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The Atlas Of Middle-Earth


Sep 9 2012, 3:09am

Post #1 of 14 (1132 views)
The Atlas Of Middle-Earth Can't Post

I just bought the Atlas Of Middle-Earth I've been thumbing through it and it is amazing so far it really brings the world to life. It made me understand The Silmarillion a little better I'm gonna start reading that pretty soon what do you guys think of it?

Grey Havens

Sep 9 2012, 3:48am

Post #2 of 14 (511 views)
It's wonderful. [In reply to] Can't Post

The details of the whens and where everyone was is fantastic.

The Atlas served as fantastic source material and inspiration for the fanfic endeavors I engaged in at The Burping Troll.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com


Sep 9 2012, 7:10am

Post #3 of 14 (512 views)
Seconded [In reply to] Can't Post

I've heard tell that lots of folks think it's not as accurate as it should be, but I haven't heard it explained why.

I'm re-reading the Silmarillion myself right now, and have been glancing at Fonstad's maps when I pass through the local library to help me track various things. E.g. getting a mental picture of the various sunderings of the elves on their journey from Cuivienen to Aman is a bit difficult, just based on the text.


Sep 9 2012, 10:06am

Post #4 of 14 (530 views)
Maybe lots of folks think it's not as accurate as it should be [In reply to] Can't Post

but I think it's a matter of opinion. I think the Atlas is great and have used it a lot; read LotR through with the Atlas at hand, it was a whole new experience. It clearifyed much about the Sil, and its Ambarcanta-intro thrilled me so much.
One thing I didn't agree with was her north/south-alignment of the Blue Mountains, I always felt, that Mount Rerir was located at the northern outcropping of the BM on the professor's maps in LotR, but then I just made my own map for use in my fanfics.
BTW my copy of the Atlas from 1992 is read to shreds, I'm going to find a hardbound edition for the future.

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo

(This post was edited by Asger on Sep 9 2012, 10:09am)

Tol Eressea

Sep 9 2012, 11:23am

Post #5 of 14 (499 views)
It's a good thing to be a map lover in this fandom... [In reply to] Can't Post

...just saying.

And yeah, the maps are very helpful, just as long as you remember what is drawn by Tolkien himself and what is based on interprations and assumptions.

Btw, the final LotR map is also drawn Christopher, not J.R.R. Besides from the scetches in HoME, do we have J.R.R.'s original LotR map? No? Because it's supposed to be somewhat different from Chris' final product?

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied

Grey Havens

Sep 9 2012, 2:28pm

Post #6 of 14 (500 views)
stamp of approval [In reply to] Can't Post

In any event the maps for The Lord of the Rings were ultimately approved for publication by Tolkien himself, and in some cases he chose to accept the maps as published and alter his own text to better agree with something on a map.

I hold the map by Pauline Baynes to be Tolkien-approved as well, as JRRT himself contributed to its making.

The Silmarillion scenario is different obviously. And just to note it here: Christopher Tolkien thought the area of the far north of Beleriand was too problematic to include in The Silmarillion, although KW Fonstad's Atlas 'gives it a shot' anyway.

Tol Eressea

Sep 9 2012, 3:24pm

Post #7 of 14 (470 views)
It's accurate enough for me - [In reply to] Can't Post

- and, I know a bit about Tolkien. Wink

Grey Havens

Sep 9 2012, 7:07pm

Post #8 of 14 (456 views)
accurate see [In reply to] Can't Post

I've heard tell that lots of folks think it's not as accurate as it should be, but I haven't heard it explained why.

Rather than 'as accurate as it should be' for myself I would rather say that I've found (so far) a relatively small number of things I disagree with, or perhaps, things that are open to interpretation at least.

I could explain them I guess, but the bottom line would still be that I think the book is highly recommended in any case. Of course most people, I would guess, are probably not likely to go through the Atlas and cross check everything with the books or existing draft maps, but for example that I stumbled over, I can't agree with KWF's inclusion of an Elf named Ingil building a tower in Eressea.

To me that's conflating an early idea with later ideas -- or perhaps it's better described as: including an early idea that had arguably been abandoned by JRRT -- but as I say even if my argument is solid enough about that, it's a rather small detail compared to very many things that I probably do agree with, or could find no fault with. I also don't necessarily agree with the depiction of the Western mountains of Hithlum, for another example...

... but I can't prove that I am 'correct' while KWF is wrong, even if I were to try and explain why I disagree with it.

Noel Q. von Schneiffel

Sep 10 2012, 6:52am

Post #9 of 14 (446 views)
KWF and Hithlum's mountains [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I also don't necessarily agree with the depiction of the Western mountains of Hithlum, for another example...

Yes, those are a bit inconsistent, aren't they? In the main map of Beleriand, the mountains of Hithlum swing far to the northwest, giving the country an elongated shape. In many of the smaller maps, there is an additional mountain range that makes the country look more square.

If I am not mistaken, KWF changed the concept of those mountains for the second edition of the atlas, from square to elongated, and probably didn't get around to correct all maps. I dimly remember that in the first edition, the country was always square. But I could be wrong there, since I read the 1st edition ages ago, lent from a school friend. I own only the 2nd edition today.

The Glorious Truth of J.R.R. Tolkien
Radiates from his Holy Writings


Grey Havens

Sep 10 2012, 12:12pm

Post #10 of 14 (431 views)
Into Hithlum [In reply to] Can't Post

My question concerns the geography of the Firth of Drengist and the Gate of the Noldor:

Feanor burns the ships, and (according to Of The Return Of The Noldor, Silmarillion): '... went up the long Firth of Drengist that pierced the Echoing Hills of Ered Lómin, and passed thus from the shores into the great land of Hithlum;...' and in the next sentence, the Orcs 'came through the passes of Ered Wethrin'. I note this second part only because it is so close to the first, but I don't get the feeling that Feanor had to seek out any mountain passes here (in a land new to him).

In other words, even though we are admittedly dealing with highly compressed history here, there seems to be no suggestion that Feanor crossed any mountains, or considerable heights, but rather followed a natural gap that 'pierced' the Ered Lómin. Fingolfin appears to have taken this course as well, because Morgoth sends an army that attempts to enter Hithlum from the West '... and came down the coasts to the Firth of Drengist, by the route that Fingolfin followed from the Grinding Ice.' (also from Of The Return Of The Noldor, Silmarllion).

This would seem a natural entry into Hithlum from the Sea, for large enough numbers even, and both the maps for The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin appear to reflect this. Description in the Grey Annals is similiar enough to the Silmarillion (section 43): 'Drengist is a long firth which pierces the Echoing Hills of Eryd Lómin that are the west fence of the great country of Hithlum. Thus the host of Feanor passed from the shores into the inner regions of Hithlum...'

Tolkien's map (The War of the Jewels) is interesting here: there looks to be a gap in the mountains, although granted this style of depicting mountains is different from the style which KWF employs. And also the river from the mountains of Mithrim has a clear gap in its course, above which is written Annon Gelyð...


'C 4 The clearly marked gap in the stream flowing into the Firth of Drengist represents its passage underground; with the name Annon Gelyð cf. Annon-in-Gelydh (the Gate of the Noldor) in the later Tale of Tuor, Unfinished Tales p. 18. (...)' Christopher Tolkien, The War of the Jewels

In the later Fall of Gondolin (Unfinished Tales) Annael speaks of departing into the South, but Tuor wonders how they can do so and escape the net of their enemies. The answer is: the Gate of the Noldor, made in the days of Turgon. In the Quenta Silmarillion it is noted that thus Tuor's flight from Hithlum: '... was marked by neither Man nor Orc, and no knowledge of it ever came to the ears of Morgoth.' (as in Qenta Noldorinwa, in The Shaping of Middle-Earth). There is another passage in the later Fall of Gondolin however, in which Tuor sees the Echoing Mountains: '... that in those regions marched north and south, fencing off the far coastlands of the Western shores'

This latter description seems to say there is no obvious gap, although generally speaking these mountains were a fence from the West. Anyway, could we have a pass through the mountains large enough to allow for a considerable host to travel, without actually crossing mountains. And if secrecy is wanted, later Annon-in Gelydh is available, but which must be close enough to this gap, as the tunnel issued into Cirith Ninniach.

But I note Karen Wynn Fonstad's map (pages 8 and 14 in my edition of her Atlas of Middle-earth, revised edition): it looks to me as if there is no real gap in the Echoing Mountains, and the Firth of Drengist seems to turn into the river that flows within Cirith Ninniach -- which river disappears into a cliff face, emerging later at the Gate of the Noldor.

This appears to follow Tuor's journey well enough, but what about in earlier days, considering the passage of both Feanor and Fingolfin's host into Hithlum? Or maybe I just missed something.

In other words, according to KW Fonstad's map, how did Feanor and Fingolfin, and some orcs, pass into Hithlum? Especially the orcs, as they came the coasts and chose the same way as the Elves -- in other words, if all are crossing notable mountains here, why this point necessarily?


Sep 11 2012, 5:13pm

Post #11 of 14 (378 views)
Great Book! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love looking at the blueprints of the buildings such as Bag End and The Prancing Pony! Great book everyone should own this book.


Sep 11 2012, 6:32pm

Post #12 of 14 (446 views)
The Atlas Of Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

I bought The Atlas Of Middle-earth (Revised Edition) by Karen Wynn Fonstad in August last year for I thought it might be useful but I've not yet reading it. Comments here do not make me regret this purchase. I'll read it one day when I am short of high fantasy litterature.

(This post was edited by sam90 on Sep 11 2012, 6:33pm)


Sep 20 2012, 9:51am

Post #13 of 14 (373 views)
That's a good endorsement, imo [In reply to] Can't Post

I might have to check this book out!

Tol Eressea

Sep 20 2012, 9:14pm

Post #14 of 14 (616 views)
Kind of you to say so ! [In reply to] Can't Post


And, do give this book a try - like Niggle's leaf it has a charm of its own.


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