High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-Earth
Timothy R Furnish
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Dr. Timothy R. Furnish applies Primary World analysis-political, cultural, social, and economic- to Middle-earth's 7,000 years of recorded history in High Towers and Strong Places. Steering clear of literary criticism, the standard approach to Tolkien for the last six decades, this book instead uses Tolkien's writings to examine each of the major races of Middle-earth in some detail. It then delves into how each speaking people's anthropological traits informed the political systems they devised. Middle-earth's many states, Beleriand to Barad-dur and Utumno to Umbar, from First through early Fourth Ages, are compared and contrasted with Primary World examples such as Rome/Byzantium; the Carolingian Empire; and the Islamic caliphates before being classified as monarchies, aristocracies or democracies. High Towers and Strong Places also offers a grander geopolitical analysis, looking at the international relations and balance-of-power politics over millennia of Middle-earth's history. Particular attention is paid to little-studied issues: Numenor's Second Age imperialism; the longue duree planning of immortal beings such as Sauron and Galadriel; and Gondor's role as Third Age hegemon. Morgoth and Sauron, powerful but ultimately failed god-kings, receive specific scrutiny-especially the relationships with their minions, both major (Balrogs, Dragons) and minor (Goblins, Orcs and Trolls). High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth can be read as a stand-alone volume or as an introductory work to the upcoming Bright Swords and Glorious Warriors: A Military History of Middle-earth. Fans of fantasy books and movies, as well as gaming fans will find High Towers and Strong Places a fascinating read as well as a valuable resource."
Gundabad, which sometime in the Third Age the Orcs permanently seized from the Dwarves and transformed into their “capital”257—clearly indicating some level of organization above the mere Orc-eat-Orc level. Where did Orcs come from? The commonly-accepted theory (which Peter Jackson followed in his LotR movies258) is that Morgoth derived Orcs from Elves: “all those of the Quendi [Elves]259 who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of
Age,” S, p. 293. 111. The rulers of Gondor (kings) and Arnor (kings and then chieftains), being descendants of the Númenóreans, inherited their exceedingly long life—although as the Third Age wore on, their life-spans shortened. Long lifespans were granted to Aragorn II and to his son Eldarion, end of the Third Age/beginning of the Fourth Age, however, as reward (from Eru) and as a means of consolidating and preserving some of the Elder Days into the Dominion of Men. After Eldarion, presumably,
was so spent that he could scarcely speak his message … ” (p. 297). 148. Ibid., p. 297. 149. Ibid., p. 298. 150. Ibid. 151. “Cirion and Eorl,” UT, p. 314, footnote 31. 152. See “The Great River,” LotR, pp. 388-89, wherein Sam, Frodo, Legolas and Aragorn discuss the issue. No mention is provided in any of Tolkien’s works, however, about how Galadriel could have extended the time dilation effect outside her (and Celeborn’s) realm, as was done here—nor how she knew that Gondor’s need was dire,
century Third Age, following Arnor’s disintegration into three smaller states, Eriador and the north of Middle-earth became even more multipolar, with not just polities of Men involved, but also ones of the Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orcs—and of course, on the other side, Angmar. The south of Middle-earth was increasingly unipolar, with Gondor growing from a hegemon until, by the 12th century Third Age, it was an imperial power, directly ruling most of southern, central and eastern Middle-earth.
“Preface,” especially pp. 12ff. 30. See Marshall Sahlins and Philip Swift, “Twin-born with Greatness: The Dual Kingship of Sparta,” Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 1, 1 (2011), pp. 63-101. 31. See “Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1867-1918,” at http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Austria-Hungary, newworldencyclopedia.org, n.d. 32. Leonhard Schmitz, “Consul,” available at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Consul.html (accessed online April 14, 014). 33.