describing various story events in "Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion."
Sibley and Howe's collaboration is a beautiful and intriguing item for fans of "Lord of the Rings," adding a bit of extra color to Tolkien's fictional universe.
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on 12 November 2012
Everyone who has read Tolkien's stories of Middle-earth will remember his books' several intricate maps. Now we can enjoy new versions of four of them, redrawn, coloured, embellished and illustrated by the fantasy artist John Howe.

Map I shows an oblique view of The Hobbit's Wilderland. (Like its companions, it reproduces Tolkien's own cartography scrupulously, omitting nothing and adding nothing.) Framing Wilderland, a golden, serpentine Smaug coils sinuously; beneath it, Thorin's dwarves make music in Bilbo's parlour, while Gandalf puffs at his pipe. Bordering vignettes depict Beorn, an eagle, the cobwebbed gloom of Mirkwood and the Running River cascading from the Lonely Mountain.

Map II derives from the rendition of the West of Middle-earth prepared by Christopher Tolkien for his father's Unfinished Tales. John's marginal illustrations include Meduseld; Rivendell; Gandalf; Gollum; Legolas, Gimli and soldiers of Gondor and Rohan confronting a group of orcs; aerial Nazgul wheeling around the horror of Barad-dur; and Gandalf and Shadowfax hastening to Minas Tirith.

Map III shows The Silmarillion's Beleriand. The framing paintings give us Morgoth's fastness of Angband; the red-topped Amon Rudh; Turin beneath the monstrous Glaurung; Telerin swan ships; and the heraldic devices of Earendil, Fingolfin, Finwe, Gil-galad and Luthien.

Map IV, again taken from The Silmarillion, shows the island of Numenor. Illustrated here are two grave Numenorean guardsmen, a rocky shore, Ar-Pharazon's doomed armada and the ruin of Sauron's temple of Morgoth amidst the catastrophe of the Akallabeth.

In my edition - which dates from 2003 - each map is roughly twenty-eight inches square, printed on heavy paper and folded with just five creases. The maps are presented in a folder looking like the cover of a hardback book, itself illustrated with colour paintings of the sea and the hidden city of Gondolin.

Accompanying the maps in a luxurious slipcase is a hardback book by Brian Sibley, celebrated among Tolkien fans for his radio dramatisations of Tolkien's books and his companions to Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies. For each map, Brian provides an essay exploring how Tolkien's geographies were developed, and four comprehensive gazetteers telling us much about the nature of the places on the maps and their significance in Tolkien's narratives. The book also includes many pencil drawings by John, as well as cover paintings of Rivendell and, delectably, the view of the Shire from the entrance hall of Bag End. John also contributes four brief notes about how he undertook his work.

John's art is vividly expressive of character, atmosphere and drama. Brian's writing is as conversationally genial as it is expert and insightful. Together, the two men have produced a collection that deserves a place on any Tolkien lover's shelves.

(I should maybe add that the first three maps have lately been reissued in a different format, each pocketed in its own little hardback book containing an expanded version of the relevant text and additional pencil sketches: see There and Back Again: The Map of Tolkien's Hobbit,The Road Goes Ever On and On: The Map of Tolkien's Middle-earth and West of the Mountains, East of the Sea: The Map of Tolkien's Beleriand and the Lands to the North.)
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on 3 October 2010
Whilst the book is well presented and the maps are excellent quality and could be framed once folded out, I can't help but feel disappointed because I thought they did not quite live up to my expectations. The main map is fine but the two other maps are the ones I felt disappointed with. It is I think the lack of detail in these that disappointed me. However, I am still happy to have purchased the book and would still recommend it to Lord of the Rings fans.
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on 12 August 2013
As noted by others this publication is an opportunity wasted. The maps are large and nicely printed but they utterly lack detail. Tolkien's maps as printed in some editions of the books are much better and I certainly expected the authors and publishers to have added something further maybe e.g. by including details of the journeys of the various characters and maybe details on significant encounters.

Would suggest prospective buyers to look elsewhere for maps and geographical info on Middle Earth.

/Rune
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on 18 September 2012
Whist a nicely produced book - these are not Tolkien's original artwork. The maps are just folded colour 'posters' and with very limited detail. They might suit an older child, but there is nothing to interest to adult readers. I bought as a gift and was disappointed.
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on 29 April 2013
These maps are reals masterpieces of draw and art. However, the reader of the manificent Tolkien's Maspterpieces must have these maps in its library, illustrated by John Howe, One of the gifter Tolkien illustrators:
-The map Of Beleriand, the West-Stretch of Middle-Earth swallowed up by the Sea at The End Of the First ages;
-The Map Of Nùmenor is a real Marvel, splendid, magnificent !
-the Map Of the Bilbo's Journey, sixty Years before the war of the Ring, is surrounded by a majestic Red Goden Dragon;
finally, -the Map Of Middle earth, at he End of the third Ages of the Sun, during the War Of The Ring, setting "The Lord Of The Rings".
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on 16 August 2012
I bought this from Amazon warehouse Deals it was a returned item, but you would not have known. The maps are very good quality my 12 year old like me is a big fan of all things to do with Middle Earth, He wants to put them on the wall in his bedroom. I paid less than a tenner for them so im well pleased. They are a good reference when reading the books.
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on 18 March 2015
Whilst the product was indeed new, it was not without blemishes and I think this ought to have been made clear. My impression is that this is a product which failed a quality inspection and was moved to a 'book renderer'. Having said that the contents are brilliant and any fan of Tolkien will be happy to have it especially for the big map of Beleriand.
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on 2 January 2016
Nicely presented although I would not describe them as 'maps' as such, so perhaps not. Something for the serious collector. But due to the nice packaging I would recommend as a stylish resource for any table-top gamers who like a bit more immersion. Have a good 2016!
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