Skip to comments.Is George R.R. Martin the “American Tolkien”?
Posted on 05/31/2013 12:43:32 PM PDT by nickcarraway
With the end of the third season of Game of Thrones in sight (June 9th), a global audience of over 5 million is debating whether or not George R.R. Martin is the rightful American Tolkien. I argue that while The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones have striking similarities, Martin is actually pioneering a distinct genrea new kind of fantasy novel informed by historical fiction and politics. Martin admits that he was influenced a great deal by Tolkien, and mirrored the structure of his novels off of Tolkiens work:
Tolkien begins his story in the Shire with one group of inhabitants, hobbits, but eventually expands the tale in ever-widening orbits to cover many races and huge tracts of land. Thats what I wanted to do too. I wanted to start with a tight focus on a few characters and one place in the world, and as the story is told, the world will continue to get bigger and bigger and more people get drawn into the conflict, Martin told the Detroit Free Press.
(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...
I have not read the books mentioned here but I really like this author. The fellow has been writing for decades.
Yes, although I will say that I found “A Song of Fire and Ice” to be more interesting that “The Lord of the Rings”, and the characters to be far deeper and more compelling.
I have not read “The Lord of the Rings” twice, and I don’t think I have will. I just started book 3 of “A song of Fire and Ice” for the second time, and I’m loving it again.
have = ever*
I looked it up on Wiki to see what it was. The plot was underwhelming, but maybe it reads better.
I read a bit of that first “Fire and Ice” book to see what it was, since my son had it out of the library. It’s workmanlike narrative, sequential and all that.
One re-reads Tolkien less for complex plotting than for the beauty of his language. His writing is like being in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception: something exquisite with perfectly-wrought detail everywhere you look. If unashamedly gorgeous composition isn’t your thing, then he would probably not be a favored author.
No, he's no J.R.R. Tolkien. He just has a pretentious double middle initial like J.R.R. Tolkien originated in the fantasy fiction genre. What a copycat.
Not NEARLY as much sodomy in the Tolkien Books./s
I guess I’m just an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy about things like that.
Why would you call Martin a dirty perv?
I haven’t seen the show or read his books. How do they compare to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series?
Explain, please. His bio on Wikipedia lists him as being a demonicRAT and supporter of the 0bmanation ... is there more to it than that?
Well, they do both have 4 names with the middle two starting with R... Both combined the legend of Atlantis into their stories. Tolkein added what seemed to be a level of depth in his books, however, especially The Silmarilian. Probably because he spent half his life working on it and never really finished.
I don’t know...are really long boring poems inserted into the text involved?
My kids really like Tolkien’s poems, especially if I sing.
I loved books 1,2,3 of game of thrones. It took him it seemed a decade to complete book 4, while throwing excuse after excuse on his web page, then when the announcement finally came that book 4 would come out soon, he explained how it would be written where half the characters would be in book 4, and a simultaneous timeline of the other half of the characters would be in book 5, I was already pissed. After book 4 finally came out, and I read it, I was ready to find George RR Martin and strangle him personally (plus it doesn’t help that he is a big big big lib)....I was livid at the suckiness of book 4.
When book 5 came out, I read it (because I had to), and was pleasantly surprised, and feel he has at least somewhat redeemed himself for the travesty of book 4. We will see if he can finish off what started as an incredible series well.
While I somewhat like the “Song of Ice and Fire” series (the first book being “A Game of Thrones”) Martin isn’t the writer that Tolkien was, and certainly not the scholar. I can easily imagine even Martin laughing off this comparison.
Stop, stop...no singing!
I was just on a Kardashian thread and thinking of the exact same scene.
In a word: no.
In two words: hell no.
Martin is a novelist, Tolkien was not. Tolkien was a linguist and creator. The stories that we have are derivative of his lifetime of work and serious scholarship that recreated the entire field of “fairy tales”, as Tolkien described his own work.
Martin’s work, while very good, is derivative of Tolkien’s establishment of the modern Sword and Sorcery genre.
Martin is not the “American Tolkien” any more than Terry Brooks or Robert Jordan were. He is the hottest thing in the genre right now, but he doesn’t compare to man who created an entire genre of literature.
All without being a novelist.
Many of Martin’s ideas come from Druon’s historical fiction novel The Iron King.
“I havent seen the show or read his books. How do they compare to Robert Jordans Wheel of Time series?”
Unlike the Wheel of Time, Martin’s book don’t completely suck ass.
Uhhh no. And I like Martin, written a lot of good stuff. But he’s never really had the vision of Tolkien, I don’t think anybody has actually. Asimov’s future history kind of comes close, but even his stuff you can sense that he’s gluing books together after the fact, Tolkien’s world was very well defined very early in his process.
I'm more than a little curious to hear that.
I liked that song, “One Tolkien Over The Line”...
Not well IMO, I think the WoT is superior.
You ain’t the only one!
Us Fuddy-Duddies need to stick together! :-)
You know you’re invited to visit us here in Boring, anytime!
The boys were falling off the sofa laughing at the song about the troll and the bone, from the first part of “Fellowship of the Ring.”
Maybe it has to do with their listening to Homer from birth. They like poetry, especially narrative.
I am only familiar with Robert Jordan’s first Wheel of Time book, but I would say that Martin’s are vastly superior. The writing quality is not so different perhaps, but the scale and scope of the story, the richness in characters, character development, plot twist, outright surprises (such as killing off characters whom you believed he would NEVER kill off), puts Martin’s series on a level that Jordan can’t really touch.
If you like fantasy, you might want to look into Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle). Excellent book.
The show is...like any book adapted by HBO really. Good production values, good acting, inspired costumes, and ridiculously over sexualized.
They get that way once they're teenagers ... but Anoreth got into saga-singing once she went to sea. Had some of her crewmates learning Old Norse with her.
Jordan has a thing called “The Game of Houses” (Noble houses) in his novels, which made me suspicious of this “Game of Thrones” when I first heard of it.
There isn’t that much sex in the books themselves, and very little is explicit, mainly just what is implied.
His stuff is not as squeaky clean as Tolkien, but its nowhere near what HBO did with it.
Martins characters are very, very flawed, by design.
As soon as he brought in incest, I stopped reading. All I perceived was empty violence and sex.
I just finished the final Wheel of Time book, by the way, and it bugs me that the NYT compared Jordan’s imaginary world to Tolkein’s, which was printed on every cover of those 14 books. Are they just stupid or something? The two were nothing like one another.
Have they read “Bored of the Rings?” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bored_of_the_Rings
I will take your word for it, as I am judging by what I have seen on HBO.
If what you say is true, than HBO is doing a grave disservice to the author by changing the entire tone of the work.
I think my 16-year-old has. It’s on a shelf at the top of a closet, with other books we either don’t want them to read, or don’t want them to destroy (like the complete set of Horatio Hornblower novels).
I’m currently reading Tolkien to “teh byos,” who are 11, 9, 7, and 4. Sometimes the teenage girls (13 and 15) show up, too, if they’re not being allowed on the computer at the time. I tell them that every page has at least one word they might find on the SAT.
“who thinks Obama is the most intelligent president weve had since Jimmy Carter,
“and yes, angry Ive become as I watch the ...other states where Republicans and their Teabagger allies control key seats of power.
Great guy! Good person to support with money. The second coming of Tolkien, only without morality!
I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy over thirty years ago, and have forgotten most of it. I only saw the first of the three movies, and wasn’t interested in seeing any more. I’ve been watching the Game of Thrones series, and am enjoying it, but have not been moved to read any of the books. About 10 years ago, I read an older novel of Martin’s titled “Fevre Dream.” It’s about vampires, and set on the antebellum Mississippi River. I thought it was a pretty good book, and plan to read it again once I get through all the other books on my shelves.
I can’t say on that comparison, vet, because I have not read or heard of the Wheel of Time series.
Regarding martin’s books though, my brother bought me the first 4 of the available 5 for my birthday, and I thought to myself, dammit, I do not want to read this, the author is some idiot liberal.
But knowing he would make sure I read them, I began to force myself to read one chapter per night so as to not be rude to him by rejecting his gift.
By the end of book three, I had to find ways to prevent myself from reading more than 6-8 chapters a day so that I would not consume them too quickly, and then when I got to the end, I started over at the beginning and began to buy the HBO series on blu ray.
The books are a long, slowly developing arch about a number of people who desire the power of a throne but are unfit to wield that power, and about the schemes and plots they devise to acquire that power.
The beauty of the books lies in the staggering depth of the characters. I have never come across characters this well developed in any book that I’ve ever read. The way the chapters are presented lends to this in that each chapter is seen through the eyes of one of the key characters with each chapter being named after one of those characters.
If you ever read them, vet, I highly recommend doing so in a digital format such as Kindle, because while the novels are cheaper, the print is small and compact, and it is not easy on my aging eyes at all. The Kindle has a space between each line of text which makes reading it so much easier.
They are considerably better. I say that as a one-time huge fan of Jordan who became incredibly disappointed at the way he lost his way in too many irrelevant plot lines after the fourth book and also the way he depicted all of his female characters into perpetually angry harridans, as if that was supposed to be some sort of feminist statement. Actually, I think he was just writing down the way his wife talked to him. :)
Brandon Sanderson made a heroic effort to salvage the Wheel of Time series, but fell short - as there were just too many plot lines and no real way to end them all satisfactorily. After hearing for years from Jordan that the first thing he wrote was the final scene of the final book, we were expecting it to be something epic. Nope...
George R. R. Martin is a different kind of writer - no artificial politeness or fake chivalry from him. He spares the reader nothing of the human experience, though HBO adds some gratuitous sex scenes that go beyond what Martin actually wrote in the books. Still, and despite some minor plot changes, the HBO series is a nearly miraculous adaptation of a huge work of fantasy - something I never thought I would see attempted by a major cable network.
My only warning would be - if you are the kind of reader (as so many FReepers seem to be) that requires black-and-white characterizations of good and evil in you fiction, then go watch a John Wayne western, instead. Martin's characters defy classification, and even the "heroes" have significant flaws. If not, then I encourage you to read "A Song of Ice and Fire" - just be warned, that the rest of the fantasy genre will seem trite and insipid by comparison when you are finished!
It’s pretty obvious that he’s read none of the books.
Five books in and I'm not even sure what the story is! A Song of Ice and Fire? Winter is finally coming (the title of the first chapter of the first book) and the fire is still half a world away, although it was revealed in the first book. And these two stories half a world apart have barely connected; instead, we get everything in between!
Yeah, I'm still reading them and watching the show. Why do you ask?