JRR Tolkien didn’t just love maps – he credited the entire world-building success The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to his cartographic exercises. And it’s no surprise that the new Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power honors Tolkien’s achievement in depicting Middle-earth in map form, both as a stylish technique and as a fundamental plot point relating to a very mysterious sigil.
In a 1954 letter to his friend and co-author Naomi Mitchison, Tolkien wrote: “I started wisely [The Lord of the Rings] with a map and adjusted the story (generally with meticulous care for distances). In his opinion, reverse-engineering a fantasy world “leads into confusion and impossibilities” and that mapping every square inch of Middle-earth was essential to becoming familiar with the intricacies of the story. In the same breath, he also apologized to Mitchison for sending the books without the drawings.
“Sorry about the geography,” he wrote. “Without a map or maps, it must have been terribly difficult.”
Tolkien’s work was card-worthy, and the tradition of beginning or capping a fantasy book with a card remains standard practice for genre publishers. But the illustrated works rarely lead to adaptations. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an exception to a point; While the first two episodes leapfrog through Middle-earth to introduce us to new Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Harfoots and others, the plot occasionally truncates to the same designs Tolkien drew from when piecing together Frodo’s story. It’s so exciting to see the damn map on screen that I wanted to see the whole thing. So here it is.
A few key locations appear in the first two episodes of Rings of Power, including Forodwaith, where Galadriel hunts for clues to a lingering evil; Rhovanion, home of the hobbit-like Harfoots; and the Eregion region, where one can find the dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm hidden beneath a mountain range. in the rings of power, The camera pans across parts of this map like in an Indiana Jones film. But the overall picture gives viewers a greater sense of detachment – just as Tolkien intended. Amazon even made an interactive version of this map so you can do your own dives.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy might be a little confused as to how the Second Age map aligns with more familiar locations like the Shire, Mines of Moria and Mordor. Luckily we have another map courtesy of The LOTR Project.
Based on JRR Tolkien’s sketches (and Christopher Tolkien’s more mathematically competent graph paper designs), the LOTR Project’s maps connect the landform points between Middle-earth’s past and the distant past. An interactive version of the above is, as you can imagine, an absolute delight.
The card fun doesn’t end here. Here’s a fun little spoiler for The Rings of Power.
[Ed. note: The following contains spoilers for The Rings of Power episode 3.]
In the first installment of the fantasy series, Galadriel discovers a symbol related to an ongoing evil in Middle-earth. She recognizes it instantly, burned into the icy cavestone of Forodwaith. In Episode 3, the elf finds herself in Númenor’s Hall of Law, where she finds the report of a spy recovered from an enemy dungeon. “He drew this to mark the Tower’s location,” explains Elendil, her familiar on Númenor. It turns out that the seal is a Maprecognizable to anyone who has studied the graphs above.
Galadriel recognizes this area on the map as the Southlands. Any counter-check with the Lord of the rings-era card will recognize it as Mordor.
A map is a story inherently created by vision and conveyed to whoever takes it on their journey. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power gets that more than most fantasy adaptations and builds it right into the graphics. But, of course, the resource on TV can only go so far. So take these maps and venture out. Tolkien knew his brilliant friend Naomi needed her and you would need her too.
https://www.polygon.com/23331136/lord-of-the-rings-middle-earth-map-rings-of-power Lord of the Rings maps to navigate Middle-earth of the Rings of Power