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Beautiful - but art not cartography
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.