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Too much art, not enough map
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.