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Middle-earth is a fictitious land created by J. R. R. Tolkien where the action of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion takes place. Tolkien wrote extensively about the linguistics, mythology and history of the land, which form the back-story for these stories. Most of these writings, with the exception of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, were edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher. Notable among them are the multiple volumes of The History of Middle-earth, which describes a larger cosmology which includes Middle-earth as well as Valinor, Númenor, and other lands.

Tolkien's great mythological tales of Middle-earth are meant to be taken, fictitiously, as an ancient history of the Earth, particularly of Europe, from several thousand years before the lands took their present shape. In fact, three of the works claim to be the life work of Bilbo Baggins. Like Shakespeare's King Lear, they occupy a historical period that could not have actually existed.

The term "Middle-earth" was not invented by Tolkien; it occurs many times in Middle English (Middel-erde) and Old English writings (Middangeard). It occurs half a dozen times in Beowulf, and is cognate to Midgard in Old Norse. It is consistently misspelled as 'Middle Earth' by journalists.

Although 'Middle-earth' strictly refers to a specific continent on Tolkien's fictional ancient earth, representing what we know as Eurasia and Africa, the term is sometimes erroneously used to refer to this entire 'earth' (properly called Arda).

Table of contents
1 A note on "truth" and canon
2 Cosmology
3 Historical periods
4 Characters
5 Races
6 Places
7 Major languages
8 Items
9 Unions
10 Role-playing Games
11 Computer Games
12 External Links
13 References

A note on "truth" and canon

It is remarkably difficult to speak of what is true in the context of Middle-earth, perhaps more so than for any other fictional world, such as Greek mythology. The reasons for this are three:

A map of the Northwestern part of Middle-earth after the end of the First Age, courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arda


Historical periods

  1. Years of the Lamps
  2. Years of the Trees
  3. Years of the Sun
    1. First Age
    2. Second Age
    3. Third Age
    4. Fourth Age


What follows is a brief listing of characters from Tolkien's work which lived in Middle-earth. Note that characters are sorted according to several groups, and may appear multiple times.

First Age

House of Finwë

Sons of Fëanor House of Fingolfin House of Finarfin House of Elwë and Olwë House of Bëor House of Marach Descendants of Lúthien and Beren Descendants of Idril and Tuor Haladin of Brethil Others For a list of the Valar, see that article.

Second Age

Kings of Númenor: see Kings of Númenor

Sauron, aka Annatar

Ringwraiths or Nazgûl

Third Age

Thorin and Company

The Fellowship of the Ring Kings of Gondor: see Kings of Gondor

Kings of Arnor: see Kings of Arnor

Kings of Arthedain: see Kings of Arthedain

Chiefs of the Rangers of Arnor: see Chiefs of the Dúnedain

Stewards of Gondor: see Steward of Gondor

Kings of Rohan: see Kings of Rohan

Wizards or Istari:

Other characters



Countries and other large places are shown in italics; cities and other small places are shown in standard font.
See also Aman, Númenor for places outside Middle-earth.

Major languages




Role-playing Games

The works of Tolkien have been a major influence on role-playing games along with others such as Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft and Michael Moorcock. Although the most famous game to be inspired partially by the setting was Dungeons & Dragons, there have been two specifically Middle-earth based and licensed games. These are the Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game from Decipher Inc and the Middle Earth Role Play game (MERP) from Iron Crown Enterprises.

Computer Games

The computer game Angband is a free roguelike D&D-style game that features many characters from Tolkien's works.

External Links