I've just unearthed a book of Tolkien-related art that I had as a kid. It's great - about three dozen pictures by a variety of artists, of work ranging from The Hobbit to The Book of Lost Tales and The Return of the Shadow. Obviously John Howe is well represented. But I have to say that these days I'm more and more seeing the value of Roger Garland.
This piece is easily my favourite, though I couldn't find a representation on the web that would do it justice. In the flesh it is much longer, with a vista of stars stretching far above the scenery. Called The Haven of Moriondë, it depicts the moment when Sauron first arrived at Númenor, in The Lost Road:
Guards were set at the haven of Moriondë in the east of the land, where the rocks are dark, watching at the king's command without ceasing for the ships' return. It was night, but there was a bright Moon. They descried ships far off, and they seemed to be sailing west at a speed greater than the storm, though there was little wind. Suddenly the sea became unquiet; it rose until it became like a mountain, and it rolled in upon the land. The ships were lifted up, and cast far inland, and lay in the fields. Upon that ship which was cast highest and stood dry upon a hill there was a man, or one in man's shape, but greater than any even of the race of Númenor in stature.
He stood upon the rock and said: "This is done as a sign of power. For I am Sauron the mighty, servant of the Strong" (wherein he spoke darkly). "I have come. Be glad, men of Númenor, for I will take thy king to be my king, and the world shall be given into his hand."
Some people say Tolkien was a poor writer. Those people are idiots.
What I like most about the picture is how understated it is. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but fantasy art - at least D&D-inspired fantasy art - seems to have lost all comprehension of the power of understatement, and this is to its great loss.
I'm now harbouring an urge to crack out my MERP rulebook and start thinking about the Second Age of Middle Earth...