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I, like most here, have read a lot of fantasy books by many authors. What I have found is that everything original has seemed to have faded from the newest fantasy writings. I find that authors today have lost the fresh imagination that writers such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had when they wrote their books.
It seems that many, not all, writers today make up for their lukewarm efforts by adding many, to extreme amounts of sex, foul language, and adult situations. It appears that the days of dragons, elves, and examples of honor and goodness have been exchanged for base examples of human crud. Even the heros in today's books act in a manner that you and I would never act.
I think these are reasons why the majority of fantasy today is junk. Tavern girls and swearing soldiers have their place, but not as the main characters in every book.
I believe that fantasy has changed from one of the richest types of writing to one of the muddiest to read.

There is more to writing fantasy than merely going back to the year 900 A.D and adding magic.

Thoughts?
The problem with most fantasy authors today is, they start with one book or series of books, which aren't necessarily bad, but after that series have ended, they have to cash-in on their success and write horrible sequels to those series, etc. Tis is the case with Eddings, Jordan, Feist, Weiss & Hickman, Brooks, etc. Those fit in the category pulp fantasy. Quantity, not quality.

Still, there are some interesting, and mostly unknown, authors who still write interesting stories which were born in their own imagination without just burrowing from JRRT.

Anyway, i think most 'high fantasy' (involving Dwarves, Elves and what not) after Lord of the Rings is far more inferior compared with what JRRT wrote. The Lord of the Rings is imo, the best high fantasy story ever, so rich and deep that practically every fantasy author after JRRT took ideas or elements out of it to write their own stories. Indeed, most contemporary high fantasy is just an inferior Lord of the Rings, but with humor (?), "strong" women and/or explicit sex. Those books are good to read when you're totally bored on a rainy Sunday, and have nothing remotely interesting to do. You can pick up those books any time, read in it a bit and put it away again, without having to worry about a possible plot or revising previous parts of the book to learn more about the story.

I dare to say, without any exaggeration, that Lord of the Rings is just a work of art, a piece of literature who deserves its place in the line of the Iliad, the Aeneïs, the Divina Comedia, Don Quixote, and Faust.
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The problem with most fantasy authors today is, they start with one book or series of books, which aren't necessarily bad, but after that series have ended, they have to cash-in on their success and write horrible sequels to those series, etc. Tis is the case with Eddings, Jordan, Feist, Weiss & Hickman, Brooks, etc. Those fit in the category pulp fantasy. Quantity, not quality.

Not always. Take a look at Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World series.

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practically every fantasy author after JRRT took ideas or elements out of it to write their own stories.

Not really. There are only so many words and so many different combinations they can be used in. Just as there are only so many idea's one can have. It follows logically, that any two authors, completely dissimilar, never having read the others work, will come up with similar idea's and concepts. Its called coincidence.

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"strong" women

Women ARE stronger, at least mentally. This has been scientifically proven. Why shouldn't literature follow reality?

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I dare to say, without any exaggeration, that Lord of the Rings is just a work of art, a piece of literature who deserves its place in the line of the Iliad, the Aeneïs, the Divina Comedia, Don Quixote, and Faust.

Yes, it is a good story. Its well written and posesses a great depth. However, I don't consider it to be the best. Its fame, and this is purely my opinion, stems from the fact that it is the first commercially published article of high fantasy. I wonder, if it were not the first, would it truly be as popular?
I think that LoTR would still be popular even if it was not the first of its kind. There are other fantasy books out there, but I think that Tolkien achieved something rare in the literary world. He created a world that is above and beyond what most writers can make.

LoTR is perfect, and that is rare. Perfection is not something that all writers can achieve. I think that is one of the reasons that LoTR is so popular.
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I wonder, if it were not the first, would it truly be as popular?

How can it not be the first? Without JRRT, fantasy wouldn't even have existed. If JRRT had died in the WWI trenches, fantasy would not exist, as JRRT wouldn't have pioneered it. No offense, but your question is just absurd.

And i don't think so many ppl have read LOTR because it is the first fantasy novel ever written. I think it is so popular because it's one of the best stories ever put to paper. No other contemporary fantasy novel has such a powerful, complex story with a complete history and background behind it. JRRT didn't just write a story, he created a world. JRRT didn't see himself as a writer, but more as a historian, a historian of a fantasy world.

LOTR is a whole world, with different races and languages, each race having its own history. This is exactly the fact why LOTR is so popular and why LOTR is superior to any other fantasy novels who appeared after LOTR. All other fantasy is just air compared with JRRT. When i read LOTR, i can really imagine that world to be real. Hasn't happened with any other fantasy books i've read until today, but i'll keep on trying!

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Not really. There are only so many words and so many different combinations they can be used in. Just as there are only so many idea's one can have. It follows logically, that any two authors, completely dissimilar, never having read the others work, will come up with similar idea's and concepts. Its called coincidence.


No indeed, really.

In fact, to give an example : every contemporary fantasy novel with Elves, Trolls, Dwarves and what not in, is already based on something JRRT wrote, because JRRT was the first author who ever wrote a story with Dwarves, Elves, Trolls, Orcs, etc in. The fact that so many contemporary high fantasy novels have Elves, Dwarves, Trolls etc in, is not coincidence. JRRT was the first author who put Elves, Dwarves, etc into a story; ppl called it "fantasy". Then writers after JRRT --Terry Brooks was the first who wrote a fantasy novel after LOTR i believe -- thought "hey, i want to write a fantasy novel. What's fantasy again? Ah, the stuff with Elves, Dwarves, etc in. So if i wanna write a fantasy novel, i have to put those guys in!". Not to mention, Terry Brooks's Sword of Shannara is almost a carbon copy of LOTR.

Most contemporary fantasy novels involve a) a quest of good vs evil, b) involve powerful artifacts and c) from zero to hero and d) elves, trolls, dwarves, fairies,... and JRRT is the first ever who wrote a story, who invented a story, involving all those elements. All fantasy authors who came after him wrote a story involving all/some/at least one of those elements. So, you could say the typical "contemporary fantasy novel" elements are or based or developed further from what JRRT wrote.

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Not always. Take a look at Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World series.

"Rohan" winter. Rohan is a word taken from LOTR, written by JRRT. ;-) How imaginative that Michael took that word from Tolkien. Addleshaw Goddard : ATTACK!!!

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Women ARE stronger, at least mentally. This has been scientifically proven. Why shouldn't literature follow reality?

Well obviously, i didn't mean that. I meant Xenarwen-like women.
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Women ARE stronger, at least mentally. This has been scientifically proven.


Interesting! Do you have a clicky (link) or the name of the magazine/paper you saw it in?
Probably Feminist Magazine?

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Women ARE stronger, at least mentally. This has been scientifically proven.

Bobby Fischer would've laughed heartily at that and would've said : "I can beat every woman even if i'd give them knight odds."
If there are such a thing as a Feminist Magazine I won't expect to find much unbiased science in it.. The term "scientifically proven" for some mean "said by someone in a white coat", but without knowing the source I'll await judgement. Smile Smilie There are about a million "proofs" that men are better than women and just as many that women are better than men. What they all have in common is very biased measurement parameters.

If you say the ability to lift heavy objects is very important, but the ability to know what colour magenta is is just rubbish, then clearly men are better. If you say physical strenght is rubbish and language skills are all important, then women are obviously better.

And oddly enough what is defined as positive in a study seem to depend very much on the gender of the person(s) doing the study. Wonder why... Elf Winking Smilie

Bobby Fisher? Is he the one beaten in straight sets by Billie Jean King? Smile Smilie Or the Chess-Fisher? Or Tully-Fisher Fisher? Tongue Smilie Heh!

Vir: There is something strange with your posts. They keep on GROWING Pixie Smilie after you post them!


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Most contemporary fantasy novels involve a) a quest of good vs evil, b) involve powerful artifacts and c) from zero to hero and d) elves, trolls, dwarves, fairies,... and JRRT is the first ever who wrote a story, who invented a story, involving all those elements. All fantasy authors who came after him wrote a story involving all/some/at least one of those elements.

I think you just described the genre fantacy. Invented by Tolkien. That other fantacy writers then follow the genre can't be that surprising?
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I think you just described the genre fantacy. Invented by Tolkien. That other fantacy writers then follow the genre can't be that surprising?

As we already have the best fantasy novel ever written, being Lord of the Rings, i don't see why they should keep on trying to mimic the genius. Why don't they try to prove that (wo)men are better than (wo)men instead? Probably because they need to earn a living of it. Keep spawning the books!! Very Big Grin Smilie

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Bobby Fisher? Is he the one beaten in straight sets by Billie Jean King? Or the Chess-Fisher? Or Tully-Fisher Fisher? Heh!

The chessman Robert James "Bobby" Fischer. I didn't know there was more than one. Actually, there isn't. :-P

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Vir: There is something strange with your posts. They keep on GROWING after you post them!

Well of course. Never heard of Big Bang and inflation? Very Big Grin Smilie
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How can it not be the first? Without JRRT, fantasy wouldn't even have existed. If JRRT had died in the WWI trenches, fantasy would not exist, as JRRT wouldn't have pioneered it. No offense, but your question is just absurd.

A list of authors, all of whom who published fantasy novels BEFORE tolkien:
James Branch Cabell: The High Place; The Silver Stallion
Lord Dunsany: The Charwoman's Shadow; The King of Elfland's Daughter
E. R. Eddison: The Worm Ourobouros; Mistress of Mistresses
Fritz Leiber: Lankhmar: Tales of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
Hope Mirrlees: Lud-in-the-Mist
Evangeline Walton: The Children of Llyr
T.H. White: The Once and Future King

Sorry, but... Err. As we can clearly see, Tolkien was NOT the first fantasy author. He was, however, the first fantasy author to be printed by the mainstream press. If it wasn't Tolkien, it would have been someone else.

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"Rohan" winter. Rohan is a word taken from LOTR, written by JRRT. ;-) How imaginative that Michael took that word from Tolkien. Addleshaw Goddard : ATTACK!!!


The name Rohan existed LONG before Tolkien did. Its actually of Hindi origin. Or... Perhaps Tolkien invented the Hindi religion?

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every contemporary fantasy novel with Elves, Trolls, Dwarves and what not in, is already based on something JRRT wrote


Elves made their first debut into literature from Germanic mythology. Long before Tolkien's grandparents were even born, let alone Tolkien himself. They made their way into English folklore with the anglo-saxons, and first appeared in printed literature with the victorians. Dwarves made their way into english literature around the same time, following a similar route, except they stem from nordic mythology.

So, Im sorry to disappoint you. Tolkien was NOT the first person to put dwarves... or elves.. or even orc's into a story.

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Not to mention, Terry Brooks's Sword of Shannara is almost a carbon copy of LOTR.

Try reading it, instead of apparently spouting off. There are similarities, as there will be with ANY novel, fantasy or otherwise. But it is hardly a carbon copy.

Anyway, this thread is starting to loose its sense of direction, and turn into an argument, so, this is where I cease posting. However, Vir, do check your facts before posting, please Smile Smilie
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Anyway, this thread is starting to loose its sense of direction, and turn into an argument, so, this is where I cease posting. However, Vir, do check your facts before posting, sweetie.


*sigh* Is this where this site is going? Would it not be a better idea to post a post pointing in the direction you want it to go?
I have to admit that when I read LotR for the first few times I didn't even think of it as fantasy. I don't think I was aware of the fantasy genre; to me it was just a glorious story. Now I know it is labelled as fantasy but I still see it as just a glorious story. Being published, mainstream or not, doesn't automatically make something 'the best'. What makes this the best is it simply is the best. Not just in the fantasy genre but the best ever in anything.

Other than LotR I prefer SF anyday. Maybe because nothing else in the fantasy genre comes close.
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Anyway, this thread is starting to loose its sense of direction, and turn into an argument, so, this is where I cease posting. However, Vir, do check your facts before posting, sweetie.

Apparently some ppl delibaretely want to push posts into a direction so it can become an argument, eh Milambar? (i will do some namecalling just as you in your previous post) Next time you post something, try to add something constructive to the discussion, instead of picking on everything someone posts and by adding your own opinions trying to prove another opinion wrong. And very smart of you, starting an argument and then saying from your high chair you're leaving.

Check facts? you haven't mentioned one fact in your previous post. You consider the list of books you posted there fantasy? Good for you then. Perhaps i should've said JRRT wrote the first "high fantasy novel", then to avoid the nitpick eh. Concerning Rohan, apparently you missed my ;-) ;-) ;-) *wink* !! *wink* !! in my previous post, which i added to show i was tongue-in-cheek instead of nitpicking.

I have read sword of shannara, otherwise i wouldn't be making comments about it. Try not to assume what ppl do or not do, but just ask ppl if you don't know.

What? JRRT wasn't the first who put dwarves or elves or orcs into a story? i wasn't talking about that. I was saying in my previous post JRRT was the first who put dwarves AND elves AND orcs etc in a story, alas the first high fantasy novel. Maybe my previous post was not clear enough due to the fact English is not my mother tongue. And btw : you yourself said in your first nitpick that JRRT was the first :
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I wonder, if it were not the first, would it truly be as popular?
So what made you change suddenly? Just to me annoy me, eh? Well you've succeeded.

I'll cease posting in this thread as well. There has already been enough topics closed and enough turmoil on this forum, in which i regret also to have had my share. I throw in the towel as well. I've had enough. Cheers, "sweetie".
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I dare to say, without any exaggeration, that Lord of the Rings is just a work of art, a piece of literature who deserves its place in the line of the Iliad, the Aeneïs, the Divina Comedia, Don Quixote, and Faust.


I agree
The fantasy today has its roots from LOTR and CS lewis
Nowadays most high fantasy is like dragons and dugeon stuff. Too many original fantasitical ( is that a word?) characters: elves, dwarves, and dragons.

Some have even tried depicting the peaceful elves and taking Tolkien's ideas about tall elves unlike the fairy tale short dudes. Tolkien somehow wrote so that his works were not to deep to the point that its not interesting and high enough for excitement. Tolkien is the only one that has successfully created a world.
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LOTR is a whole world, with different races and languages, each race having its own history. This is exactly the fact why LOTR is so popular and why LOTR is superior to any other fantasy novels who appeared after LOTR. All other fantasy is just air compared with JRRT. When i read LOTR, i can really imagine that world to be real. Hasn't happened with any other fantasy books i've read until today, but i'll keep on trying!



I have to say I agree with Vir - not only is the writing superb but the whole background is woven so well around the characters that it is real. This is why I never thought of it as fantasy. For me the whole thing is real.

(Come on guys, we've had enough headbutting in here for a while - chill please. Pretty please?)


I think what Vir and Vee said is right. LoTR is larger than life, it is bigger than other writings that come before or have followed it.
I mean, how many other authors have created dozens of peoples and given each of them a history and a language? That is a feat beyond what most writers can achieve.

But I think it is to bad when no one else seems to be able to reach that high peak where LoTR is. Writers try, but they always seem to fall short.
I don't think it's so much a case of failing to reach the high standards set by Tolkien, rather one of trying too hard. A lot of writers compare themselves to Tolkien too much. If they forgot about that and concentrated on doing something more original, the results would be much better.
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I mean, how many other authors have created dozens of peoples and given each of them a history and a language? That is a feat beyond what most writers can achieve.


Are they really trying?

First of all: ***DISCLAIMER!!*** I have not read any fantasy. Except Tolkien, and that too only after severe pressure from Celebrian. Wink Smilie Good girl! Smile Smilie

The way I read him he is first and foremost intersted in the world he created, the people and creatures within it and its history. The plot comes second.

Most writers create a storyline/plot, and then puts characters and places in it when they need it, so to speak. The flow of the story is the important thing, and their history and the land they fare in is just eyecandy and story-support.

They create a story first, and then a world to put it in.

Tolkien created a world complete with history, and needed a story to guide us through it. What better than a great journey to do that?

As far as plot, language and litterary techniques I don't think Lotr is the greatest there is. But to create that world... wow!
(on wobbly ground with the language. Read it in German, a language I'm not very good at)

Do I make a bit of sense? *stumbles on some left over words and fall on his face*

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Tolkien created a world complete with history, and needed a story to guide us through it. What better than a great journey to do that?

As far as plot, language and litterary techniques I don't think Lotr is the greatest there is. But to create that world... wow!

It's hard to say who or what is the greatest in any field, because this question is so subjective the answer is different for every person. Still, i think it's safe to say it is one of the greatest books ever written then, definately a classic piece of literature which deserves its place among the great works who belong to the cultural heritage of the world.

The fact that LOTR and other works written by JRRT are so superior over modern fantasy, is the fact that most modern fantasy is not literature, mostly just books written to entertain the ppl and to cash-in, to make a living of it. JRRT didn't write LOTR because he wanted to make money, no because he just was very interested in creating a world, giving that world a history and sharing this history with us, readers. Did Goethe write Faust to cash-in or to entertain? Did Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa to cash-in or to entertain? No, they and others did what they did because they just longed to create something and share that creation with the rest of the world.

Few writers today write a story because of the story itself. There are some of course, but very few. And certainly very very few in the fantasy genre.
Very true Vir.

LoTR is more art than anything. Tolkien was motivated by love of his creation, not by want of money. He did his best, not so the book could sell, but because LoTR was special to him and he wanted only his best efforts to be revealed in it.
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Tolkien created a world complete with history, and needed a story to guide us through it. What better than a great journey to do that?


You hit it Grev
Aiya:

sorry i got late, but i was reading this thread and there was some things that captured my attention.

at the begining of the thread, there was a coment about superiority of males or females. even though i am a male, i must say that genetically women are more complex than men. we male have one allele less than women. you can check about it on any biology book for highschool. females have XX chromosomes while we just have XY, when you see chromosomes X on wonmen looks like a house while our Y looks like the dog´s house next to it.
for ex:
The X chromosome is required for life, but the Y is not
Females compensate for the extra X by inactivating 1 entire chromosome
- another ex. would be if you want to track down the origen of the different human races, we could only do it with mitochondrial DNA, and that one is only transmited by women and it only changes every 10,000 generations.... on women.
you can read the simple basis these genetic explanation on:

http://members.aol.com/Bio50/LecNotes/lecnot06a.html#anchor110744

http://members.aol.com/Bio50/LecNotes/lecnot06.html

it is the simplest site that i could find that explained some of these examples.
Now, even though genetically adan has evolved from eve, ( and not otherwise) that could mean that in the simple life women are better thatn man. nor man are better than women. we are all the same. i just answered a question i saw at the begining.

now about Tolkien. I have always said that Tolkien is great. not only as an author, but he also provided us with a mithology that we could belive in. but it is true that every race tolkien used has been part of mithology since thousands of years before. that does not mean that what he did was worthless or that it was not original. it only means that he put together parts that nobody noticed before and he himself created a world that nobody ever imagined before.

I think that the problem with fantasy now is that there is no way that a genius like tolkien was born in our generation. that posibility might only hapen within several years from now, and I am sometimes afraid that we will never experience anything like reading at tolkien again.

elen sila lumenn´ omentielvo!!!!
What Tolkien did was to create the world where the legends and mythologies and religions we have now came from (well could have come from). Using present day knowledge of the so many mythologies of the world he created where all these things had its origin. With the passing of the ages humans began to forget the real story, though parts remainded. The valar, so simmular to norse gods and greek/roman gods, one almighty God, trolls, dragons, elves, dwarves..

He didn't create fantasy, he created history.

Men are better than women at some things, women are better than men at other things. Mens brains are bigger, but women have more connections between the different parts of the brain, and blablabla men this women that. The one is not better than the other. Mother Nature creates ballance and Mother knows best. Smile Smilie
i agree with with all of your statement but i would like to point out a small flaw in the explanation that you may or may not have meant to be true in all cases
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men are better than women at some things,women are better than men at other things
there are exceptions to anything unless your talking about "biological" things which we shouldnt go deeply into on this thread(not that i mean anything vulgar by that i mean that for example men having broader shoulders usually creates more physical strength,thats not a fact or my opinion it was just an example that may or may not be someones theory.but im afraid someone might turn that into something "inappropriate and the thread becomes locked or is deleted)

i think Tolkien was brilliant.and its hard not to copy him when writing.


but as a writer,not a very good one though,i try to take a different approach to everything than anyone else(sorry i cant post some examples but until i get the book im working on published im keeping everything in it off the internet)i will say this though.i started off comparing myself to Tolkien and every now and then copying him by accident.however a family member told me i compared myself to Tolkien too much so when i right i block Tolkien out of my mind and let the story role out, and instead of focusing on history or story i let the characters and places spawn there own history and stories in my mind and so far my strategy has been working.(and yes i do take notes instead of letting those stories rot and dissappear in my mind)you should probably look for my fantasy book to come out in about five years,my fault for not knowing how to get a publisher so i hope i find out how before i finish my story so i wont have to worry about it.

and sorry to bore yall with all this but instead of creating true "High Fantasy" i decided to avoid steeling anyones ideas(except one i got from a mystery book that aint published yet and the author knows im using the idea and dont care)i created several races of people unlike any others in fiction ,and am putting off creating languages.
The name "Rohan" is also the name of a French aristocratic family (one de Rohan was a famous Marechal of France!).
As for fantasy genre, every Tolkien lover should go and read the "romances" of WIlliam Morris. In particular, The Well at the World's End, The Water of the Wondrous Isles, The House of the Wolfings, The Story of The Glittering Plain... They are all online, you can find them quite easily with Google. You will be astonished how many details known from Tolkien books can be found there. The style of Morris is extremely archaic, but his manner of "painting with words", of using well chosen details to dreate a dreamlike reality, is very very Tolkienish! Tolkien himself acknowledeged that he was influenced by the writings of Morris...
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I think that the problem with fantasy now is that there is no way that a genius like tolkien was born in our generation. that posibility might only hapen within several years from now, and I am sometimes afraid that we will never experience anything like reading at tolkien again.


That is what I am afraid of also. You would think that fifty years later there would be fantasy books to rival Tolkien's LoTR, but so for that hasn't happened. Maybe it will happen, like you said, several years from now. I hope it does, it would be a loss if none are able to at least come close to Tolkien's genius.
True as that may be, Tolkien's genius will inspire more and more writers taking ideas from Tolkine so if that happens, Tolkien's genius will dissapate, and we will have thousands of mini-Tolkiens saying that they didn't copy ideas.
~Celebrimbor
I'm not trying to get into an arguement, but:
While I will agree that Tolkien is one of the best fantasy writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading, I must disagree that he is the 'best'.
Many people have many different opinions, therefore there can be no 'best', but there can be some that win a lot of the population. Hence, there are several 'bests', like JKRowling, who is one of my favorite authors. ^^

I don't think it's fair to say writers today 'copied' from anyone. It's not like Tolkien created those creatures, he just borrowed them from folklore, gave them a make over, and intergrated them into his story. (Which is kind of simplifying all of the work he put into it...) And I don't think it's fair that you say that writers today are copying from Tolkien, it's not like they have control over when they are born, or how many great authors come before them.

A lot of the things I see, read, and hear are reflected in my writings, but I'm not nessearily copying from anyone. So, I cannot understand why it would be considered copying. *looks confused* Maybe we should just say "Tolkien's Great" and go happy, frolicking around PT and spreading wisdom ... I know I am. *frolicks off to spread merriment*
Of course Tolkien is not the best. He's the very best.
Well, I found this late too, so this will be a long post. I will start with things other people have said because they bring up things that I probably would have discussed anyway, if I had thought of them.

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The Lord of the Rings is imo, the best high fantasy story ever, so rich and deep that practically every fantasy author after JRRT took ideas or elements out of it to write their own stories. Indeed, most contemporary high fantasy is just an inferior Lord of the Rings, but with humor (?), "strong" women and/or explicit sex.


Humor- This implies that LotR has none. Tolkien had humor! The hobbits provided humor, and so did the rivalry between Gimli and Legolas. I’m sure there are other examples, but I have not read the books in a while.

“strong” women- I am not sure what is meant by this. Most people have been taking it as a sexist comment, and that is certainly what it looks like. To that, I would say two things. First of all, LotR has strong women, or at least a strong woman- Eowyn. Second of all, women can be strong, both mentally and physically. There are, however, other ways to take this statement, like there simply being too much “Xena, Warrior Princess” type things, which I could probably agree with.

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list of authors, all of whom who published fantasy novels BEFORE tolkien:
James Branch Cabell: The High Place; The Silver Stallion
Lord Dunsany: The Charwoman's Shadow; The King of Elfland's Daughter
E. R. Eddison: The Worm Ourobouros; Mistress of Mistresses
Fritz Leiber: Lankhmar: Tales of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
Hope Mirrlees: Lud-in-the-Mist
Evangeline Walton: The Children of Llyr
T.H. White: The Once and Future King


Well, I actually haven’t heard of most of these… and the one’s that I have heard of are very different from Lord of the Rings. While Tolkien was not chronologically the first, he certainly popularized “high fantasy” and was a major force in making it what it is today. And I do know that Tolkien did influence Narnia… C.S. Lewis got published first, but Tolkien and Lewis lived at the same time and were good friends. In fact, Tolkien had a large part in converting Lewis- and if Lewis hadn’t been a Christian, The Chronicles would either never have existed or been different to the point of being unrecognizable.

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So, Im sorry to disappoint you. Tolkien was NOT the first person to put dwarves... or elves.. or even orc's into a story.


And, while other authors certainly used elves, dwarves, orcs, and the like first, I would again say that Tolkien made them what they are today. When I think of elves, I don’t think of little spirits, I think of slightly smaller, elegant people.

Outside of disagreeing or agreeing with other members’ thought on the issue, I would say that while there are authors who do copy Tolkien to some degree, it is inevitable. He is one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, and people are going to want to imitate that. I would also say that while I am vaguely aware of some really horrible modern fantasy floating around out there somewhere, I have not read any yet. This is partly because my dad likes fantasy too, and most of the books I have read are ones that he has suggested to me, either by owning them or pointing them out. There is a lot of original fantasy out there (let me once again point to Pratchett), and I would even venture to say that I enjoyed some of it as much or more that LotR.
People who want to talk more about fantasy or Tolkien-copiers should also look at Authors similar to Tolkien???? or Redwall? Narnia?or....
I have read and enjoyed most of the books in Eva lilith's above list. I would also include William Morris's The Wood Beyond the World (1894) and The Well at the World's End (1896). Both can be read online, if you google them. William Morris was a Renaissance man.
Whoops... not my list Grondy; I forgot to put the quotes around it. It is Milambar's list, I believe... Anyway, it's fixed now.
The new mantra is "better late than never."
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Most contemporary fantasy novels involve a) a quest of good vs evil, b) involve powerful artifacts and c) from zero to hero and d) elves, trolls, dwarves, fairies,... and JRRT is the first ever who wrote a story, who invented a story, involving all those elements. All fantasy authors who came after him wrote a story involving all/some/at least one of those elements.

Oo, oo, I know one that doesn’t! In Wheel of Time the plot is not a quest of good vs.evil (though there are several of these in the course of the narrative, but the Eye of the World alone isn’t really resolved like a traditional “quest;” there’s actually a debate about whether it was handled as meant to be.) There’s a conflict between them, but I think that is essential to Epic Fantasy. Powerful artifacts exist, but I can only think of three, and they aren’t really essential to the story (some might say one inhibits it due to its flaw.) I take it back four, though in that case it was more a matter of "OK, we're not all doomed anymore. Well, not automatically. Back to saving the world."

Zero to hero, well, the main characters start out as teenagers on the threshold of adulthood, so some of that’s inevitable. Elves=0,trolls, well, yeah, trollocs, but the only resemblance they have to trolls is they’re evil and share the name in a different form, which is a feature of WoT (unless Egwene Al’Vere has the same identity as Gueniviere, and I haven’t noticed it yet,) dwarves=0, fairies=0. There’s the Ogier, but you didn’t mention them and Tolkien didn’t either, and once again, in typical WoT fashion, without the name there’d be almost no similarity to “ogres” at all. Maybe if Shrek was a monk.

A large part of the charm for me is the way he takes traditional relationships we know by heart and says, “what if it was different?” No more derivative of Tolkien than the question about the duel between Mossk and Merk is derivative of the Cold War (took me a while to see that one, but Guinevere was so mangled and so different I didn’t see her at first either.) Ffakes you out though, using what you “know” against you.)

Couple other things, these just the ones I noticed in a particular post:

I can’t speak for all the others; I believe Lieber did predate Tolkiens work, if not by much (though Tolkien was creating Middle-Earth long before his publication, if not its inception; totally different scale regardless,) but the initial publication date of The Once and Future King (an excellent work) was ’58, and I believe RotK was in ’57 (or maybe it was FotR in ’57 and RotK was ’59, it’s been too long since I “found out.”)

How much Tolkiens Elves are derived from the Norse mythos remains to be seen; there are certainly characteristics, such as the various names borrowed from… hmmm, I wanna say the Elder Edda, but I don’t think that’s right. Song of the Wanderer? However, there’s no question about Elves entering English culture from there; it just didn’t happen. That’s a Celtic thing that precedes the arrival of the Angles and Saxons by over a millenium, and more like two, really. How big a role this legacy plays in Tolkien versus that of Scandinavia is hard to tell; I don’t know of any appearance by Aval(l)on(ë) in the Norse sagas.

Of course, if we deny the origin of fantasy to Tolkien due to these the honor goes at best to Mallory (who seems to have been more of an editor than a writer,) and at worst to the creator of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was long before it was written down (was the Odyssey plagarized? The Aeneid? The Divine Comdey? Come on, one of 'em's gotta be: they're all the same story). The problem is these aren’t “fantasy” they’re “myth.” For one thing, they weren’t the creation of a single individual, but of an entire culture.

Like most people, LotR was the first fantasy I read, and unlike Vee I went “Wow! This stuff is great I’m gonna read it all.” Not everyone is the Oxford Professor of English though, and I found out the hard way most fantasy authors are derivative Tolkien hacks. Thus, I read very little fantasy; it needs exceptional word of mouth, and to read much of a series it had better impress me in the first one or two books. Stuff like that is hard to find, but a few things qualify. I DID find Shannara derivative (if Alannons name had a few less different letters it WOULD be a plagiarism case) and it didn’t take long before I said “NEXT!” The Belgariad stood on its own for me, despite the resemblance of Belgarion to a certain other ancient wizard who steered the fate of the realm.

There’s a certain problem of incestuous relationships; Tolkien is the reason D&D exists, and too many have decided “Well, I worked my character up to Archmage [‘cos your DM hands out magic items like candy so Tarasques have to come in herds to be a challenge] so I can write a great fantasy novel” or “I’ve created adventures/modules; that’s the same thing, right?”

BTW, based on their assessment of my AP English test, the College Board thinks LotR is “a work of recognized literary merit.” Fantastic is an adjective already; you don’t have to make it one.
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What Tolkien did was to create the world where the legends and mythologies and religions we have now came from (well could have come from). Using present day knowledge of the so many mythologies of the world he created where all these things had its origin. With the passing of the ages humans began to forget the real story, though parts remainded. The valar, so simmular to norse gods and greek/roman gods, one almighty God, trolls, dragons, elves, dwarves..

He didn't create fantasy, he created history.

Men are better than women at some things, women are better than men at other things. Mens brains are bigger, but women have more connections between the different parts of the brain, and blablabla men this women that. The one is not better than the other. Mother Nature creates ballance and Mother knows best

I’m pulling this in by way of backtrack. “With the passing of ages humans began to forget the real story, though parts remained.” Compare with
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The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the great forest called Braem Wood. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
That one's from Fires of Heaven, my fave, with huge sentimental value, but they all start the same way but you replace "a wind rose in the great forest called Braem Wood" with a different butterfly effect like event in a different place.

In addition, there’s the One Power, in a male and female half (traditionally represented by a symbol suspiciously like that of a Far Eastern religion; of course no one uses this now because of the taint on saidin, the male half, and usually we see only the “flame” (white part tapering up, like a flame) of saidar, the female half.) It’s split into five threads, corresponding to the five “elements” of traditional mysticism/magic. Men TEND to be stronger in Earth and Fire; women tend to be stronger in Water and Air. Either can be equally strong in Spirit, and the most powerful are strong in most, if not all threads.
Fantasy has always been my favourite genre of books. And I can tell you about seventy percent of the books I own are fantasy books. Fantasy is just different from other kinds. It's a more free place, for both authors and readers. It's not like sci-fi, and it's not like plain fiction, it doesn't have to make scientific sense. The story is completely magic, and it's just a matter of how that magic is twisted into shape by the author. And thus, we all find fantasy worlds perfect and attracting.

Now, everything's become different, though. I find that the more fantasy I read, the more boring it gets, because the general storyline is pretty much the same! I'm talking of the books published these few years... They seem to lack certain initiative. All seem to be something about a great foe attacking, one person surviving and carrying out the mission to save their homes, and along the way, they would find friends, love, dangers too. Otherwise it would be a typical Romeo and Juliet story such as Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. The very structures of the stories are the same. It gets boring after a while.

I've tried sometimes to write a book, or to outline it and make up a story in my mind. I find it harder than I thought. I don't blame the authors for not being creative, because I find it is rather hard to create something wholly new and appealing to readers. I try to twist the stories around a bit so it would be a bit more different, but it is not so easy. I always find them either to turn out gruesome, or to be really out-of-place. Really, don't blame authors for their repetitive works, it's hard not to be repetitive, especially if you read a lot, which I suspect most authors do.
Thought this was an interesting wee thread, I tried to read it all but it got a little long winded, any who, I'm not sure if anyone has made the point I'm about to make and if they have I sincerely apologize.

What I think we're all forgetting is that Tolkien spent practically his entire life creating his world, In fact his main life's work he started in the trenches was so detailed, so long he never completed it, I'm not sure of the actual time frame but I'm guessing be spent around 60 years building his world. It wasn't at all unheard of for him to scrap hundreds of pages and start again if he wasn't happy with what he'd written, he was a perfectionist.
The point I'm trying to make is no wonder his world is so rich and detailed, it takes a massive amount of dedication and a special kind of person to be able to do that, and I personally don't feel any other Fantasy writer has even come close to such a detailed and rich story as Tolkien.

But, I have to say that personally I just cannot read his works, I get bored and I feel I have to force myself to read it, and you should never have to do that when reading a good story. But I guess that says a lot more about me that the Professor yeah??

Maybe you just have other things on your mind.. I read the books I read because they take me somewhere I want to be more than where I really am. A good book is something I go into like I've taken a trip in the Time Machine and suddenly am alive in another dimension.. But if Real Life is worrying me it doesn't work.
It's embarassing to see some of the garbage I wrote six years ago.
Anything I've ever tried to write has been torn up. By me.
It's not garbage Vir. A lot of the materials here are interesting to read. But to be fair some of the new members are not familiar with your sarcasm Smile Smilie

But we have come to love that down the years and your posts are always interesting and/or funny

I have to agree with the comment that our professor's work is true and honest and painstaking real literature. Just as you don't see the average person outside of school, uni, whatever, delving into Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Anna karenina, you also don't see that many in population digging into Tolkien, because great literature seems to require of the reader dedication, time and attention and in the fast food world we live in , we don't mind something that taxes you as long as it is in tiny incrememts, like a fast food burger. There was a time a person could live with the fact that he or she was in for the long haul as War and Peace or such was being read. My children's age group have not been taught nor given the chance to excercise their brain f or this. Except maybe to role play online. And the love of words, sheerly for their own selves does not seem to be important whatever. Added to that the fact that many children and teens don't know a large vocabulary other than cursing, no fault of their own, and you have someone who might look at the works of Tolkien as a chore, something daunting instead of a fabulous journey into an awesome world.

Added to that the fact that many children and teens don't know a large vocabulary other than cursing, no fault of their own, and you have someone who might look at the works of Tolkien as a chore, something daunting instead of a fabulous journey into an awesome world.

 I give children more credit than you I think, leelee, though it is true not all children are into literature, never have been. Even with those who cuss a lot there is often much intelligence. Cussing doesn't faze me much, I try to look deeper.

As to reading Tolkien as a chore, I had The Hobbit in Year Seven on my school study list. Had no interest in reading it, being too much involved in getting around school rules and thumbing my nose at teachers I did not respect much - not all of them, I hasten to say, just the do as I say not as I do types. I was no stranger to corporal punishment.

Anyway, in the Christmas Holidays at the end of that year, being extremely bored one day (and attracted by Tolkiens drawing of Smaug over Lake Town on its cover), I gave it a try - and loved it. The love affair has not ended yet.

Whether Tolkien is on book lists or not, indeed, whether it's "literature" or not is unimportant to me. His works will always have readers (I hope), both high brow and low brow, both intellectuals and casual adventure fans. There in lies his greatness, I think.   

  

"It's not garbage Vir. A lot of the materials here are interesting to read. But to be fair some of the new members are not familiar with your sarcasm. Smile Smilie "

Sarcasm? Is that allowed? It is the lowest form of wit, I hear, and  therefore, the most convenient to use! blush Ah... I never met you, Virumor, but I wish I had.