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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
There's more to fantasy than the elves and orcs of Tolkien
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Oct 24 2013, 5:03am

Post #26 of 27 (114 views)
well [In reply to] Can't Post

The main problem with this article, or rather "comment", is its brevity and its lack of a real discussion of its main subject.

To compare to Tolkien to the Daily Mail is beyond silly IMO, especially when it doesnīt even specify how and why itīs a relevant comparison. Itīs a common streak in some criticisms of Tolkien to try to equate his characters directly with current political players or other main positions of power in their own society and itīs an easy mistake to do for someone who is prone to see things through a political contemporary lens. And while good and evil are important questions in Tolkienīs works, he focuses on so many other things as well.

There are some other interesting aspects in the article, though. The article clearly tries to point to the variety within the fantasy genre and the genreīs treatment of good and evil, especially the tendencies seen in the focus of more recent fantasy authors. From the few other fantasy authors and recent fantasy authors Iīve read I donīt really see much of a dialogue with Tolkienīs works and concepts, but rather a different set of interests, themes and focus, in some cases mostly centered on the struggle for power in itself. Which also usually means that the same authors lack Tolkienīs interest in beauty, artistry and sub-creation, immortality and fading (just to mention a few things), all of it about something more than just good vs evil.


Oct 25 2013, 8:20pm

Post #27 of 27 (132 views)
Martinīs work also contains idealists [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree mostly with the arguments you put forward here, although I cannot speak about Howard, since I havenīt read any of his writing.

I think youīre being unfair towards GRR Martin, though. Martin, of course, is a writer with a very different perspective and frame of interest than Tolkien, but itīs interesting to compare their views and discussions of (political) power. Where Tolkien is much more interested in discussing power as a means of subjugating others and the relation between power and desires, Martinīs descriptions of the workings of power are reminiscent of those of a social scientist, although of course described in far more detail. Martin mostly looks at power in a very direct and concrete way, basing his descriptions quite explicitly in the social status/positions of the different players as well as their ambitions, their interests, their economy and in various levels of cynicism vs. idealism.

At least three main figures in his magnum opus are clearly shown to be honest idealists working to either uphold noble ideals or to change the status quo of the power hierarchy, whether itīs about being more inclusive towards marginalized/despised groups or trying to remove oppressive or harmful practices. Others exhibit a more cynical view of power, where power is just about being a good player of a complex game.


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