Having learnt of the Dark Lord's return to Middle-earth and subsequent residence in the tower of Dol Guldur, the White Council – led by Saruman the White – marshal their forces, the Wood Elves of Mirkwood, in preparation for one of the greatest battles in Middle-earth.
The volcanic plains and precipitous mountains of Mordor have twice served as the haven for Sauron and his minions in the troubled history of Middle-earth.
In the first part of the Third Age, Sauron – still reeling from his defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves some centuries before – came to the great forest known as Greenwood. Slowly, but inexorably, the presence of the Dark Lord, in his new home, the tower of Dol Guldur - the Hill of Sorcery - corrupted and changed the forest beyong recognition, until all that remained were the dark and twisted trees of Mirkwood.
To the north of Gondor lies the realm of Rohan, known to its people as the Riddermark, and it is here that, for generations the Rohirrim have bred the magnificent horses for which they are famed throughout Middle-earth.
The forces of the shadow are legion, beings of fear and darkness whose existence is a blight upon the natural world. All are capable of sowing great sorrow in the world, their touch a thing of malice and corruption.
Beyond Mordor are a great many realms, largely undocumented by the histories kept in the western lands of Middle-earth. Of these kingdoms, some bow down before Sauron's will, contributing slaves, wealth and warriors to his goals but, even so, there are bastions of the Free Peoples to be found within these lands.
The Heralds of the Free
In the Third Age of Middle-earth, the last remaining free races gathered together to defeat the Dark Lord. They would forever be known as the Heralds of The Free.
There is no longer anyone who can say from where the quiet and unadventurous folk known as Hobbits first came. Some time after 1150 (in the calendar of men) small groups of Hobbits began to migrate west across the Misty Mountains, settling around the area of Bree.
Isengard is an ancient Gondorian fortification made of exceedingly hard stone that stands at the southern end of the Misty Mountains, at the source of the River Isen. The fortress consisted of a circular outer wall guarding a tall central tower called 'Orthanc'.
One of the most ancient and long-lived of the Free People of Middle-earth, the Dwarves are tough and stout folk, who inhabit the hidden places of the world in huge underground cave-systems and tunnel-complexes.
In truth, Goblins are not a distinct race but a lesser species of Orcs who made their way to live in the dark caverns below the mountains. There they grew accustomed to the darkness and learned to climb the sheer surfaces of their new homes.
Games Workshop produce a massive range of Citadel Miniatures that represent many of the inhabitants of Middle-earth. Some of these kits can seem somewhat intimidating to assemble for someone who has had no instruction in how to undertake a big modelling task. More experienced modellers may like ideas on how to undertake a more ambitious task, such as a home-made Watcher in the Water, or a glowing Balrog.