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Topic: The Atlas of Middle Earth

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Posts: 129
Date: Jul 1, 2007
The Atlas of Middle Earth

I'm not entirely sure this is the right forum for this topic.  If not I apologize, but I didn't seem to see one that suited it better.  My question is not a Tolkien book, but it is a book related to Tolkien's works.

I'm wondering about a book I heard of recently that interested me.   I was wondering if anyone here owned it, and if so, what they thought of it. 

It's called "The Atlas of Middle Earth", by Karen Wynn Fonstad.  It contains an atlas of cartographic illustrated maps of Middle Earth, drawn to be as geographically accurate as possible, and also contains maps of locations such as Minas Tirith and the mines of Moria.  Thematic maps show the distribution of languages, peoples, vegetation, and climate according to geography.  At Amazon.com, it has gotten mostly rave reviews, but a few very negative ones.

I think I would enjoy owning it sheerly for the novelty, whether or not it contained all kinds of new and accurate information, but I would like to know what you think.  Do you think it's possible, based on the information that can be gleaned from Tolkien's work, to accurately map all the locations claimed?  Do you own this book?  If so, would you recommend it?

Thanks.

 PS, to those who don't recognize me:  I have been a member for a while but sometimes I disappear for months. 



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Jul 1, 2007
I indeed have the book. Its very good. The maps range from ones of the entire of Arda to small quatre page ones of the inn at Bree! Its pretty accurate and also has estimates for the number of troops in the battles, shows battle illustrations about how certain fortresses (like Minas Tirith) were attacked and where and it also shows populations maps and gives a running history of Arda through the book. Its worth buying.

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My Master Sauron the Great bids thee Welcome....
Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Jul 1, 2007
I also have the book and it should be a welcome addition to any Tolkien library.
Some of the details might be considered speculative but all discusions of the maps in the text are well footnoted with citations from the books.
 
Major chaptors include the First, Second and Third Ages; The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; and Thematic maps. With notes, references and indexes. Accurate and scholarly.

A useful companion while reading any of Tolkien's works.

The only quibble I have (and it is a slight one) is that it would have been nice to have the maps reproduced in multi-colors instead of only two-colors (brown and black).  Recommended.

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: Jul 1, 2007
Okay, it sounds as if this book is everything that I'm hoping for. I think I'm going to buy it....along with Children of Hurin. Thanks for the reviews!

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Jul 4, 2007
I been wanting it too. I have heard about it for years. I just have the Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth By Brian Sibly and John Howe.

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Date: Jul 22, 2007
If you do, make sure you buy the revised edition (anyway probably the one you'll mostly find)
Indeed, it's very accurate, and anything you see there is there because it is based on a fact from the books, and not only out of fantasy as other maps.
I very much enjoy it, though I must second Erasmus on the color issue...

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Honor, Freedom, Fatherland
Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: Jul 27, 2007
I got this a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I did get the revised edition, which I think is the main one in print now since the last one was published in the 80s.

Yeah, the colors aren't great, but the layout of the maps is. I finally feel like I can see the whole world somewhat realistically as opposed to just Middle earth.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Jul 28, 2007
Its a good book. Sometimes when your bored you can spend a while just looking at the various maps. My favourite is on page 4 of my book.

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Chief Maiar
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Date: Jul 28, 2007
I need to get this ;P.

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Royal Guard of Menegroth - Rank 5
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Date: Aug 14, 2007
Its a great book and I would highly recommend it.   All of the maps are very helpful, as are most of the details about the ages of Middle-Earth. 

Hope you enjoy it

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 9, 2008
I find this book helps me out a lot because I have trouble visualizing battle movements and structures. The characters of ME are easy for me but the places are so described in so much detail that I get lost sometimes. The movies really helped me with that problem before I got the atlas. Also, I love the story of Hurin so I highly recomend The Children of Hurin.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Aug 9, 2008
I wish I could find that book, I also have problems with visualizing the battles, but living on $438 a month is rather hard and we have to wait for extra money coming in. Also I try to find it at HAlf Price Books.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 10, 2008
How much do you think it would cost me to ship it to you? Seriously. I would love to contribute to any real Tolkien fan's library. I can get the book for around $25 dollars.

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Date: Aug 14, 2008
http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Middle-Earth-Revised-Karen-Fonstad/dp/0618126996

Book is currently reduced on Amazon to $16.50. That seems to be a fair price, I guess. Shipping from Amazon shouldn't be that expensive either, I think here in Germany it either is free or costs about 2. smile

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Aug 14, 2008
It is a good book, and I recommend buying it. That said, and despite that it's obvious! Tolkien didn't write it.

I didn't go through the book to find questionable details of course, but I have, however, accidentally stumbled upon a couple things when people bring up X or Y. Extrapolation is not unexpected, given that not all details are easily set out in the tales, but here's one I found a bit questionable at least, given that artistic license could be in play (and the drawing itself is relatively early):  KW Fonstad's estimation with respect to the height of Thangorodrim appears to be actually based on a drawing Tolkien did back in 1928.

Conflation however is a different matter, because it confuses something that is merely extant (and so can be said to be based on actual Tolkien-written text), with something that can be more certainly attested to be part of Frodo's world. One example: KWF writes that Kortirion was the name of the great tower that Ingil, son of Inwe built in the center of the island of Tol Eressea. But who is this Ingil, for example?

In the external history (not necessarily exhaustive on the name changes here) Ingil became Ingwil who became Ingwiel who became Ingwion, who is the son of Ingwe (I would say Ingwion means 'son of Ingwe' as well). And Inwe became Ingwe, the Lord of the Vanyar.

The son of the Lord of the Vanyar (his name aside) built a tower in Eressea? When did this happen, and why? We see that this is really based on quite early text, and conflated with the later history of Eressea (what we know of it anyway), without any real direction to do so from Tolkien himself.

I'm not trying to cast this book in a bad light, and these arguably minor examples do not do so in my opinion. Again I have the book, recommend it, and use it sometimes, and it is certainly generally quite helpful. I'm just adding my usual caution of sorts (annoying as I know it may be): no matter its agreed upon good points, this book is still a secondary source. The primary sources can be confusing sometimes, and very detailed...

... and thus great fun to wade through, to my mind smile


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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Date: Aug 16, 2008
Indeed Galin, you are quite right. But then again the same could be said about all of Tolkien's books, save The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And no doubt he would have changed things in there, some years after publishing them.

Thats the nature of such an in-depth fantasy which comes entirely from one person. It grows, recedes, adapts and changes. It has no fixed point. What can be absolute one year, can be discarded by Tolkien the next. All we can rely on is what he left uswink.gif Any speculation about the 'what if's' (not nessersarily refering to yourself) I find pointless.

Btw: Is it the revised version of the book you have?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Aug 17, 2008
My edition does say revised and updated on it, yes BB.

As to the question of conflation by other authors, let me put it this way then, I disagree with some of KWF's decisions (a couple that I've stumbled over so far at least). And just to note another example or extrapolation, KWF chose to give Readers a map of the area that includes Thangorodrim, an area where even Christopher Tolkien would not go:

'The geography of the far North is discussed in V. 270-2; but since it is impossible to say how my father came to conceive it I discreetly omitted all indication of the Iron Mountains and Thangorodrim from the map drawn for the published Silmarillion.' CJRT, Commentary, The Grey Annals

But again such examples (those that I brought up and am aware of to date) hardly make the book not well researched in general. I guess we all agree it's a recommended source in any event... 

... my niggles aside wink


-- Edited by Galin at 13:40, 2008-08-18

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: May 16, 2011
Regarding the issue of the Beleriand map, the one reproduced in the Atlas on pages 14-15, named 'Lands to the North', it seems inspired by the first 'Silmarillion' map which is reproduced in HoMe 4 (The Shaping of Middle-earth), and where relative to the major features, the Iron Mountains and the Thangorodrim are indeed close to Dorthonion, thus leaving a very narrow Dor-na-Fauglith in that region.

In all subsequent maps of Beleriand (in the atlas between pages 24-33), the Thangorodrim are much more point-like. This tends to suggest that indeed in the map on pages 14-15, there is some liberal mingling of older and newer concepts from the legendarium, such as to show a more impressive and menacing northern region.

On the other hand (though my intervention in this regard is no longer needed), I found the atlas very useful (and the second edition is clearly an improvement from the first one, based on some maps I've seen on the Internet and which were taken from the earlier), because the first edition published in 1981 had many conjectural maps (especially of Arda at large). The second edition also takes into account the first nine volumes of HoMe, of which the first 8 had been published, and the 9th had been made available to KWF in typescript at the time she was updating her own book.

Also the thematic maps and the Appendix on lengths and areas of various geographical features, although surely not 100% accurate, make a fine addition to this volume.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: May 17, 2011
I finally found the Revised version. I needed this because of the Novel I am writing and it takes place in Middle-earth. So I am going to study it, now that I have it.

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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 19, 2011
i have resently lost my copy of this book but it was actually really good in my opinion. very acurate and detailed. the color thing bothered me a bit at first but i soon got over it... i'll be replacing my lost copy very soon :)

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Date: Aug 29, 2011
It was really affordable. Do you have Half Price Book Store where you live? That's where I get most of my books from.

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 29, 2011
If that question was derected towards me then yes I do have one in my area, I didn't think to go there for it as I'm so used to going online to buy books these days. Thank you for the suggestion lady Arwen :)

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Aug 30, 2011
You are welcome Huan. Half Price books has lots of NEW books, too. I got the British edition, with pounds on the back for the price. Lol

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 30, 2011
Haha that's great! I will most deffinatly check it out

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Aug 31, 2011
When I moved last year and sold my HoME books, by accident actually I think, I had a rough time finding them all again. But now I got them once a gain, at least beginnings.

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 31, 2011
Well good :), I still only have three or so, and I don't think I've read those cover to cover yet

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Aug 31, 2011
That would be a tough act to follow. These books were first very confusing to me. I did not realize that they were edited and re-edited.
Really confusing. It is more for scholarly pursuits and those into DEEP Tolkien Trivia.

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 31, 2011
I agree completly, very difficult at first until you get the hang of the writing style

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Sep 8, 2011
That is true Huan. If you will write me a list of Tolkien books you still need, I will keep my eyes open and let you know. I myself am looking for several because I have donated some of mine to less fortunate Tolkien fans as gifts

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Posts: 377
Date: Sep 8, 2011
:) very kind of you Arwen, I'm making a trip to my local half priced books this weekend and I'll see what I can and cannot find

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
Status: Offline
Posts: 1886
Date: Sep 8, 2011
Great, just let me know if I can help

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

 
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