150 votes
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What lies in Mordor besides Mount Doom and Barad-dur?

Mordor has more than just a mountain and a tower. As you can see from Tolkien's annotated map (bottom), the Mountain of Doom and Tower of Sauron merely make up a small corner of Mordor, namely the ...
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  • 75.4k
113 votes
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What was the tallest structure built in Middle-earth?

It depends what you mean by "structure" In terms of freestanding structures, which I think you are most interested in, it would probably be Barad-dûr with a height of at least (and even perhaps much ...
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  • 10.6k
101 votes
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How well does Shadow of Mordor fit into Middle-earth canon?

There appear to be a number of "disconnects" of various types between the text and the game (even between the movies and the game). To begin with, in the text there was never a garrison of Gondor ...
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  • 19.4k
96 votes
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Are there other dragons in Middle-earth by the time of The Hobbit?

I think in The Hobbit "An Unexpected Party" the Dwarves talk shop, including discussing "the depredations of dragons" indicating that Smaug is not the only dragon then active in Middle-earth. In the ...
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96 votes
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Was the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug lived, a volcano?

Speaking as a geologist: The Lonely Mountain is probably an extinct volcano. J. R. R. Tolkien depicted the mountain several times in sketches and watercolors, and in most of them the volcano is steep-...
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82 votes
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Are the mountains surrounding Mordor natural?

Mordor was probably created during the War of Wrath This is a footnote from one of Tolkien's late texts: [Orodruin and its eruptions] were a relic of the devastating works of Melkor in the long ...
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  • 10.6k
75 votes
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What happened next in Middle-earth?

Was Evil Eradicated From the World When Sauron Was Destroyed? Certainly not. Evil still exists, but it won't be represented by a single entity in the future, until, perhaps, the end of the world. &...
69 votes
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What is the oldest object in Middle-earth?

The Silmaril cast by Maedhros into a chasm, is in Middle-Earth, deep in Middle-earth in fact; and is one of the oldest objects in it, having been crafted by Fëanor in the early-to-middle First Age ...
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  • 1,392
68 votes

Were there any democracies in Middle-earth?

As I was typing the question, the answer came to my memory. Ents seemed to be pretty democratic (seemingly verging in anarchist in everyday life) - they had a council (Entmoot) where the decision on ...
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56 votes

Were there any democracies in Middle-earth?

The Shire is pretty much a representative democracy (or maybe a constitutional semi-monarchy), insofar as it has any government at all. The prologue to The Lord of the Rings says: The Thain [an ...
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  • 21.5k
52 votes
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Plate Tectonics in Middle Earth; an in-universe explanation?

The in-universe explanation is that much of the geography of Middle-earth is not the result of natural processes, but rather of mythological events, conflicts, etc. Some quotes from the Silmarillion, ...
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49 votes
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Were there any democracies in Middle-earth?

The most obvious example in my view, and the only one that is mentioned in The Hobbit is the Master of Lake-Town (Esgaroth on the Long Lake). In the Laketown we have always elected masters from ...
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49 votes
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Unknown feature on Middle-earth's map?

As far as I remember, there isn't any name for it. It is an unnamed island. The LotR Wikia says the same: The sea also contains an unnamed island that is about thirty miles along the southeastern ...
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46 votes
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Is there a legal system in Middle-earth?

There does not appear to be a general method for resolving disputes between races1, suggesting a lack of universally-recognized legal system (or treaties between the systems of different races). We ...
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44 votes
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Were personal relationships in Middle-earth different from our own?

To answer the only directly and objectively answerable question, Tolkien seems never to have discussed "this strange state of affairs" in his letters. That said, I believe you're ...
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  • 19.4k
42 votes

Did maps in Middle-Earth have west on the top?

Almost certainly, yes. Not always (witness the Dwarven map with east at the top), but it was evidently the usual orientation in the West-lands. Appendix E to The Lord of the Rings: The names of the ...
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  • 2,858
41 votes

Is Tolkien's Middle-earth in our Universe?

Yes. Middle-earth became Europe, the Shire became Great Britain and Ireland, and the One Ring was destroyed about 6,000 years ago. I will allow Tolkien to speak for himself. All quotes are from ...
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  • 66.8k
37 votes
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What exactly is Middle-earth in Tolkien's Legendarium?

"Middle-earth" has several meanings It has a very specific cosmological definition: all the lands and seas of the world (Arda), excluding Aman (where the Valar live). However, it is also ...
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  • 10.6k
36 votes

What lies in Mordor besides Mount Doom and Barad-dur?

Mordor isn’t a complete desert. The southern part has fields producing food for Sauron’s armies (bold added): Neither he [Sam] nor Frodo knew anything of the great slave-worked fields away south ...
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35 votes
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What was Mordor's history before Sauron settled there?

There is no known history of Mordor before Shelob's arrival. From her introduction in The Two Towers we can imagine there being a time when Elves and Men travelled that way more frequently, suggesting ...
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32 votes
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How are the lands of the Shire governed?

As you might expect, Tolkien (that great world-builder) had considered these issues and covered them in some depth. From the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring, section Of the Ordering of the ...
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  • 131k
29 votes
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What was the first story set in or about Middle Earth that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote?

The very very first The first written connection to the Legendarium was a poem about Eärendel (later Eärendil), titled "The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star", written in September 1914: ...
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29 votes

What's the tallest mountain in Middle-earth?

Middle-earth In Middle-earth throughout all time it is almost certainly Thangorodrim: And looking out from the slopes of Ered Wethrin with his last sight he beheld far off the peaks of Thangorodrim, ...
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  • 75.4k
29 votes

Why is there darkness/evil in Middle-earth and why couldn't the Valar fix this?

The Marring of Arda was intentional The idea of Arda Marred (as it's commonly referred to) is a direct reflection of the downfall of Man in the bible and the imperfections of the world. Similar to the ...
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  • 75.4k
28 votes

Geographical error in the Silmarillion?

Minas Tirith was a castle on the Isle of Tol Sirion built to defend the passes of Sirion by the Echoriath in the first age. Minas Tirith was also another name for Minas Anor which we know from the ...
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  • 2,726
28 votes

Were personal relationships in Middle-earth different from our own?

I suppose this should really be a comment, but since I can't have paragraphs, or even line breaks, in comments, it'll have to be an answer. First, as regards communication, I think you are biased by ...
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  • 2,172
27 votes

What happened next in Middle-earth?

There was still much to do after the Fall of Barad-dûr before anything resembling peace could be declared. There were still scattered bands of Orcs, goblins in the mountains and many groups of ...
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27 votes
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What types of dragons are there in Middle-earth and how and why do they differ?

There were Fire-drakes and Cold-drakes The first fire-drake to issue from the gates of Angband was Glaurung; he was said to have sired the other fire-drakes and they are also the most common. Again ...
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  • 75.4k
26 votes
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Geographical error in the Silmarillion?

Yes; according to The Silmarillion, Between Dorthonion and the Shadowy Mountains there was a narrow vale, whose sheer walls were clad with pines; but the vale itself was green, for the River Sirion ...
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