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Journeys of Frodo

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The cover of Journeys of Frodo.

The Journeys of Frodo is an Atlas of 51 Maps charting the epic journey that Frodo, and his companions undertake in J.R.R. Tolkien's epic work, The Lord of the Rings.

Based on clear and detailed descriptions given in the text and on the original maps that appear The Lord of the Rings, as well as Tolkien's own paintings and drawings of the landscape and features of Middle-earth, this book clearly shows Frodo's route, together with the paths taken by other principal characters. The maps provide enough detail to help the reader envisage the country through which the narrative moves, and each one also has extensive notes about the journey.

Having loved the volumes of The Lord of the Rings since they first appeared, Barbara Strachey wanted fuller and more detailed maps to go with them. Though not a professional cartographer or artist, she finally decided to create them herself. For nearly 20 years her efforts have provided readers of The Lord of the Rings with a new and more vivid idea of Middle-earth and her book remains an essential Tolkien's great masterpiece. ISBN 0261102672

Errors and Discrepancies

In her foreword, Barbara Strachey stated that she based her atlas on "the very clear and detailed descriptions to be found in the text of The Lord of the Rings." While also consulting The Hobbit, Unfinished Tales, and Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as the maps in the books themselves, whenever she found differences between the text and the maps she followed "the written information".

On the positive side, the Journeys of Frodo often contain fine details not shown on the large-scale maps attached to the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. Of greater controversy, where Tolkien's maps and the text differed (or seemed to differ) the author made "corrections" that can appear surprising to readers:

  • On Tolkien's maps of Middle-earth (in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and the Unfinished Tales), the East Road headed straight east from Bree past Weathertop (which is thus north of Bree's latitude), bent a bit to the north, and then headed straight to the Last Bridge. On Strachey's Map 11, the East Road bent considerably to the south away from the Midgewater Marshes before turning north to Weathertop, which was still shown as lying south of the latitude of Bree. Strachey based her loop on Aragorn's comment, "That is Weathertop. The Old Road, which we have left far away on our right, runs to the south of it and passes not far from its foot."[1] However, since Aragorn and the hobbits had spent two days marching north through the Chetwood before heading east, the southward loop and relocation of Weathertop appears to be unjustified.[source?]
  • Tolkien's maps of Middle-earth showed that from their confluence, the Hoarwell River ran nearly due north past the Last Bridge while the Loudwater's course was fairly straight northeast to the Ford of Bruinen near Rivendell. Strachey's frontispiece map and Maps 13, 15, 17, and 49 all showed the Loudwater making a huge westward bend pointing toward the Last Bridge, a displacement of roughly 80 miles. Strachey argued two points: First, Aragorn and the hobbits saw both rivers from the top of a slope. To do so, based on Tolkien's map, would require a mountain since the distance from the bridge to the ford was 100 miles. Second, she stated that Aragorn said that the road ran along the Loudwater for many miles before the Ford. The first point was correct, but what Aragorn actually said was, "The Road runs along the edge of the hills for many miles from the Bridge to the Ford of Bruinen."[2]
  • Although Strachey said that she consulted The Hobbit, she did not attempt to reconcile or discuss the discrepancies between Tolkien's earlier book and The Lord of the Rings, which the Atlas of Middle-earth did note. Between Strachey's Maps 13 and 14 the distance from the Last Bridge to the party of trolls turned to stone in The Hobbit was over 60 miles with several intervening hills. In The Hobbit, Thorin's party was beginning to camp immediately adjacent to the Bridge when they saw the troll's fire not far off, and they quickly walked the short distance to the troll's camp.[3] The reconciliation between the dwarves' journey and Frodo's journey in this part of Eriador is a well-known problem, but Strachey passed over it without comment.
  • Tolkien's maps of the Westlands showed the East Road running straight from the Last Bridge to the Ford of Bruinen. Strachey's Map 15 showed the road bending considerably to the north on its approach to the Ford. The text mentioned "a point where the Road bent right and ran down towards the bottom of the valley, now making straight for the Bruinen",[2] which Strachey used as her reason for the northern approach. However, the angle was so steep that she had to bend the road to the left on the final approach to the Ford, which was not mentioned in the text. It would appear that the rightward bend was actually shallower than that portrayed.
  • In her notes for Map 17, Strachey quoted Frodo, who said that the mountains "seemed now to stand across the path".[4] In her opinion, the Misty Mountains ought to bend westward farther than Tolkien placed them. This causes, on Map 49, the western edge of Fangorn Forest to lie 150 miles east of the mouth of the Gwathlo, whereas on Tolkien's map the distance is 300 miles.
  • Frodo's quote above was made after the party came to the top of "a low ridge crowned with ancient holly-trees".[4] This ridge was missing from Map 17 even though the scale was a fairly fine 20 miles to the inch.
  • Tolkien's maps of Middle-earth showed a gap between the Nindalf and the Dead Marshes, although it was possible that the two were connected. On Strachey's Map 35 they were not only joined but the Dead Marshes disappeared from her map (she did mention them in her notes).


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"

External links