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Middle Earth 2

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Middle Earth has become one of the defining cases of worldbuilding in all of fiction. Game of Thrones is the only other case that seems to come close to the iconic and culturally impactful status of Lord of the Rings. This was done due to the attention to detail of Tolkein. Add in his love of and understanding of languages and myth and you have a masterpiece. Middle Earth feels real. The people are understandable. The entire realm is infused with a sense that it is lived in by real people with vibrant cultures and rich histories.   But that is not the center of the narratives. The huge battles are. Without the Battle of Helm's Deep we do not see the stakes for the heroes. Their actions become devoid of logic or wider context if one removes the Battle of Minas Tirith. Plus the Battle of Five Armies was just fun.   But for a military man, Tolkein seems to struggle with the big set piece battles. We see this most clearly in the Battle of Five Armies. We do not witness the battle in real time. Instead, Bilbo is knocked out. We learn as Bilbo does from other recounting the events. Other battles are saved by inprobable timing, overpowered reinforcements and mindblowingly bad decisions by the bad guys. This runs through everything - fort design to policy of major leaders.   So, what happens when real world politics and military history is applied to the world built by Tolkien? First, we actually get a much richer world. He left us with fanstastic cultures, languages, landscapes and people. This adds richness and complexity to Middle Earth that causes the politics and military aspects so crucial to the story mirror the social elements. Then, you also get a better story. What do I mean by that? Well, I hope to explain that here.   This turns the fates of the heroes we have come to love more reflective of the societies they hope to save. They are not just people anymore but symbols for the hopes and dreams of the rich societies we wish we could live in. Court intrigues and council debates have weight and impact. You get where Lord of the Rings shines and why we all fell in love with A Song of Ice and Fire into one work.