October 21, 2019, 01:56:20 PM

Author Topic: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?  (Read 6221 times)

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2016, 07:49:16 AM »
This was also one of my biggest issues with GGK. The Erlings are a exact copy of the Vikings, with longships (called dragonships or something like that here). The Anglacyn are the Anglo-Saxon, the Cyngael are the Celts. Jaddhinism is Christianism, some other name was pretty much druids and so on.

Mmm, they are, but they also aren't. I mean, in Lions of Al-Rassan, Rodrigo Belmonte is clearly Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (right down to the nickname, El Cid) but the story he tells is not quite how it happened in history. Similarly, the Sarantine Mosaic pair of books is clearly about Justininan I and his wife Theodora, but it didn't quite go like that in our world's history. He's obvious and respectful about his historical inspirations, but he's not writing history, and to me, the name changes are part of his signposting of that. (And, for my money, his books are all the more satisfying for his messing with history to explore concepts and themes in a more fictionally satisfying way.)

Offline Lanko

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2016, 07:37:09 PM »
This was also one of my biggest issues with GGK. The Erlings are a exact copy of the Vikings, with longships (called dragonships or something like that here). The Anglacyn are the Anglo-Saxon, the Cyngael are the Celts. Jaddhinism is Christianism, some other name was pretty much druids and so on.

Mmm, they are, but they also aren't. I mean, in Lions of Al-Rassan, Rodrigo Belmonte is clearly Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (right down to the nickname, El Cid) but the story he tells is not quite how it happened in history. Similarly, the Sarantine Mosaic pair of books is clearly about Justininan I and his wife Theodora, but it didn't quite go like that in our world's history. He's obvious and respectful about his historical inspirations, but he's not writing history, and to me, the name changes are part of his signposting of that. (And, for my money, his books are all the more satisfying for his messing with history to explore concepts and themes in a more fictionally satisfying way.)

Interesting. Maybe it was just The Last Light of the Sun then. It really felt very similar, down to northmen raids with longships, the English equivalent of a shrewd king who converted the pagan invaders to his religion, and so on. The Celtic parts had some real magic with faeries playing valkyries, but that was it.
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Offline Peat

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2016, 09:29:27 PM »
I think you sorta missed the point Lanko. Its meant to feel very similar. Its an alternate history as much as its a fantasy.

When GGK renames something, he's never doing it to try and hide the inspiration or dress it up as something new. Its just to make it a bit more alternate.

My issue with calling non-elves by another name is when it feels like the author is trying to say "No no no, these elves aren't elves". Calling your elves Tiste, for example is a-okay with me if no one's pretending they're not elves.

Incidentally, I must bristle at the idea that elves/dwarves = Tolkien clone. Elves and dwarves are now property of the greater fantasy community, largely because basically every big name in fantasy gaming has them, and their existence in a book is rarely a sign of someone harking back directly to Tolkien. The Eye of the World is far more of a Tolkien clone that a good number of books with elves/dwarves despite having none; it is also probably going to go down as one of the enduring classics of fantasy.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2016, 10:09:12 PM »
I guess I did leave margin for that interpretation.

Cupiscent said his other books states pretty clearly his historical inspiration, but he added twists and explored themes and other fantastical things in other ways that didn't happen in the real history.
What I meant is that in Last Light this didn't happen, most of it was the same: Vikings raiding England, invaders slowly converting to Christianism, just with different names. Even the Erling deity had two ravens and a son that wielded a thunder hammer.

It felt just like you said, "Hey, pretend these vikings aren't vikings".
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2016, 02:33:16 AM »
Cupiscent said his other books states pretty clearly his historical inspiration, but he added twists and explored themes and other fantastical things in other ways that didn't happen in the real history. What I meant is that in Last Light this didn't happen, most of it was the same: Vikings raiding England, invaders slowly converting to Christianism, just with different names. Even the Erling deity had two ravens and a son that wielded a thunder hammer.

Sorry, I didn't do Last Light because that's not one of my favourites of his and I don't know as much about it, but if I do a little googling, the wikipedia page notes the analogues to Alfred the Great's Anglo-Saxon England and the associated conflicts of the time.

For me, these are two different questions, though. I find GGK's renaming very respectful, because it's noting that his ninjas aren't ninjas, because ninjas are a part of a complex social, historical network, and he's made changes to that. Just saying, "they wear black and kick arse in an Asian way, so they're ninjas," is somewhat disrespectful to all the other things that make up who and what ninjas were, and also to Asian cultures. GGK shows his inspiration, but he doesn't pretend that his version are the original thing.

But elves are made up.* I'm a lot less troubled by an author saying, "Yes, but my elves are toasted." (To paraphrase Mad Men.)

* OK, elves and dwarves are a mythological part of various European histories. But the way they appear in modern fantasy - having bridged from mythology to pure fantasy via Tolkien's interpretation - is already separated from their real-world cultural context, so I'm taking them as a purely fictional thing.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2016, 05:45:28 PM »
Cupiscent,
I appreciate your observations on the ninja thing - I had come to look at ninjas as the trope they have become in pop culture, but my study of them began in the 70s before their emergence in our pop culture.
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Offline Deads

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2016, 10:17:19 PM »
Classy high fantasy never goes out of style. It's like a sailor jerry tattoo...

That being said.. I saw more than one reply include the phrase "Write what makes you excited" in one form or another. I think that's excellent advice.

Also, I'd be a beta reader..

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2016, 09:06:51 AM »
But don't let that discourage you. If people continue to use elves/dwarves, it's because there are people who simply love them and can't have enough of them. There's audience for everything.

That would be me!  Can't read enough high fantasy.  But having magic is more important than elves or dwarves.

So:
I wish I had the time to ponder for paragraphs about whether the common-or-garden elves-dwarves-and-whatever in the cultural fantasy consciousness at present have more to do with Tolkien or D&D (by, admittedly, way of Tolkien, but with a lot of alteration).

It's probably best for everyone that I don't. ;p

Please do!!!  I'd say Tolkien and D&D hit me at the same time, but elves, they go way back before them  Tolkien and D&D may have put elves into an anthropomorphized political construct, but the fair folk, the aelfar of Old Norse and German mythology etc etc.  There's a rich and diverse mythology there to explore.

In that sense, it's a little absurd to decide that anything with an elf or a dwarf in it is a Tolkien rip off.  Everyone writing in High Fantasy (or fantasy at all) owes a huge, huge, HUUUUUUUGE debt to Tolkien, but elves and dwarves have been in song, myth and story long before and long after him.

I, btw write Tolkien/D&D rip offs as well :)  I hope you're having as much fun as I am!

Offline Peat

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2016, 02:16:29 PM »
The current "glut"* of elves definitely owes more to D&D imo. They're more similar in tone - less immortal lords touched by heaven, more equal to humans, the whole high/wood elf vs dark elf war thing. And stuff. Your average elf lord today would appear to have more of the Elric than the Elrond.


*I read a lot more books without elves than with them. I could happily read more, tbh.

Offline TBM

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2016, 10:37:16 PM »
Elves love nature? Says who? Some do I'm sure. Some don't. People aren't one note.

Elves are slender? Again, says who? Why not have a stocky elf? Or a muscular one? Or god forbid a fat one?

Elves are magical? Maybe some. Maybe others are just peasants who never cast a spell in their lives.

Tolkien's elves were utopian specifically because of the three rings of power. Without those, they knew they'd have to do basic work, and manual labour. They'd have to actually live like human beings. If they were actually exposed to the harsh reality of nature, they may well not be nature lovers. Probably not.

 Somebody tell me why Paolini's elves were utopian. Oh right, because the dragons sustained it. Well the dragons were almost all dead. So why are they utopian? Just because Tolkien did it.

People act like not making elves a race of utopian mary sues is a perversion of "true" elvish. It's crazy.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2016, 10:49:05 PM by TBM »

Offline TBM

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2016, 10:39:43 PM »

Elves love nature? Says who? Some do I'm sure. Some don't. People aren't one note.

Elves are slender? Again, says who? Why not have a stocky elf? Or a muscular one? Or god forbid a fat one?

Elves are magical? Maybe some. Maybe others are just peasants who never cast a spell in their lives.

Tolkien's elves were utopian specifically because of the three rings of power. Without those, they knew they'd have to do basic work, and manual labour. They'd have to actually live like human beings. If they were actually exposed to the harsh reality of nature, they may well not be nature lovers. Probably not.

 Somebody tell me why Paolini's elves were utopian. Oh right, because the dragons sustained it. Well the dragons were almost all dead. So why are they utopian? Just because Tolkien did it.

People act like not making elves a race of utopian mary sues is a perversion of "true" elvish. It's crazy.

Offline Peat

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2016, 11:48:46 PM »
Uhm. Based on the elves I've seen in fiction, I think you're complaining about something that doesn't exist.
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Offline TBM

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2016, 12:03:35 AM »
Uhm. Based on the elves I've seen in fiction, I think you're complaining about something that doesn't exist.

It exists in this very topic.

Quote
Quote from: The Gem Cutter

    As a reader of Tolkein since I was 5 or 6, I will confide that I do not read fantasy that has elves for many reasons. I am bored with attempts to recreate Tolkein's elves, and no other elves come close - because I won't let them. I am bored with people trying to re-invent elves and dwarves because, using the same terms, because for me, it's not re-invention, it's either perversion (unwelcome change) or repetition.

Offline Peat

Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2016, 02:12:59 AM »
I read your post as being a universal criticism of how people act over elves. Apologies if you're talking about a specific subset of people, but that's not how it came across.
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2016, 05:12:44 AM »
@Asinus1223 what a great discussion you began. Hope it has encouraged you to go ahead because  the general opinion seems to be that there is still room for traditional elves and dwarves and that fantasy writers should write what they want to and what they enjoy. Good luck to you, I love traditional epic fantasy and will welcome any that is well written with good characters, an interesting world and exciting action. Hope you keep us posted when you feel like sharing more.

But there is also plenty of support for new and different versions and I go all the way with that as well. It never needs to be either/or, room for all.  As long as they are well written, I will be happy to read. Nor do I care what names are used. If they are in a different world as far as I am concerned they can have any name the writer likes to call them. Their characteristics may be elven or dwarvish or whatever,  and they may conjure up a particular image but they deserve the writer's choice of name.

There have been excellent new and unusual versions of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Arthur Conan Doyle classics and their characters recently.  I believe those authors would be happy and proud to see their work acknowledged and  to know what influence and encouragement it has given to writers long after they are gone. I am pretty sure they also had an excellent sense of humour and will be smiling at some of the versions. Wish we could confront them and watch  their reactions.

As for new versions of old Fantasy favourites- how can you not love what Terry Pratchett has done to our stereotypical Wizards, Witches, Dwarves, Trolls and so many more. Admittedly he seldom mentions the Fae as they had left Discworld when iron was discovered, but I think he could have given Elves a run for their money in time.

Quote
Elves love nature? Says who? Some do I'm sure. Some don't. People aren't one note.

Elves are slender? Again, says who? Why not have a stocky elf? Or a muscular one? Or god forbid a fat one?

Elves are magical? Maybe some. Maybe others are just peasants who never cast a spell in their lives.

@TBM I am intrigued and like your notions of unelvely Elves.
I will acknowledge my debt if a sudden inspiration sees light of day, but may have to wait for next RPG. ;)
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