Today I’m taking a look at Iron Crown Enterprises Cities of Middle-Earth: Minas Tirith. My love affair with MERP started long, long ago, probably because Tolkien taught me to read, and while D&D taught me to create, the ability to imagine my own tales in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world was a carrot I couldn’t resist.
That said, there was something about the artwork for this setting that also inspired me to bigger and better things. I credit both MERP and D&D equally for my current life path as an art director [well, and Elmore’s covers or Dragonlance].
This particular book, which bears an astounding Angus McBride cover, has everything a fan of the Lord of the Rings could ask for. I mean really, other than the famed Eowyn, is there a figure in this universe that stands against the Lich King better than Gandalf at the gate? I don’t think so, and Angus does one hell of a job portraying it here. It often makes me wonder at the investor who bought every single one of Angus’s original paintings from MERP and just where they are now.
In the opening of this book, there is a quote from The Return of the King, page 125 that I will post here as well:
“In rode the Lord of the Nazgul. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgul, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.
All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dinen.
‘You cannot enter here,’ said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted.”
This is the image that Angus depicts and it is awesome to behold.
Inside this hardcover book that boasts 159 pages artists Liz Danforth, Shawn Sharp, and Jason Waltrip take turns depicting characters and structures in lovely b/w illustrations. This is a very nice and streamlined supplement that details the city in ways no one ever has before.
On the whole, it is not as visually captivating as it could have been, having been produced after MERP had already fallen into decay, and that hurts the overall appeal. Whatever the case, it does a nice job and I give it credit for that cover and the sublime lines of Danforth.
Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]