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Fonstad's numerous errors have NOT been corrected
on June 3, 2001
This book remains, as I noted in my March 15 review (based on an earlier edition), the best available cartographical resource for Tolkien's world available, other than Christopher Tolkien's maps. Unfortunately, this book simply doesn't depict Tolkien's Middle-earth with any appreciable degree of accuracy.
All they did was slap a new cover on a work which is now out-of-date. The practice of reissuing popular Tolkien books and tertiary resources like Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth is to be expected, of course, since Peter Jackson's movies are going to drive Tolkien-mania to frenzied heights never before seen.
What is good about this book is the fact that Fonstad makes an effort to chart everything in the stories. You have a quick reference which conveys an idea of who went where, when.
But don't accord this book any real authority. You have to double-check everything Fonstad does in order to see where the errors are. Some of the worst examples are her dual locations for Rhosgobel (the placement south of the Old Forest Road is the correct one, according to "The Ring Goes South" in The Fellowship of the Ring), the placement of Belegost south of the Gulf of Lune (Tolkien said it was at about the same latitude as Lake Nenuial in Unfinished Tales), and her shaving 100 miles off the width of Eriador. The gross error concerning Eriador's width affects all her calculations, including the lengths of journeys for Frodo and Bilbo.
Movements for peoples in the First Age are also inaccurate. The Easterlings entered Beleriand in three waves. The Folk of Ulfang crossed the Ered Luin in the path of the Edain, but the Folk of Bor and later Easterlings passed north around the Ered Luin. This information was published in The War of the Jewels, which Fonstad did not use as a resource. In the Second Age, she ignores Unfinished Tales completely and places Thranduil (the son of Oropher) in northern Greenwood, instead of in the southern part of the forest.
Her depiction of Dale's borders in the Third Age is grossly inaccurate, and Druwaith Iaur is placed to the north of where Christopher Tolkien indicates it should be on his map. Many of these errors, by themselves, are small things. But nearly every map has one or more problems with it. In some cases it's obvious Fonstad's research was superceded by later books she didn't have access to. But some of the gaffes are simply inexplicable. It was my sincere hope the errors would be corrected in this edition. But apparently the publisher just felt a new cover would hide the problems.
Is the book worth buying? Sure. Anyone who wants a quick visual reference to Middle-earth will find this volume invaluable. But if you're planning to use it to win trivia contests or argue with your friends over Tolkien minutiae, pray the other people don't refer to the original books.
Tolkien readers need a new cartographical reference. Hopefully, one will come along some day that doesn't look this bad.