Middle-earth is a fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien spent his entire life developing this world, its people, languages, and history. Since such attention was given to the world by Tolkien, many believe Middle-earth to be one of the most vivid, lively, and deep fictional worlds, almost to the extent of our own. Middle-earth, as Tolkien wanted it, is a fictitious rendition of the history of our real world. Over the years Middle-earth has become an inspiration for many other Fantasy works including Dungeons & Dragons
, and the Warcraft
The creation of the world by Eru Ilúvatar (God).
The First Age
The shortest age in Middle-earth lore. It began with the first rising of the sun and the moon and the Awakening of Men, and ended with the War of Wrath and the defeat of Morgoth.
The Second AgeThe longest of the ages of Middle-earth and the one in which the rings of power were created, including the One Ring
. This was also the age of Númenor, which was an island kingdom of the Dúnedain belonging to the descendants of the Edan. The Dúnedain grew very powerful and explored east to Middle-earth. Eventually they grew so strong they challenged the Valar themselves (powerful spirits who give order to the world) and were destroyed. However some Númenóreans escaped, fled to Middle-earth, and built the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor
. They then forged an alliance with the other races of Middle-earth, in the Last Alliance of Elves
, and marched on the armies of Mordor
to face Sauron,
who had risen to power. They overthrew the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr and defeated Sauron.
The Third Age
The events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings took place in this age. The start of this age is marked when Isildur
, son of Elendil, planted the white tree of Gondor. He was then slayed by Orcs while traveling to Arnor and lost the ring of power in the river Anduin. Almost one thousand years later the five wizards Alatar, Gandalf
, Pallando, Radagast, and Saruman
arrived in Middle-earth. One century later the presence of Sauron was felt again, signaling the return of the Nazgûl. Three hundred years later still, the Witch-king
of Angmar invaded the northern kingdoms and soon after civil war struck Gondor. The Shire
was founded two hundred years after that and three hundred years later, Angmar was destroyed. Almost two thousand, five hundred years after the start of the age, Gollum acquired the ring of power. After five hundred years it was claimed by Bilbo Baggins
and passed on to his heir, Frodo Baggins
. Frodo journeyed to Mount Doom
and cast the ring into its fires, defeating Sauron once and for all. The age ended with the passing of the ring-bearers across the sea to the west.
The Fourth Age
Not much is known about this age, the last recorded by Tolkien.
Middle-earth is a very large area, with many important landmarks. Below are some of the most important:
The ShireWas founded in the middle of the Third Age by the Hobbits
Marcho and Blanco. It is the home to Bilbo, Frodo, Sam
, and Merry
. The Shire is divided into four farthings: North, East, South and West. The capital is Michel Delving in the Westfarthing. The Shire is mainly an agricultural region, for which it is well-suited.
An ancient colony inhabited by both Men and Hobbits.
A hidden refuge founded by Elrond
in the Second Age to protect against the attacks from Sauron, located next to the Misty Mountains in a deep valley.
The largest mountain range in Middle-earth, running for approximately one thousand miles. It was here that Bilbo found the One Ring.
Mines of Moria
Once home to the dwarves beneath the Misty Mountains. Their capital was Khazad-dûm, a great mansion that lies near the center of the mountains. Moria was rich in mithril, but eventually the miners dug into the chasm of a Balrog. The Balrog overran the city and forced the dwarves to abandon it.
The greatest forest in Middle-earth, it acquired its name after Sauron took refuge in the southern region as the Necromancer. It is home to the Wood Elves.
A woodland kingdom to the east of the Misty Mountains. Ruled by Galadriel and Celeborn in the Third Age. Home to the Silvan Elves.
Also called The Great River, it is the largest river in Middle-earth and is where Isildur lost the One Ring. It is also the river the fellowship travel down before parting ways.
Best described as wide grassy plains that stretch for miles, Rohan is home to the Rohirrim. Their king resides in Edoras, in the Golden Hall of Meduseld.
One of the two great nations of men in Middle-earth, Gondor is an outpost against Sauron. Minas Tirith is home to the king of men.
Got its name once Sauron made it his home. Sauron built the Tower of Barad-dûr, which was his stronghold. It is also the location of Orodruin (Mount Doom), where the One Ring was created, and the only place it may be destroyed.
The harbor at the mouth of the Gulf of Lhûn. This is where the Elves and ring-bearers pass into the Undying Lands at the end of the Third Age.
Peoples and Creatures
Middle-earth is home to a diverse range of races.
The spirits who, with Ilúvatar, created the world. Many of these spirits descended into Arda to help guide its growth. Fifteen were more powerful than the rest; of these fourteen became Valar while one, Melkor, became the first Dark Lord. Lesser Ainur are known as Maiar; examples of these are Olórin (Gandalf), Curumo (Saruman), and Sauron.
Immortal beings who were awoken by Cuiviénen, before even the first rise of the sun and moon. They are not subject to illness or natural death, but cannot join the mortal beings of Middle-earth in being free from attachment from the world in the Halls of Mandos. Examples are Legolas
The youngest race in Middle-earth (except maybe for Hobbits), they awoke when the sun first rose. They have the Gift of Death, given to them by Ilúvatar, which allows them to go beyond the confines of the world. Examples are Aragorn
, Boromir, and Denethor.
Created by Aulë the Smith and given life by Ilúvatar. They kept themselves separate from the other races of Middle-earth, keeping their language a well-guarded secret. Examples are Gimli
A mortal race related in an unknown way to men. They are short in stature, have curly hair, big bellies, and big, hairy feet. They do not wear shoes, as their feet grow a natural sole. Examples of these are Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry.
Not much is know for certain about their origin; they may have been bred from corrupted elves or men. Tolkien at first suggested they were corrupted elves, but has retracted that statement many times. They work as the foot soldier of the enemy, and prefer dark places, though Orcs bred later in the Third Age such as Uruk-hai could endure sunlight.
Giant people, who look a lot like trees. Their purpose is to guard the forests of Middle-earth. Treebeard
is a good example.