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Tolkien vs. GRRM: A Battle of Complex Characters


Mithras

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I can say for certainty that Legolas would not be a POV character. He is the only member of the Fellowship that has little personality and Tolkien admitted himself that Legolas was an afterthought compared to the other 8 members of the Fellowship. He just put Legolas in there because he wanted all the races to be represented.

 

Well, since I do not have Aragorn, I need some eyes on Aragorn when it's just the three of them. Also, I think GRRM (and I) would enjoy the challenge of the non-human POV's. He'd still make human in a sense of course. 

 

Gimli, maybe, but no, I feel sure that Aragorn would be a POV character. That would be dumb to not make him a POV character.

 

Well, to me, the hidden prince/demigod who knows he is the hidden prince/demigod doesn't work as well if he is too close to us. How can you be in someone's mind if he is like that, or has the potential to be like that? I feel quite strongly about the demigod rule, but to each his own. 

 

Gollum has too erratic of a mind to be a POV in my mind and it spoils some of the mystery of him. Sam's POV of Gollum is the most interesting and how he sees that Frodo is falling for him. 

 

Sure, GRRM also pulls of the Damphair, however, so I'm interested what he would do with Gollum. Also allows us some POV's of Mordor and locations where the fellowship is not early on. I personally do not see how he is so mysterious. I think the mystique of Aragorn/Gandalf types is more important to the character. 

 

And there'd certainly be a POV in Isengard. GRRM wouldn't just have Gandalf disappear for half the book without notifying the reader what's going on.

 

Fair enough, maybe introduce a saruman lackey then? 

 

Boromir and Theoden are a possibility, but with Theoden, I think it's better to get Eowyn's POV and Aragorn's for the battle.

 

Well, Theoden and his poisoned mind might be interesting to be in. 

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If Aragorn wouldn't be the POV from his story, it has to be Gimli. Legolas just wouldn't cut it.

 

Aragorn is known to be heir to Gondor from the Council of Elrond on. From that point, it's fine to make him a POV character. Before, certainly not.

 

Gollum may make an interesting "Prologue" character for the Two Towers, but I can't see all what you could do with him without ruining Shelob's Liar and beyond.

 

And if we're going with Saruman lacky, it's clearly Wormtongue.

 

And Theoden is right on the verge of me wanting him to be a POV, to where I would not oppose it.

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You can't really have an epic author battle because they work in tandem.
 
 There wouldn't be asoiaf, period.

George has stated numerous times, his inspiration in fact comes from Tolkien.
 
 
 
 
Without Tolkien's direct influence there prolly wouldn't be an ASOIAF.

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In regards to the characters, Martin is the winner by far. However, they both have their strengths and flaws. For example, whilst Martin's characters are far more complex and have a greater range of personalities, Tolkien's world building is unmatched. Tolkien's story, however, has become cliched over the years (without having anything to do with Tolkien himself) and has become somewhat predictable, whereas Martin's story is expertly told in way that keeps you constantly surprised. Martin's writing, however, is more prosaic in comparison to Tolkien's, whilst Tolkien's writing has a poetry that Martin can't hope to match.

 

Overall, in my opinion of course, Martin's story is far more entertaining than Tolkien's, simply because the characters are much more fleshed out and real, as well as the fact that Martin's isn't as predictable, and has many mysteries that are layered upon the story that basically began these forums. As well, I think Martin conveys more themes than Tolkien. Whilst Tolkien basically has 'power corrupts', Martin has illustrated a wider range of themes. The horror and glorification of war, the conflict within the human heart, social identity and how humans can lose themselves, influence of religion, and the effects of political warring on the common people. You never really see many of these things in Lord of the Rings. It's like Tolkien is simply telling a story while Martin is attempting to convey messages.

 

Of course, there's nothing wrong with either series. They are both fantastic and both deserve a place among the greatest fantasy literature of all time.

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For me, this question is like asking whether I would prefer a dinner of tapeworm-contaminated fish, Mad Cow-infected meat, and rotten milk, or a dinner of food that won't kill me. I don't think much of Tolkien at all, and I consider his characterization to be garbage. Some of the books I read as a 10-14 year old (aimed at that age group) had characters that would blow away anything Tolkien wrote. Jasta11 mentioned how the overwhelming majority of the so-called "ambiguity" comes from the One Ring, whose magical effects are too divorced from anything in real life to make it relevant to the human condition. Even worse is how the Silmarils and the Arkenstone do the same in Tolkien's other works. Basically, this TV Tropes page covers 95% of the "moral greyness" possessed by Tolkien's characters. The fact that people on this thread are using the term 'complex' and 'rounded' to describe the likes of Denethor, Boromir, and Theoden makes me wonder if I'm reading the same novels they are. With Denethor, there's a few lines about how he once wasn't a total fuck-up, then he looked into a palantir, and as a result his on-page actions show him as combining the wisdom and foresight of Cersei with the parenting skills of Randyll Tarly. It honestly astounds me that there are so many people in this thread going on about Gollum, who can be thoroughly described in a single paragraph and has no traits not related to the Ring. I remember reading one person citing Eowyn as a brilliant character on par with / better than GRRM's females and proof that Tolkien could write women, which I found utterly hilarious; I could pick out any two Brienne chapters and find a level of depth that would, by comparison, expose Eowyn for the shallow cliche that she is. (Incidentally, the "romance" between Eowyn and Faramir is something I'd consider badly written by the standards of Fanfiction.net).

 

People say that ASOIAF hasn't had the influence on the fantasy genre that LOTR did, and I agree; ASOIAF hasn't damn-near ruined the genre for half a century. We have Tolkien to thank for the bounty of Always Chaotic Evil races and plots about possession of Magical MacGuffins and characters who can't just be heroes regardless of their lineage but are descended from kings/gods/what have you and owe their destined greatness to it. I like ASOIAF, but I'm not such a fan that I'll agree with everything GRRM says regarding literature, and when it comes to his adoration of Tolkien, I definitely don't share his opinion.

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[email protected] the thing with the One Ring is that using it is a pretty garanteed victory while trying to take it to the heart of the Enemy is a far shot that could easily backfire. However one of the quirks with the Ring is that it has a will of its own and that it influuences (corrupts) its bearer.

 

[email protected] wow, that is a lot of Tolkien-hate...

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In any such discussion, one should bear in mind that ASOAIF is not finished.

 

Much of the complexity of ASOAIF characters is linked to the fact we do not yet know what happens to them in the end. It's easy to judge characters from Tolkien's universe when you know what their story is as a whole. It's much harder to do that with ASOAIF because we're not even sure what kind of story George is writing. Seriously, depending on the final outcome, some ASOAIF characters might very well seem way less "deep" to future readers than to us now.

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For me, this question is like asking whether I would prefer a dinner of tapeworm-contaminated fish, Mad Cow-infected meat, and rotten milk, or a dinner of food that won't kill me. I don't think much of Tolkien at all, and I consider his characterization to be garbage. Some of the books I read as a 10-14 year old (aimed at that age group) had characters that would blow away anything Tolkien wrote. Jasta11 mentioned how the overwhelming majority of the so-called "ambiguity" comes from the One Ring, whose magical effects are too divorced from anything in real life to make it relevant to the human condition. Even worse is how the Silmarils and the Arkenstone do the same in Tolkien's other works. Basically, this TV Tropes page covers 95% of the "moral greyness" possessed by Tolkien's characters. The fact that people on this thread are using the term 'complex' and 'rounded' to describe the likes of Denethor, Boromir, and Theoden makes me wonder if I'm reading the same novels they are. With Denethor, there's a few lines about how he once wasn't a total fuck-up, then he looked into a palantir, and as a result his on-page actions show him as combining the wisdom and foresight of Cersei with the parenting skills of Randyll Tarly. It honestly astounds me that there are so many people in this thread going on about Gollum, who can be thoroughly described in a single paragraph and has no traits not related to the Ring. I remember reading one person citing Eowyn as a brilliant character on par with / better than GRRM's females and proof that Tolkien could write women, which I found utterly hilarious; I could pick out any two Brienne chapters and find a level of depth that would, by comparison, expose Eowyn for the shallow cliche that she is. (Incidentally, the "romance" between Eowyn and Faramir is something I'd consider badly written by the standards of Fanfiction.net).

 

People say that ASOIAF hasn't had the influence on the fantasy genre that LOTR did, and I agree; ASOIAF hasn't damn-near ruined the genre for half a century. We have Tolkien to thank for the bounty of Always Chaotic Evil races and plots about possession of Magical MacGuffins and characters who can't just be heroes regardless of their lineage but are descended from kings/gods/what have you and owe their destined greatness to it. I like ASOIAF, but I'm not such a fan that I'll agree with everything GRRM says regarding literature, and when it comes to his adoration of Tolkien, I definitely don't share his opinion.

 

:agree:  

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Big lurker here.... gonna share my 2 cents :)
For me, the big difference between the two is that in Tolkien´s world, there are objects that, on top of giving someone some power/ability, are the main reasons for characters to "turn evil". So, evil is a external force that the great majority of characters don´t have within themselves, and they become afflicted with desire to do "evil" actions if they come in contact with those objects.
In GRRM's world, many (do I dare say, the most) of characters have "evil" or at least the desire to power, lust, love (in spite of others) within themselves. And they have this desire without any object/external influence.
For me, Tolkien is for a younger audience.

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For me, this question is like asking whether I would prefer a dinner of tapeworm-contaminated fish, Mad Cow-infected meat, and rotten milk, or a dinner of food that won't kill me. I don't think much of Tolkien at all, and I consider his characterization to be garbage. Some of the books I read as a 10-14 year old (aimed at that age group) had characters that would blow away anything Tolkien wrote. Jasta11 mentioned how the overwhelming majority of the so-called "ambiguity" comes from the One Ring, whose magical effects are too divorced from anything in real life to make it relevant to the human condition. Even worse is how the Silmarils and the Arkenstone do the same in Tolkien's other works. Basically, this TV Tropes page covers 95% of the "moral greyness" possessed by Tolkien's characters. The fact that people on this thread are using the term 'complex' and 'rounded' to describe the likes of Denethor, Boromir, and Theoden makes me wonder if I'm reading the same novels they are. With Denethor, there's a few lines about how he once wasn't a total fuck-up, then he looked into a palantir, and as a result his on-page actions show him as combining the wisdom and foresight of Cersei with the parenting skills of Randyll Tarly. It honestly astounds me that there are so many people in this thread going on about Gollum, who can be thoroughly described in a single paragraph and has no traits not related to the Ring. I remember reading one person citing Eowyn as a brilliant character on par with / better than GRRM's females and proof that Tolkien could write women, which I found utterly hilarious; I could pick out any two Brienne chapters and find a level of depth that would, by comparison, expose Eowyn for the shallow cliche that she is. (Incidentally, the "romance" between Eowyn and Faramir is something I'd consider badly written by the standards of Fanfiction.net).
 
People say that ASOIAF hasn't had the influence on the fantasy genre that LOTR did, and I agree; ASOIAF hasn't damn-near ruined the genre for half a century. We have Tolkien to thank for the bounty of Always Chaotic Evil races and plots about possession of Magical MacGuffins and characters who can't just be heroes regardless of their lineage but are descended from kings/gods/what have you and owe their destined greatness to it. I like ASOIAF, but I'm not such a fan that I'll agree with everything GRRM says regarding literature, and when it comes to his adoration of Tolkien, I definitely don't share his opinion.


Totally not biased.
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Many readers think that Tolkien wrote black or white characters, which is bad and boring; but George beats him with his complex, grey characters, which is good and fun to read.

 

What do you think?

 

Tolkien might have designed grey characters too, the problem is that he didn't let the complexity of their mindsets to slip through .. it was only hinted as a background explanation of some decisions.

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Letting the reader fill in the blanks instead of stuffing it down their F'ing throats...

 

Yeah sure. But i think it is simply because Tolkien belonged to another era, people back then had a different culture and were socially behaving differently. Internal struggles were meant to be exactly that, something internal, whereas the external point of reference of each person had much more importance.

 

For its time, it was the perfect book. People today need to embrace this different mindset in order to properly absorb his story telling as it was intended. 

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Yeah sure. But i think it is simply because Tolkien belonged to another era, people back then had a different culture and were socially behaving differently. Internal struggles were meant to be exactly that, something internal, whereas the external point of reference of each person had much more importance.

 

For its time, it was the perfect book. People today need to embrace this different mindset in order to properly absorb his story telling as it was intended. 

Sure.  I can find no fault with that review.

 

But...

 

It still doesn't address the fact that the current generation needs everything to be spelled out for them as opposed to leaving some things open to the reader's imagination.

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I can say for certainty that Legolas would not be a POV character. He is the only member of the Fellowship that has little personality and Tolkien admitted himself that Legolas was an afterthought compared to the other 8 members of the Fellowship. He just put Legolas in there because he wanted all the races to be represented.

 

 

Well originally the "Elf" position in the Fellowship was supposed to go to Glorfindel (who has more presence and personality in his brief appearance than Legolas does in the whole first two books, I do think Legolas came to life in RotK to an extent) but Tolkien thought that this ancient High Elf was a bit too powerful to integrate into the Fellowship and would constantly upstage the other characters. And so he made up Legolas.

 

Both names even come from the very early version of the Fall of Gondolin.

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Sure.  I can find no fault with that review.

 

But...

 

It still doesn't address the fact that the current generation needs everything to be spelled out for them as opposed to leaving some things open to the reader's imagination.

 

I agree to disagree, I think it is more complex than that. :)

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