1. Alexander Wallis
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    Alexander Wallis Member

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    Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Alexander Wallis, Jun 14, 2011.

    First I would like to discuss Tolkien, I don't understand why everyone looks to him as the Godfather of Fantasy writing. The Lord Of The Rings are some of the most boring and just bad fantasy stories to me. The antagonist's name is Sauron, and the evil wizard is SAURO-mon, totally original. And a story following hobbits? For god's sake its stupid, and everyone knows that if a Hobbit or any person for that matter, had the ring they would obviously choose evil. And why didn't Gandalf just use his giant Eagle to pick up Frodo and fly him over Mount Doom and drop the ring? And when Aragorn gets the Ghost army they can attack but nothing can touch them? That's stupid. I just genuinely hate the series. I think there are plenty of other better fantasy writers.

    The second thing is why are so many good Fantasy Novels considered unoriginal, because they're borrowing just a little from the "Almighty" Tolkien? I mean everyone is influenced by something or someone, and just cause one person did it, badly might I add, doesn't mean that when they use it differently that they're copying. I just don't get it.

    Finally, I would like to make everyone aware of a wonderful Fantasy writer named Patrick Rothfuss, he only has two books out currently, part of a trilogy, and I have the first two. They are well written and simply enthralling, go get The Name Of The Wind. Great book.
     
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  2. martial_wolf
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    martial_wolf Member

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    Really the thing is he's the Neil Armstrong of fantasy. First man on the moon/gigantic fantasy novels. Sure, he may not have done everything right but at least he did something.

    Honestly when it comes to the actions in the books I have to say I have never read a book that didn't have a ton of obvious issues like this. For example, when I tried reading Icewind Dale by R.A. Salvatore I found myself reading the descriptions of the fights and going "really?" Moreover I have gone through the original Dragonlance trilogy and things got a little awkward at times. Fizban is a god? Oh how wonderful that he had to let people die instead of pulling some godliness out and stopping what was going on.

    And I honestly think when a fantasy novel gets called unoriginal its because it fits a few different requirements.
    1. The creatures of that world are all from other books.
    2. The plot is a carbon copy of another book (though it often gets a "get out of jail free" card)
    3. When someone tries to make their characters speak with a very middle english-esque dialect and it really just sounds like that guy you once knew who REALLY liked Dungeons&Dragons.
    4. They use stock descriptions.

    And a pet peeve of mine with the fantasy genre (mostly television and movies to be honest but it does happen in a few books): About the heaviest a single handed sword is going to get is 2.5 lbs. A very very heavy longsword would be 3.5 lbs. This ten pound weapon of destruction meant for bludgeoning crap is just plain annoying.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Wait, so you basically make fun of Tolkien for not being original, and then question why writers borrowing from him are considered unoriginal. Is it just me, or does that make no sense.

    And I don't believe this is the 'random rants and advertisement for a preferred author' section of the forums. Maybe use the blog function?
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, I'll say straight up that I loathe Tolkien and pretty much any high fantasy. None of it is done very well, IMO, and it all reeks of a character being too special.

    However, Tolkien went further than just writing fantasy. He created something huge in a time when it wasn't done often. He did so much more than a lot of other writers. Again, though, I loathe The Lord of the Rings.

    I'm not going to give in-depth explanations towards your particular scruples about the series, but I will say that they are, essentially, a little bit ridiculous. Really, it's not up to you to say that hobbits would be evil under the ring's influence. I mean, that's part of what the story is about. Frodo's fight against the power of the ring, which magnifies his own inner evil. I'm pretty sure that's why he broke up with his boyfriend Sam.

    The problem with Tolkien in the modern day is that he took it too far (my opinion here). He didn't just tell the story; he went to the trouble of creating an entire mythology and world when people don't need that much these days. We want to read the story for the story.

    Now, he's set a standard in fantasy. He's said that elves are tall, graceful, and willowy. He's set these guidelines that so many fantasy writers try to follow. As I said, though, all his characters reek of being Just That Special, like chosen ones, essentially.

    Really, I think that modern readers are looking for something with more depth, not with so many literal translations. The ring-wraiths, for example, are just a projection of the mind's ability to cast shadows where there were no shadows before. Tolkien made those shadows into physical beings that could actually do real damage. I personally wouldn't do this because I prefer to write the dangers of the mind rather than the dangers of reality.

    Finally, pre much everyone is "aware" of Patrick Rothfuss.

    It makes perfect sense. Translation: Why should an unoriginal fantasy story be considered unoriginal because of TOLKIEN when Tolkien himself was unoriginal? Essentially, there should be better reasons than, "Tolkien did it before you," to call a fantasy unoriginal.
     
  5. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Because unoriginal borrowed from unoriginal is, umm, unoriginal?

    It seemed to me the OP was basically saying Tolkien isn't great, he wasn't even all that original... and hey, what's with people calling writers who borrow from Tolkien unoriginal? It's not a big deal and it's no fair! Especially when they copy something by doing it differently!

    Sorry, but I personally missed the logic and wisdom of the OP, and question what the point of the post was. Typically posts in this section are asking questions and wanting to discuss the craft of fiction, not ranting in a way that is nearly incoherent with a lack of logic and then advertising for a writer the OP does like.

    Rants and book reports are that way ----------> blog posts
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Touché. I have but one point to make, in that case.

    Read the keywords: "...because of TOLKIEN..." Nothing is unoriginal because Tolkien did it first/before. That gives Tolkien credit where credit is not due.
     
  7. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Martial Wolf has it right. Basically, Tolkien was the first fantasy author to write a serious epic story. Lord of the Rings may be a trilogy, but when he originally wrote it, he did it as a single book. His publisher just split up the story because it was too large for a single novel.

    Tolken's method of writing about different cultures/races/languages was done in a serious and informed way, not like some child's fairy tale as many other authors sometimes do. He wrote about those things with enough detail that they felt real.

    A lot of his writing and descriptions still hold up very well today against modern day authors.

    Personally, I like Tolkien's short stories that he wrote for children way better than LotR. LotR just felt too black and white for me story wise. Orcs are evil just cause...orcs!

    Yea, when my friends and I originally read LotR we kept getting the names mixed up because they are so similar. I've read writing tips that consider two characters having similar sounding names a big no-no today to avoid confusion.

    You are absolutely right. Tolkien totally should have used Kenders instead. :D

    You're mixing reason into fantasy. STOP IT! :) Just kidding. It would have made for a lot shorter story. Tolkien may not have thought of it, or he might have and hoped no one else would think of it, or maybe he just didn't care.

    Maybe the eagle only listens to Gandalf when Gandalf is around. It might try to eat the hobbits without Gandalf around. And it can't carry Gandalf and the hobbits because that would be more weight than it could carry. Who knows?

    I wish I still had the animated gif someone made where they launch Frodo into Morador using a catapult. It works so well that Frodo goes crashing through the Eye with Sauron screaming, "My eye! Oh, god, my eye!" :)

    As far as people using fantasy races like elves and dwarves, I think it is basically because they use Tolkien's version of them instead of trying to separate them from his. I mean, I write about elves. They have pointy ears and live for a very long time, but they have their own culture, have their own name rather than simply being called 'elves', are xenophobic, and racist. They get along with humans, but that has more to do with the fact they look more similar to elves than any of the other races.

    It's like dwarves being named dwarves. I never understood why a race would be content being described by a word that means short.

    I always thought the Dragonlance trilogy had a weak opening. I mean, everyone was returning from a quest of looking for evil in the world. Does evil suddenly wear a nametag that says, "Hi, my name is EVIL!"
     
  8. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I see that you understand nothing of fantary. It's better for you and the rest of the world if you don't write about this genre, a lot of people will be grateful!
     
  9. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I forgot to add some notes to ridicule your points:

    1) It seems you can't even read, the wizard is SARUMAN, not SAURO-mon, Solomon or Sauromoron...

    2)It's not up to you to say that, the Ring is an invention of his author and if he says that hobbits and dwarves are more resistant to magic it's fine.

    3)It is specified that the Eagles don't take orders from Gandalf but as messengers of Manwe they intervene in key moments when the Valar say so, usually when the Evil is going to win.

    4)What's stupid in a ghost army? It had been done several times, even the Argonauts had to fight against a ghost army, if you have a problem with that it's your problem, not Tolkien's.

    5)The point is that if you rip off something from another author you ARE unoriginal.

    6)Do you get that if a lot of writers are influenced by Tolkien it means that that author is important? It's not too difficult.

    7) Comparing Rothfuss to Tolkien is like comparin the last winner of American Idol to Led Zeppelin.
     
  10. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Tolkien wasn't a fantasy writer. He was a world-builder.
    Tolkien wasn't the first to write an epic. Beowulf, King Arthur, and Odysseus, as well as plenty of others, came first.
    Tolkien isn't the father of modern fantasy. He is the father of orcs, hobbits, and elves that didn't look like garden ornaments. Modern fantasists like those, particularly the latter. Tolkien shouldn't be blamed for that.
    Tolkien wasn't a huge perpetrator of plot holes. Not only could the Eagles not be ordered around, but what everyone seems to forget is that before the end of the books, Sauron wasn't DEAD. The Witch-king of Angmar wasn't DEAD. The orc army wasn't scrambled. Those things change the ability of things to simply walk (or fly) in to Mordor. Why didn't the Eagles just fly the Ring to Mordor from the get-go? Let's see an Eagle fight a fell beast before we go saying that an Eagle could've just breezed right on through to Mount Doom.
    Lastly, Tolkien wasn't unoriginal. At least no more so than you or me.

    In my opinion, the people who say that Tolkien was the father of fantasy are either not fantasy writers, or they're not very good at fantasy writing, because the only way he can be the father of fantasy is if "fantasy" means a story that takes place in Middle Earth, involves a ring connected to an eye somewhere, or includes much "Oh Frodo," "Oh Sam," in the dialogue.

    That said, the real father of fantasy writing is human fantasy itself. The documentation of the crazy worlds and people we all imagine to ourselves. I think Tolkien was far better at the "world" part than the "people" part, but some people would disagree, saying that his "people" were his best creation, if not the characters he pulled out of those peoples.

    In any case, even if his world, his people, nor his style are your cup of tea, the fantasy writing community should be saluting writers like Tolkien who at least put thorough works on our plates. If I might associate a book to a dinner, Tolkien made a complete hearty three-course meal. You may not like it or think it delicious, but that's because you have your tastes, not because Tolkien sucks. If you need to devote an entire post or thread to bashing someone, pick an author who can't produce more than a half cup of instant potatoes. But even then, don't bash that author. Be constructive for once.

    So I guess what this response boils down to is that no one benefits from sheer, unconstructive negativity. Being a cynic doesn't make you a critic. Perhaps if instead of bashing Tolkien, you could tell us all what you wish Tolkien had done instead of this or that thing you hate. At least then I would have walked away from this thread having gained something.
     
  11. Shahar
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    Shahar Member

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    I respect your opinion about Tolkien, it is your taste and you are intitle to it,however, I strongly disagree. For me Tolkien delivers the goods. I still remember reading the Hobbit, it was one of the first books I have ever enjoyed. It worked my imagination, it took me to dark, remote places, that I would have never got there alone. This is for me the point in books: they should work through your imaignation and emotions, and I had that with Tokien's books.
     
  12. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Lord of the rings is an excellent fantasy series I think. I never get confused between Sauron and Saruman and one could even say the names were made similar to create parallels between the two. It's Arwyn and Eowyn that are the biggest problems and I rarely even get confused with them.

    Also why would everyone choose evil? That's just your opinion. I think the whole point was to show there was some good in this world. And actually Frodo does choose evil. It's only really Sam who truly manages to fight it.

    As for the Eagles would you really want a story about that. It'd last like a hundred pages. Also unless I'm much mistaken the eagles are forbidden by god or something to interfere too much. Might sound silly now but people were much more religious back then.

    And I've never heard a work being called unoriginal for copying Tolkien. But the thing is everyone did copy Tolkien. He is the father of modern fantasy and you can see his influence everywhere. I think you'd probably find his influence in this Name of The Wind if it's a traditional high fantasy.

    The main problem is that it has a lot of cliches in it because it made those cliches. but it's still very good. I don't think someone can be a fan of fantasy and dislike tolkien because he's influenced pretty much every fantasy series after him.
     
  13. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    You guys seem to forget about Robert E. Howard who wrote Conan long time before Tolkien came up. I'd say that guy had some decent impact too.
     
  14. TheWoodlandSage
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    TheWoodlandSage New Member

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    Does this opinion really need a thread for it to be discussed? come on, SAURO-mon?!

    Saruman!

    TLOTR set a standard within the genre. TLOTR is worthy of it's title as a standard barer.
     
  15. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think the OP is missing what JRR did, and oddly enough it wasn't to just write a story. It was to create a world, a complete and detailed world with languages and peoples that we know don't exist, and then breath life into them. There's a reason it took him so many years to write it. He also took fantasy and transformed it from something that was mainly fairy tales which were read to children, and made it something both respectable and enjoyable for adults to read.

    As for the story itself, when you remove the fantastical elements, it is like most adventures, the very traditional heroes journey. But then I suspect when you break down the writing of most tales be they science fiction or simple adventure, Star wars or Robinson Cruesoe, they are also the heroes journey. There's a reason this format has lasted thousands of years.

    As to why a hobbit, its to do with the underlying themes of the books. Hobbits are small and weak, and left to their own devices like most of us they'd choose to keep their heads down when trouble comes calling. And when trouble is all conquoring evil, they'd hide. They aren't action heroes. But the books are about the standing up of the small and weak against the great and terrible, and the triumph of good over evil, and of the redeeming power of friendship. At the end even Frodo falls, but Samwise saves him. There is a very strong morality message in the works, which isn't surprising considering that at the same time he was a professor and writing the books one of his closest friends and fellow professors was CS Lewis, who was busy writing a fantasy trilogy of his own, with a strong religious bent. Tolkien himself said his work was strongly influeneced by Catholicism.

    I accept that the OP doesn't like the books. Each to their own. But I find it sad that he should engage in this attack without studying the works in more detail. If he had then maybe what he'd written could be seen as a critique. As it stands it seems to me to be more of a rant.

    Cheers.
     
  16. Alexander Wallis
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    Alexander Wallis Member

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    No it's set it a different world, called The Four Corners. The whole concept sounds boring but basically, Kvothe is telling his life story to this scribe, and Kvothe is now a bartender because he was tired of his life. He tells of how these evil people that no one believes in, kills his Troupe and family, so he sets out to the University. And the magic isn't really MAGIC, it's called Sympathy and it lets him like transfer weight and a whole bunch of different stuff.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Seems you aren't well-versed in the genre.

    Patrick Rothfuss' novels are quite good and well worth reading.

    Ironically, with respect to the OP, I remember Rothfuss in an interview talking about books he loved, and saying "Tolkien - of course." I don't find the OP's criticisms of Tolkien to have much merit, and the subsequent childishness with respect to disagreement doesn't bolster the arguments.

    As for predecessors - yes, Howard. Also, Lord Dunsany. Dunsany is interesting, but to my tastes can become a bit tedious at times. I like the original Robert E. Howard stories, and Conan wasn't necessarily a noble or heroic figure in them.

    If you like fantasy novels at all, you should read Rothfuss. If you want fantasy that some might think to be of more literary merit, you can also try Peake, Gene Wolfe, and Angela Carter.
     
  18. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I love LoTR for its storyline, actions and themes; however, I also agree with you on some things. For example, the giant flying eagle option seemed like a huge, gaping plot hole that needed to be addressed. (In fact, there's a "How LoTR should have ended" spoof on YouTube that brings up that same point). I also dislike the fact that the pre-quest hobbit stuff goes on and on and on in the first half of the book, making the first 200+ pages boring as hell, which is why when I read it I go straight to "The Council of Elrond" and read from there. For this reason, I like the movies better than the books, although the books are really good at their high action points.

    As far as other fantasy writers copying it, yes, that's annoying. If you want to lift something, it can be done in a subtle way. For example, J.K. Rowling's "The Sorcerer of the Stone" borrowed a few things from LoTR, but it didn't feel like a blatant ripoff. But whenever I read someone's "original" story about orcs and elves and magic swords, it just feels like...come on. Invent your own stuff.

    While I dislike a lot of fantasy, I also like a lot of fantasy and sometimes write it. It can be horribly done or well done. It's about the quality of the story and the author's writing, not the genre as a whole. :)
     
  19. Protar
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    If it's set in a fantasy world then it's influenced by Tolkien I'm sorry to say. Also many stories give magic a different name to make it sound more original. But when it comes down to it whether it's sympathy, the one power, the force or whatever, it's still basically magic.

    @ Mallory (sorry if i'm nitpicking it just irked me.) it's the sorcerer's stone and actually the proper name is philosopher's stone.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Rothfuss was certainly influenced to some degree by Tolkien. It is inevitable given his own statement about the books, the fact that he's an avid fantasy reader, and the fact that he is also heavily into table-top RPG gaming (along with the likes of Erikson, Abercrombie, Mieville, Lynch, and others), going back to D&D which is very heavily influenced by Tolkien.

    That doesn't mean that his works are an emulation of Tolkien. In fact, Rothfuss purposefully avoids a lot of what has become standard in fantasy thanks to so many imitations of Tolkien.
     
  21. Alexander Wallis
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    Alexander Wallis Member

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    Yeah sorry, just when someone makes fun of something I write or say, it get a little mad. I understand that I probably broke some rules, I never really bothered to look where I can post this. Aha, oh you caught my hidden meaning there. I'll avoid this in the future.

    If it's set in a fantasy world, that doesn't automatically mean it's based of Tolkien. I've always wanted to create in a different world, before I even read LOTR. C.S. Lewis created a different world, BEFORE Tolkien.
     
  22. WriterDude
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    Because he invented fantasy as we know it.

    So someone have perfected the genre sixty years later? Gee, what a surprise. :rolleyes:

    Because, as you said, the borrow things. The more they borrow, and the more important stuff they borrow, the more unoriginal they get. And seriously, when was the last time you read a fantasy story that didn't evolve around saving the world? Usually by a band of unlikely heroes? :p

    Then allow me to mention Dragonlance. It has so many writers you are bound to find something you like. Even a haggis-eating peg-leg hamster. :D
     
  23. Spring Gem
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    Actually Tolkien started creating Middle Earth during WWI. He wrote and published The Hobbit during the 1930's and started writing Lord of the Rings soon afterward. Lewis wrote the Narnia novels in the late 1940's and early 1950's. BTW, Tolkien and Lewis were friends who critiqued each other's work.

    Many people don't realize Tolkien was a linguist, not a professional novelist. He developed Middle Earth to explain the origins of the Elven languages that he started developing before WWI. He was a professor of Old English literature and was very influenced by heroic poetry which is why his writing seems a bit archaic.

    I think people tend to apply modern standards to classics and don't take into consideration the times and circumstances in which the books were written. Everyone has their own opinion about different books, and I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion.
     
  24. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Well technically it doesn't but pretty much all writers that set their novels in a fantasy world are influenced by Tolkien somewhat and will admit it. This doesn't necessarily means it's ripped off and you might not even be able to see it without looking closely but it'll be there.
     
  25. Sang Hee
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    Which made it so awesome to read about him. I think he was fun. And besides, not many readers are heroic and noble so they can identify with him much better. :D
     

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