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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien's influence on later writers

CMackintosh
The Shire

May 26, 8:20am

Post #1 of 53 (3739 views)
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Tolkien's influence on later writers Can't Post

I spent part of lockdown reading the collected edition of Ursula Le Guin's EarthSea books. About a quarter of the way through it struck me that she was quite highly influenced by Tolkien. (She hardly makes a secret of how much she admires his writing.)
I've also come across several other authors who I think allowed Tolkien to influence their writing. I think I can safely put Vernor Vinge in that category - A Fire Upon the Deep hinges on some rather Tolkienesque concerns - The Blight tele-operates its victims, and Sauron's army before the Morannon breaks up and flees when he is crashed by Gollum destroying the One Ring and fails to continue tele-operating them ...
There are others, but at the moment I can't think of them.


sevilodorf
Tol Eressea


May 26, 12:31pm

Post #2 of 53 (3586 views)
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Just off the top of my head [In reply to] Can't Post

JK Rowling —- Harry Potter at least takes Tolkien and does her own thing.

Terry Brooks— Shannara series—. The first was so obviously a Tolkien ripoff that I stopped. The tv series gave me a hint that maybe he eventually made his own story but I never went back to see. Anyone have an opinion on Shannara?

Susan Cooper— The Dark is Rising— I admit to only reading the first but it was intriguing. Other things just got in the way.

Stephen King—- The Stand... he admits it.

Andrew Weir —The Martian not so much a Tolkien influenced as a Tolkien referencer. I attended a talk he gave and he is obviously a fan of Tolkien.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 26, 3:16pm

Post #3 of 53 (3572 views)
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Tolkien's Influence on Role-playing Games [In reply to] Can't Post

Dungeons & Dragons was rather obviously influenced by Tolkien's Middle-earth, firstly by game's take on Dwarves, Elves and Halflings as player-races and the class of Rangers. There are also many monsters and other creatures borrowed from Tolkien, from Orcs to Giant Eagles to Wear-bears. And more specifically, Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms campaign is greatly influenced by Tolkien. Of course there have now been many licensed tabletop games, card games and video games directly set in Tolkien's Middle-earth including at least four role-playing games or settings.

I've never made it beyond Terry Brooks' first Shannara book for the same reasons you've given.

The Bone comic-book series by Jeff Smith is often (rightly) described as The Lord of the Rings meets Carl Barks (Disney's good Duck artist).


#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 26, 3:18pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


May 26, 5:22pm

Post #4 of 53 (3559 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't think of any fantasy writer since Robert Howard who wasn't influenced by Tolkien one way or another.* And certain writers (Terry Brooks) are little more than cheap Tolkien knockoffs.

What there are too few of are fantasy authors who go behind Tolkien to his own sources. And I don't mean "Encyclopedias of Mythology" but actually reading the Eddas and the sagas etcetera.

*That includes guys like Mieville and Moorcock whose work was written in negative reaction to Tolkien


(This post was edited by Solicitr on May 26, 5:23pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 26, 7:32pm

Post #5 of 53 (3549 views)
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Given the cultural behemoth that is LOTR et al, [In reply to] Can't Post

I figure that any fantasy writer since Tolkien's time is influenced by either Tolkien or another writer who took inspiration from him.

For instance, look at Star Wars: A New Hope. A great deal of the story and themes are shaped by LOTR, and that movie went on to inspire a heck of a lot of storytellers in turn.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


sevilodorf
Tol Eressea


May 26, 9:30pm

Post #6 of 53 (3536 views)
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A query..... Who influenced who..... Lewis vs Tolkien? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes when I look at Narnia and Middle Earth tales.... I think they seem the result of two guys handed a list and told go write a story that includes x, y and z and don't forget q and t.

Similar elements -- vastly different treatments --- but a lot of the underlying themes are similar --- though that could be the q and t above.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 27, 7:36am

Post #7 of 53 (3486 views)
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Nah, Tolkein wins hands down. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, both were serious Christians, but Tolkien invented his own universe, history, languages, everything. Lewis wrote shallow allegories, quite lacking in originality.


sevilodorf
Tol Eressea


May 27, 8:53am

Post #8 of 53 (3480 views)
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Oh, I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien developed the ideas more completely. Lewis got in the avuncular tone (though that did fade a bit) and stayed firmly in the juvenile department. But simply in terms of influence... both infuse a lot Christian ideology — obviously Lewis lays it on with a shovel while Tolkien is infinitely more subtle.

And they were sitting around talking about writing with a bunch of friends— so perhaps in terms of influence we just have to recognize it undoubtedly went both ways.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




CMackintosh
The Shire

May 27, 9:31am

Post #9 of 53 (3472 views)
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Dungeons and Drongos [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Dungeons & Dragons was rather obviously influenced by Tolkien's Middle-earth, firstly by game's take on Dwarves, Elves and Halflings as player-races and the class of Rangers. There are also many monsters and other creatures borrowed from Tolkien, from Orcs to Giant Eagles to Wear-bears. And more specifically, Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms campaign is greatly influenced by Tolkien. Of course there have now been many licensed tabletop games, card games and video games directly set in Tolkien's Middle-earth including at least four role-playing games or settings.

I've never made it beyond Terry Brooks' first Shannara book for the same reasons you've given.

The Bone comic-book series by Jeff Smith is often (rightly) described as The Lord of the Rings meets Carl Barks (Disney's good Duck artist).



I have made it past the first book of Shannara, but that was an effort. It did contain some minor compensations, when Terry Brooks' legal background took over and his character sounded like he was reading a legal brief ... but I can't say that reading them gave me any great joy.

Of course the Dungeons and Dragons was influenced by Tolkien, and in turn it passed on some rather bad writing habits to a number of writers who are perhaps well known to us all - Raymond E Feist being a shining example ...

What I find interesting is that some of the people who have publicly criticized Tolkien - Brian Aldiss in his Million Year Spree and Billion Year Spree, then turns around and uses some of Tolkien's basic elements - the race/species older than man, other (semi) human species, language/s, etc - in his Helliconia Trilogy. Again, Harry Harrison, a close friend of Michael Moorcock's (who incidentally liked Tolkien when he met him, he just was not fond of his writing) also uses the same elements. With Helliconia, it the Phagors who are older than humanity, with the West of Eden trilogy it's the Yilane. The Phagorian language is nearly incomprehensible to humanity; likewise the Yilane language. The Helliconian humans have to contend with various species of protognostics such as the Madi, Neandertal clones, while the West of Eden Tanu meet and befriend the Paramutan, furry humanoids with tails.

And yet both these writers would say their writing was not influenced by Tolkien; these two trilogies are full of references at the very least.


Morthoron
Gondor


May 27, 1:59pm

Post #10 of 53 (3467 views)
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No mention of George R.R. Martin yet? [In reply to] Can't Post

Martin claims that Tolkien's killing of Gandalf was influential in his decision to kill off his own characters. So there's that.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 27, 1:59pm)


Yva
Rivendell


May 27, 8:55pm

Post #11 of 53 (3434 views)
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Interesting, [In reply to] Can't Post

while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 28, 1:21am

Post #12 of 53 (3402 views)
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Interesting indeed. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


I wonder where various examples of sword & sorcery fit into your system (Robert E Howard, Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, etc.)? Michael Moorcock's innovation was a fascinating blending of low-fantasy and high-fantasy elements. His Elric might fit into both your "anti-Tolkien" and "le Guin" catagories.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 28, 1:22am)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 28, 7:26am

Post #13 of 53 (3364 views)
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Gandalf was only temporarily dead. [In reply to] Can't Post

Shocking and effective, though. Boromir's death was important, too, if only to warn the reader that our characters aren't immortal. In many ways that made Gandalf's fall much more horrifying.


CMackintosh
The Shire

May 28, 8:18am

Post #14 of 53 (3353 views)
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Sword and Sorcery [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


I wonder where various examples of sword & sorcery fit into your system (Robert E Howard, Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, etc.)? Michael Moorcock's innovation was a fascinating blending of low-fantasy and high-fantasy elements. His Elric might fit into both your "anti-Tolkien" and "le Guin" catagories.


FWLIW, Elric Last Emperor of Melnibone suffers from a similar affliction to Frodo Baggins of Hobbiton the Shire - they are both addicted to something that gives them a feeling of immense power. And both suffer a mind-wrenching gut-churning fight for self-realization. That in the end destroys them anyway.

So much for Tolkien and Moorcock being poles apart. They both cared about similar things, even though their politics were poles apart.
https://www.multiverse.org/forum/fabulous-harbours-%E2%97%A6-welcome-to-moorcock-s-miscellany/faq/15380-faq-why-doesn-t-michael-moorcock-like-j-r-r-tolkien

As far as Sword-and-Sorcery goes, I think that is in a category of its own, neither high fantasy or low fantasy, but containing elements of both. But one thing they don't tend to share with high (epic) fantasy is the stakes. In TLotR, the stake is the freedom of all thinking beings - they can either fight for a (temporary) victory, or they can submit to having their very souls "raped" in the manner of the Orcs ... Life isn't so dire in the world of Conan the Barbarian. He's after his pay, primarily - and his life. (And that's where I think Michael Moorcock's analysis breaks down. he hasn't read the books quite as thoroughly as I have, so it's likely he's missed a few pointers here and there. Which is why the Council of Elrond is so valuable ... :)


Morthoron
Gondor


May 29, 1:12am

Post #15 of 53 (3296 views)
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Stephen R. Donaldson... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you've ever read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, you will find the unmistakable blueprint of Tolkien. Donaldson mentioned Tolkien in an interview, but he seems to diminish his influence:

"Tolkien's work made what I do possible. In that sense, "Lord of the Rings" is an inspiring model for 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.' But Middle Earth itself was never a model for the Land (except in the sense that Tolkien showed me what could be done within the bounds of epic fantasy). Looking back, I can see 'echoes' of Middle Earth in the Land. But then, I can see 'echoes' of lots of things in the Land (Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' leaps to mind)."

It is one of those statements where you just shake your head, and say, "Yeah...right. Dude, I read your books. Believe me, Tolkien is hiding behind every tree."

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 29, 1:13am)


Asger
Rivendell


May 29, 5:52pm

Post #16 of 53 (3225 views)
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Julian May [In reply to] Can't Post

The Pliocene Exile: 20th-21st century political prisoners dumped smack in the middle of the Silmarillion, or some such thing

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29, 11:13pm

Post #17 of 53 (3186 views)
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I remember those horrible books [In reply to] Can't Post

It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 30, 12:37am

Post #18 of 53 (3156 views)
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Huh. I hadn't thought of the series that way. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 30, 12:57am

Post #19 of 53 (3160 views)
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Thomas Covenant [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


I was fascinated by Covenant as a different sort of protagonist--one who, at the story's beginning, has reached rock-bottom and is only one bad day from pulling the plug on himself. It's unusual to have a fantasy hero who is so self-pitying and hard to like.

#FidelityToTolkien


squire
Half-elven


May 30, 2:03am

Post #20 of 53 (3155 views)
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You speak for me [In reply to] Can't Post

I tried the Covenant book in college, I think, to see what other epic fantasy works were like compared to my beloved Tolkien. Although I certainly finished the book, given that there was a plot and all, and a certain facility with writing, I remember the endless combination of "that's Tolkien" and "that's not Tolkien" responses in my head to each new character or setting, and each new agonizing introspective moment by the pathetic hero.

Between that book (was there really a sequel?) and a much later experience with Eragon thanks to my daughter's infatuation with it, I've never taken to the genre of heroic fantasy for recreational reading. I did, for many years, absorb science fiction through my skin, and historical fiction as well, but as I grew up I found myself less and less taken by genre work, and have gravitated almost entirely to straight history and its variants, science, criticism, and current events.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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CMackintosh
The Shire

May 30, 11:33am

Post #21 of 53 (3086 views)
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Lore of the elders [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


I was fascinated by Covenant as a different sort of protagonist--one who, at the story's beginning, has reached rock-bottom and is only one bad day from pulling the plug on himself. It's unusual to have a fantasy hero who is so self-pitying and hard to like.


I read the Covenant books, and found the only characters I could actually like were the Giant Foamfollower and the Waynhim - though it was impossible to see the Waynhim as individual characters, it was possible to see them as embodying a very admirable characteristic - keeping on keeping on, no matter the situation.

But Thomas Covenant is not the only fantasy hero who is self-pitying and so on and so forth. Elric of Melnibone is another such, and Michael Moorcock himself makes a joke of it in Elric at the End of Time. (Much as Tolkien makes a joke of the Lord of the Rings royalty and court setup in Farmer Giles of Ham.)

Maybe I should've been a little more clearer - everybody knows that all fantasy writers since Tolkien have been influenced by him, which is not very interesting. Does anyone consider SF writers like Stephen Baxter to have been influenced by Tolkien? I've been wavering between reading his Xeelee series as showing quite a lot of Tolkien influence - Xeelee are the victim of human intransigence and stupidity but they refuse to retaliate in kind - or showing mostly Arthur C. Clarke's influence. I mean, Xeelee is a dead give-away to the Seelie Court, so he was influenced by British (primarily Scottish it would appear) folklore; but are the Xeelee the equivalent of Tolkien's Eldar or of something he got from Arthur C. Clarke? Clarke was never much into folklore ...


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 1, 2:43pm

Post #22 of 53 (2798 views)
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Neil Gaiman [In reply to] Can't Post

In 2004 Neil Gaiman gave a talk to the Mythopoeic Society. The talk included this charming anecdote:

Quote
I came to the conclusion that Lord of the Rings was, most probably, the best book that ever could be written, which put me in something of a quandary. I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. (That’s not true: I wanted to be a writer then.) And I wanted to write The Lord of the Rings. The problem was that it had already been written.

I gave the matter a great deal of thought, and eventually came to the conclusion that the best thing would be if, while holding a copy of The Lord of the Rings, I slipped into a parallel universe in which Professor Tolkien had not existed. And then I would get someone to retype the book — I knew that if I sent a publisher a book that had already been published, even in a parallel universe, they’d get suspicious, just as I knew my own thirteen-year old typing skills were not going to be up to the job of typing it. And once the book was published I would, in this parallel universe, be the author of Lord of the Rings, than which there can be no better thing. And I read Lord of the Rings until I no longer needed to read it any longer, because it was inside me.


"A speech I once gave: On Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton " http://journal.neilgaiman.com/...wis-tolkien-and.html


I suppose this shows the many ways in which one writer can influence another.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 1, 2:50pm

Post #23 of 53 (2799 views)
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Now... [In reply to] Can't Post

...if only we could get Neil Gaiman on Amazon Prime's LotR writing team.

#FidelityToTolkien


The Dude
Bree

Jun 1, 3:19pm

Post #24 of 53 (2801 views)
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Not that I have any trust in the actual writers of the Amazon show... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but Neil Gaiman is such a trivial writer; even worse are the films (Beowulf!) and television series (Good Omens, American Gods) he has been involved with as a writer - the very definition of postmodern claptrap.

To stay more on topic: one of the few good genre writers influenced by Tolkien passed last year: Gene Wolfe. That man actually wrote literature (PS: Here I completely side with Otaku-sempai ;) )


(This post was edited by The Dude on Jun 1, 3:27pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jun 1, 8:03pm

Post #25 of 53 (2759 views)
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Although [In reply to] Can't Post

the episode of Dr Who that he wrote is one of the best, mixing heart-touching moments with old-school Dr Who horror. The ep won a Ray Bradbury Award and a Hugo Award.

https://en.wikipedia.org/.../The_Doctor%27s_Wife

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 2, 2:18pm

Post #26 of 53 (2414 views)
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And.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Looking at Mr Gaiman's long and distinguished list of awards and honours, (including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals) I'm not really getting the impression he's 'such a trivial writer'.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jun 2, 2:19pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 2, 4:28pm

Post #27 of 53 (2403 views)
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Good Omens [In reply to] Can't Post

only became a TV miniseries after it was a book, and the book was co-written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett


The Dude
Bree

Jun 2, 6:58pm

Post #28 of 53 (2388 views)
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Literary awards are largely meaningless... [In reply to] Can't Post

Their best use is as historical documents for the fleeting discursive tastes of a small sociocultural milieu. I would always be hesitant to judge the quality of an author's oeuvre based on the awards he received. This not only applies to the winners of awards for children's literature but also Nobel laureates.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 2, 7:50pm

Post #29 of 53 (2382 views)
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Gaiman, Wolfe, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...but Neil Gaiman is such a trivial writer; even worse are the films (Beowulf!) and television series (Good Omens, American Gods) he has been involved with as a writer - the very definition of postmodern claptrap.

To stay more on topic: one of the few good genre writers influenced by Tolkien passed last year: Gene Wolfe. That man actually wrote literature (PS: Here I completely side with Otaku-sempai ;) )


Considering that Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe are both writers that I have admired (along with Harlan Ellison and others), we'll have to agree to disagree on Gaiman.

#FidelityToTolkien


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 2, 8:42pm

Post #30 of 53 (2375 views)
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The Doctor's Wife [In reply to] Can't Post

Was an amazing episode. I didn't care for the Amy/Rory parts of it, but the conversations between The Doctor and the TARDIS were priceless. I was torn between wanting to see more episodes like it (so we could learn more about what the TARDIS thought), and wanting it to remain unique so it would never get trite. I'm sure the latter will prevail.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 11:08am

Post #31 of 53 (2320 views)
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I wonder whether you meant.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder whether you meant something like this?
"Personally, I just don't enjoy Neil Gaiman's work, insofar as I've read it. I know that he's won lots of awards and honours, and has many other trappings of a successful and widely admired author. I expect that some folks who read or contribute here probably like his work. I don't mean to dismiss or disrespect their opinions. I just don't get, myself, what other people see in his work. I don't enjoy it at all. That is of course a personal reaction, and others are welcome to disagree."

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 1:31pm

Post #32 of 53 (2314 views)
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No, that was not what I meant. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not of the opinion that art is purely subjective; nor do I think opinions have to be framed in the safest way possible. Of course, this is just my opinion. Everything written here are just opinions. It is pointless to reiterate this in every post.

Gaiman is a "successful and widely admired author", but so are J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Ken Follett. I do not deny that these people have their talents - they certainly know how to please their readers - but they are bestseller writers and not serious writers of literature. Their primary concern is to entertain, rather than to bring forth truth (even if it is a false truth).



Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 3, 1:47pm

Post #33 of 53 (2305 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I am not of the opinion that art is purely subjective; nor do I think opinions have to be framed in the safest way possible. Of course, this is just my opinion. Everything written here are just opinions. It is pointless to reiterate this in every post.

Gaiman is a "successful and widely admired author", but so are J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Ken Follett. I do not deny that these people have their talents - they certainly know how to please their readers - but they are bestseller writers and not serious writers of literature. Their primary concern is to entertain, rather than to bring forth truth (even if it is a false truth).


Query, Dude: have you read Gaiman's books, or are you basing your opinion on made-for-TV adaptations? I certainly wouldn't base my opinion of Tolkien on the movies.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 2:24pm

Post #34 of 53 (2300 views)
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I have read.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...American Gods and parts of Good Omens and his short stories collection Fragile Things. Don't get me wrong, I have read worse poplit over the years (perhaps my comparison with Rowling was a little bit harsh) but there was nothing in those stories which elevated them above genre fiction.

I agree it would be unfair to assess Gaiman purely on the television series he has been involved with. The Tolkien comparison stretches things a little bit, however, since Tolkien was never directly involved in any adaption, whereas Gaiman (judging by IMDb and several interviews) certainly played an active role in multiple TV and film productions.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 3:19pm

Post #35 of 53 (2292 views)
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So am I addressing the Sorting Hat of Literature then? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm interested to know how that works - I see that you decide for yourself whether a work is Serious Literature or not (fair enough, if that is a distinction that matters to you). But are you claiming that your ruling is objectively true in some way (that is, you're just right about these things and that's that)?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 4:48pm

Post #36 of 53 (2287 views)
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Harry Potter metaphors in a discussion about serious literature? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would not exactly (for better and worse) compare myself to Harold Bloom, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, or Bernhard Pivot. I do not consider myself some self-styled, highest authority on literary criticism. I have read plenty of serious authors whose works I disliked (Camus, Kerouac, Mann, Ford) and others where my verdict has changed over time (Hemingway, DeLillo). Equally, I do not dismiss every author a priori just because he has been termed a genre writer. Most literary critics, to paraphrase Houellebecq, are caught in the "morbid mists" of their own cultural milieu; nor do I deny that some authors inhabit a grayzone between art and entertainment. And I am always willing to give certain authors another chance if I read an informative defense of them.

For many authors, however, I am confident enough to make a distinction between serious and trivial literature. Serious does not necessarily mean good, and trivial does not necessarily mean detrimental. Maybe this is a (dying) continental European perspective, but I am willing to defend this distinction. For their is a fundamental difference between E.L. James and Austen, Rowling and Tolkien, Grisham and McCarthy; between an author who primarily seeks to entertain his audience and one who wants (and is able) to say something about the human condition.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 4:58pm

Post #37 of 53 (2274 views)
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Susanna Clarke (author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) [In reply to] Can't Post

.

Quote
"When I was a child, I loved books with magic in them. Then at the beginning of the '90s, I'd abandoned a detective novel I was writing, partly because I couldn't get the plot right and partly because a weird, fantastic, slightly surreal atmosphere kept creeping in—quite wrong for a detective novel. I was teaching English in Bilbao, and I became ill with some sort of postviral thing. This necessitated resting a lot. So I bought The Lord of the Rings and reread it. Then I reread it again. It completely took me over, and by the time I'd finished, it was obvious I ought to try writing a novel of magic and fantasy."
Susanna Clarke interviewed by the trade magazine Publishers Weekly


I'll offer another author up to the conversation, and see whether we want to talk about the influence of Tolkien on other authors this time. I notice that the link to Tolkien might well escape someone reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - I don't see much stylistically in common between Clarke's work and Tolkien's, and nor is there much in common as regards plot, setting, characters etc.

As regards other influence, the British Council has a good article about Strange & Norrell and says:


Quote
Clarke’s influences are appropriately eclectic. She has claimed Jane Austen is her favourite writer, because she ‘got as close to perfection as anyone can’, but also cites as influential Charles Dickens, fantastical postmodernist Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, the comics of Alan Moore, and the script-writing team behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An enduring fascination with magicians was prompted by reading C.S. Lewis as a child, but she claims that her closest model for creating convincing magical masters was Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy.


Susanna Clarke in British Council: Literature


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 6:33pm

Post #38 of 53 (2265 views)
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You're Slytherin, I see ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel we got off to a rocky start. You pronounced, rather ex cathedra, I thought, that Gaiman was 'a trivial writer', and that seemed to me to be rather a picking of fights when I had just introduced him. I accept you meant that (in your opinion) he does not address 'the human condition'. I'm not going to argue 'oh yes he does' - he might or might not do, but I don't care about it enough to go re-read and make a scholarly defence.

I think the tradition of honouring works that speak to the human condition is neither dying, and nor is it characteristically Central European. But one might ask not only whether that is the sole criterion on which to judge things. One might, for example, ask 'which humans' and 'what condition'? For example I know youngsters who found that Harry Potter definitely spoke to their Human Condition (for example themes about bigotry and tolerance). Are they (objectively) wrong? Do we tell them to grow up because the work does not meet the human condition of some group of traditional literary sommeliers?

I'll leave that for you to ponder. I feel this tangent might have gone on long enough - we were originally supposed to be discussing which writers were influenced by Tolkien, not which ones meet some criteria one of us holds dear for being 'serious literature'.

Oh - but please don't try to police the metaphors that I may or may not use - for one thing I have no intention of taking any notice, and for another it merely makes you seem humourless and pompous.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 7:59pm

Post #39 of 53 (2252 views)
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If that is "policing" in your book... [In reply to] Can't Post

...what do your call your second post, in which you reworked my entire original post to fit the rhetoric you prefer? (for the record, I did not mind it and I would not call that "policing" either, but some consistency please).

My original post was not a response to you but to Otaku-sempai's wish to have Gaiman on the writers team for the Amazon series. I disagreed because Gaiman's ventures into television have been forgettable so far.

I did not say that the "tradition of honouring [literary] works that speak to the human condition" is characteristically Central European; but it is dying (for various reasons), and in some places it is dying faster than in others.

As far as "Harry Potter" is concerned, yes, we should tell youngsters (and former youngsters) that, if they love reading, there might be better things to read than (or after) "Harry Potter"; books that expand the mind, that confront the reader with different and alien opinions, that help him or her to grow as a human being, challenge him; and not - similar to Marvel films - feed him cliched pleasantries, tacky allegories, and generally poor, derivative prose.

PS: I am willing to concede that literary tastes can be different to a certain degree, that (I am guessing this is the gist of your argument) people are different, have different backgrounds and aspirations, and as such, they might react differently to certain books. So yes, not everyone has to like Austen, or Tolkien, or Hölderlin, or Proust, or Turgenev. But it does not follow that the merit of ALL art is essentially subjective or that we cannot criticize certain books for being the products of sheer consumerism (Rowling, not Gaiman). And in the end, most people at least implicitly acknowledge this on some level. Otherwise, there would be no discursive distinction between someone who considers the Transformer films the best movies of all times and someone who does the same for Scorsese flicks.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 4, 1:23am

Post #40 of 53 (2214 views)
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Gaiman as Screenwriter [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm familiar with only a portion of Neil Gaiman's work for film and television. I enjoyed his contributions to Doctor Who and the Neverwhere book and series. I very much like Coraline. I've only seen a bit (so far) of Good Omens, but I've read the novel. I very much like Stardust, though the movie was scripted by others. Gaiman also wrote the English-language screenplay for Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, though admittedly he was working from strong source material. I am very much looking forward to Netflix's Sandman series.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 4, 1:25am)


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 4, 8:40am

Post #41 of 53 (2178 views)
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i'm surprised that no=one has mentioned Terry Pratchett [In reply to] Can't Post

Who took a slightly different angle on the fantasy genre but was still influenced. Although Pratchett was never that much of a Tolkien fan apparently. But I enjoyed some of the Discworld series. At least whilst it was a Discworld series before it became the tales of the Ankh-Morpork police department!


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 4, 8:44am

Post #42 of 53 (2180 views)
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You are right about that - I apologise [In reply to] Can't Post

I would like to apologise that, having become annoyed, I allowed my posts in this sub-thread to become annoying (and worse to be intentionally annoying). Having had some time to think, (and having read your last post The Dude) I regret the line I took, the tone I used, and the irritation it surely caused. I will be careful not to behave in that way in future.
For some specifics: I agree it was unwise for me to paraphrase things in my second post. It would be entirely reasonable to see this as me donning a (probably rather oversized) peaked cap and jackboots taking it upon myself to set out how we may speak here. I think I might be asked not only to show consistency (as per your gentle formulation, The Dude) - I accuse myself of hypocrisy. Perhaps I should also try 'pompous and humourless' on for size myself - I fear it might fit all too well. Besides, 'pompous and humourless' was an unpleasant thing to say, and I regret it.


I may write a further post, replying in a reasonable way to The Dude's points. But I don't want to do that here as it could easily look like - or even become - a defence of my conduct. So I will end this post here,with my apologies again.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 4, 3:37pm

Post #43 of 53 (2146 views)
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No hard feelings here. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you want we can continue this in the PMs.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7, 12:41pm

Post #44 of 53 (1897 views)
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That's very kind of you [In reply to] Can't Post

...but I think I'll decline a further conversation by PM. I'd rather let the matter rest now.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 7, 4:13pm

Post #45 of 53 (1872 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

It was precisely Eco's intention, in writing The Name of the Rose, to demonstrate that a mere "genre", the detective story, could nonetheless be the vehicle of very serious literature indeed.

Which in turn leads back to the topic of screen adaptations, at least Hollywood's: the film adaptation of NR was a mere detective story with all the serious content stripped out (indeed, at one point, ridiculed). This is a risk in adapting any 'crossover' or 'hybrid' novel-- like The Lord of the Rings. Since it's possible to read it as a mere adventure yarn and nothing more, it is possible - indeed a near-certainty - for any screen adaptation to be a mere adventure yarn and nothing more.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jun 7, 4:17pm)


The Dude
Bree

Jun 7, 7:37pm

Post #46 of 53 (1849 views)
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LotR and "The Name of the Rose" [In reply to] Can't Post

As stated above, I would not deny that certain literary works which are deemed "genre" lit should actually be considered "serious" literature (my aforementioned reference to Houellebecq is from his book about H. P. Lovecraft, where he also positively mentions Tolkien). In my understanding, however, most "serious genre literature" either gets written by authors who do not consciously consider themselves writers of genre fiction (i.e., Tolkien did not primarily consider himself a fantasy author; in contrast to so many of his would-be successors) or by authors who ironically play, in a postmodern fashion, with genre rules (e.g., Eco).

I agree with your assessment of Annaud's film adaptation, though I would say that a faithful adaptation of Eco's book is probably even more unlikely than one of LotR. The Italian channel RAI apparently released a television series with John Turturro about it last year. Judging from the reviews I read it did not improve on the film.

I also in general concur with your points about Hollywood film adaptations, although - weirdly enough - this partly explains why I have rather more positive view of Jackson's LotR films. Given my age, this could very well be called retroactive reasoning (I was in middle school when those films came out) but even now I don't see a possibility where those movies would not have been produced as action movies first. When you look at earlier (and later!) blockbuster adapations, it is still baffling to me how well Jackson's original trilogy turned out, how (relatively!) little it consciously tried to improve and revise the source material*, and how in certain moments it actually conferred the epic and metaphysical timelessness of Tolkien's creation. Or, as someone on a completely different forum once wrote: "The nastiest thing I can say about them is that they got a lot of easy stuff wrong. The nicest thing I can say about them is that anyone else in Hollywood would have got more important things much more wrong."

*(as grating as some of Boyens' comments are, most Hollywood screenwriters and directors would have changed so much more, e.g., Sauron as a visible and "humanized" enemy, hackneyed and forced en-vogue political allegories, self-ironic metahumor to let everyone know this is all "just fantasy", Aragorn killing Sauron in the end because that's "what the audience needs", the Ring is turned into a WMD, weird sexual innuendo (or more) between Galadriel and certain protagonists, etc.)


(This post was edited by The Dude on Jun 7, 7:43pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 7, 8:10pm

Post #47 of 53 (1839 views)
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Yes, I think you're right [In reply to] Can't Post

This much I can say in defense of Jackson: It could have been so much worse! (I assume you've read the John Boorman treatment?)

But nonetheless one could weep in considering what a Kurosawa or a Lean could have done with it. Still, therein lies the Catch-22: any director who wanted to approach the LR with the high seriousness required would never in a million years have got funding for it. You couldn't do it at all for less than a blockbuster budget, and producers don't invest blockbuster money unless what they have in mind as a model is Star Wars or the MCU.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jun 7, 8:12pm)


Morthoron
Gondor


Jun 9, 1:11am

Post #48 of 53 (1784 views)
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I would say Annaud's adaptation... [In reply to] Can't Post

fairly caught the look and feel of The Name of the Rose, and the actors he chose for many of the characters were inspired (particularly Malachi, Berengar, Jorge, Remigio, and of course Salvatore as played by Ron Perlman), but Sean Connery and Christian Slater? Not so much.

In any case, the staggering amount of medieval allusions, the ecclesiastical nomenclature and the dogmatic debates swirling about a 14th century Benedictine monastery would have bewildered most movie goers; however, the simplification of the plot cut the scholarly heart out of a fascinating and great novel. Much like Jackson's devolution of The Lord of the Rings into an approximation of one of his earlier B-grade blood and guts horror flicks with a much larger budget and occasional Tolkien quotes scattered about various characters to lend an air of authenticity.

But as solicitr inferred, it could have been worse...much worse (ie., the Boorman treatment).

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 9, 5:13am

Post #49 of 53 (1769 views)
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Tough cookies [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
In any case, the staggering amount of medieval allusions, the ecclesiastical nomenclature and the dogmatic debates swirling about a 14th century Benedictine monastery would have bewildered most movie goers



Morthoron
Gondor


Jun 9, 12:21pm

Post #50 of 53 (1727 views)
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Tough though the cookies may be... [In reply to] Can't Post

The studios are only looking for dough, and will let the chips fall where they may. Which is why you get half-baked product.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Omnigeek
Lorien


Jun 29, 2:34am

Post #51 of 53 (861 views)
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Terry Brooks' Shannara [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Terry Brooks— Shannara series—. The first was so obviously a Tolkien ripoff that I stopped. The tv series gave me a hint that maybe he eventually made his own story but I never went back to see. Anyone have an opinion on Shannara?


The first book was obviously heavily influenced. i would say the series deviated significantly and became its own thing starting with Brooks' second novel. I wonder a little if perhaps the similarity was influenced by Judy Del Rey -- she certainly requested artwork for the first publication that was heavily influenced by work the Hildebrandts did for LOTR. I found the annotated version (okay, the audiobook of it) very enlightening.

I have got a little past midway through the Shannara series. The world really has nothing to do with Tolkien or Middle-earth -- to the point that I question why he calls the races Elves, Dwarves, and Trolls.

It seems very much like different trilogies in the Shannara series have nothing to do with each other but later it becomes clearer that Brooks is trying to generate a millenia-spanning conflict between 2 fundamental forces.

The rules of magic don't seem to have any continuity but it doesn't seem like the magic fart conjuring that you see in Harry Potter, more akin to the enhancing of natural properties or subtle influencing that Tolkien and Scandanavian myths used (leaving aside the magical singing from skalds).

BTW, Brooks' Magic Kingdom series is quite different and has no evidence of borrowing from Tolkien.

Obviously, Tolkien had a huge influence. Before his works, there really hadn't been any serious adult-oriented fantasy. Having said that, a lot of classic SF/F authors don't exhibit any Tolkien influence. Even among contemporary writers, Larry Correia's Monster Hunter and Grimnoir Chronicles series (which are both kind of a blend of science fiction and fantasy) and David Drake's Books of the Elements and The Isles series are distinct.


Omnigeek
Lorien


Jun 29, 2:44am

Post #52 of 53 (859 views)
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Lewis and Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Sometimes when I look at Narnia and Middle Earth tales.... I think they seem the result of two guys handed a list and told go write a story that includes x, y and z and don't forget q and t.

Similar elements -- vastly different treatments --- but a lot of the underlying themes are similar --- though that could be the q and t above.


They both influenced each other quite heavily and they were both influenced heavily by William Morris. IIRC, Lewis convinced Tolkien to finish LOTR.

I don't think it should be any surprise that 2 guys who shared drafts and socialized with each other for decades and who were both heavily influenced by the same literary elements would have similar elements and themes in their own writings.


CMackintosh
The Shire

Jul 6, 12:19pm

Post #53 of 53 (722 views)
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Brooks and others [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Terry Brooks— Shannara series—. The first was so obviously a Tolkien ripoff that I stopped. The tv series gave me a hint that maybe he eventually made his own story but I never went back to see. Anyone have an opinion on Shannara?


The first book was obviously heavily influenced. i would say the series deviated significantly and became its own thing starting with Brooks' second novel. I wonder a little if perhaps the similarity was influenced by Judy Del Rey -- she certainly requested artwork for the first publication that was heavily influenced by work the Hildebrandts did for LOTR. I found the annotated version (okay, the audiobook of it) very enlightening.

I have got a little past midway through the Shannara series. The world really has nothing to do with Tolkien or Middle-earth -- to the point that I question why he calls the races Elves, Dwarves, and Trolls.

It seems very much like different trilogies in the Shannara series have nothing to do with each other but later it becomes clearer that Brooks is trying to generate a millenia-spanning conflict between 2 fundamental forces.

The rules of magic don't seem to have any continuity but it doesn't seem like the magic fart conjuring that you see in Harry Potter, more akin to the enhancing of natural properties or subtle influencing that Tolkien and Scandanavian myths used (leaving aside the magical singing from skalds).

BTW, Brooks' Magic Kingdom series is quite different and has no evidence of borrowing from Tolkien.

Obviously, Tolkien had a huge influence. Before his works, there really hadn't been any serious adult-oriented fantasy. Having said that, a lot of classic SF/F authors don't exhibit any Tolkien influence. Even among contemporary writers, Larry Correia's Monster Hunter and Grimnoir Chronicles series (which are both kind of a blend of science fiction and fantasy) and David Drake's Books of the Elements and The Isles series are distinct.


Points:
1. Brooks' Sword of Shannara was very heavily based on Tolkien - the sleepy countryside and township, etc. The (almost) prehistoric war. The "races" ... you are correct in stating that the later ones grew steadily away from that starting point. And as I said, at times his legal training took over and you get an unexpected laugh out of reading what sounds like a pompous legal secretary explaining things to a hung-over lawyer.His editor could have been more rigorous, but we wouldn't have those pratfalls to laugh about.

2. Very few Fantasy authors manage eldritch beings very well, and for all intents and purposes none manage Elves at all - though Tad Williams and Elizabeth Moon do manage to portray other-world people in their Fantasy stories. Terry Brooks is only a little better than the Dungeons-and-Dragons assembly line in that regard.

3. I like Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom novels. They are authentically his.

4. Before Tolkien there was E R Eddison with The Worm Ouroboros and the Zimiamvia Trilogy, James Branch Cabell with Jurgen, Figures of Clay, The Silver Stallion and others, Arthur Machen with The Great God Pan, The Inmost Light and others, and David Lindsay with Voyage to Arcturus, The Haunted Woman, and others.

 
 

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