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The Atlas of Middle Earth Paperback – 8 Apr 2002
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About the Author
J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892-1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
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All the maps are line drawings in simple tones such as black and brick colours - don't expect funky digital maps or a wealth of colours; that, however, does NOT detract from the excellence of this work! In fact - it is a bonus in my view: makes the maps clearer and more precise: it's also a nicer "feel".
I have sat and studied some of these maps for ages - and they really bring to life the travels of Frodo, Bilbo and the Fellowship in great detail. You get info right down to climates of the regions! I was enthrawled for who knows how long on the Moria maps (my favourite Tolkien place!) and it really gave depth to the extent of the journey the Fellowship took.
This is simply a MUST, not just for staunch Tolkien fans but as a trusty companion to the LOTR books for any reader (along with a Tolkien dictionary/encyclopedia).
You will be so glad you invested in it.
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.
There is a good level of detail in all maps but I would have liked even more in some of them.
Tolkien's Geology and Earth Science knowledge may have been somewhat confused but Ronstad's Geography and Cartography skills are great at bringing breadth and depth to the experience of (re-)reading Tolkien's works.
Here's a short list of some specifics to whet your appetite if you need convincing: the Gates and Falls of Sirion, Menegroth, Echoriath and Gondolin, various representations of Belegaer including one with a Great Rift running north to south (perhaps analogous to Earth's mid Atlantic rift...), Buckland and The Marish, Helm's Deep, Tol Brandir, Udûn and the Black Gate... even the back cover's adorned with a fabulously detailed map of the Hithaeglir!
She also presents various notable journeys including those of the Elves from Cuiviénen, Turin and Nienor, Beren and Lúthien, Frodo and Sam as well as the voyages of the Númenóreans and the Dwarves' migrations. Add to this all the major battle scenes and a panoply of realms and kingdoms plus thematic topologies of climate, landforms, vegetation and population and you have before you an extremely well written document which I feel illustrates Tolkien's work admirably and, with some knowledge of the choice of extant commentaries, without equal. Treat yourself and get a hardcover copy because if you're a die-hard Tolkien fanatic, I can guarantee you'll otherwise wear it out!
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