Saturday, April 26, 2014

George R.R. Martin vs. J.R.R. Tolkien

  Today I am going to compare 2 book series. Both of which have been adapted in to movies or TV series.

  Game of Thrones is a lengthy book series written by Martin.  I was loaned the first book by a friend years ago and got hooked. I read the next few novels before giving up sometime around the Feast of Crows. It is considered more "adult" than the usual PG rated fantasy stuff.

  Lord of the Rings was pretty much the building block of the entire fantasy genre. It helped spawn the fantasy role play industry and made millions of us set around rolling funny dice and pretending to be elves for years.

  Game of Thrones deals with some pretty serious topics, such as rape, incest, torture, betrayal, murder, child molestation, rape, back stabbing, killing children, killing your lover, killing your family, etc.

  Lord of the Rings tells a very well crafted tale of the corruption of power and how it seduces the most well meaning of people. It is extremely relevant to our world every day as global leaders become drunk on power and proceed to turn into monsters.  It is an important lesson rolled in to a good story. I think it carries a moral that one can apply to your life in a meaningful way. If you ever become a parent, teacher, government official or boss it is very important that you do not allow your power to turn you in to a monster.

  Game of Thrones is set in the world of Westeros. It is a brutal place where virtually every inhabitant is a cruel and unethical monster. The place is so horrific that is boggles the mind that everyone has not killed themselves in dismay. If you lived in Westeros and Hannibal Lector moved in next door it would most likely be an improvement. To make matter worse, half the leaders are fighting to set in a chair made of pointy spikes and willing to do anything to take the throne. All the while ignoring the approaching doom of a bunch of undead creatures.

  Lord of the Rings is set in Middle Earth. A world so rich that even after reading multiple books you always feel like you are just getting a glimpse of the history. There are numerous creatures of all shapes and sizes. And there are a lot of good and decent folks.

  Westeros is so horrifying that I would not go there if you paid me.  The one redeeming feature of Westeros is that it makes one glad to NOT be there. No matter how bad your real life is, after reading the series you can not help but rejoice that you are not in Westeros.  If Satan were to read the Song of Fire and Ice he would look around and realize these slackers in hell have it way too easy.  If the Sound of Music were set in Westeros half of the Von Trapp family would be dead, raped and tortured within the first 20 minutes of the movie ( by each other most likely).

  By contrast, Middle Earth would be on my bucket list if it were real. I would take in a concert in Rivendell and have tea and biscuits in Bag End. The place is filled with heroes. Characters you can not help but admire.

  In the Song of Fire and Ice, the minute you start thinking a character is pretty cool it is a safe bet they are about to get killed, raped, blinded, or meet some other sort of grisly fate.  Like being blinded while being raped to death in a torture chamber.  Do not become emotionally invested in anyone in these books, you are just being baited by the author who seems to delight in kicking the readers in the teeth. Really hard and with malice. Over and over again.   I really thought the Wildlings were neat and that red haired chick really did not deserve.........well I do not want to spoil things in case you have not read it. But it really becomes predictable after a while.

  While over in Middle Earth, good triumphs in the end.

  The Lord of the Rings has been sometimes criticized for being a bit ponderous at the start. And yes the first chapter about the birthday party is a little slow. The rest of the book is fine and never bores you.

  The Song of Fire and Ice starts OK.  However, by the time I read a Feast for Crows I realized I had just read about a million pages and nothing had happened. To make matters worse-entire characters had been completely ignored. Whole plot lines had been simply left hanging while entirely new characters and plots were introduced. It is almost like the author got bored and simply gave up. Maybe he wrote himself in to a corner and could not figure out how to get out of it so he just started over again. After all, there are entirely new areas of the world to fill with misery and wanton destruction. There really are too many characters to keep track of. It is ludicrous to think a single story should contain so many people. This should have been broken up in to many different books instead of trying to smash them all in to one.  In the end it simply lost my interest. It also really is a depressing story to read. Taking time to read something so bleak seems to be quite silly. Recreation should do something to lift the spirits and take us away from the problems in the real world for a little while.

  So that is my book review for the week. I got sick of seeing Game of Thrones plastered everywhere in the magazines and thought I would warn people of just how bad it really is.   Between Game of Thrones and that Kardashian chick it is starting to become scary to think just how bad tastes have become.

  Or maybe I have just gotten so out of touch....................must be an age thing because I still have no idea what that Kardashian chick does to be famous and I do not see how in the world Game of Thrones ever made it to a TV series.  Unless a maker of anti-depressants wanted to increase sales and decided allowing Martin to crush every one's soul would help.

  In any event, opinions expressed here are just my own and most likely wrong. As usual.

  Have a great day folks and keep your eyes open for the new web-site. It is being worked at this very moment.



  1. I have been watching Game Of Thrones on HBO and I guessing they have softened the books somewhat (and not by much) but I was reaching the
    same conclusions as you have here. There is no such thing as good or
    honor in Westeros or anywhere else on that planet. I would not be shocked
    if the bloody adventure was ended by a meteor impact after it was all over
    as a final judgement of the gods, and or the last twist of the author just to
    get that final twist

    1. That would actually be a good ending. By the time I stopped reading the books I pretty much hated every surviving character.

    2. Game Of Thrones reminds me of the Gor series that I read back in the early 80s (mostly in the field while assigned in Korea) had a
      good start then degenerated to a sadomasochist rag dominated
      by female bondage....these books tell you more about the author
      than the story I'm afraid.

  2. Great stuff Ken. I watch the TV show all the time, but it's like watching The Shield or Breaking Bad. Not at all heroic. I think the author's thought process is the same as Dark Helmet's in Spaceballs: "Evil will always triumph because good is dumb."