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The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth
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73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2003
This item is a slipcase with two volumes inside.
One contains four unfoldable 28 x 28 maps, with border illuminations and illustrations, in watercolor with ink captions, by Howe after the originals: Wilderland from The Hobbit, the isle of Númenor, Third Age Middle-earth, and Beleriand. The last two of these impressed me most: Howe's Middle-earth, though less precisely rendered than Pauline Baynes's earlier copy along the same lines, is really attractive. But the appeal of Tolkien's original Wilderland map lies in its busy detail, and Howe's open wash from a receding perspective seems rather vacant. My wife the musician immediately started critiquing the bowing styles of the dwarf musicians in the framing illustration.
The other volume has four independent and well-written essays by Sibley discussing the origin of each original map and the place of geography in each story, plus a gazetteer of each land.
I'd recommend this for the commentary, or if you want to pin the maps as posters on your wall. If you have the original books, you don't need these maps, but they do make nice posters.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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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93 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2003
It is divided into two books. One containing the maps which are not connected to the spine, and the other with the list of places and events on the maps. I'd probably recommend this to a younger reader or someone just starting out reading Tolkien. The maps are nicely done yet not really what I expected. Really more of a poster art. The book(s) aren't bad, just not what I expected and I wasn't really impressed.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2013
This is, to say the least. is a very, very disappointing product. First the good. The "maps" are on good heavy paper that should last with reasonable care. The printing is adequate but not exceptional in any way. The 'maps' come in a protective binder and are also enclosed in a box that contains both the 'maps' and a short book that tells something about the 'maps' but there are no references provided.
Now for the bad. The maps are more art than map. The maps at most take up 50% of the available space and one map maybe 25%. The art work is distracting and adds little to nothing the ascetic value of the product. The title of the product lead me to believe that the maps contained therein would be like the wall maps one sees of the world and of the United States, and they are not. The author is an artist and defiantly not a cartographer. The detail on the maps themselves is very rudimentary and would add little to your understanding of Middle Earth. There are no contour lines to aid in determining the type of land in the area being depicted. One map has only regional names and no cities or other boundaries provided.
I have been a longtime lover of maps (my father was a cartographer for the Corps of Engineers US Army) and have studied in some detail the entire published works of professor Tolkien. I began reading the work of the good professor in 1967 and have not been able to stop. I was lead to believe that these maps were well researched and would provide some help as to scale, but since no distance measure is provided it is of no use there either.
If you love maps and not just wall posters with uninspired art taking up most of the printable area and maps providing no detail I strongly recommend the work of a real life cartographer Karen Wynnfonstad titled "The Atlas of Middle Earth Revised Edition" ISBN:0-618-12699-6 available through Amazon or one of the used book dealers. The price is better, the product is better and real maps are there. Be aware that the maps are not intended to be displayed. This book will provide you the answers you are seeking presented in a professional manner and well referenced to Tolkiens works.
If you are interested in a wall poster at a high price with gaudy uninspired art work then the "Maps of Middle Earth are for you, but not for me. My wife runs a book business with Amazon and my copy, just received this week will be on sale today. No use keeping low production value work in my library.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2004
I purchased this on impluse before Christmas as a gift for my husband. While the maps are beautiful and the book, what I've read so far, interesting, I was really, really hoping for a more detailed map of Hobbiton and environs. The cover of the boxed set implied, to my eye, there would be more detailed coverage of the places in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. That said, it is still a nice addition to the library of die-hard Tolkien fans. Just don't expect to study the maps and then be able to day-dream of walking trails in the shire or following the footpaths of the Fellowship through Middle Earth in detail.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Being an experienced Tolkien reader, having read The Silmarillion, The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Books several times each, I was very disappointed by the lack of real map-like detail contained on the 4 separate maps. The only thing that was clarified for me by these maps where the position of the "Eryd Luin" (Blue Mountains) between the 1st age in the Beleriand Map & the same mountain chain which were shifted in terms of their relationship to the Western Seas in the map of Middle Earth during the 3rd Age due to the opening of the huge Chasm after the fall of Numernor during the 2nd Age.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2007
Four maps are included: Wilderland, Middle-Earth, Beleriand and Numenor. Also included is a book (80 pages) with a brief background and then listings of most locations on the map with one or two sentences about each.

The maps are 28 by 28 with about 6 inches of paintings around the edges thus leaving the map itself relatively small. For example the Middle Earth map itself is only 19" x 16". Unfortunately they are also folded, thus reducing the potential value of displaying them on your wall as art.

This is definitely a very nice product, but it could have been better if the map portion was actually larger and more detail such as that available in "Atlas of Middle Earth" was used.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Well, when I'm looking at maps in reference from Tolkien's novels I want to be able to track movement of characters (though I know most pathways by heart) and see terrain. These are essentially (to me) pictures, not maps. Very nice pictures, though. Too bad they're folded instead of rolled, since then, as pictures, they could be framed. I recommend The Atlas of Middle-Earth (Revised Edition) for reference maps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2009
Other than the fact that the maps are absolutely beautiful, the 80 page booklet by Sibley is alone worth the money. He offers detailed, yet summarized, histories of Beleriand and Numenor. As someone that loves Tolkien's work, yet couldn't finish The Silmarillion, I found this book extremely effective in finding out what happened to the tragic island of Men, and the downfall of the 2nd Age. The Hobbit map is particularly well-drawn, and a marvel to look at, even if you know where everything already is with your eyes closed. As for the Map of Middle-earth, it doesn't offer anything new as far as details of minute locations, but it does serve as a great tool to read along the Trilogy with. There is also some beautiful artwork around the bordering of the Maps. Overall, I would say that this my favorite purchase in Tolkien's realm, other than the Trilogy and the Hobbit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2010
I bought this product for the maps. There is a nice booklet with some art and commentary but I skimmed and shelved it to get to figuring out where in my office I was going to put them.

Admittedly, I was somewhat disappointed when they first arrived. I had hoped more of the maps themselves would occupy the poster. In that regard, 'The Hobbit' map is as much border art as it is map. The 'Numenor' map suffers from a similar foible. The map is very small and simple and dominated by the artwork.

But here's the thing. The artwork on the borders of the maps is totally in tune with the theme of the map and is quite lovely to behold. Especially the 'Numenor' map, which now has a front and center position behind and above my monitor at home so I can rest my eyes on its glorious blue ocean scenes which depict the drowning of the island and the Numenorean fleet ships.

The artwork has really grown on me the longer I look at them and so my initial disappointment has faded. What I really wanted, the whole reason really why I bought this, is for the 'Beleriand' map. As a fan of the 'Silmarillion' I have wanted a large color map to put up in my personal space at home all my life. Now I have both 'Beleriand' and 'Middle Earth' on the wall to my left, the 'Beleriand' poster is always in the corner of my eye and I can read the names of many of the regions from several feet away. So those two maps turned out to be as big as was required.

The actual map dimensions for those two are 15.5x19.5(inches)inside a 28.5x28.5 total area.

Overall, I am happy with it and would recommend it for Tolkien fans and fantasy map collectors.
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