The Real Middle Earth: A history of the Dark Ages that Inspired Tolkie

The Real Middle Earth: A history of the Dark Ages that Inspired Tolkien


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Lindsay's Review

Bates’s book explores the “Olde English” history that inspired Tolkien to create the perennially delightful fantasy world of Middle-Earth. It’s a wonderful exploration of the history that formulated the new genre of Fantasy. Tolkien’s imagination created a world that he continued to develop and populate with many places and characters called forth from the mists of early British history.

It is fascinating to read a compilation of the various historical and mythological sources, and to see how they relate to the characters, places and cultures of Middle- Earth. Even if you have read all of Tolkien's works, as some of us have, this small and readable account sheds new light on our travels through his amazing realm. Whether you are a fantasy buff or history browser, Bates’s entwining of the worlds of fact and fiction makes for wonderful reading, as well as continuing to influence present-day fantasy writers.

Publisher's Review

In The Real Middle Earth, explore the magically enchanting early-English civilization on which Tolkien based his world of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien readily admitted that the concept of Middle-earth was not his own invention. An Old English term for the Dark Age world, it was always assumed that the importance of magic in this world existed only in Tolkien’s works; now Professor Brian Bates reveals the vivid truth about this historical culture.

Behind the stories we know of Dark Age kings and queens, warriors and battles, lies the hidden history of Middle-earth, a world of magic, mystery and destiny. Fiery dragons were seen to fly across the sky, monsters haunted the marshes, and elves fired poisoned arrows. Wizards cast healing spells, wise trees gave blessings, and omens foretold the deaths of kings. The very landscape itself was enchanted and the world imbued with a life force.

Repressed by a millennium of Christianity, this belief system all but disappeared, leaving only faint traces in folk memory and fairy tales. In this remarkable book Professor Brian Bates has drawn on the latest archaeological findings to reconstruct the imaginative world of our past, revealing a culture with insights that may yet help us understand our own place in the world.

Brian Bates is professor of Psychology and Consciousness at the University of Sussex. He is a leading writer on the spiritual world of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures. His previous book, co-authored with John Cleese The Human Face. He has also contributed to the Sunday Times, Observer and Express.