The Giants of the Fantasy Genre: Tolkien and George R. R. Martin

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The literary aspect of the fantasy genre was absolutely not there in my mind when I at the of eight watched the “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” movie adaptation which was the first installment directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. At that point, this was, and agreeably still is, one of the best movie adaptation and fantasy film. The novels from which the movies were adapted are the first and leading example of the fantasy literature that emerged in its wake, and close to everyone had some idea of this work was about, regardless of whether one had read it or not. 

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I still remember how totally fascinated and delighted I was by this astonishing fantasy universe which Tolkien had created, and it was not long before I bought a Hungarian copy of the trilogy. When I first started reading fantasy books, I did not give the concept of the fantasy genre much importance, but as the years passed by I started realizing other meanings and ideas. In 2011 a friend recommended me a fantasy series which he said was very similar to Tolkien’s fantasy world, so I gave it a try. After reading this (by this time) four-volume series, doubts regarding the nature of the fantasy genre appeared to me: how could something so different and unique from Tolkien‘s The Lord of The Rings saga be placed under the same genre classification? I was urged to find out more, which ultimately led me to the writing of this thesis

A Song of Ice and Fire is an immensely lengthy and, more notably, an extremely many-sided series of novels, expanding into five books, with two more yet to be published, the series creates and explores a world of enormous depth and richness. For George R.R. Martin, just as for J.R.R. Tolkien, the conventions of fantasy are less important than how people react to them. This focus on the human element is what makes his story appear timeless and universal, and one of the major reasons I started this thesis is to reflect the political, economical and sociological structure of a high fantasy and to compare it to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

Martin’s world brings far more than an ordinary swords-and-sorcery fiction: it also attempts to concern the economic and political relations in human society. The saga uses its fantasy world to explore various social problems and to present important questions about power, conflict, and dominance. George R.R. Martin, who is a fan of Tolkien’s works, has often criticized The Lord of the Rings for the over-simplification of the themes that it deals with. In an interview from 2014, he has challenged Tolkien’s portrayal of power: 

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