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'Wheel of Time' and 'Lord of Rings' parallels (potential spoilers)

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I was not attacking your post- just pointing out WHY these things occur repeatedly in Fantasy. Apologies in advance if anything seems offensive

 

Thanks for providing all the reasoning.

 

I'd just like to elaborate what I said at the end of my post. Within any given genre, there's going to be certain common elements. No story is required to have all of those elements, but any given story in that genre usually has a fair number of those elements.

 

So, for example, fantasy stories generally have several of the characteristics that I posted earlier: the young hero, the post-golden-age-of-magic setting, the mentor, the horde, etc. There's usually a good mix of those elements, and rightly so, because it's those things that define the genre. On a very general level, for example, I'd say that when the story takes place in the golden age of magic (or technology), the story is more likely to be classified as sci-fi. Star Wars is a great example.

 

But really, each of the items that I listed as defining fantasy are just specific incarnations of the basic elements of a good story.

 

Any story needs a protagonist. Generally, the readers is supposed to like the protagonist, but readers have to be able at least to identify with him/her. That's why (in any story) it's so common for the hero to be a "nobody." Normal people can relate to feeling inadequate, unprepared, forced by circumstance, and so forth. What type of situation the hero is placed helps define what genre the story will be. Think about it: Lawyer who's just passed his bar exam means you've got a legal thriller. Spaceship captain who accidentally intercepts a transmission about an impending alien invasion means sci-fi. And so on.

 

In most stories, the antagonist has the advantage of money, power, and numbers, often in limitless quantities. That occasionally gets turned on its head (for example with heist stories where part of the reader wants the antagonist to get caught), but there's generally a huge imbalance. If there weren't you wouldn't have much of a story.

 

The primary antagonist is also usually not a major character--at least not until much later in the story. I think this is because a truly evil character is predictable, partly because no one would believe it if the Dark One swooped down in the first chapter and took out Rand, partly because the main character has to have time to develop, and partly because if the hero dies in chapter 1 the story is pretty short. But whether we're talking fantasy or legal thriller or western, you generally only interact with, first, the low-rank soldiers (for example, the first contact we have with the shadow in WoT is Fades and Trollocs) and then with higher-ranking baddies such as the forsaken and the black ajah.

 

So all of that leads to this: Most stories, whatever the genre, have common elements. There are certain ways to tell a story that, for thousands of years, have proven effective. You can't simply abandon these elements. Many authors deliberately stand one or two of these elements on their heads for a new approach, but the other elements of a good story must still be there, and they must in some ways compensate. The way the movie "Memento" played with plot is a great example. The linear plot was deliberately removed, but the story, characters, settings, and such had to be strong enough to keep viewers watching until the plot device could prove itself.

 

So, again, its not fair to criticize an author who uses "common" or recognizable elements when those elements are rearranged and modified to create a new story. That's like saying water is unoriginal because it contains oxygen. Even the authors who are completely revolutionizing their genre--like Tolkien and Jordan have done with fantasy--are using the same building blocks that have been around for thousands of years.

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Agreed. I like the logical presentation of your points.

 

I've seen numerous arguments on boards where fantasy readers are complaining that authors are 'copying' each other by using those principles you outlined. You didn't do so, of course, but I've seen it happen. I'm going to copy and paste those segments on those boards to inject some degree of reasoning.

 

People generally fail to recognize why those aspects are recurring.

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Lord of the Rings I do consider to be a series. It is a group of books that deal with the same characters and/or that are related in subject.
Lord of the Rings is a single book. It was written as such. It was intended by the author as such. Many editions are correctly published as such. One book. Not a series. Related works such as the Silmarillion and the Hobbit, etc. may be set in the same world, and be part of the same mythology, and they could be considered a series taken together, but LotR itself is a single work, not a series. If you had said Eye of the World was a series you would be similarly wrong, although it is part of a series. So you are wrong. Simple fact.

 

I think it would be hard to write a fantasy with out taking elements of LOR because the work is so influential on the fantasy genre.
I disagree. Of course, I don't define fantasy as synonymous with epic/high fantasy - there are plenty of other forms of fantasy which are not reliant on the story elements Tolkien used.

 

"There are only two stories. Hero goes on a trip and stranger comes to town."
Which would Gormenghast count as, given that is is set within Gormenghast castle and it's surrounding area? None of the characters can really be said to have gone on a trip, nor can any strangers really be said to have come to town (the closest would be Steerpike, but he was already there). I'm sure there are other examples, but that's the first that springs to mind.

 

-Young, naive hero has a great quest thrust upon him. He ultimately has to face the baddest guy around (Sauron, The Dark One, some immortal dark wizard, whatever).

 

-Hero always lives after the "golden age" (Age of Legends for WoT, early Simarillion for Tolkien, decades prior to Eragon).

 

-Magic is almost always either greatly diminished from previous ages or is being rediscovered (a la Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth.

 

-There's always a knowledable guide/mentor Galdalf, Morainne (spelling?), the old weird guy that just happens to be the last living dragon rider, Dumbledore, Merlin, etc. WoT even has several characters for this role: Morainne, Lan, Thom, Cadsuanne.

 

-There's always an important artifact(s). The One Ring. Callandor. The Seals. The sword of truth. The DragonLance.

 

-The horde. Orcs, goblins, trollocs, nameless masses of unscrupulous fellows willing to rape/pillage, etc.

 

-The immediate underlings of the dark lord. Nazgul, the Forsaken, the Forsworn.

I suppose one could, by listing enough examples, find one that doesn't fulfill any of these criteria. All these seem to fit a particular subset of fantasy rather than being about the genre as a whole.

 

It's not really fair to say that one author copies another for including the elements that seem to define the genre. And, given that Tolkien basically defined the genre, pretty much all fantasy can at least partially be traced to Tolkien. From there, its back to those two stories of hero goes on a trip and stranger comes to town.
Tolkien did not define the genre. Nor do those elements you list define fantasy. Fantasy is more than just high fantasy. Lovecraft, Stoker, Howard, Peake and many others have left their own stamps on the genre. What about comic fantasy, or contemporary fantasy, or dark fantasy and so on. How do all these subgenres fit into your narrow bands of what constitutes fantasy?

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LOTR is one book, but was split into 3 because the publisher did not think that a book so large would sell as well

Post-war paper shortages was the biggest reason for the split, from what I can gather.

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Quote: We can't have a flock of geese chasing Rand into Shadar Logoth.

 

:D

Why not? It would be a refreshing change. 

That's more in the Pratchett/Anthony vein of fantasy, I guess.

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Which would Gormenghast count as, given that is is set within Gormenghast castle and it's surrounding area? None of the characters can really be said to have gone on a trip, nor can any strangers really be said to have come to town (the closest would be Steerpike, but he was already there). I'm sure there are other examples, but that's the first that springs to mind.

 

According to Wikipedia, re: Gormenghast:

The first, more obvious agent of change is Titus Groan, the heir to Lord Sepulchrave, the seventy-sixth Earl of Groan. His birth interrupts the daily rituals which are practiced at all levels of the castle society, from the kitchens to the Hall of Bright Carvings in Gormenghast's upper reaches. However, the novel only covers the first two years of Titus' life, and he plays a minor role.

 

The second is Steerpike, a ruthlessly ambitious kitchen boy, who is the driving force for the plot of Titus Groan. His entry into Gormenghast society, at the same time as Lord Titus is born, introduces a steady rate of change into a stagnant world.

 

Having not read the books, I can't vouch for this, but it seems as though Titus Groan "comes to town" when he is born. His birth, apparently, has some dramatic effect on the castle and the broader society--if not in the first book then in later books. As for Steerpike, he may not be new to the castle, but he is new to the narrower setting of the Lord's daily life. The "stranger" I'm talking about, however, could on broader level be something like a plague or famine, or a character going insane and thus becoming a "stranger." The point is that the story has to have some agent of change.

 

Tolkien did not define the genre. Nor do those elements you list define fantasy. Fantasy is more than just high fantasy. Lovecraft, Stoker, Howard, Peake and many others have left their own stamps on the genre. What about comic fantasy, or contemporary fantasy, or dark fantasy and so on. How do all these subgenres fit into your narrow bands of what constitutes fantasy?

 

I'm perfectly willing to say my definition of fantasy was a bit exclusive and that I should have said high fantasy. When I think of fantasy, I think of what you're calling high fantasy because that's been my experience with the genre (Maybe I need to branch out a little. Any recommendations?). I've also heard the term Tolkienesque (spelling?), which gives an indication of what literary critics think of his influence.

 

The larger point, again, is that each of the elements I've used to define fantasy (high fantasy) are, as I said, "specific incarnations of the basic elements of a good story." You don't have to use wood and metal and brick and tile and concrete and stone to build a house. You could conceivably build a house from other materials, but in all liklihood, you'll use at least a few. Every once in a while, an architect successfully does something new using some new material, and that material becomes a new standard. The same is true of the creative art of writing (and film, photography, painting, sculpture, and so on).

 

As a society we probably haven't discovered all the elements that can make a good story. Only time can tell there. We certainly haven't found all the possible successful combinations of these elements. But, again and again and again, authors use these same elements--call them building materials--to create new stories. Whatever medium or genre you're looking at, you'll find common elements, and when you stop finding common element, you've (this next word is important) probably exited the genre/medium.

 

So aside from my overly narrow definition of fantasy, what are you're thoughts, Mr Ares?

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Having not read the books, I can't vouch for this, but it seems as though Titus Groan "comes to town" when he is born. His birth, apparently, has some dramatic effect on the castle and the broader society--if not in the first book then in later books. As for Steerpike, he may not be new to the castle, but he is new to the narrower setting of the Lord's daily life. The "stranger" I'm talking about, however, could on broader level be something like a plague or famine, or a character going insane and thus becoming a "stranger." The point is that the story has to have some agent of change
So a stranger coming to town can involve children being born and people who were already there doing something a bit different? Seems to be really stretching the definition. How far do you stretch it before it becomes meaningless? Anyone going anywhere for any reason, even if they were already there? Why not just say a story needs an agent of change, if that's what you meant, rather than saying something completely different? That would make more sense.

 

I'm perfectly willing to say my definition of fantasy was a bit exclusive and that I should have said high fantasy. When I think of fantasy, I think of what you're calling high fantasy because that's been my experience with the genre (Maybe I need to branch out a little. Any recommendations?). I've also heard the term Tolkienesque (spelling?), which gives an indication of what literary critics think of his influence.
Critics do not confuse Tolkien with the genre. Not if they want to stay on my good side. And I would recommend Terry Pratchett and Mervyn Peake, for a start. And Gene Wolfe.

 

The larger point, again, is that each of the elements I've used to define fantasy (high fantasy) are, as I said, "specific incarnations of the basic elements of a good story." You don't have to use wood and metal and brick and tile and concrete and stone to build a house. You could conceivably build a house from other materials, but in all liklihood, you'll use at least a few. Every once in a while, an architect successfully does something new using some new material, and that material becomes a new standard. The same is true of the creative art of writing (and film, photography, painting, sculpture, and so on).
But these are not the basic elements of a good story, so much as they are commonly used elements of a high fantasy story. And you called them the elements that define the genre. Which isn't entirely true. Given that you admit to not being well read within the genre, why would you claim, as you initially did, that these things define the genre?

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I suppose the Tolkien-esque archetypes do come naturally, but I believe the discussion (and then, it's more of an intellectual, respectful discussion than a heated "screaming match" argument) is about whether Tolkien was the one who created that sub-genre or if he just reinforced the traditional archetypes.

Because of the works of Tolkien the name "Fantasy" was used for books with elves, dwarves, magic etcetera.

But it is a common fact that Tolkien found a great source of information in Old English, which he taught at Oxford.

Ever read Beowulf and put The Hobbit next to it? ^^

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But it is a common fact that Tolkien found a great source of information in Old English, which he taught at Oxford.

Ever read Beowulf and put The Hobbit next to it? ^^

 

Oh, I'm not really saying that Tolkien invented these archetypes; he just created a genre based around them - he made his own sort of 'English mythology', as it were, based on the existing Anglo-Saxon texts.  (In fact, at one point Tolkien published his own translation of Beowulf.)  And that's not to take anything away from the existing legends.  Beowulf is an incredible story (although I personally like Seamus Heaney's translation better than Tolkien's), but it's mostly based on oral tradition.  Tolkien took the 'Beowulf genre' and gave it its own unique structure; he defined some of the 'rules of the trade' which had previously been taken for granted. 

 

To a certain extent, Jordan has followed those 'rules', while at the same time giving the story a richness that, in my opinion, Tolkien frequently lacks.  See, Tolkien was famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for including details in his books that were completely uneccessary to the advancement of the story.  While I suppose all novelists (including myself) do that to a certain extent, Jordan isn't as guilty of it as Tolkien was.  Like in The Fellowship of the Ring, for example - does the story of Tom Bombadillo have any real relevance to the journey of the Fellowship or the fate of the ring?  That entire story was (and again, this is my opinion) uneccessary to the plot.

 

I think what I'm basically saying is that J.R.R. Tolkien was to high fantasy what Elvis was to Rock & Roll - neither invented their genre, but they gave it structure and direction.

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To a certain extent, Jordan has followed those 'rules', while at the same time giving the story a richness that, in my opinion, Tolkien frequently lacks.  See, Tolkien was famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for including details in his books that were completely uneccessary to the advancement of the story.  While I suppose all novelists (including myself) do that to a certain extent, Jordan isn't as guilty of it as Tolkien was.  Like in The Fellowship of the Ring, for example - does the story of Tom Bombadillo have any real relevance to the journey of the Fellowship or the fate of the ring?  That entire story was (and again, this is my opinion) uneccessary to the plot.
Surely that would add to the richness of the story? Things that, if removed, would not affect the plot but add to the world, make it seem more real. Showing us a world beyond the confines of the story, showing us that when WoT ends, the world will continue. Showing that there is more to this world than a few plot points.

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Surely that would add to the richness of the story? Things that, if removed, would not affect the plot but add to the world, make it seem more real. Showing us a world beyond the confines of the story, showing us that when WoT ends, the world will continue. Showing that there is more to this world than a few plot points.

 

Your point is well made, Mr. Ares - certainly it adds something of a richness to Mr. Tolkien's literature, but it is for those reasons that Tolkien has a somewhat elite fan base.  I'm not saying that Tolkien isn't popular (although I do think the movies played a large part in resurrecting the popularity of his books), but I know (from reading the books myself and from talking to others who have read them) that the extraneous details confuse the story. These additional details could be included where possible, but not at the expense of plot clarity.  Tolkien was a masterful storyteller; to say that the Middle Earth books are magnificent works of literature would be a gross understatement.  A lot of these 'side-stories' (such as my example of Tom Bombadillo) are great stories, but they really should have been omitted or even written in separate volumes where they wouldn't have taken away from the plot's cohesiveness.

 

Tolkien understood the value of creating a world which (his readers would believe) could easily go on beyond the pages of his books.  I think Jordan has capitalized on that but has added a unique dimension.  Robert Jordan was ingenious with his created world because he added (and really based his entire series around) one critical element - the Pattern and the Wheel.  The concept of Time (making Time almost tangible) was something to which every aspect and every character of the story could be related.  Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings hinted at that common element, but we never got the idea that it was completely all-encompassing.  Yes, he tells us that the fate of the world was tied to the fate of the Ring, but in these side stories, there is a tendency to lose sight of that.  I get the idea that Tom Bombadillo wouldn't have really cared about the Ring one way or the other until he had no other choice.  I think Jordan has (because of his careful attention to plot clarity) given us an unmistakable view of what is at stake.

 

Tolkien's inspiration within the genre he organized (see some of the earlier posts for clarity) was very much based around 'good' versus 'evil'.  "High Fantasy" follows that theme very closely, whereas other sub-genres of fantasy are not quite so clear.  If any of you have read A Song of Ice and Fire, which is a series of books by George R. R. Martin, you would probably agree with me that Martin's 'good' and 'evil' are not quite so clear.

 

By the way, I think this is an excellent topic - I've seen some responses here that I had never even thought of before.  I love literary discussions - my English 112 class is being assigned a literary essay, and this thread will probably be one of my sources.

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Did your professor say anything about Propp?

This was several years ago, so I don't remember. It's likely: We were talking about Russian literature at the time. Thanks for the link. Not that, farther down, the article mentions how some of Propp's elements might be inverted (i.e., stranger comes to town instead of hero goes on a journey). Propp was apparently limiting his analysis to Russian folk/fairy tales, but I think it's pretty applicable on a broader level as long as you realize that he's trying to define common building blocks, not to say that all stories are ultimately the same.

 

Critics do not confuse Tolkien with the genre. Not if they want to stay on my good side. And I would recommend Terry Pratchett and Mervyn Peake, for a start. And Gene Wolfe.

 

Regardless of whether you use a broader definition of Fantasy or a narrower one, what you call "high fantasy" is certainly a significant portion of the genre as a whole, which means that Tolkien has had a significant influence on the genre. And, while you're correct that critics don't confuse Tolkien with the genre, they do use him as a major point of reference because of his influence on the genre.

 

So a stranger coming to town can involve children being born and people who were already there doing something a bit different? Seems to be really stretching the definition. How far do you stretch it before it becomes meaningless? Anyone going anywhere for any reason, even if they were already there? Why not just say a story needs an agent of change, if that's what you meant, rather than saying something completely different? That would make more sense.

 

Being born is certainly one way to introduce a character. It worked quite well in the Old (Moses) and New (Jesus) Testaments. As for the character that was 'already there,' I disagree that he was already there. He may have previously been in the castle, but as far as the nobility that seems to make up the cast were concerned, he didn't exist until after his expulsion and return to the castle. In this case, the setting the author has chosen is so narrow that someone who works in the kitchen is indeed a stranger. This is only because the author's setting is so narrowly defined.

 

But these are not the basic elements of a good story, so much as they are commonly used elements of a high fantasy story. And you called them the elements that define the genre. Which isn't entirely true. Given that you admit to not being well read within the genre, why would you claim, as you initially did, that these things define the genre?

 

I did admit that what I initially called elements of fantasy would more accurately be called the elements of the high fantasy (your term) genre, so I'm not sure where you're going here.

 

I think what I've been trying to say is not that these elements make up a good story but that they stem from the elements that make up a good story in any genre. Of course you're not going to have magic and monsters in a western or mystery novel (or even a fantasy novel), but you are going to have the unexplained and the foreign. So whether "the unexplained" takes the form of magic or a misunderstood property of physics or a seemingly impossible theft, it's still one building block for a good story.

 

There's a book called Ideas That Stick that talks about a study done on advertisements. The study found that effective ads could pretty reliably be placed into five or six frameworks. I think the same holds true in literature when you start talking about the elements of a good story. Like with the ads, the colors, actors, voices, settings, and so on will vary widely, but the underlying frameworks and building blocks are still the same.

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Several reminders::

-This thread is to talk about similarities/parallels between 'Wheel of Time' and 'Lord of the Rings' (and/or between other Middle-Earth books).

-Just the ones who read the Middle-Earth books (Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, Hobbit) are to comment.  Those who read Unfinished Tales and/or Histories of Middle-Earth I would also allow in this discussion.

 

Back to similarities::

-Both have a group called the Oathbreakers.  For 'Wheel of Time' the group is the Cairhienians; a nickname from Aiel.  For 'Lord of the Rings' the Dead of Dunharrow; more of a title.

-Two Rivers kind of similar to Eriador.  Both have mountains to the west and both are surrounded by rivers.  Also, both are the residence of the main character in the beginning.

-Shadar Logoth kind of similar to Moria.  Both are dark places.  Both start with a dangerous resident (Shadar, Mordeth; Moria, balrog).  Main character and companions escape from enemies when they first enter.

 

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So a stranger coming to town can involve children being born and people who were already there doing something a bit different? Seems to be really stretching the definition. How far do you stretch it before it becomes meaningless? Anyone going anywhere for any reason, even if they were already there? Why not just say a story needs an agent of change, if that's what you meant, rather than saying something completely different? That would make more sense.
Being born is certainly one way to introduce a character. It worked quite well in the Old (Moses) and New (Jesus) Testaments. As for the character that was 'already there,' I disagree that he was already there. He may have previously been in the castle, but as far as the nobility that seems to make up the cast were concerned, he didn't exist until after his expulsion and return to the castle. In this case, the setting the author has chosen is so narrow that someone who works in the kitchen is indeed a stranger. This is only because the author's setting is so narrowly defined.
Steerpike was already there. Whether or not people notice something or someone is there, doesn't change the fact that it is there. So this is not a case of a stranger coming to town, but a stranger making his presence felt in town, when previously it wasn't. And I'm not denying that characters can be introduced by being born. I just think that that is stretching the definition of a stranger coming to town. Keep doing that and the whole thing ends up meaningless. Jesus, at his birth, wasn't a stranger coming to town. At his birth, he was already in town. Before his birth, he was a foetus. I'm not sure I would count that as a stranger. Like I say, how far do you have to stretch these definitions in order to fit the demands of the story, and what are you left with at the end? A fairly well known person does something heroic that no-one would have expected of him, as no-one expected it, he must be a stranger! It's just ridiculous.

 

I think what I've been trying to say is not that these elements make up a good story but that they stem from the elements that make up a good story in any genre. Of course you're not going to have magic and monsters in a western or mystery novel (or even a fantasy novel), but you are going to have the unexplained and the foreign. So whether "the unexplained" takes the form of magic or a misunderstood property of physics or a seemingly impossible theft, it's still one building block for a good story.
You wouldn't have magic or monsters in a western, and you're unlikely to have cowboys in a fantasy (nothing stopping it, though), but really this is just furniture. The basic story is the same, whether it has cars or horses or dragons. And a good story is a good story, regardless of genre. I know some might disagree with that. These people are idiots.

 

I think the same holds true in literature when you start talking about the elements of a good story. Like with the ads, the colors, actors, voices, settings, and so on will vary widely, but the underlying frameworks and building blocks are still the same.
Indeed.

 

I would also allow in this discussion.
You say that like you could stop someone if they hadn't read any of these. And why be so restrictive and dull? Why not let the topic grow? Why not similarities between WoT and any fantasy story? Why not expand into literature as a whole? Why stick to the rather boring and pointless "this bit is a bit like this bit" stuff, where eventually we are reduced to something like "Rohan is a bit like the Caralain Grass, because both have quite a bit of grass"?

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And why be so restrictive and dull? Why not let the topic grow? Why not similarities between WoT and any fantasy story? Why not expand into literature as a whole?

 

Two reasons for this thread to be about just Wheel of Time & the Middle-Earth books::

-According to Wikipedia, Robert Jordan was influenced by JRR Tolkien.

-A number of the comments accessible through the first 2 wheel of time books mention Tolkien's world.

 

A few moments ago I started a thread for fiction in general.

 

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And why be so restrictive and dull? Why not let the topic grow? Why not similarities between WoT and any fantasy story? Why not expand into literature as a whole?
Two reasons for this thread to be about just Wheel of Time & the Middle-Earth books:

-According to Wikipedia, Robert Jordan was influenced by JRR Tolkien.

-A number of the comments accessible through the first 2 wheel of time books mention Tolkien's world.

Neither is a very good reason to stop the thread from growing and becoming more interesting. Neither is a good reason to stick solely to Tolkien.

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Like I say, how far do you have to stretch these definitions in order to fit the demands of the story, and what are you left with at the end?

 

In my experience, there's surprisingly little stretching.

 

You wouldn't have magic or monsters in a western, and you're unlikely to have cowboys in a fantasy (nothing stopping it, though).

 

That's what I said: "Of course you're not going to have magic and monsters in a western or mystery novel (or even a fantasy novel), but you are going to have the unexplained and the foreign."

 

...but really this is just furniture. The basic story is the same, whether it has cars or horses or dragons. And a good story is a good story, regardless of genre.

 

Exactly what I've been trying to say. You've put it a bit more eloquently though.

 

I know some might disagree with that. These people are idiots.

 

You do have to make allowances... :)

 

I still disagree with you about Steerpike--my understanding is that the setting of the novel was, for lack of a better term, the court. Yes, the kitchen (where Steerpike worked) existed, but it wasn't really part of the setting. This is only because of how narrowly the setting is defined by the author. My question is whether I've got the right impression of how the book starts out? If the setting is larger than the wikipedia article makes it seem, then I'll concede the point.

 

I wish I had more time for my "to read" list.

 

This thread is to talk about similarities/parallels between 'Wheel of Time' and 'Lord of the Rings' (and/or between other Middle-Earth books).

 

Boring.

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-Just the ones who read the Middle-Earth books (Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, Hobbit) are to comment.  Those who read Unfinished Tales and/or Histories of Middle-Earth I would also allow in this discussion.

How generous of you.

 

-Both have a group called the Oathbreakers.  For 'Wheel of Time' the group is the Cairhienians; a nickname from Aiel.  For 'Lord of the Rings' the Dead of Dunharrow; more of a title.

So what?  If someone breaks an oath in a time or culture when oaths are taken seriously, it is only natural to call them an Oathbreaker.

 

-Two Rivers kind of similar to Eriador.  Both have mountains to the west and both are surrounded by rivers.  Also, both are the residence of the main character in the beginning.

-Shadar Logoth kind of similar to Moria.  Both are dark places.  Both start with a dangerous resident (Shadar, Mordeth; Moria, balrog).  Main character and companions escape from enemies when they first enter.

This I agree with.  The plot itself of TEOTW is similar to LOTR.  It's not quite the same as say, Sword of Shannara, but you can note the similarities.  In fact, that almost stopped me from continuing the series.  I'm glad I didn't.

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I've got a few.

 

1) Both books have pages.

2) Both stories have living characters.

3) Leaves are green in both stories.

4) There's water in both stories.

5) Let's see.....mountains and rivers already mentioned....so.....wait- both stories have an ocean in them! Is that a parallel or what?

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I've got a few.

 

1) Both books have pages.

2) Both stories have living characters.

3) Leaves are green in both stories.

4) There's water in both stories.

5) Let's see.....mountains and rivers already mentioned....so.....wait- both stories have an ocean in them! Is that a parallel or what?

 

True, the parallels are getting a bit basic.....

 

To Mr Ares: The Dark Tower, just saying ;)

 

 

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Like I say, how far do you have to stretch these definitions in order to fit the demands of the story, and what are you left with at the end?
In my experience, there's surprisingly little stretching.
Most of the time, maybe. Not always. So maybe you should stop redefining the boundaries of the two, and include any stories under a new category?

 

You wouldn't have magic or monsters in a western, and you're unlikely to have cowboys in a fantasy (nothing stopping it, though).
That's what I said: "Of course you're not going to have magic and monsters in a western or mystery novel (or even a fantasy novel), but you are going to have the unexplained and the foreign."

 

...but really this is just furniture. The basic story is the same, whether it has cars or horses or dragons. And a good story is a good story, regardless of genre.

 

Exactly what I've been trying to say. You've put it a bit more eloquently though.

Actually, I'm about to disagree with something I said there. Because something belonging to one genre doesn't preclude it belonging to another, it is possible to have magic and monsters in a western. You can mix and match. A book can be fantasy and western, murder mystery and science fiction, romance and horror. And as fantasy creeps in as soon as you move beyond the boundaries of the purely realistic and the mundane, there is almost infinite scope there for it to blend with other genres.

 

I know some might disagree with that. These people are idiots.
You do have to make allowances... :)
No I don't. Anyone who confuses quality and genre is an idiot.

 

I still disagree with you about Steerpike--my understanding is that the setting of the novel was, for lack of a better term, the court. Yes, the kitchen (where Steerpike worked) existed, but it wasn't really part of the setting. This is only because of how narrowly the setting is defined by the author. My question is whether I've got the right impression of how the book starts out? If the setting is larger than the wikipedia article makes it seem, then I'll concede the point.
The setting is Gormenghast castle. We first meet Steerpike in the kitchens. One of the main characters is head chef Abiatha Swelter. Both are part of the setting, so neither is really a stranger coming to town. Both are already there.

 

Anyway, we should get back on topic, lest we upset mb. Another similarity is that characters in both works wear clothes! Imagine that.

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Actually, I'm about to disagree with something I said there. Because something belonging to one genre doesn't preclude it belonging to another, it is possible to have magic and monsters in a western. You can mix and match. A book can be fantasy and western, murder mystery and science fiction, romance and horror. And as fantasy creeps in as soon as you move beyond the boundaries of the purely realistic and the mundane, there is almost infinite scope there for it to blend with other genres.

 

Certainly you can blend genres. Generally--very generally--the genres stay within their "boundaries." Mixing genres is one of the best ways to create something "new." One great example is the Shadowrun RPG. It's got a modern/futuristic (cyberpunk?) setting in which magic has been reawakened, and (if I remember correctly) latent genetic traits begin manifesting themselves to transform some people into orcs, trolls, elves, and dwarves, while some normal humans begin giving birth to these other "races." The result is a setting with many of the traits of high fantasy a and huge dose of sci-fi that takes place in a setting that's pretty close to our own time.

 

You do have to make allowances... :)
No I don't. Anyone who confuses quality and genre is an idiot.

 

Sorry I forgot to turn on my sarcasm there. I completely agree that a good story is a good story. I think we (human beings) have an innate need to classify things, which sometimes causes us to miss out on great things that fall outside our comfort zones.

 

The setting is Gormenghast castle.

 

It seems Wikipedia has misled me. [sarcasm]How surprising.[/sarcasm]. Or maybe my interpretation of Wikipedia was just off. But do you see what I'm saying about the scope of the setting? How, if an author so chooses, he or she can define a setting so narrowly as to make people who live next door into "strangers"? Especially if the characters have lived in something of a bubble.

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