High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth

, , , ,
High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth

High-Towers-and-Strong-PlacesDr. Timothy R. Furnish applies Primary World analysis—political, cultural, social, and economic— to Middle-earth’s 7,000 years of recorded history in this richly illustrated volume, 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-dûr 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: Númenor’s Second Age imperialism; the longue durée 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.

High Towers and Strong Places is a must-have tome on the shelf for every dedicated fan of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Mark Safransk, zenpundit.com


Buy High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth


Author Timothy R. Furnish
Cover & Interior Art Anke Eißmann
Diagrams & Maps Aaron Siddall
Soft Cover 168 pages
About the Author

Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic, African, and World History only because the History Department at The Ohio State University would not let him specialize in the chronicles of Gondor. He served in the US Army, and has worked as a college professor, consultant to the US military, Islamic world analyst for various media, and author. His three prior books have all been on Islamic history: Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden (2005); Ten Years’ Captivation with the Mahdi’s Camps: Essays on Muslim Eschatology, 2005-2015 (2015); and Sects, Lies, and the Caliphate: 10 Years of Observations on Islam (2016). Despite his academic and professional training, Furnish much prefers Middle-earth to the Middle East; his favorite character is Théoden; and he also fences sabre in his spare time—usually, but not always, left-handed.


About the Illustrator

Anke Eißmann is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer living and working in Germany. Since studying Visual Communication at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, and Graphic Design at Colchester Institute in Colchester, UK she has worked for a number of international publishers, preferably on fantasy publications and children’s books. These include books on Greek mythology, fairytales and ghost-stories, adaptations of historic tales such as Beowulf, mixes of fantasy and historical subjects such as Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, and most prominently illustrations based on the works of JRR Tolkien.

Tolkien’s writings have been a major source of inspiration for Anke for over twenty years. As an active member of the Tolkien Society and the German Tolkien Society, her Tolkien and fantasy-inspired works have been exhibited at galleries and international Tolkien gatherings. Apart from Tolkien, her interests include subjects like mythology, history, historical re-enactment, nature, films and cinematography. Most recently her creative juices have been stirred by the magnificent BBC series Sherlock, resulting in several hundred fanart drawings and paintings, animations, several fan books and fan fiction stories, and a self-made Sherlock coat. Her preferred mediums for artistic expression are watercolour, pencil, and ink. She is rarely seen without a sketchbook, apart from when she is riding her bicycle or teaching art and art history at secondary school.


About the Illustrator

Aaron D. Siddall is a life-long devotee to fantasy art. He has over ten years experience producing illustrations for games, magazines and educational books. His work includes educational publications, numerous tabletop games, short story illustration and miniature design. Aaron loves fantasy, folklore, myth, history, science and science fiction. He presently lurks in the wilds of Upstate New York with his beloved wife Kathleen, Nala the vermicious knid and many, many books.


Posted on

March 28, 2016