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Understanding Middle-Earth: Essays on Tolkien's Middle-Earth Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vivisphere Publishing (November 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587761459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587761454
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"All of the major and much of the minor that comprises Middle-Earth is covered with meticulous attention to detail." -- SF Site, March 2005

"UNDERSTANDING MIDDLE EARTH is just plain fun for the hard-core Tolkien enthusiast, and it gives plenty to chew on!" -- YetAnotherBookReview.com, November 2004

About the Author

Michael Martinez has been active in science fiction and fantasy fandom for many years. He organized the first Hercules and Xena fan programming track for Dragoncon, North America's largest fan-run science fiction convention, in 1998. In 2000, he moved on to organize Dragoncon's Tolkien and Middle-Earth fan programming track. As a widely recognized expert on Tolkien's Middle-Earth mythology, Martinez has been called upon by companies around the world to share his insight for their special Tolkien projects. His research has appeared in numerous Tolkien journals, and he launched the long-running and popular Tolkien and Middle-Earth topic for the Suite101 website in late 1999.

More About the Author

Michael Martinez has been writing about J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth for fans on the Internet since the mid-1990s. His interests include history, science fiction and fantasy, and theoretical analysis of large complex systems like the Internet.

Michael was the founding director for Dragon*Con's Tolkien and Middle-earth fan programming track. He has also been featured as co-host on Middle-earth Talk Radio. He currently writes for several blogs including SEO Theory, the Middle-earth Blog on Xenite.Org, and Reflective Dynamics.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
All I can say is, most people will love this great book.
Sam
Michael Martinez digs deep into the letters and unpublished works of J.R.R. Tolkien to show the reader exactly how Middle-earth is supposed to work.
Mark Wells
Serious fans of Tolkiens work will like this book and those just beginning and or curious will like it as well.
Julian P. Huff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Understanding Middle-Earth is a nice accompliment to Tolkien's (JRR's and Christopher's) large array of literary works. The author breaks down thought provoking areas from the books into chapters and takes a look at characters and stories only sometimes touched on in LOTR. This doesn't mean the read is boring or only for those interested in elvish syntax, the author makes the reading easy to understand and doesn't mind having fun - see the last chapter!
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Greg Clark on May 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
It is unbelievable what people say when they set out to bash an author and his book. So, I am supposed to be a close friend of Michael Martinez just because I like his book? What nonsense!
The truth is that I have read this book from cover to cover. More than once. I love it. There are absolutely no false claims in it whatsoever. To suggest that anything Michael Martinez has written in this book is misleading is simply outrageous. Take the Penthesilea example mentioned in a previous review.
She comes towards the end of a very long essay, "The Other Way Round", in which Martinez carefully examines many sources and influences on Tolkien. Penthesilea comes from "The Fall of Troy" by Quintus of Smyrna. "Fall of Troy". Does that sound familiar? It should. It sounds very much like "The Fall of Gondolin". But there are more than just similarities between the names of these works.
If Martinez's sin is failing to mention that Eowyn's history is not based on Penthesilea's history, then the critic is at fault, not the author. This essay attributes only a few resemblances to Eowyn. And the tragic way Prince Imrahil finds her on the battlefield is compared to how Achilles beholds Penthesilea after he sees that she is a woman. But Martinez compares similarities between Eowyn and other female characters. And he starts out the Penthesilea discussion by saying "though Tolkien had no Anglo-Saxon models for Eowyn, he would have found one in Quintus' 'The Fall of Troy'".
"Would have found" does not mean "did find" or "only found" or "must have found". Who is misleading whom I say?
Martinez cites Tolkien letters and many other sources in this fantastic essay.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Box on March 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Martinez does it again! His first book, "Visualizing Middle Earth", brought many aspects of Tolkien's Middle Earth alive for me but "Understanding Middle Earth" goes even further. Michael's friendly conversational style of writing was easy for me to understand and assimilate. His witty and clever essays answered many complicated questions that I, as a Tolkien fan, had agonized over. Michael`s writing reflects his vast knowledge of not only Tolkien's published works but also his notes and unfinished stories later published by Christopher Tolkien in the History of Middle Earth series. I found Michael's writing to be neither dry nor boring. If anything, this author has made studying Tolkien even more fun! This is a great book for the serious and as well as the not so serious Tolkien fan.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Colin Platt on September 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book based on the apparent "love it or hate it" theme that crops up in the other reviews. What I found, as a long time Tolkien reader, was a competant work that emphasised some lesser known influences on Tolkien. It is an engaging enough read to be recommended for that reason alone. Middle-Earth is such a vast subject, that for the serious, I think this is a worthwhile addition to your bookshelves, but it is just one of many works that we will collect!
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sam on March 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I can't believe anyone would say there is misleading information in this book. THERE IS NOTHING MISLEADING ABOUT IT. NOTHING. It takes a lot of integrity for someone like Michael Martinez to keep writing about Tolkien the way readers deserve to see this kind of work. He is honest, direct, and to the point. That just offends some people.
For example, where did Michael claim to have "delved into unpublished material"? That is ridiculous! Michael refers to "previously unpublished" essays and stories throughout Understanding Middle-earth, but he doesn't claim to have any secret knowledge no one else possesses.
As for the Greek and Roman influences on Tolkien, I have read many of the books and articles on Tolkien, and there is virtually no mention of the story of Penthesilea and its connections to Eowyn. Nor do Shippey, Carpenter, et. al. have much of anything to say at all about Tolkien's love of the aesthetic he found in Greek language and mythology. Martinez sets aside all the traditional hype about Tolkien being an Anglo-Saxon professor and he looks at Tolkien's other material.
The humor in the book is special. After a long session of reading essays on Numenor, Gil-Galad, Legolas, it is a nice break to see how Frodo and the Baggins family could be Mafioso. And the final essay, Snoopy versus the Lord of the Nazgul, is a great tribute to both Tolkien and Charles Shultz.
Understanding Middle-earth will sure take a beating from those who don't want you to read it. They tried to drag down Visualizing Middle-earth with their negative reviews too. All I can say is, most people will love this great book. It is filled with the kind of information we Tolkien fans hunger for.
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