a better map of a classic imaginary place

This blog’s complex relationship with the works of JRR Tolkien is well known (search “Tolkien” for assorted links), but there’s no denying that Middle Earth is a complex setting that lends itself to the best in fantasy cartography.  And if there’s one thing this blog loves, it’s a really good map of an imaginary place.  I was never totally in love with the classic map of Middle Earth drawn by Tolkien himself, as reproduced in every paperback “Lord of the Rings” volume that we read until the spine cracked and pages were yellow and soft, back when we were young.  Whatever hand drawn and lettered character that map had was lost in the smeary, squinty fifth generation copy, and it wasn’t detailed enough to actually be useful as an aid in following the story.  This is much better.MAP-OF-MIDDLE-EARTH-VERSION-7It’s old news now, apparently, but today I discovered this amazing map of Middle Earth, made by a man called Thierry Jungels in France and dated 2004.  Now, that’s a useful map– rich in detail and well proportioned.  Already the story (so familiar that I can tell it to myself even though I haven’t reread it in probably 20 years) makes more sense to me.  This map just seems to give me a better sense of the space involved.  There are quibbles–the font is definitely Tolkienesque, but it comes at the cost of readability. If nothing else, the Tolkien style font could have been kept for the large divisions from the original map and the details set in a coordinating Roman for contrast and better small size legibility.  And that cobalt blue and the rest of the old school colors are just vulgar to modern eyes.   But the map is undeniably both a functional tour de force and a genuine labor of love.

I never thought I’d say this about any piece of creative work, much less a map, but it’s actually tempting me to do something I’ve never thought I’d do again.  I know exactly where to find it, that soft, yellow, broken spined paperback Fellowship of the Ring I bought with my allowance back in 1974  …

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4 Responses to a better map of a classic imaginary place

  1. Rick Santman says:

    This map is nice, but I still prefer the original….at least, the blown-up-huge version bound into the hardcover edition as a multipage foldout. Now THAT’S a map.

  2. Rick Santman says:

    Oh, and it’s high time you reread the Trilogy if you haven’t read it since the films came out. I average a complete reread every three years or so.

  3. Pam Bliss says:

    I’m not saying I don’t have a sentimental attachment to the first map– but I never had the hardback edition so I never saw it in a large size and well reproduced. And it’s been way longer than the movie era since I reread the trilogy. I know I read it once in this house when I had the flu for like a week when Scooter was still a young dog. I remember sitting on the couch with him … and that was at least 20 years ago.
    It’s time. Once I finish this thriller and the Terry Pratchett I have started and the book on surrealist games.

    • JUNGELS says:

      Hello, my job was not to make a beautiful map. Because in reality I can not draw.
      It was as if I was out with a simple t-shirt in freezing winter. I had to choose between an ugly but very warm coat or do nothing.
      I chose the ugly coat and I started to work because for me the most important was to find my way in middle earth. Regardless of the dress I was taking.
      My original work, even if it is not very good to many amateur of old map is in my home, warm. I’ve never been on the internet.
      The map is very big and each pixel has been cleaned because in 2004 I had a program that mixed a little color to each layer is added. The pixels cleaning work took me an incredible time.
      So be aware that in 2004 I deliberately put the map on the internet in a version that allowed to be read on a screen but in a “poor” version.
      We must also imagine that the size is as big as a wall! I had to make huge efforts to zoom to enlarge and shrink the image when placing names.
      Despite all we can say about the hestetique of the image, it is made entirely with my ridiculous computer from 2004!
      I remain proud because tens of thousands of fans of the Lord of the Rings from over 150 countries have used for over 10 years. That through what is called the personal pages.
      The pages were a little personal space on the web that operators offered free when you had an account with them.
      I had placed my website on it. And then in 2011 I quit my account with my operator. They let my personal pages up until early 2016!
      Then they removed my pages and everything is gone!
      We are in 2016 and I just saw your nice words for my work in this article from 2014. So I thank you for your kindness and I wish you a good trip in middle earth! Sincerely, Thierry JUNGELS.

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