content by

Robin Kirk

Epic Fantasy and Breaking the Rules of Infrastructure in the Interest of Speed

One freezing Boxing Day, my kids and I watched the extended editions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in sequence, with bonus material (how the armor and swords were made, cast hijinks, CGI amazingness) added in as needed. Our marathon lasted over 16 hours. It was delightful. We emerged woozy and satisfied, like (weed-free) Pippin and Merry at the ruins of Isengard.

One detail bothered me, though. Why is there no road to the mighty fortress-city of Minas Tirith in either the books or the movie? Gandalf’s initial approach reveals a broad plain and the menacing flames of Mordor in the distance. Faramir returns—then is dragged back—over browned grass…but not on a road. The same is true of Edoras, seat of the Horse Lords. No road. Some maps show roads but they are mostly absent from the actual text or the films.

[At first glance, this makes no sense in terms of worldbuilding…]

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