“JRR Tolkien’s inspiration for his best-selling books, The Lord of the Rings, has always been a mystery. Tolkien himself stated that his ideas came to him as though they already existed, but he couldn’t name their source. For generations countless researchers and biographers have sought to identify Tolkien’s inspiration without success. Now, at last, the answer is at hand. Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) (…) became a land untouched by the passage of time. It survived as the only part of Africa that was not colonized by European powers, and became internationally prominent in the years immediately prior to Tolkien’s writing because of the Italian war in 1935.


Home to a 3,000 year old dynasty of kings and the horse-riding prowess of the Oromo tribe, Abyssinia’s history is rich and varied. The legends of its greatest saints are unique, and around its borders it faced powerful enemies. The Real Middle-earth: Discovering the Origin of The Lord of the Rings reveals fascinating insights into Tolkien and the ancient realm of Abyssinia, and makes connections between them that will leave you astounded.”


(Michael Muhling’s thesis of Abyssinia as Tolkien’s major source of material is an intriguing, and highly unorthodox, one. The author bases himself not only on the similarity between place names in the book and in Ethiopia (Gondar for Gondor, Barad-dûr for Bahir Dar), but also on history and traditional folklore. Muhling (who investigated his theories in three dedicated trips to Ethiopia), also explains the importance of Abyssinia in world events in 1936, due to the Italian invasion, events that transpired just prior to Tolkien’s composing and publishing of the Lord of the Rings)