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The Atlas of Middle-earth

The Atlas of Middle-Earth
The Atlas of Middle-earth.jpg
AuthorKaren Wynn Fonstad
PublisherHoughton Mifflin
Released29 May 1981
1991 (revised edition)
FormatPaperback
Pages210
ISBN0395535166 (1991 revised edition) 0618126996 (2001 reprint)

The Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad is an atlas of various lands in Arda. It includes specific maps for The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, for which it is intended as a reading companion.

Contents

[edit] Contents

The maps are treated as if they are of real landscapes, and are drawn according to the same rules that a real atlas is drawn: for each area the history of the land is taken into account, as well as geography on a larger scale and from there maps are drawn. Discussion includes suggestions as to the geology that could explain various formations, and points that are contradictory between multiple accounts.

City maps and floor plans for important buildings are also included; these are very often useful for making sense of the narratives, especially in The Lord of the Rings. As well, many battles such as those of Beleriand, the Last Alliance and the War of the Ring are illustrated.

The book was published in 1981, but in 1991 a revised and updated version was published, which took information from The History of Middle-earth into account. In 2001, the publishers issued a reprint of the 1991 revised edition with a new cover (pictured) but identical contents.

Fonstad also made a bold attempt to fill the gaps by using early conceptual work, mainly from The Book of Lost Tales Part One and the Ambarkanta, combining the later known maps with the sketches used by Tolkien to provide "world maps" of Arda in its entirety and show Aman, Beleriand's position relative to Eriador, and the place of Númenor in the Sea.

It was, however, published before the final three volumes of The History of Middle-earth were published, and thus some maps are based on Tolkien's early works, which were revised in later writings.

[edit] Errors and criticism

Despite being a thoroughly researched and well-respected reference book, the Atlas is known to contain several errors. However, a number of these were corrected in the revised edition, as noted below.

[edit] Inconsistencies with earlier publications

  • Pages 4 and 5: The Grey Mountains are shown in western Haradwaith south of the Great Gulf rather than in the Southlands.[1]
  • Page 13: Nogrod is shown north of Belegost, and both south of Mount Dolmed. The Silmarillion states that Nogrod was the more southerly of the two. The Shaping of Middle-earth states that Gabilgathol (Belegost) was "north of the great height of Mount Dolmed".
  • Pages 39 and 88: On both pages, Drúwaith Iaur is shown north of the Ered Nimrais and south of the Angren, and on page 39 extending east below the Adorn. In the Unfinished Tales map, Drúwaith Iaur is in the narrow area between the ocean and the southern Ered Nimrais, south of the mouth of the Angren.[2]
  • Page 71: Hardbottle is shown in the Southfarthing rather than the Northfarthing.[3] Sackville, shown in the Southfarthing, is entirely invented (compare the Sackville Family).
  • Page 89: Tarnost is shown as a city separate from Ethring though it may be a discarded name for the latter from early drafts.[4]
  • Pages 92 and 93: Lithlad is shown in the south of Mordor rather than the northeast.
  • Page 99: It is written that Bilbo gave the Arkenstone to the Elvenking and Bard on 22 November, then Dáin arrived in the early morning on 23 November. In The Hobbit, Bilbo gave away the Arkenstone and then returned before midnight to wake up Bombur.[5] The next day, there was a new parley, it was revealed that the Elves and Men had the Arkenstone, and Thorin expelled Bilbo from the Lonely Mountain. On the next morning, Dáin arrived.[6] Fonstad's timeline has Dáin arrive in one day, while the text of The Hobbit has him arrive in two days. Either Dáin must have arrived on 24 November or Bilbo must have handed over the Arkenstone late on 21 November.
  • Page 106: In The Hobbit, the Dwarves saw a fire off in the woods. "The light was ahead of them and to the left of the path".[7] In Fonstad's map the dwarves left the path to the right. (Corrected in 2nd edition.)
  • Page 125: Combe is shown laying to the northwest of Staddle on the east side of the Bree-hill, while in fact Combe should lie a little east of Staddle's location.[8]

[edit] Inconsistencies with later publications

Both the first and second editions of the Atlas were written before the final three volumes of The History of Middle-earth were published, so at certain points it is contradicted by this later material. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, which was published between the first and second editions of the Atlas, is not taken into account in the revision.

  • Page viii: Middle-earth dominates much of the northern hemisphere of Arda made round, with Forochel being high in the polar regions of the world and Umbar laying more than halfway southward between the northern pole and the equator.
    • In Letter 294, Tolkien confirms that Hobbiton is intended to be at the latitude of Oxford, with Minas Tirith 600 miles south being near to the latitude of Florence. With this information, it is clear that Middle-earth would be hardly as large as it appears on the Atlas map of a round Arda.
  • Pages 4 and 5: The Sea of Helcar is seen to cover the area of future Mordor, Khand, and Rhûn, and the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen are shown as its remnants. The Orocarni in the East are approximately 800 to 1700 miles away from the Misty Mountains.
    • In The Peoples of Middle-earth, there are references to the Sea of Rhûn existing in the First Age, as well as the forest to its northeast and the hills to its southwest, indicating that it must be separate from the Sea of Helcar.
    • The Peoples of Middle-earth also indicates that the distance between the Orocarni in the East and the Misty Mountains, specifically Gundabad, was said to be as great or greater than that of Gundabad's distance to the Blue Mountains in the West.[9]
  • Pages 38 and 39: The western shores of Lindon and the Ethir Anduin are shown to exist in the Second Age of the world as they did in the Third Age.
    • The Peoples of Middle-earth tells that during the Downfall of Númenor, Lindon lost much land to the advancing shores, while the eastern and southern portions of the Bay of Belfalas retreated back, putting the city of Pelargir, which had been only a few miles from the coast, much farther inland.

[edit] Internal inconsistencies

[edit] Typographical errors

[edit] Use of early sources

The usage of early concepts of the The Book of Lost Tales Part One alongside the established canon is questionable. In Aman, Fonstad identified the early name "Hanstovánen" and also describes various dwellings of the Valar in Valinor. The same happens with Tol Eressëa, whose Second Age map portrays Tavrobel and Kortirion, and Gondolin, where several landmarks are brought in from early works. Fonstad seems to have been aware of the potential issues with incorporating these places named in early writings, and explicitly points out the especially speculative nature of these maps of the Undying Lands in the accompanying text.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Of the Fashion of the World" p. 239
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index, "Map"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 771
  4. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 139
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Thief in the Night"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", Note 4