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The Atlas of Middle-Earth (Revised Edition) Paperback – April 10, 1991

203 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

The publishing world is full of Tolkien spinoff products, some trivial and ephemeral--but some, like this thoroughly researched atlas, are genuinely classy. Karen Wynn Fonstad is a qualified geographer and cartographer who first mapped Middle-Earth in 1981 and has since added much new detail based on those endless volumes of drafts, abandoned passages, alternative versions, and laundry lists published since Tolkien's death. She fills in gaps and details in the familiar Third Age maps from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, goes back in time to map Middle-Earth's First and Second Ages, and reconstructs the route and timescale of every important journey in the stories. There are local maps of key places like the Mines of Moria, Lothlorien, Isengard, Minas Tirth, the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and the volcanic Mount Doom. War maps cover the saga's notable battles, up to the hopeless last stand at Mordor gate and the tiny later skirmish known in Shire records as the Battle of Bywater. Thematic maps show Middle-Earth's distribution of climate, geological features, vegetation, people, and (most importantly to Tolkien) languages.... It's all done tremendously seriously and would make a fine gift for enthusiastic Tolkien fans, except that they'll have bought it already. --David Langford, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Tolkien loved maps and geography played a great importance in his books. In the paperback revision of a hardcover that is out of print, cartographer Fonstad here details that aspect of these stories.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Rev Sub edition (April 10, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618126996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618126996
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 179 people found the following review helpful By Evan T. Burchfield on December 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A few previous reviewers have attempted to sully this product with claims of inaccuracy; one in particular (Mr. Martinez) has stayed on this item's main page for years and is considered helpful by 85% of responders. He rants in two separate reviews and with multiple paragraphs that Fonstad didn't do her homework and that this is overall a "bad" piece of work. Despite these claims staying largely unsubstantiated even after Mr. Martinez's second review (he names a few of these errors in both reviews, but claims there are too many errors to tabulate), many other reviewers have referenced Mr. Martinez's review as if it is authoritative; that, along with the fact that many hundreds of others have clicked the little button that says Mr. Martinez's comments have been helpful to them (indicating perhaps that they have not purchased this book thanks to Mr. Martinez) is what urges me to write this review.

Since I am not a cartographer nor a Tolkien expert I cannot comment on the veracity of Mr. Martinez's claims; his overall picture, however, is so negative that once I had this item (the only one like it on the market currently) I spent some time comparing the book to the Lord of the Rings itself, and used it as a guide on my first complete read-through of The Hobbit since I was a child. I have walked away totally satisfied by Fonstad's book, with only a few minor criticisms. As a Tolkien fan who is working his way through a casual Tolkien survey, I can say that Mr. Martinez's vitriolic critique is totally wrong-headed.
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186 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Charles Pinney on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've ever been one flipping to the maps in "The Hobbit", "The Lord of the Rings" , or "The Silmarillion" to see where the action is taking place, then this book is for you.
Karen Wynn Fonstad has done a remarkable job of mapping Middle-earth. The atlas is broken down into various sections, each easy to navigate to find what you're looking for.
The First Age section is perfect for readers of "The Silmarillion", all the important places are mapped along with ample notes and observations.
The Second Age deals with the fall of Numenor, a worthy companion to those reading "Unfinished Tales".
The majority of the book deals with the Third Age. This is where "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" takes place. There are maps showing the kingdoms of the Dunedain as well as the migration of the dwarves and the hobbits.
There are regional maps detailing the Shire, the Misty Mountains, Eriador, and Mordor. Two lengthy sections are devoted to the Hobbit and LotR, showing all the key places in the books. Fantastic maps to look over again and again.
Towards the end of the book are included the thematic maps. Very interesting. These show the landforms, climate, vegetation, population and languages spoken.
Overall, if you're remotely interesting in learning more about Middle-earth, or you're just interested in great maps, pick this up. Enjoy.
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160 of 164 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Atlas of Middle-Earth is an excellent work of geographic reasoning in the great tradition of Eratostenes. The attention to detail, the realism in the drawings, and the breadth of topics in this book are difficult to measure. I am a professional geographer, and I understand how labor-intensive the completion of this book must have been. Literally thousands of decisions made by Mrs. Fonstad had to fit with Tolkien's descriptions and intentions. That Tolkien's descriptions can stand up to such scrutiny of accuracy and internal consistency is a testament to Tolkien's magic (many authors' designed worlds do not).
I also wish to dispell a misconception by an earlier reviewer. The review by Linards Ticmanis from Germany is in error about Mrs. Fonstad's portrayal of the world maps. He suggested that her maps show a world "only half as large as the real earth" and that Tolkien has designed Arda to be Earth (although Tolkien denied that Middle-Earth was Europe in The Lost Road, p. 25). However, the radius of the planet can be calculated from her maps by placing an orthographic projection diagram with lines of latitude and longitude on top of her maps (her world maps are orthographic projections). When a degree of longitude or latitude is compared to its ground distance (supplied by reading Tolkien), it is quite easy to calculate the radius of the planet, approximately 4200 miles (6770 km). This compares to 3963 miles (6378 km) radius for the earth. These two measurements are very similar, and the idea that Mrs. Fonstad's maps show a world that is "only half as large as the real earth" is in error. In any case, the Atlas of Middle-Earth is about as "Tolkien Purist" as you can get; and this adds to its value immensely.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kim on December 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Lord of the Rings (LotR) is an incredibly complex story spanning hundreds of people (elves, men, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, etc) and thousands of miles. The geography is immense and it can be a little difficult to keep track of all the places and structures (unless you take notes as you read). The maps presented as part of the appendix is good, but not enough.
The Atlas of Middle-earth is a superb companion not only to The Lord of the Rings, but to The Silmarillion, and to anyone interested in Tolkien. The book is ideally divided into ages (there are 3 ages described), with short descriptions of the significant happenings. The major battles of LotR are presented here, with maps that show major movements of all sides, plus tables that show how many troops were involved. It adds to the richness of LotR by giving the reader a good and firm perspective of the land the people live in, how they lived, and the battles fought. For LotR, you will be able to visulaize the movements of the Fellowship and realize how perfectly each of the separate movements (of the Companions) came together at the end--like an elegant chess movement.
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