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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

LOTR similarities anyone?


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From the very first book of the series i read, i couldn't help noticing the similarities between The Wheel of Time and LOTR. I'm in no way saying its a bad thing, i'm a RJ fan myself cos i find this series so much more detailed than LOTR and the characters so real. However, from the top of my head i have a few similarities.

 

Emond's field - Hobbiton (and the rural/farmer lifestyle which the main chars start of as)

 

Green men- Ents (pretty much the same to me)

 

Mountains of Dhoom- Mount Doom (hm...)

 

Trollocs - Uruk'hai

 

Thom Merrilin- Gandalf

 

Shadow vs Light [well what else could it be in a fantasy novel]

 

Is it true that most authors today in the fantasy genre are recycling ideas? Thats what my english teacher asked me and i'm thinking it might be true.

 

But screw that Wheel of time is still my fave series.

if you have any LOTR similarities pls post them.

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Guest cwestervelt

Recycling of ideas isn't just an issue in fantasy, it can be said for most areas of literature. To date, I have read three seperate books that involving terrorists attempting to smuggle one or more nuclear bombs into the United States. This doesn't include the books that involve attempts at nuclear disasters via sabotage or biological attacks.

 

I don't know how much you paraphrased your English teacher's statements, but I detect a predisposition against fantasy as a valid literary genre. If that is the case, even reading some truly good fantasy, like The Wheel of Time is unlikely to make an impression on him or her.

 

I can understand where the sentiment comes from. Just about all fantasy have common themes, good/evil, light/dark, Trolls, Orcs, Ents, the list goes on. However, labeling all fantasy as "recycling ideas" because of that is narrow minded. It shows the an unwillingness of the reader to consider why the similarities exist. Furthermore, it shows that the reader is either unwilling, or incapable, of going beyond that to the what author is attempting to do with the subject matter.

 

One of the biggest reasons that all fantasy seems similar is that much of the material is based in mythology. Orcs, Trolls and Ents don't belong to Tolkien anymore than Trollocs, Ogier and Green Men belong to Jordan. They are similar, because they draw on a mythical basis that is hundreds and thousands of years old.

 

Another reason why fantasy often gets a "recycled" label is much of it uses a common beginning. Frodo fleeing Hobbiton, Rand fleeing Emonds Field, Garion fleeing Faldor's Farm... What this does is provide the reader with something familiar, something the author knows they will be comfortable with. Once again, the key is to see where the author goes from there.

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I agree with you. During the 80's and 90's alot of the stories followed the same cliche fantasy ideas. Now in the new millenium though we are getting some fantastic new authors who are breaking away from the Fantasy Mold and creating some really brilliant works, like Robin Hobb (her new shaman series is brilliant) and Scott Lynch. Although RJ started out writing a series that was alot like LoTR, I think once he wrote book 3 he kind of hit his stride and took the series to a whole new level.

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Guest Egwene

The 'jo average' setting out from humble beginnings is something that has been around as long as humans. Everything from mythology, fairytales to the founding stories of big corporations. The dwelling from which to start of can only be so many things. A small village is big enough to support multiple characters, but small enough to have everyone know each other... which is probably what makes it a popular choice. Having said that, the split edition apart, the first book starts in a house in the woods and even that only after a prologue which is set in a palace! :wink:

 

Isn't it also the case that you have to have some of these things to actually classify as fantasy?! There are some things that I feel almost belong to a general real fantasy world. Elves, Dragons, Magic, rags to riches story, heroes, incredibly vile villains, creatures out of Jurassic park, save the existing world etc.... the list goes on. These things are what most of us will identify with fantasy. And doesn't it beat realism every day :D

.

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Guest cwestervelt

I meant to say more in my first post, but had to take a couple important phone calls. Unfortunately, I can't remember all of my points why his teacher is wrong. I'm glad the rush to finish the post at least managed to convey the reason a 'jo average' beginning as Egwene calls it is so common. It gives the reader something they can relate to before really shaking them up. While a political thriller has the latest (or at least relatively current) headlines to provide the reader something to relate to, fantasy has the farm.

 

I'm not trying to say there aren't any fantasy novels that are nothing more than recycled concepts. Far from it, and anyone who claims otherwise hasn't read that read much of the genre. All I am trying to say is that it is not a problem restricted to the fantasy genre and you do some truly great literature a diservice by writing it off as such. Political thrillers are rife with nuclear and biological terrorism. Does your English teacher write off that genre as recycled? If not, why not? Tom Clancy wrote The Sum of All Fears in the early nineties. Why is Stephen Coonts' Liberty not just recycled paper? Or Oliver North's The Assassins? After all, both of them revolve around nuclear terrorism. Neither of them have as much political intrigue as the The Wheel of Time.

 

By the way, Moiraine is probably a better analogy to Gandalf than Thom.

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The nature of storytelling stretches back far beyond recorded history. Some say that storytelling is one of the key traits that make humans human. It essentially represents a sense of time, refabricated so that an event, real or imagined can be examined again and again, and most likely, the event, or story changes and evolves in each telling.

 

So, the short of it is, there are no original stories anymore. Every story told has deep roots in other stories that have been told, reaching all the way back to the beginning of language.

 

William Shakespeare, one of the greatest storytellers in western culture, most if not all of his great plays were based off of either other plays, or historical events. He simply retold these stories the way he imagined it should go.

 

I'll borrow the old saying that it's not the story, but the storyteller that makes things different, surprising, special.

 

So, to say that in fantasy fiction, most stories are derivative...that's rather short-sighted in the larger scheme of things.

 

You want to say that RJ borrowed a lot from Tolkien...Who did Tolkien borrow from?

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Guest Egwene

To go even further... have you, like me, come accross really great story ideas in books or films, that have been extremely badly executed? I wish someone would take these ideas and make them into what they could be.

 

And isn't that what really makes a great author? That he/she has taken whatever idea, has made it into the great story it is and given the material the excecution it deserved?!

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On my first read of EoTW, I was particularly struck by the similarity to some memorable LoTR sequences, most especially the ride to Taren Ferry whilst being persued by the forces of evil.

 

In later books though I think RJ has done an extremely good job of blending various quite diverse cultural mythologies in to one compelling world view.

 

One might argue as well that there are similarities to Frank Herberts classic Dune series with the interfering busybodies of the Aes Sedai and the mythical Bene Gesserit.

 

The more I reread the series, the more struck I am by how well RJ has blended all these themes together.

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whoah! thanks guys...just reading that made me feel a lot better. My english teacher for a while made me feel distinctly uncomfortable with the entire fantasy genre itself. Come to think about it, how could she label an author as recyling ideas? how did all those literary milestone come about in the first place if not for using those existing ideas? well really the person who thought or created those ideas wouldn't have been able to use it in all the myriad ways possible. I mean shakespeare didn't think of fairies and nymphs but he went ahead and wrote midsummer nights dream.

 

But it was only because in those few first books that i felt this immense connection with LOTR that i got sucked into my teacher's blinded view.

Thanks for reopening my eyes.

rock on \m/

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a friend of my mother is a professional story teller. he says that there are only like 12 stories worth telling. one is rags to riches, one is 3 wishes, ect. ect. he has written like 40 books on the matter. LOTR has set the standard for fantasy epics, but it was based on the ring of nublueng opera by wagner. prior to that the preeminant fantasy work was le morte d'authu, which is the same damn premise!

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