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Introduction

A map of north-west Middle-earth

Middle-earth is the fictional setting of much of British writer J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. The term is equivalent to the term Midgard of Norse mythology, describing the human-inhabited world, that is, the central continent of the Earth in Tolkien's imagined mythological past.

Tolkien's most widely read works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, take place entirely in Middle-earth, and Middle-earth has also become a short-hand to refer to the legendarium and Tolkien's fictional take on the world.[citation needed]

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Hobbiton, as depicted in the Lord of the Rings films
Credit: Rob Chandler (Rob & Jules)

The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in the large region of Eriador and the Kingdom of Arnor.

Hobbiton, a village in the Westfarthing of the Shire, is the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. It was re-created at Matamata, New Zealand for the filming of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film series. The film location (pictured) has become a tourist attraction.

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Balrogs are fictional demon-like creatures from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. A Balrog (Sindarin for "Demon of Might"; the Quenya form is Valarauko , Valarauco or Valaraukar) was a tall, menacing being in the shape of a Man, having control of both fire and shadow and with a fiery whip of many thongs. They struck terror into friends and foes alike and could shroud themselves in darkness and shadow. The Fellowship of the Ring encountered a Balrog in the mines of Moria, in The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring Book II).

The Balrogs were originally Maiar, of the same order as Sauron and Gandalf, but they became seduced by Morgoth, who corrupted them to his service in the days of his splendour before the creation of Arda. During the First Age, they were among the most feared of Morgoth's forces. When his fortress of Utumno was destroyed by the Valar, they fled and lurked in the pits of Angband.

As Maiar, Balrogs would have had the natural ability to change their shape at will, and to move "unclad in the raiment of the world" meaning invisible and without form. As such, they could change their appearance at will. However, it seems that Melkor, Sauron and their Ainur servants all lost the ability to change shape and became permanently bound to one form. Melkor manifested as the "tyrant of Utumno", gigantic and terrible, and was apparently unable even to heal wounds: his hands and forehead remained burned by the Silmarils and his face and foot never healed after the battle with Fingolfin. Sauron became trapped in the form of a gigantic burning man after the flooding of Númenor, and he even lost his finger when the Ring was cut from his hand. It is unknown whether Balrogs were similarly bound, or if they could change shape.

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Things you can do

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Here are some open tasks for WikiProject Middle-earth. Feel free to help with any of the following tasks:

Collaboration: Return Middle-earth to featured status, make Lord of the Rings a good article, review Cirth for good article nomination.
Cleanup: List of Hobbits, List of hobbit families, Second Age
Copyedit/extensive work: Círdan, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Valaquenta
Create: J. R. R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography, Kay Miner, Tolkien's View: Windows into his world
Expand to separate pages/list entries: Alliterative verse by J. R. R. Tolkien, Art inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien
Stubs: The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Tolkien Studies
Provide references: The Notion Club Papers
Add secondary sources: Númenor, Moria (Middle-earth)
Current topics (may need updating): The History of The Hobbit, The Hobbit films
Merge into: Minor places in Middle-earth, Minor places in Beleriand
Other: See the Things to do page, update a Random article (reset) , or review recent changes

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