In less than a month the final TV series of Game of Thrones will air. This means that even the people who just read the novels written by George RR Martin, me included, will watch it, to find out how this story is going to end.
On the other hand, Amazon Prime bought the rights to create a TV series based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s books and it is expected to be a visual masterpiece. So it got me thinking. Which of the book series had a bigger impact on fantasy literature?
Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien was a pioneer. I actually believe that the fantasy world would not be the same without him. He published “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in 1954. The story is a sequel to his novel “The Hobbit”, but its success was way bigger.
It took him more than 10 years to write this series. One of the persons that supported him the most was his best friend, C.S. Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
Even though Tolkien planned to write this tale as a children’s one, it turned out darker than intended. “The Lord of the Rings” series contains 3 volumes:
– The Fellowship of the Ring;
– The Two Towers;
– The Return of the King.
Plot and influences
Regarding the plot it is impossible to cover everything in a few sentences, so I will try to present it as best I can. Everything about it is a direct result of the actions that happened thousands of years before. Once upon a time, Sauron created a set of magic rings and planned to give: 3 rings to the Elves, 7 to the Dwarves and 9 to Men. One final ring was made and it was the most powerful one and was Sauron’s. With it, he could control all the Rings of Power and corrupt those who wore them. After a war, Sauron was defeated and lost his physical form. Also, the Ring was lost.
Two Thousand years later, the Ring was found by 2 river-people, Saron managed to regain some of his powers and took another form, so the actual plot of “The Lord of the Rings” starts from here. Again, all the species needed to fight side by side in order to keep the world to end.
When it comes to influences, the author took on a great number of sources, but I will only talk about two of them:
– Norse Mythology: there are a lot of similitudes between “The Lord of the Rings” and the Norse Mythology, but the biggest one is between Gandalf and Odin.
– Germanic influences. From their Mythology, Tolkien was inspired to create the elves and the dwarfs.
Not only that “The Lord of the Rings” was the reason that the desire for fantasy literature grew so much at the beginning of the ’60s, but it was also a point of start for many computer games, such as Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin
George RR Martin is an American writer. His first ever written story was published in 1971 and it was called “The Hero”. Two years later, he wrote, “With Morning Comes Mistfall” which got nominated to both Hugo and Nebula Awards.
In 1991, he needed money and knew he had to write a successful story. In his childhood, he was a very big fan of Tolkien and wanted to do something similar, but had no idea about what he was going to write. 1996 was the year when the first novel of the series was published. From there till now, George RR Martin created a hysteria around his tale, million of novels sold and a TV series that is considered the best ever made.
Even though more than 20 years have passed since the moment of the publication of the first volume, George RR Martin still owes us two more novels. He wrote the first three ones relatively fast, but as the plot became more difficult, so did his writing speed
– A Game of Thrones – 1996;
– A Clash of Kings – 1999;
– A Storm of Swords – 2000;
– A feast of Crows – 2005;
– A Dance of Dragons – 2011′
– The Winds of Winter – forthcoming;
– A Dream of Spring – forthcoming.
Plot and influences
The plot is set in a fictional world. Here we don’t have normal seasons. Each one lasts for years and winter comes bringing evil spirits and death. We learn that centuries ago, the last was ruled by the Targaryens, but after the last king got mad, a civil war killed the ruler and ended their dynasty, putting the Robert Baratheon on the throne. However, peace lasted only 15 years and after king Baratheon dies after a hunt the battle for the throne starts. There are a lot of characters and it’s impossible to add them all, so I will just talk about the important families and where they stand at the beginning of the story:
– Baratheon – the ruling dynasty;
– Starks – live in the North, pledge loyalty to the Baratheons;
– Lannister – very rich, have direct connections with the thrones through the marriage of Cersei Lannister with Robert Baratheon;
– Targaryens – even though most of them were killed, Daenerys survived and lives in exile.
George RR Martin said that most of his influences came from the books that he read as a child. Among his favorite authors are H. P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, and Robert E. Howard. Another thing that he confesses is that the unusual seasons are also inspired by personal experience.
I think a lot of the stuff in A Game of Thrones, the snow and ice, and freezing, comes from my memories of Dubuque
The thing I think stands out in this series is that you cannot say for sure who is the hero and who is the villain. The same thing applies to Homer’s Illiad.
“A Song of Ice and Fire” didn’t necessarily brought new fantasy species to the world, but it started an immense fantasy movement and became one of the best products ever created.
Badgery Conclusions for this Fantasy Battle
As I’ve said at the beginning of the article it is my true belief that without J.R.R. Tolkien we wouldn’t have fantasy as we know it today. However, as much as I appreciate his works and how he turned a children type of tales into so much more, I can’t say that his writing style was my favorite of them all.
On the other hand, George RR Martin has an amazing writing style, but he had almost 50 years of literature more available for inspiration. Also, he doesn’t have any mercy when it comes to killing his characters.
Both of the stories have dragons, princesses, incredible creatures and unhuman antagonists, so I think that is just a matter of perception when picking your favorite.
I will pick “A Song of Ice and Fire” as a winner in any battle, but which one is your favorite?