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Apr 092023

What is the Definition of Tolkien Canon and What is Expanded Mythology?

Here in The Land of Shadow.com we needed a way to define what was Tolkien and what was not in films, streaming television, games and other media created around the world of Middle-earth.

We decided on two distinct definitions… Tolkien Canon and Expanded Mythology to nail down what originates from Tolkien’s published works and what was added by other Middle-earth creators. Lets talk about what our definitions are and how they work.

The ever expanding world of Middle-earth calls on us to define what comes directly from Tolkien’s writing and what does not. Lets begin by defining what these terms mean and how we use them here in The Land of Shadow.com.

Tolkien Canon by our definition means any and all content published under the name of J.R.R. Tolkien or works curated by Christopher Tolkien in his father’s name and which are based upon his father’s original works. Specifically Tolkien’s writings that concern the world of Arda and Middle-earth including all written texts, diagrams, maps and languages. We also include all appendices attached to the written works as part of the Tolkien Canon.

If you see this symbol (shown at the right), then you know what you are reading is derived from the Tolkien Canon and is therefore true to the original text of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. For everything outside of this definition that builds on or adds to the world of Middle-earth, we use the term ‘Expanded Mythology of Middle-earth’ (see symbol below) which includes anything that does not come directly from Tolkien published writings.

Whenever possible we will delineate, between what we term ‘Tolkien Canon’ and the larger Middle-earth world of the ‘Expanded Mythology’ with these two symbols.

To clarify, the ‘Expanded Mythology of Middle-earth’ is defined as any and all content that goes beyond the published writings of J.R.R Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien. Any story, character or setting that takes place in Tolkien’s Middle-earth but is not sourced from the writings of Professor Tolkien  found in films, tv movies, streaming TV shows, video games, trading card games, board games, role-playing games and websites with expanded languages, illustrations and music.

The Expanded Mythology of Middle-earth is by definition an augmentation of Tolkien’s world. We here in The Land of Shadow.com have no problems with adding invented characters, places, and events which are not a part of Tolkien’s written Canon as long as they conform to his invented world. Mordor for example, is shrouded in mystery, and throughout most of Tolkien’s writings it remains unilluminated, so here in The Land of Shadow.com we have incorporated many different sources of non-canon content to give light and description to areas and characters in Mordor not detailed in the books.

I hope these are useful definitions when critiquing or reviewing movies, TV shows, games and other content about Middle-earth.

For more information about this go to our Tolkien Pages for more information on on Tolkien Canon and the Expanded Mythology of Middle-earth.


 April 9, 2023  Posted by at 8:34 am  Add comments