The shadowy realm of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings‘ Middle-earth may be a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, and sure, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, but it’s also a fascinating place with a surprising amount of history, culture, and geographic diversity.

You probably wouldn’t know that if you just listened to Boromir and Gimli hate on the place in The Fellowship of the Ring.

However, we don’t blame them for having partly the wrong idea. By the time that book happens, Mordor was hardly a vacation destination, unless your dream vacation starts with a fight against a giant, ancient spider ...

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