Mittwoch, 7. Dezember 2016

Maps created for "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians"

For the full-colour edition of this book, I have redrawn the whole set of maps included in "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians" that show the movements and settlements of barbarian peoples in the First to Third Age. On the new page "Global maps" I include the basic maps on which these others are based.

The Silmarillion map is fitted to the LotR map at the same scale. Turquoise river courses and the shorelines south of the isle of Balar are conjectural, though along the Bay of Belfalas supported by evidence given in HoMe XII. For simplicity's sake, the transition from Arda Flat to Arda Round has been ignored, as has the alleged extension of forests in the First Age of the sun.
There is some doubt to whether the Ice-Bay of Forochel really existed in the Second Age.

Note that the map of Númenor as published in UT gives a wrong impression: the surface of Númenor is actually as large as Beleriand!

Europe overlaid on the LotR map, based on
Tolkien's assertion that Hobbiton is at the
latitude (and, implicitly, longitude) of Oxford

Mittwoch, 24. August 2016

Has Frodo's vision been inspired by George Griffith?

Frodo's vision on Amon Hen, by Cor Blok
George Griffith's 1893 novel The Angel of the Revolution is a typical example of the "invasion literature" genre. Despite its lack of plausible characters or even plausible plots, it had been very popular in Great Britain between 1890 and 1914, usually featuring fictional invasions of England by either France or Germany. Griffith's scope is wider than that, as he created an admonition of WWI, anticipated to break out in 1904, ten years too soon. But a peculiar oddity in his narrative is a scene in which the leader of the 'Terrorists' somehow creates a psychic vision of the coming World War. This scene is rermarkable in several ways: First, it fits very badly into the overall context of the book, second, never does the leader do something like that again, But third: the vision beheld bears an uncanny resemblance to Frodo's vision on Amon Hen!

Let us compare. First, Griffith begins with a general overview:

"Then suddenly it seemed as though [his eyes] opened again of their own accord, and were endowed with an infinite power of vision. The trees and lawns of the home park of Alanmere and the dark rolling hills of heather beyond were gone, and in their place lay stretched out a continent which he saw as though from some enormous height, with its plains and lowlands and rivers, vast steppes and snowclad hills, forests and tablelands, huge mountain masses rearing lonely peaks of everlasting ice to a sunlight that had no heat; and then beyond these again more plains and forests, that stretched away southward until they merged in the all-surrounding sea."

Here follows the beginning of Frodo's vision in The Fellowship of the Rings:

"Then here and there the mist gave way and he saw many visions: small and clear as if they were under his eyes upon a table, and yet remote. ... The world seemed to have shrunk and fallen silent. ... Eastward he looked into wide uncharted lands, nameless plains, and forests unexplored. Northward he looked, and the Great River lay like a ribbon beneath him, and the Misty Mountains stood small and hard as broken teeth. Westward he looked and saw the broad pastures of Rohan; and Orthanc, the pinnacle of Isengard, like a black spike. Southward he looked, and below his very feet the Great River curled like a toppling wave and plunged over the falls of Rauros into a foaming pit; a glimmering rainbow played upon the fume. And Ethir Anduin he saw, the mighty delta of the River, and myriads of sea-birds whirling like a white dust in the sun, and beneath them a green and silver sea, rippling in endless lines."

Though the wording is different, the general structure is the same: We see very different landscapes, yet no sign of population, a sweeping view, and in the end: the sea.
Griffith continues:

"Then he seemed to be carried forward towards the scene until he could distinguish the smallest objects upon the earth, and he saw, swarming southward and westward, vast hordes of men, that divided into long streams, and poured through mountain passes and defiles, and spread themselves again over fertile lands, like locusts over green fields of young corn. And wherever those hordes swept forward, a long line of fire and smoke went in front of them, and where they had passed the earth was a blackened wilderness.
Then, too, from the coasts and islands vast fleets of war-ships put out, pouring their clouds of smoke to the sky, and making swiftly for the southward and westward, where from other coasts and islands other vessels put out to meet them, and, meeting them, were lost with them under great clouds of grey smoke, through which flashed incessantly long livid tongues of flame.
Then, like a panorama rolled away from him, the mighty picture receded and new lands came into view, familiar lands which he had traversed often. They too were black and wasted with the tempest of war from east to west, but nevertheless those swarming streams came on, countless and undiminished, up out of the south and east, while on the western verge vast armies and fleets battled desperately with each other on sea and land, as though they heeded not those locust swarms of dusky millions coming ever nearer and nearer."

Now Frodo's vision:

"But everywhere he looked he saw the signs of war. The Misty Mountains were crawling like anthills: orcs were issuing out of a thousand holes. Under the boughs of Mirkwood there was deadly strife of Elves and Men and fell beasts. The land of the Beornings was aflame; a cloud was over Moria; smoke rose on the borders of Lórien.
Horsemen were galloping on the grass of Rohan; wolves poured from Isengard. From the havens of Harad ships of war put out to sea; and out of the East Men were moving endlessly: swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen upon horses, chariots of chieftains and laden wains. All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion."

Again there are striking similarities. Griffith applies locusts, Tolkien uses ants. Hordes of men 'pour' through mountain passes and defiles, as do Tolkien's wolves. Warships leave their ports in both stories.
Next, there comes the city, unnamed in The Angel:

"Once more the scene rolled backwards, and he saw a mighty city closely beleaguered by two vast hosts of men, who slowly pushed their batteries forward until they planted them on all the surrounding heights and poured a hail of shot and shell upon the swarming, helpless millions that were crowded within the impassable ring of fire and smoke. Above the devoted city swam in mid-air strange shapes like monstrous birds of prey, and beneath where they floated the earth seemed ever and anon to open and belch forth smoke and flame into which the crumbling houses fell and burnt in heaps of shapeless ruins."

Does this not fit the Battle on the Pelennor Fields as well, particularly regarding those 'monstrous birds of prey'? Frodo as well perceives a city, but strays before war reaches it:

"Then turning south again he beheld Minas Tirith. Far away it seemed. and beautiful: white-walled, many-towered, proud and fair upon its mountain-seat; its battlements glittered with steel, and its turrets were bright with many banners. Hope leaped in his heart. But against Minas Tirith was set another fortress, greater and more strong. Thither, eastward, unwilling his eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul. and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. Darkness lay there under the Sun. Fire glowed amid the smoke. Mount Doom was burning, and a great reek rising. Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron. All hope left him."

Though it could not be said that Tolkien has plagiarised Griffith, the basic structure of both scenes is similar enough to raise suspicions. The three dominant elements are the very same, and they come in the same order: (1) a general overview of the setting, (2) an overview of the armies and fleets in motion, (3) a city to be beleaguered.

So, was Tolkien familiar with George Griffith's The Angel of the Revolution? Had he read it once? Did he perhaps consciously try to place this oddly esoteric scene in an otherwise very technocratic story into a better fitting context?

Montag, 11. Juli 2016

Topographic maps of Beleriand and Númenor

I found them at last: The English texted versions of the topographic maps of Beleriand and Númenor that I produced for my late father a few years before his death! I upload them here to celebrate the free give-away campaign of the Kindle edition of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians" at KDP Select, beginning on July 12 and lasting till July 15.

Both maps are enlarged to the same scale to show that Númenor is in fact as big as Beleriand, a fact that is somewhat obscured by the size of the map of Númenor provided in "Unfinished Tales". The colour pattern is that used on modern maps: dark green is lowest, followed by light green through yellow, brown and, ultimately, white.

A few assumptions and interpolations were required, especially to the north of Beleriand. What distinguishes a blank spot named Lothlann from another blank spot named Ard-Galen, so that it deserves a name of its own? Altitude, I assumed: Lothlann is here in fact the bed of an ancient glacier lake that has at some point in early history issued through Maglor's Gap, carving the valley of the Gelion and giving Amon Ereb a distinct tear-like shape, when the floods sculpted it. 

Altitudes and vegetation are otherwise interpolated from the texts while the submarine shelfs are based on conjecture only. There are a few more roads than on the official maps because, I assumed, they are needed to connect the places of settlement.

I have never produced LotR maps in that style, because in the same scale that would require eight sheets, with some of them looking rather empty.

Samstag, 4. Juni 2016

A map of Middle-earth in the Second Age

This is a map of Middle-earth in the Second Age that complements the one of the First Age. Note that Beleriand is outlined as submerged west of the Ered Luin. The shape of the Bay of Belfalas is different from the familiar LotR map, based on the description of the inundations in HoMe XII.

Samstag, 7. Mai 2016

Marching through Lothlann

Ouch - I noticed a slight glitch in "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians". Browsing my old Tolkien editions I noticed that I had not been aware of the entry in the Grey Annals (History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11) which states that the Swarthy Men entered Beleriand via Lothlann, far in the north. On the general map of Middle-earth in Fig. 3 I had accordingly placed the arrow that indicates their route too far to the south, between Belegost and Nogrod. This minor error I have amended now, a matching sentence added in the text and the edited print file uploaded to CreateSpace, both for the colour and the b/w edition of the collective volume. The old two-volume edition I shall leave unedited: There is no point in amending a map that, the readers and I agree, is anyway of inferior printing quality.

Mittwoch, 27. April 2016

The Brolly of the Pelennor Fields

What if Lobelia Sackville-Baggins had joined the Fellowship of the Rings? Find the answer here:

Excerpt from "History of Middle-earth, Vol. XIII: The Rejected Pages". Chapter "The Brolly of the Pelennor Fields":

In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.
  All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dínen.
  'You cannot enter here,' said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. 'Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!'
  The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
  'Old fool!' he said. 'Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!' And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.
  Then Lobelia Sackville-Baggins stepped up to Gandalf. There was a scornful frown on her brow.
  'Get out of the way, old scum,' she snapped at the astonished wizard and poised herself between Shadowfax and the ghastly mare of the Nazgûl Lord. Then she raised Rhosorthelian, the Rainscreen, Umbrella of Westernesse, and prepared herself to club it on the Black Captain's invisible scalp. With the same fell voice that she used on the Sackville-Baggins property to shoo her servants around she said:
Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion!
  'Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Whoever desires to enter this city has to pass my brolly first. Begone, if you be not painless! For living or dark undead, smite you I shall if you dare to set but one more step ahead from here!'
  And when they heard those words, many a Man of Gondor was reminded of his wife or of his aunt or grandmother at home, and there was much groaning and bowing of heads on the walls of Minas Tirith, and some brave warriors took their helms off and rubbed their skulls in memory of suffered pain. And the Ringwraith made no answer but fell silent, and it seemed that he was struck by the terrifying thought of a long forgotten youth most dreadful, in ages past when Númenor had still been gleaming under the bright sun. And then, King, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgûl, he left the Gate and vanished.
  And the orcs and Variags and Men of Harad, they turned and fled, for now doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was no match to the memory of what most they feared, and looking back at the fierceness of the Umbrella of Westernesse that was wielded to terror by aunt Lobelia, they despaired. And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was over; and not one foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas, and to the land of the Haradrim came a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of the Sackville-Bagginses.
  'What,' said Gandalf deep in thought and wonder, 'is a dwimmerlaik?'
  'A bogey I used to scare little Lotho with,' Lobelia said.

Donnerstag, 17. März 2016

A map of Europe projected on Middle-earth

This is another map I produced for the extended edition of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians". It has Europe superimposed on the LotR map.

The basis for this exercise was Tolkien's statement in Letter 294, recently confirmed by the draft for the Pauline Baynes map, that Hobbiton was located at the latitude (and, implicitly, the longitude) of Oxford. An earlier, more tentative version of this map I had produced many years ago, but now I was delighted to find that my computations from back then have been confirmed by Tolkien's notes on the Baynes draft!

The present map also helped to identify the latitude of Erebor. Entering this value into the free astronomy software "Stellarium" then allowed me to run a set of simulations that showed the positions of the sun and moon in the sky at Durin's Day and, from there, to establish the entire lunar almanac of "The Hobbit". The results of this simulation are part of my other book, "The Moon in 'The Hobbit'" (see the links at the bottom of this page).

Donnerstag, 10. März 2016

Middle-earth seen by the barbarians available in b/w or full colour!

Both extended editions of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians" - full colour or b/w - are now available for purchase. They include the updated content of both original volumes that originally derived from essays published on Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages:

I - The Indigenous Peoples of Eriador and Gondor
Compiling the fragments on the culture and history of the pre-Númenóreans of Middle-earth from many different sources written by JRRT, with a special focus on the Dunlendings.

II - The Lossoth and the Forodwaith
The peoples in the far north about which very little is known. This chapter is accordingly short.

III - The Lost History of the Men of Darkness
Compiling culture and history of the various tribes and nations of Easterlings and Southrons, from Wainriders to Variags. This is quite the longest chapter.

IV - The Third Realm in Exile
A special chapter devoted to the Black Númenóreans and the history of Umbar, that other Realm in Exile besides Arnor and Gondor.

V - The mysterious King Bladorthin
About the one king who fits into no genealogy of the kingdoms of Middle-earth and the probable history of his kingdom

Two Appendices discuss the etymology of the name Bladorthin and the arithmetical approach to superimposing a grid of latitudes and longitudes on the LotR map.
A third Appendix, not previously published, discusses certain elements of the recently discovered draft that Pauline Baynes referred to in her 1969 map of Middle-earth and what they additionally reveal about the barbarians of Middle-earth.

The luxurious full-colour edition is available from here:…/…/ref=sr_1_4…

 For readers with a smaller purse, a less expensive b/w edition is available, too:…/…/ref=sr_1_5…

Mittwoch, 9. März 2016

A map of Middle-earth in the First Age

Codex Regius books: Middle-earth seen by the barbarians, the full-colo...: This is one of the basic maps of Middle-earth that I have designed for the full-colour collective edition of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians."

Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages relaunched

Hi there!

Changing our provider has required a new online address of Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages and, taking the chance, a major overhaul of its layout. As you may know by now, a couple of the larger and more significant essays on the history, astronomy and linguistics of Middle-earth have been collected in book volumes on behalf of collectors who prefer to have everything on their bookshelves that relates to J.R.R. Tolkien and the world of Middle-earth. The rest will stay here and subsequently expanded again.

Note, please, that the "Tolkien on Audio" section, known from the old Science Pages, is gone. With an entire new generation of musicians inspired by Tolkien's works especially in the Hard Rock & Metal scene I feel incapable of keeping trace and, therefore, I could not do adequate justice to many of those dedicated artists.

Another highlight is the publication of the full-colour extended edition of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians" that has previously been published in two b/w volumes. Some readers have with good reason commented on the quality of the maps printed in those books, which is owed to the fact that CreateSpace generally reduces b/w print to 300 dpi. With them, colour print has a much better quality that, in my eyes, justifies the higher price if all pages are produced in colour. Hence, I revised not only the maps but the entire layout of "Barbarians" and I added a section discussing elements on the recently discovered draft that Pauline Baynes had used to compile her full-colour LotR map of 1969.

I have approved of the review today and the full-colour edition of "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians" is now available in print here: Middle-earth seen by the barbarians, full-colour extended edition, March 2016 .

For readers with a smaller budget, a b/w extended edition of the same book will follow within the next few days.