Understanding Middle Earth: Essays on Tolkien's Middle-Earth

Overview

Michael Martinez begins a comprehesive study of Tolkien's imaginery history by "Browsing the Compleat Middle-Earth Library". His trademark conversational tone and style introduce Tolkien's readers to new persepctives on Elves, Hobbits, Numenorians, and other fantastic inhabitants of Middle-Earth.

Advising that "...if you really want to see where it all came from...you first need to see what it all is", Martinez explores Tolkien's pseudo-history in detail, analyzing the ...

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Overview

Michael Martinez begins a comprehesive study of Tolkien's imaginery history by "Browsing the Compleat Middle-Earth Library". His trademark conversational tone and style introduce Tolkien's readers to new persepctives on Elves, Hobbits, Numenorians, and other fantastic inhabitants of Middle-Earth.

Advising that "...if you really want to see where it all came from...you first need to see what it all is", Martinez explores Tolkien's pseudo-history in detail, analyzing the motivations and values of Middle-Earth's civilizations as described by Tolkien himself. Extensive research on Tolkien's Second Age, a mysterious era spanning thousands of years, illuminates the second "fall" of Tolkien's Elves, who made the dreadful Rings of Power, withheld vital knowledge from their allies, and exposed all of Middle-Earth to Sauron's evil.

Finally, Martinez provides a wealth of insightful commentary, quoting Tolkien's letters and his son Christopher's extensive documentation, on those of Tolkien's sources which are often missed by other researchers.

You will never look at Middle-Earth the same way again after reading Understanding Middle-Earth.

About the Author:
Michael Martinez has been active in science fiction and fantasy fandom for many years. He organized the first Hercules and Xena fan programming track for Dragoncon, North America's largest fan-run science fiction convention, in 1998. In 2000, he moved on to organize Dragoncon's Tolkien and Middle-Earth fan programming track. As a widely recognized expert on Tolkien's Middle-Earth mythology, Martinez has been called upon by companies around the world to share his insight for their special Tolkien projects. His research has appeared in numerous Tolkien journals, and he launched the long-running and popular Tolkien and Middle-Earth topic for the Suite101 website in late 1999.

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Editorial Reviews

The SFSite
This is a book for seekers of deeper understanding -- in bite-sized chunks -- of the complex personalities, histories, races and themes that make up Tolkien's magical realm. (March 2005)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587761454
  • Publisher: Vivisphere Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/17/2003
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    Great reference book! Well worth the read!

    If there is one thing I know about Tolkien it is that I love to read what Michael Martinez has to say. Middle-earth just comes alive under his hand. The only other person who can make Middle-earth seem so real is J.R.R. Tolkien himself. How many hours does Michael put into these books? He must spend his days poring through books, looking for all the little details he brings together. He shares his insights into Middle-earth so eloquently, the reader gets lost in the fun. Anyone who decries the quality of this research either has an axe to grind or just doesn't recognize great work when they see it. The citations are clear and frequent but they don't overload the writing. Anyone who wants to check the facts knows where Michael gets his information from. I cannot find any details that are incorrect. There are some typos in the book and they occasionally spoil the reading. But don't blame the copyediting on the author. He knows this material like no one else. If you have read The Lord of the Rings and want to know what else Tolkien wrote about Middle-earth, buy this book. You won't regret it! Unless you just don't like Michael Martinez.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2004

    Two Thumbs Up for Michael Martinez!

    Michael Martinez does it again! His first book, ¿Visualizing Middle Earth¿, brought many aspects of Tolkien¿s Middle Earth alive for me but ¿Understanding Middle Earth¿ goes even further. Michael¿s friendly conversational style of writing was easy for me to understand and assimilate. His witty and clever essays answered many complicated questions that I, as a Tolkien fan, had agonized over. Michael`s writing reflects his vast knowledge of not only Tolkien¿s published works but also his notes and unfinished stories later published by Christopher Tolkien in the History of Middle Earth series. I found his writing style to be neither dry nor boring. If anything, this author has made studying Tolkien even more fun! This is a great book for the serious and as well as the not so serious Tolkien fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2004

    So Much Good and So Much Not So Good

    The author describes himself as a populist commentator. Not only is that an apt dexcription but it demonstrates the problems and advantages of this book. As a populist writer, Martinez aims his book at anyone, any age, who appreciates Tolkien. That is a good thing, and his unprofessional and unprepossessing style help that aim along considerably. Unfortunately it also means that no one has checked the facts and interpretations of the work either. And this regrettably is glaring in some instances. Finally one must beware the exaggerations of the publisher's blurbs. The above review was written by the editor after all, as can easily be seen by the commonalities in phrasing between the publisher's blurb and the review. One wonders after reading the book just what sources the publisher and author claim that Martinez has examined and plumbed that other commentators have missed or overlook? If those commentators are people who post on Internet bulletin boards, then perhaps this comment is cogent. But if those commentators who have missed so much are those contributors to professional journals, to society journals such as Amon Hen or Mythlore, or authors such as Dr. Shippey or Dr. Drout or Dr. Chance, then I'm afraid that the publisher and author are simply lieing to an unsuspecting popular consumer. In the end I would recommend the books by Tom Shippey and the society journals if one wants to explore Tolkien further rather than this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2003

    Great Popular commentary on Middle-earth!

    Michael Martinez follows up his first book on Tolkien's Middle-earth with an even better one. His trademark conversational tone and style introduce Tolkien's readers to new persepctives on Elves, Hobbits, Numenorians, and other fantastic inhabitants of Middle-Earth. Advising that '...if you really want to see where it all came from...you first need to see what it all is', Martinez explores Tolkien's pseudo-history in detail, analyzing the motivations and values of Middle-Earth's civilizations as described by Tolkien himself. Extensive research on Tolkien's Second Age, a mysterious era spanning thousands of years, illuminates the second 'fall' of Tolkien's Elves, who made the dreadful Rings of Power, withheld vital knowledge from their allies, and exposed all of Middle-Earth to Sauron's evil. Finally, Martinez provides a wealth of insightful commentary, quoting Tolkien's letters and his son Christopher's extensive documentation, on those of Tolkien's sources which are often missed by other researchers. You will never look at Middle-Earth the same way again after reading Understanding Middle-Earth!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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