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Discussion > Fantasy > The Hobbit and LOTR!

The Hobbit and LOTR!

Eldritch (June 25th, 2002, 1:42 pm)

What do you think of them? Of JRR Tolkien? Pesonally, both are some of my favorite books, for their creativity and effective use of story-telling.

The Hobbit and LOTR!

cruise (June 25th, 2002, 3:42 pm)

Too long ago since I read the Hobbit.

LOTR made a kick-arse film, but the book didn't stand out more than some of the other fantasy epic stuff, like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Wheel of Time or The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. At least to me.

It's good, yes, but it hasn't got anything particularly that other epics haven't.

Well...

Semirrahge (June 25th, 2002, 4:48 pm)

Eldritch, you've really torn it now... :)

The Hobbit is a classic example of well-written fiction. Focused on children, it is nonetheless a superb read, providing a simple yet prosaic style with straightforward yet engaging plot. Perhaps this is because of Tolkien's exceptional vision and well-developed world. I suppose that it's possible, theoretically at least, to write a story based in middle-earth and make it as enjoyable as the Hobbit.

The Lord of The Rings, now... :) This is the greatest work of fiction ever written. Yes, Cruise, it contains many elements that are now standard in epic fantasy, but unlike these new epics, Middle-Earth was around before most of these authors were even born, much less old enough to write.

Thomas Covenant is an excellent series, yes, but sometimes you don't want to read something that twists your sense of right and wrong around so much. Don't get me wrong - I've read a lot of Donaldson lately and have decided he's my current favorite fantasy author.

The Wheel of Time, while overall enjoyable, is insufferably long and drawn out, to the seeming point of interminacy. To top all that off, Jordan is a hack, stealing ideas from dozens of sources and not even taking the effort to significantly alter those ideas.

I've never read or heard of those other two works, so I can't comment on their degree of inferiority. :)

Middle-Earth and its exploratory novel, The Lord of The Rings, has something no other work of fiction has, and that is a truly comprehensive alternate world. The only other world that comes close is perhaps Dune, but Herbert still doesn't quite reach the level of complexity that Tolkien did.

Tolkien developed speakable languages, family histories, governmental systems, legends... His family histories are not even limited to important bloodlines, many seeming to have been built on a whim, for Tolkien's own pleasure.

I have suddenly realised that I've begun to rant and rave and foam a little around the mouth, so I'll spare you. But, just so you know, I'm the resident Tolkien expert among the circle of people I know, and I can hold my own in all but the most arcane of debates. I've read LoTR over 12 times, and the Hobbit at something close to that. The only reason I don't know more than I already do is because I don't have time to study Middle-Earth and read other books. :)

Well...

Eldritch (June 26th, 2002, 11:47 am)

I've read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales too, and I learned some elven words, but not much afte that. I do have enough time to learn the history of Middle Earth and the languages so I will.

Well...

Ben (June 26th, 2002, 5:23 pm)

Tolkien developed speakable languages, family histories, governmental systems, legends...

As an interesting side note, Tolkien actually made up the languages before doing anything else, and only much later began to make up cultures to go with them, and then, finally, stories.

Yes...

Semirrahge (June 27th, 2002, 1:12 am)

I failed to mention aforsaid fact on the grounds that I was temporarily stark raving insane. Or something like that.

So?

cruise (June 27th, 2002, 10:42 am)

So he had complete languages and cultures? Impressive, certainly, but only stands out outside of the book. When reading the story, as long as it is coherent and detailed with the book, then I don't care how much extraneous material there is.

In other words, taken by itself, LOTR is just as good as any other fantasy epic, but no better. Middle-Earth, taken as a complete work of imagination, including The Silmarillion et al, is probably the finest work of mental construction ever, though Dune does come close, if you include the Dune Encyclopedia (a must read if you enjoy Dune).

Basically, it comes down to how you judge the book. If you judge the story on the universe behind it, then yes, LOTR probably comes out top. Judging just that story, however, puts it no further ahead than other epics. "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" (one series, Semi :P) by Tad Williams still claims the title of best fantasy epic for me.

So?

cloraxe (October 11th, 2002, 4:28 pm)

WOT > LOTR

call me blasphemus if you may, but i enjoyed the wheel of time more so than Lord of the rings. granted jordan has blatantly stolen idea's from people but he is a amazing author, and altho it did seem drawn out at times it was necessary to develop the plot. he didnt go from one book where they were on one side of the continent and in the next they are fighting trollocs in the blight. he took the characters there step by step and you saw what happened in between

No, not blasphemy - as such...

Semirrahge (October 12th, 2002, 2:17 am)

But, as Cruise pointed out: It's really up to the reader.

However, don't get me wrong; I enjoyed WoT as much as the next guy - in some ways perhaps more so. Jordan writes the most spectacular fight sequences this side of Anime, and those sequences made me rethink my ideas on combat, especially for fantasy stories.

However, the greatest problem he has is that he cannot enter the "mundane" lives of the characters and remain interesting. I forget which book it was, but where the girls are on this mega-long journey I nearly broke my hard-and-fast law of finishing every book I start. It was terrible.

As a contrast, read Battlefield Earth. Much of that book involves "mundane" things - but, if you think about it, the reason they are interesting is the fact that they are telling us things about the characters.

WoT was (is?) fun, but none of the books have caught my imagination like "The Eye of the World" did. I read it in two sittings, 5-6 hours total. It was great, except for the (I thought) somewhat anticlimactic and overly melodramatic ending. The successive books have gotten better endings (esp. Bk. 3), but progressively worse plot.

I can feel myself getting off on a rant here, so I'll quit...

Can someone explain

cruise (October 13th, 2002, 3:45 pm)

What exactly he's ripped off?

It seems to be a constant blindness on my behalf, but I can never spot any but the most obvious of "inspirations" in stories...

funny

Siedhr (January 9th, 2003, 12:11 pm)

funny LOTR links

boards.straightdope.com

www.ealasaid.com

Edit, Hellkeepa: Made the links clickable. ;-)

funny

spinning-plates (January 16th, 2003, 3:55 am)

LOTR is undeniably good, but I find myself enjoying modern fantasy like A Song of Ice and Fire and Wheel of Time more.

Oh, yes...

Semirrahge (January 16th, 2003, 7:00 pm)

I forgot - I was supposed to denounce Robert Jordan as a hack.

The one that really bugs me is the "Dune" rip, primarily because Dune is such an awesome, seminal work. If you've read Dune and/or seen the movie (NOT the miniseries, it sucks too), then you know about the Fremen and their traditions.

In WoT, Jordan basically took Frank Herbert's wonderful creations, changed the name from Fremen to Aiel, and added some plastic "culture" elements that hold up about as well as plastic addons do in a movie.

The similarities are stunning:

* Water-based system of values (both monetary and socially)

* Extreme fighting abilities

* The veiling of the face before fighting

* The use of two names; one private, one public

* The desert homeland, with the desire to turn it into a paradise

* The divisive nature of the clan structure

* The prophecies of a savior

* And, when Rand finally gathers the entire Aiel nation together, what does it do? It RAINS, for pete's sake! (In Dune (movie), it rains at the very end, after Paul kills Feyd)

* Another thing, but unrelated to Dune, is the fact that the Aiel have 12 clans, one of whom is "Goshien", or Goshen; the Hebrew term for the Promised Land, or the area surrounding the Jordan River. There is also a 13th tribe of Aiel, which matches conveniently with the 13th tribe of Israel, comprised of the two "half-Tribes" of Benjamin and Manasseh.

That's my biggest one, but second is the Tolkien rip. If you'll look on your WoT map, on the left-hand side you'll see "The Mountains of Mist" - I.E. the famed "Misty Mountains". Some of these next ones might be stretches, but hear me out.

* On the lower right hand side, you'll find Tear. The river that flows through Tear branches off into a bunch of little rivers, called "The Fingers of The Dragon". Compare this with the great river Anduin, and the "Ethir Anduin", or "Mouths of Anduin".

* Above Tear, you'll see the "Haddon Mirk". This might be a stretch, but it constantly makes me think "Mirkwood".

* Look to Tar Valon, in the upper-right quadrant. If you recall, it's known as the "White Tower. Of course, in LoTR it's Minas Tirith that's the "White Tower", and both of them are sites for power and might throughout the ages.

Finally, there's his names. When I first started the series, I thought the way he just disguised existing words was kinda cool - and I still think so - but now it's just another dumb thing that I have to put up with in an increasingly long list of annoyances with this interminable series.

* Shayol Gul; a play on the Hebrew word of "Sheol", which is used to refer to Hell.

* Shai'tan; if this does not say "Satan" to you, then you're not pronouncing it right. In the WoT glossary, pronunciation is given as (SHAY-ih-TAN).

* For some reason, the glossary in Book Six (Lord of Chaos) does not mention the Trollocs and their tribal names, or I'd go into that, too. Check it out if you have "The Eye of the World". With the exeption of maybe two names, they are all re-spelled versions of Kobol, Djinn, Demon, Devil, Golem, and the like.

Don't get me wrong, either - I really enjoyed WoT, and there are lots of areas where he's more original. I like his style, and his adacity to attempt such a series. It almost makes me think he's trying to beat L. Ron Hubbard for the longest serialised series in print.

There's lots of good things about WoT - but it's simply not good enough to put LoTR in the pale.

Hmmm

cruise (January 16th, 2003, 10:25 pm)

I hadn't got far enough to spot the Aiel<>Fremen reference, but yes, I see your point.

I agree with the names, too. And lots of the culture is similar also.

However, my personal opinion is it's intentional. It's part of the story. It's almost the very point of the WoT series.

Every turn of the wheel follows the same pattern, but each time the pattern is different. WoT series isn't set in another universe. It's set in the same universe as every other story ever written.

Each story being set in a different turn of the Wheel. I think it's in the second or third book that a character refers to the Story of the Ring being his favourite...if that isn't a direct reference to LotR, I don't know what is. But that's the point. LotR exists in WoT. As do shadows of our cultures, words, ideas. Because our world exists in a turn of the Wheel also.

Therefore, none of the culture references are "borrowing" ideas to me...it's not unoriginality, but in fact a very original idea. And the actual specific events depicted in the WoT series seem pretty unique so far...at least when reading nothing is occurring to me, which is good enough as far as I'm concerned.

Hmmm

spinning-plates (January 28th, 2003, 5:45 am)

I agree with Cruise's theory, because that is always the way I've viewed Wheel of Time as well. I hope its expounded upon in the next two volumes. There are so many things he has made me want to discover about that world, and I only hope that he includes it all. I want to know about what its like actually in Seanchan. I want to know about the mysterious lands across the waste where there are black people and elephants that he hinted at in the early books. I want to know what the cities they haven't visited are like. I want to learn more about the past age. I want to know about the weird things in Haddon Mirk. I want to know about the Sea Folk Isles.

Those books move at a snail's pace, and at times are hard as hell to trudge through, but the world is so engrossing. I love that series to death,.

I started reading WoT

Siedhr (February 8th, 2003, 10:08 am)

and I like, especially the strong female characters. 'tis rare. but is it just me or the Aes Sedai are awfully reminiscent of Bene Gesserit?

Hrm...

cruise (February 8th, 2003, 12:10 pm)

I guess in some ways...but then, surely you could say that about any all-female group with unique abilities :P

And of course, they could well /be/ the Bene Gesserit, if my theory is correct :P

Hrm...

Siedhr (February 8th, 2003, 1:43 pm)

it's not about the unique abilities, it's about their way of dealing with other people, that need to know basis, mysterious lines, always mixing in politics style.

Hey, yeah...

Semirrahge (February 8th, 2003, 6:56 pm)

Now that you mention it - I think later that you get hints of something reminiscent of the Missionaria Protectiva or whatever it was called.

And, Cruise - while that theory is interesting, I don't think that Jordan is that good a writer. :) I started reading his Conan The Barbarian stuff, but it was NOWHERE near the level of WoT. I find it hard to believe that a writer could pull off such a stunt with only his second major effort.

Besides, there are too many overall errors in his style. He's just not a good enough writer. If he was, then the series would not have lost my interest.

Is it really that hard?

cruise (February 9th, 2003, 1:01 am)

Just to drop oblique references to various other well known stories, munge up the odd word fromt heir modern day equivalents...doesn't strike me as a particularly challenging task, to be honest.

And there's an awful lot of people who'd disagree with your opinion of his writing...I don't have an opinion as such, except he seems perfectly acceptable, as I don't notice his writing, which for me is good writing...

Is it really that hard?

spinning-plates (February 10th, 2003, 11:30 pm)

I think his writing style is magnificent, although the later books seem more stagnant and don't do much to advance the plot like the beginning ones do. It seems too epic now, and doesn't have that mysterious journey quality the first five had. I still love the new ones, and they make some surprisingly cool developments. I just don't like how the plot stays pretty stagnant throughout them.

I still prefer the newer editions to most fantasy, though.

I like the strong women characters, as well, although a few tend to get on my nerves occasionally (Elayne and Nynaeve, numerous Aes Sedai)

I also think the forsaken are cool. Looking up their backgrounds in the WoT Encyclopedia my friend has, they have awesome stories. I just wish that he'd include them more in the story rather than just having them pop up every once in a while and die at the ends.

Song of Ice and Fire

cruise (February 13th, 2003, 10:37 pm)

I've just started reading this...last time I looked it was beating LotR on the Top 100 hundred sci-fi/fantasy list, so I figured it ought to be pretty cool.

It has some quite strong female characters, as far as I can tell so far. It's also surprisingly dark...well, maybe cruder...less subtle...somehow all the nasty things that have happened (there's several already...) seem really quite nasty and unpleasant...I suppose in a way it's good, but I'm not sure I like it.

Indeed

spinning-plates (February 14th, 2003, 6:28 am)

I, too, was taken aback by the nastiness in those books. I think it's realistic, though, and once I got used to it, I liked it. I prefer the plot and development of WoT more, but I love Martin's unpredictable style of writing and insane plot twists. During A Storm of Swords, I threw my book across the room twice.

In a conversation with gyroscope, we discussed the frequency of the rape scenes, and he even went as far as to call the first book 'a game of rapes'

=p

Song of Ice and Fire is probably a toss-up with Wheel of Time for my favourite fantasy series, followed by Sword of Truth and Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

Indeed

Siedhr (February 14th, 2003, 5:11 pm)

is it more nasty than John Norman's Gor series?

Couldn't say

cruise (February 14th, 2003, 7:39 pm)

I think, having got further into it, it is more "real" than just "nasty"...it isn't so much what happens as how it's described. It's not dressed up, just given to you as is..."Here, this is what happens. Deal"

Not to say it isn't good writing, it is, just, blunter in some areas than usual. Now I'm further into the story, I'm incredibly hooked...the intrigue so complex, and the characters...oh, the characters...all of them so clever, all so different...to my mind, only "Memory, Sorrow and thron" by Tad Williams has approached the intricacy of this. Which, by the way, is my top rated fantasy of all time...for the moment :P

Hmm...

Semirrahge (February 14th, 2003, 11:54 pm)

Nasty? Nah. I'd not say it's nasty, as such... Keep in mind that I've only read "A Game of Thrones", so I can't quite comment as accurately as I might - but I'd say that it's not nasty.

Like Cruise said, it's gritty. It's like cyberpunk in a fantasy setting.

And yeah. It's WAY complex. I love it. I can't think of the last time when I've read a book that kept me guessing on the good guys/bad guys like Martin does.

But for as for being "wrong" - nah. Eva is TONS more wrong than "A Song of Ice and Fire". Way tons. :) The only book I've ever read that comes close to Hideaki Anno's evil writing practices is John Steakley's "Armor".

Ugh. And I'm so tired that I'm afraid that I'm not making any sense.

Wrong word

spinning-plates (February 15th, 2003, 6:30 am)

Nasty is probably the wrong word. I'm not bothered or offended by it, and I don't think it's wrong at all. It is realistic, gritty, and describes everything. I like it, but at first, I was taken aback, because I didn't expect it in a fantasy novel. I don't have anything against it, though. Hell, I've written just as bad, if not worse content.

I really like it, though, and it's probably my favourite fantasy series.

Yeah...

cruise (February 15th, 2003, 6:20 pm)

We all agree "nasty" is the wrong word, it seems :P

There is definately a shock at discovering that kind of writing in Fantasy novel...like Semi says, it's more what you'd expect to find in cyberpunk. Once you gte over that, however, then oh boy, does it hook ya :P

I'll say it again, however...if you like this, try "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" :P It is also nicely intricate and weaves several paths around one story (though it takes longer to get into it), and the twist at the end is excellent.

I also have very high hopes for the "Fencer Trilogy" the first of which I reviewed this issue...it is very complex also, though in a layered rather than intertwining way, if you follow me.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

spinning-plates (February 17th, 2003, 4:50 am)

I've been wanting to read those for a while, but my library only has the first book. A girl that I've made acquaintances with recently has them all, so perhaps I'll just borrow them from her.

Discussion > Fantasy > The Hobbit and LOTR!

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