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G.R.R.M the American Tolkien?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by hots_towel, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. HUnewearl Shiro

    HUnewearl Shiro Scribe

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    As I'm not a fan of Martin's works, I may be a little biased. However, I just don't think he does anything new. It's on a larger scale when compared to other authors, but the basis for his storylines are by no means unique. Tolkien, as stated earlier in the thread, was the father of the genre, he took a lot of crazy chances in his works, whereas the only real chancy move I can see from Martin is "I wonder what happens if I kill this guy"

    I would say that if anyone were to be dubbed "The American Tolkien" it would be Margaret Weis (and Tracy Hickman) for their expansive Dragonlance world.
     
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  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Oh, I don't know...that's pretty derivative too and the writing isn't all that great. I'd have to put Martin above those two.
     
  3. HUnewearl Shiro

    HUnewearl Shiro Scribe

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    I agree that it's quite derivative. After all, it was originally a D&D campaign if I recall correctly, so by default a lot of common aspects were already there. I'm just a huge fan of the entire world it's set in, so it gets higher marks from me, heh.
     
  4. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I love Tolkien's work and often reread The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I tried to read the first Game of Thrones book and couldn't get into it.

    I know many people who love the Game of Thrones books and they have all watched the tv series and bought the DVD's. They tell me you have to watch the series and THEN read the books as otherwise the books are unreadable and boring.

    I have watched the first programme of series 1 and it was very good, so is this the only way to read these books? :confused:
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  5. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Personally, I don't see why there seems to be such a need to label an "American Tolkien" or a "next Tolkien". Tolkien was Tolkien. He was completely unique and no one will ever be like him. (Sad thought!) Those who try generally fail. Those who don't try get labeled as the next Tolkien anyway because Tolkien remains the most long lasting and popular author in the Fantasy field so that makes tricking people into thinking a new author might be the next Tolkien good for business. But Tolkien wasn't great because he was like someone else. He was great because he poured his own heart and soul into his work. That's what makes great work.

    Perhaps that's why I really hate A Song of Ice and Fire. I read about 2.5 or 2.75 of the books before I couldn't stand it any longer. They didn't feel, to me, as if they had any heart or soul. They just felt like an endless litany of murder, death, destruction, intrigue, politics, sex, more sex, and amorality. I'd always been secretly hoping that the story would develop more actual fantasy and less pseudo-historical torture-porn but I gave up that hope as it continued to get worse and worse. Eddard Stark was the only character worth reading about and we know what happened to him.

    To me the difference between A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings perfectly demonstrates something I've heard Mr. Rogers said: "“I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex." LOTR is "deep and simple". ASOIAF is "shallow and complex".
     
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  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think ASOIAF is our generation's fantasy epic, that's why it gets compared to Lord of the Rings. There have been perhaps hundreds of people who have tried to replicate Tolkien to mixed results. Martin didn't do that. He instead turned to history. One reason I think his series is so popular, is because the characters are deep and real, not just carbon copy good or evil archetypes. Not to say Tolkien did that, but he did spawn many copycat writers who have.

    Again, this just goes to show how diverse the fantasy reading audience is. I know people who love Martin and ones that loathe Tolkien. I like both of them, but I do find them hard to compare really.
     
  7. Bluesboy

    Bluesboy Dreamer

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    That is utter rubbish! I have to admit I got into the books after seeing the first two seasons of the show and by that point I already knew who the characters were. Getting into the books was therefore easier, because I was already familiar with the world. But then they blew me away so much that I've since stopped watching the show because I was how they showrunners are turning an intricate, subtle, detailed, and complex world that is incredibly realistic into a dumbed down version for the mainstream american consumers who have to have everything brought to them on a silver platter.

    So seeing the show makes you familiar with the world and the characters, but the real stuff is and always will be in the books. The show whitewashes most characters to make them likable while in the books you have "protagonists" doing morally questionable things all the time, like altering a scene that was a cold-blooded murder in the books into killing in self-defence on the show. The books play with rumours, wrong information, unreliable narrators, and other subtleties that most readers seem to overlook, because they fall into the traps of vivid realism that they take everything in the books at face value, without realising that each character arc that demands a certain structure to the story (focusing on the surface, ignoring the depth below - something of a pattern in today's culture). That's why many people dismiss the ASOIAF books all too readily.

    While Tolkien deals with certain themes that stem from his experience in the trenches of the first world war and love of languages for which he invents fake history, the ASOIAF books are carefully crafted literary masterpieces where everything matters, they're full of symbolism, full of hidden messages that give you deeper insight into the story if you spot them. That's why they have such a passionate following, because people get engaged by those mysteries, they want to discuss them with others, share the theories and so on.

    There is a great literary analysis of the 5th book (but also discussing materials from the previous ones) in the series that explains you why the book is written the way it is and that it's not a 1000 page filler as many believe. Reading it will give you a ton of priceless advice on writing books, because there are things many people probably don't realise.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  8. BronzeOracle

    BronzeOracle Sage

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    Hmmm, starting a new genre of literature - does Stephanie Meyer's Twilight rate as the creation of the now huge urban/paranormal romance genre? This genre is pretty big in most bookshops I visit - about half as big as the fantasy/SF section. Oh boy, is that a series far apart from LOTR!
     
  9. God-Of-Toasters

    God-Of-Toasters Dreamer

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    I like Martin and I like Tolkien, but I would say that they go about writing fantasy very differently. For one, Tolkien was a linguist, and created multiple languages such as Numenorean and Quenya. Martin decided to base his fantasy more off of character development, so his characters may have normal(er) names, but they are well fleshed out. Martin also decided to play off of the different tropes that Tolkien had established, making a more cynical medieval time period. I do think that Martin tried to add an extra R to his name as a tribute to Tolkien though.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    No because there was urban fantasy / paranormal romance before Meyer ever came along. You can't create something that already exists :)
     
  11. Manalodia

    Manalodia Sage

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    If ASoIaF our modern day LotR, then I'm saddened to be apart of this generation. Are we really that shallow and base that THAT is what we care about? Murder, sex and moral ambiguity? No doubt the complex relations formed are what keeps many going, but every other bit of it to me, is garbage. Well crafted, but nonetheless more cess for the pool that America is increasingly being defined by.

    I don't think I'm nostalgic for Tolkien's fantasy, I can adapt to many things easily. It is just when the content is no more than what one would expect, that is when questioning comes into play. Steerpike made a great point in saying what would people really have thought of the series if it never made it to TV? No breasts to gander, no horrible methods of death, just the writing. Before it was a show, not many knew or cared for it except among some in the fantasy community. Tolkien captured an audience even when there was television, so he needed no other facet other than himself to garner attention.

    If I come of pessimistic or harsh, that is because I feel that anyone wiling to give their work to HBO is a whoremonger. Steven King does screenplays, so I think he is well adjusted to both worlds where Martin is not. Just think; if he dies before the books end, HBO was given the okay to finish what he started with the show....I know financial success as an author is a huge goal, but what did he really do?

    I watched two episodes of the show. I admit I started because of Sean Bean and his character, but the filler nudity and sex made me reconsider. Then the tower scene with the Lanisster twins came and I was done. I would have been furious if I watched only to have Ned Stark die; the message was being good makes you stupid and dead. Sit on the fence and be conniving and you will live; essentially, become a politician. T_T

    I will make a scape-goat finish by saying Martin is good at what he does but, what he writes is nothing inspiring or inventive.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  12. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I'll never understand the human need to constantly draw comparison between something as subjective and individual as art. I get that it may help in determining what a consumer may enjoy, "If you enjoyed A, you may also like B". Beyond that though, what's the point?

    Can't we just appreciate the artistry on its own merit?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
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  13. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    To those new to Mythic Scribes, T. Allen.Smith has long been the voice of reason here. Thanks again TAS.
     
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  14. Manalodia

    Manalodia Sage

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    People love to draw lines in all facets of life. I don't think it is ever going to be avoidable but, we can point it out when it arises and reevaluate why we think it is so important.
     
  15. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Can someone get me up to speed on this thread: explain what it means to be a Tolkien (of any nationality)?

    I assume the thing that makes Tolkien "Tolkien" is his influence. ASoIaF is a little too new to have the same influence that LotR has had. Especially since Tolkien had an even bigger proxy-influence by influencing Dungeons and Dragons.

    Am I off on this assessment?

    My thoughts...
    I think there are American writers more worthy of the title of "quintessential American fantasy writer".
    In my opinion, Terry Brooks should be the "American Tolkien" because that's basically what he was trying to be.

    I also think we should start calling Tolkien the "British Lovecraft" because that makes as much sense as calling Martin the "American Tolkien".

    Maybe. We need a reference point to talk about things. A thing can only be properly defined and given an identity by comparing it to an Other. That's why "gold standards" exist.
    Personally, I don't like Tolkien being the gold standard for fantasy writers but hey, I don't get to decide these kinds of things.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  16. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    Last time I checked, Tolkien successfully completed his epic magnum opus and then some. Martin's fans are still waiting for him to even finish his whole Song while hoping he doesn't die of old age first. Martin's whole career goes to show you that, contrary to conventional wisdom, you can become a bestselling author without even finishing your story. But maybe we Scribes should see that as encouraging.

    I don't have a problem with Tolkien as a writer or even a leading influence on the genre. Without knowing too much about him or his work, I have to admire a guy who found a way to apply his linguistic education by building such a rich and detailed world. The only problem I see with his legacy isn't even his own fault, but that of popular culture upholding him as the great fantasy writer that everyone should check out (and Martin is getting some of this treatment too). It's precisely this tendency to select one author for the pedestal of Greatest Ever that encourages so much of the genre self-cannibalism that we all like to complain about. Not to mention that this pedestal had to go to a dead white dude with a lot of money from the early 20th century...
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    ASOIAF is not Martin's whole career. He had success with short stories (including Hugo nominations) and even more success writing for television before his fantasy series.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  18. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    True, but ASoIaF is what everyone has always known him for. It's the closest thing to his magnum opus right now, and he's still making money off it without having ever finished it.
     
  19. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    The Canterbury Tales was never finished. Lord Byron's Don Juan was supposedly never finished. Frank Herbert never finished his Dune series. Also, you could argue that Tolkien never really finished The Silmarillion.
    Unfinished stories have their own appeal. Potentially unfinished stories do too.

    Who determines an artist's magnum opus? The artist or the audience?
    More importantly: is comparing magnum opuses a viable way of comparing creators? I argue no; you have to look at their complete body of work.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  20. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    Fair enough, I was just feeling a bit cranky this evening and have never thought much for what I've read of Martin. I wasn't being objective when I posted that.
     
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