October 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Real Middle Earth by Brian Bates
Palgrave Macmillan HCVR: ISBN 1403963193 PubDate: 10/01/03
Review by Edward Carmien [carmien@mac.com]

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Three for Tolkien: Tales Before Tolkien by Douglas A. Anderson (ed) Tolkien - A Cultural Phenomenon by Brian Rosebury, and The Real Middle Earth by Brian Bates

Brian Bates’ The Real Middle Earth is as good an example of “jumping on the bandwagon” as I have seen in the world of Tolkienesque books. Serious anthropologists will shudder at the content, but fans of LOTR may find Bates’ speculations informative. Fans with a new age perspective (forgive the blanket term) will find the book friendly and amicable.

He consistently uses Tolkienesque vocabulary—sections such as “Rediscovering the Real Middle-Earth,” for example define for the purposes of his discussion the locale of Middle-Earth, the people of Middle-Earth, and the magic of Middle-Earth as being a place, people, and belief system historically knowable via archeology and speculation.

Writers interested in reading about what might have been the mindset of people living in what is close to a real-life equivalent to a fantasy milieu could find this text interesting, as Bates delves into this subject thoroughly. So long as one understands the problem of determining how people thought that far in the past is fundamentally unknowable, one will accept the frequent usages of phrases that indicate what one is reading is speculation at best and guesswork otherwise.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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