Not surprisingly, one of the best interactive book maps online belongs to narratives that do not exist in this world. The LOTR Project’s map of Middle Earth for both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy is both visually attractive and well-organized.
The map is a digital image drawn in the style of those that appear in the books themselves, allowing users to zoom in and out a couple steps while the image remains sharp. Users can also scan the landscape from Hobbiton all the way to the Lonely Mountain or Mordor.
The map distinguishes itself, however, in its ability to organize information. Tolkien loved his created world, resulting in thoroughly fleshed out descriptions of how characters and events interacted with it. This information is accessible through a number of map features.
Locations are indicated by red transparent circles on the map, with each one’s size indicating how frequently it appears in the stories. Clicking on a circle reveals information about the locations in a pop-up. While not satisfyingly detailed, the pop-ups include a brief description of events that occur in the location and the date, in the calendar of Middle Earth, when they occurred.
From the right side bar, users can toggle on and off character paths from the narratives–an important feature for elucidating the interwoven adventures of the separate groups that run through the Lord of the Rings. A complete timeline is also available, as is the ability to filter the displayed information on the map.
Literary maps present an opportunity to visualize information from a text in an easy to grasp medium, but sometimes the amount of information from a long, detailed narrative can become difficult to organize. The LOTR Project map solves this problem as well as I have seen.
For fans who are fully immersed in Tolkien’s world, the site also provides a map of the Beleriand, where many of the early legends described in The Silmarillion take place.
View the map and have access to the full site here: http://lotrproject.com/map/. If you like what you see, consider making a donation to the project.
Fantasy books and their worlds have been the inspiration for many great literary maps–what are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.