The Lord of the Rings Spork, Part One

I realize that this is probably going to be a rather controversial spork. My past sporks have been (mostly) of reasonably obscure self-published fantasy books, and generally books that are more or less universally agreed upon as being absolute shit. Sure, Gloria Tesch’s parents think she is amazing, and I know Robert Stanek has at least one fan, but Tolkien? The man is considered the father of modern fantasy. His books are still wildly popular, and were adapted into movies that were also wildly popular.

On the other hand, Christopher Paolini and Stephenie Meyer are also wildly popular and have sold millions of copies of books, and both of them are absolutely terrible writers.

Tolkien’s influence on the fantasy genre is undeniable, and his success is nothing short of amazing. And, while some critics cite him as being a master world builder (I will argue otherwise), there are many who point out his shallow, two-dimensional characters, poor characterization, dragging plot, and the general bloated lifelessness that is Lord of the Rings.

I’ll be honest with you. I hate The Lord of the Rings with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I think Tolkien was an atrociously bad writer and a hack. And I’m going to tell you exactly why.

My copy opens with a note on the text, which I couldn’t care less about, and then a forward by Tolkien himself, with some pretentious rambling about the writing of the novel, mostly detailing how long and difficult it was to write. Great, Tolkien, try and score some sympathy points right off the bat. Here’s an idea: if you’re going to spend TEN YEARS writing a book, why don’t you make it suck less?

Prologue – Concerning Hobbits

I hate prologues. They’re almost always boring and pointless, except when they contain an exciting bit of action from much later in the story, in which case they feel out of place. This one, however, will be boring and pointless.

This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history (page 1).

Except, of course, hobbits don’t exist. Tolkien’s going to have lots of these little moments where he breaks the fourth wall to have his narrator explain random bits of trivia about his made-up world. In this case, he decided to begin his book with FIFTEEN PAGES OF INFODUMP about Hobbits. I’m dead serious. The worst part is that the book itself doesn’t begin on that badly of a note – it starts off talking about Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party, and the preparations for it, which is reasonably entertaining and actually starts propelling the plot along (to a point). If Tolkien was actually talented at this whole writing business, we would start there – you know, at Chapter One – and then he could work in the relevant details about Hobbits as we went along.

Tolkien name-drops The Hobbit, that shitty prequel to TLOTR that spawned reader interest into this literary abortion. You know you’re reading true literature when the author mentions a previous book he’s written and it’s mentioned inside the text of the next book.

So Tolkien starts talking about Hobbits. It’s very exciting.

They were, as a rule, shy of ‘the Big Folk’, as they call us, and now they avoid us with dismay and are becoming hard to find (page 1).

Because Hobbits really exist, kids. They’re just shy of us.

According to the Red Book (page 2)

I’ll touch on this briefly and then try to stop ranting about it because it’s something that pissed me off, and if I rant about it every time it occurs, I’ll never get through this trilogy, and it’s pretty fucking long anyway. I mentioned a moment ago about Tolkien breaking the fourth wall, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Periodically, he decides to pull out his narrator to inform the audience of things, but the really weird thing is that he tries to pretend that The Lord of the Rings is some kind of weird alternate history version of Earth, where Hobbits and Elfs and Dwarfs all exist. In Tolkien’s mind, The Hobbit (the prequel to TLOTR) was written by the protagonist Bilbo Baggins, but as the “Red Book” or “There and Back Again”. I’m not really sure if he was doing a whole “I just found this book and translated it” gimmick, but that wouldn’t surprise me. This was a man so full of himself that he would speak Elvish, the made-up language he invented, with his wife. How sickeningly pretentious can you get?

Tolkien rambles for a bit describing what Hobbits look like (fat midgets) and then he launches into a lot of backstory and goes into the different breeds (Yes. He says breeds) of Hobbits, and dives into a bunch of genealogy. It’s about as entertaining as reading the book of Numbers in the Bible.

Eventually he gets around to the subject of Hobbit-holes. If you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably unaware that Hobbits live underground in the somewhat obviously named Hobbit-holes. Well, not all of them:

Actually in the Shire in Bilbo’s days it was, as a rule, only the richest and poorest Hobbits that maintained the old custom (page 6).

Of course, that totally makes sense. Like nowadays: the very rich live in huge decadent mansions, and the very poor…live in tiny rat-infested slums. Yeah.

Part Two (yes, this prologue has multiple parts) is about pipe-weed. Because Hobbits smoke pipes. If you’re wondering why, well, here’s a picture of Tolkien:

They smoke pipes because he smoked a pipe.

Most of this section is just a quotation from Meriadoc Brandybuck from the book ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Herblore of the Shire, which, of course, doesn’t actually exist. Want to know a quick and simple way to make your story sound deeper and more layered than it actually is? Include quotations from books or records that don’t actually exist.

The third part is called Of the Ordering of the Shire, and is approximately as interesting as reading the minutes of your local city council meeting. The only part actually worth noting is this:

The Shirriffs was the name that the Hobbits have to their police (page 10).

It’s funny, see, because Shirriff is similar to Sherriff?

The fourth part is the most ridiculously unneeded part of this goddamn prologue. It’s aptly titled “Of the Finding of the Ring” and relates, in excruciating, Tesch-like detail, the section of The Hobbit where Bilbo meets Gollum and gets his magic ring. Now, I can sort of see what Tolkien is trying to do here. This is really the only part of The Hobbit that is actually relevant, and since The Lord of the Rings is all about this piece of jewelry, it kinda makes sense to give that piece of backstory in the prologue, so everyone who hadn’t read The Hobbit would know what the hell was going on, right?

Wrong.

Here’s the problem: all of this is actually going to be related later during the text. You know, where it actually makes sense to put this information? In Chapter Two, all of this story is going to be related between Gandalf and Frodo, in a scene that actually makes sense within the context of the story. Now, I don’t want to give Tolkien too much credit because Chapter Two is a mind-numbingly boring chapter that is nothing but excessive backstory, but at the very least, it makes sense to reveal this at that point. And, if Tolkien had waited, during chapter one, people unfamiliar with the Ring would be surprised by Bilbo’s sudden vanishing. Instead, Tolkien decides to spoil his own story. Smooth.

Towards the end of this section Tolkien mentions that originally, Bilbo wrote a different version of the story, one where Gollum promised to give him a present (the ring which Bilbo had already found), and then when Gollum realized it was lost, Bilbo made him show him the way out of the mines instead. This, of course, is Tolkien’s way of covering his own mistake: the original version of The Hobbit didn’t agree with the subject matter of The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien, not being a good enough writer to make it work, decided to retcon real life and to re-release The Hobbit with the changes. Being unable to man up and accept the consequences of his inability to plan ahead as a writer, he decided to write it into the story as a bullshit excuse for why the two versions don’t agree with each other.

Tolkien rambles through the rest of the plot of The Hobbit, which I guess is useful if you haven’t read the book, and finally ends on one of the most pretentious bits of this entire book, which is called “Note on the Shire Records”. In it, he relates the history of the various writings of fictional characters. Yes, this is a writer who is pretending that his writings, which of course are “translations” of fictional writings by fictional characters, are within the universe that he has created and are different from other versions of the story. So, instead of writing the story, he’s decided to impress us with his genius. To add to the effect, there’s even a footnote that asks us to look up things in the index. Nice try, John. Not going to happen.

Update 4/10/12: This was an April Fool’s Day post. Calm down.

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Comment

  1. Taku on 1 April 2012, 06:31 said:

    SACRILEGE!

    Actually, I agree with your points. Except that I thought it was an effective way of adding depth and authenticity to the world, by mentioning other supposed books and writing as though it were an actual history of the world. See: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke. If you didn’t like Tolkien for this, you will hate Clarke with a passion.

  2. Taku on 1 April 2012, 06:32 said:

    Also, why on Earth is this tagged as “Gloria Tesch”?

  3. Pryotra on 1 April 2012, 10:08 said:

    …April Fools?

  4. LoneWolf on 1 April 2012, 10:44 said:

    Wheeee! This is going to be fun!

  5. Asahel on 1 April 2012, 11:51 said:

    …April Fools?

    Oh, my, I hope so.

  6. Puppet on 1 April 2012, 12:11 said:

    Finally, someone else recognizes that TLOTR is the most overrated book trilogy ever written. I’ve noticed a trend with pretentious and bad authors such as Tokien, Gloria Tesch, Christopher Paolini, Stephanie Meyer, etc. And I’ve actually come up with a formula to calculate the quality of their books:

    P = w * E^2

    Purple = Words * Ego squared.

    I've done the calculations and Tolkien's "Purple" level is well over 9,000. No other author even comes close.

  7. Fireshark on 1 April 2012, 12:16 said:

    I liked this, simply because certain (usually classic) works seem to get a lot of slack for things that we would mock elsewhere. For example, some people have hit Paolini for needlessly capitalizing “Urgals,” but “Hobbits” gets away scot-free for some reason. People hit George Lucas for changing things in his movies all the time, but ‘The Hobbit’ went through all manner of revisions to make it match up with ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Of course, I highly doubt you’ll go all the way through with this, but it was still fun.

  8. LoneWolf on 1 April 2012, 12:40 said:

    True, sometimes people nitpick on cliches they consider acceptable in stories that are overall written better. I sometimes notice it even with Tesch, much less Paolini!

  9. Karamazova on 1 April 2012, 13:58 said:

    I love you, Rorschach.

    This is brilliance.

  10. swenson on 1 April 2012, 14:25 said:

    Ugh, this is so true, you know? It’s like, just because he’s old and stuff, we have to worship the guy. He totally ripped off from everyone else! I mean, hobbits are obviously just a namechange from Dungeons and Dragons’ halflings, you’ve got the tall, pale, mystical elves and short, grumpy, alcoholic dwarves from, like, every fantasy game or book ever… even the magic invisible ring thing. So lame. So unoriginal. I’m glad someone’s finally brave enough to stand up to all his “fans” and tell them like it is.

    And just think, once you’re done with LotR, you can do all of the Silmarillion too!

  11. LoneWolf on 1 April 2012, 14:26 said:

    Continue the spork, please!!!

  12. VikingBoyBilly on 1 April 2012, 15:50 said:

    I thought the Hobbit was boring. That’s why I never picked up Lord of the Rings.

  13. Ilanimage on 1 April 2012, 17:02 said:

    @swenson

    I hope that was a troll

  14. Puppet on 1 April 2012, 19:57 said:

    I hope that was a troll

    Ugh, don’t even get me started on "Tolkien's" trolls…

  15. Prince O'Tea on 1 April 2012, 20:08 said:

    I am so happy that someone else doesn’t think LOTR is all that and a bag of fish and chips. While it’s pretty fashionable to make fun of Twilight as much as you like, as soon as you switch to a popular target like Harry Potter or LotR, then people get pretty nasty. (I’ve gotten death threats for making fun of Harry Potter.)

    So yeah. Spork away.

  16. RandomX2 on 1 April 2012, 20:13 said:

    I felt aggression throughout the spork, so I didn’t enjoy it.

    while some critics cite him as being a master world builder (I will argue otherwise)…

    IMO, the world-building in LOTR was as solid as any human could reasonably come up with. It’s not a genius-level world, but then, what is? I can find reasons to dislike almost every world if I look for them.

    I’ll be inclined to reject the reasons you’ll come up with for why Tolkien’s world is flawed, as IMO the real problem of Tolkien’s books is how heavily saturated they get with detail.

    That said, this also feels like a just-for-fun deal, so keep on truckin’ with it. Even if I don’t agree with some of your reasoning, the spork itself will promote general open-mindedness.

  17. RandomX2 on 1 April 2012, 20:25 said:

    Oh snap it’s April 1 ffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

  18. LoneWolf on 2 April 2012, 04:25 said:

    (I’ve gotten death threats for making fun of Harry Potter.)

    Really? Oh, my. There’s certainly enough sporkable material in HP, though I don’t remember people like Hemmens from FerretBrain receiving death threats for it.

  19. Betty Cross on 2 April 2012, 10:47 said:

    I owe an enormous debt to Tolkien for inspiring my own creative efforts. More than that, he created the modern fantasy drama, paving the way for everybody else from Terry Brooks to Brandon Sanderson. (I’m not saying Terry Brooks is as good a writer than Sanderson.)

  20. BlackStar on 2 April 2012, 11:15 said:

    While the possibility of this being an April Fool’s troll isn’t easily dismissed, I’m going to take it at face value. If it was a troll post, then disregard, but anyway. I feel that any valid points made in this are negated by the extremely aggressive stance. I agree with Betty Cross with the amount of inspiration Tolkien has given me and many others. I’m biased, of course, but I don’t believe his works are perfect. The aggression just irked me a lot.

  21. Pryotra on 2 April 2012, 11:28 said:

    Yeah, the aggression just seems unwarranted. It doesn’t seem right for the normal sporks, so that’s why I was surprised.

    I agree with Betty Cross and BlackStar. No, Tolkien’s works aren’t perfect and there are a lot of things that I’d really have liked him to go into. I’ve always felt that his characterization wasn’t all that good, and thought there should have been more inner conflict or something.

    But, hey, when you’re building up a genre that had been completely geared for very young children before, and the only thing you have to work with is epics such as Beowulf (not much for character development) and you don’t really know how people are going to take it, I guess there are going to be some things that are imperfect. I suppose his real interest was the world building itself, then the other things.

    Also, he really wrote the story because he wanted to show off his languages. Hence all the poetry. And you can’t deny that while it’s very long, it’s very well written.

    I still kind of think this is a April Fools prank though.

  22. swenson on 2 April 2012, 11:50 said:

    :facepalm: You guys. Yes, it’s an April Fools’ joke.

    Poe’s Law has been proven again, I suppose.

  23. Pryotra on 2 April 2012, 12:03 said:

    shrug

    Actually, I’ve wanted to do that rant for a while, so I don’t really care.

  24. LoneWolf on 2 April 2012, 13:25 said:

    I also interpret it as a satire on sporks – proving that some sporking methods can be used on the great ones as well.

  25. Fireshark on 2 April 2012, 13:34 said:

    That’s how I took it, and why I liked it so much.

  26. theArmourer on 2 April 2012, 16:23 said:

    Eh, the thing is, I don’t remember this much venom(real or otherwise) in any spork here. The ones on anti-shurtugal, but not here. We mock Tesch’s work, but don’t attack her. I’ll second that there are valid points about the LoTR, but the venom and attacks kinda undermine the points.

  27. Sweguy on 2 April 2012, 16:56 said:

    Oh, someone who actually critizises Tolkien, how unusal and refreshing! Keep the stuff coming, Rorschach!

    I just bought the LOTR-trilogy just to see what the whole fuzz is about (ive never pulled why way through them and now, at 19 y o, I’m finally gonna get this brick out of my system). I enjoyed the Hobbit, cause it’s very fairy tale-ish, but the LOTR is just… boring. I dont know how to put it in words. It feels stretched, you know, like to little butter on to much bread. Honestly, I dont know why it’s become SO incredibly popular.

  28. Pryotra on 2 April 2012, 19:36 said:

    @Sweguy: Because it was the first. If it wasn’t for it, there wouldn’t be a fantasy genre. So, despite its faults, it maintains its place of honor. Also, a lot of the cliches are not cliches because everyone copied him.

    It feels stretched, you know, like to little butter on to much bread

    Lol.

    @theArmourer:

    Yeah, definitely. Though a good spirited spork might be kind of fun. I’ve read a couple of the Harry Potter series that raise some really good points without ever really insulting Rowling.

  29. Sweguy on 3 April 2012, 04:27 said:

    @Pryotra: Meh, I’d beg to differ. I think there would’ve been a fantasy genre today even without Tolkien. Talking trees, elves, mystical objects, dragons, etc – Like Rorschach said, he didn’t invent those things. Wouldn’t you consider the Illiad an epic fantasy story?

  30. unlaced on 3 April 2012, 05:33 said:

    This was funny :D Did you make an April Fools joke similar to this last year? Was it about Harry Potter?

  31. swenson on 3 April 2012, 08:35 said:

    Wouldn’t you consider the Illiad an epic fantasy story?

    Honestly, I wouldn’t. It’s not fantasy, it’s… war myth, I guess. The humans all have this giant, very physical fight with one another, and the gods come down and participate. Most of it could have really happened. High fantasy like LotR, on the other hand, are more about magic and the mystic, and certainly could never have happened. What little supernatural elements are included are treated as common and expected in the Iliad; in LotR, they’re strange, unusual, and fading fast.

    Or look at it from another point of view: there are no monsters in the Iliad. There are in the Odyssey, but not in the Iliad. In the Iliad, there’s only humans and gods who act a lot like humans. Dragons and elves would be out of place. The Iliad contains supernatural elements, but I think it’s ultimately focused on humanity. By contrast, I think modern fantasy spends a lot of time focusing on the strange and supernatural. Lord of the Rings certainly does, although there you could argue it’s more theology than mere supernatural.

    As for whether the Odyssey is epic fantasy… I’d say probably, yes. But again, it’s a different kind of fantasy, because it’s based out of Greek myth as compared to modern fantasy, which is typically based out of European/Norse myth (as a result of Tolkien’s influence).

  32. Pryotra on 3 April 2012, 08:46 said:

    Yeah, I agree with swenson. LoTRs was influenced by Tolkien’s knowledge of Norse epics, so it kind of sounds like Beowulf, the Saga of the Volsungs, the Eddas and some of the other poems that I can’t spell. But an epic is an epic and a fantasy is a fantasy. The two have a different purpose behind them.

    The problem is that the genre wouldn’t have necessarily left the nursery.

    All fantasy, such as it was, was only read to very young children, (like the Water Babies, Princess and the Goblin and other slightly annoying, moralistic stories) and it was considered stupid for anyone else to read it. So, yeah, the elements existed, but people weren’t using them. They were focusing on those stupid Victorian flowery fairies and ignored the more interesting stories because they weren’t appropriate for little kids. Even at the time, people tried to say that Tolkien was writing to his children.

    Would someone else have tried? Possibly, but it’s no guarantee that it would have worked the same way or even been published. Tolkien had a lot of influence that helped him to get published.

    Er…I took a class about this…that’s why I really know anything about the subject. I find when you look at it as a thing of it’s time, you can forgive some of the problems.

    Aw man I love this April Fools prank! I’ve been dying to say these things for two years!

  33. swenson on 3 April 2012, 10:55 said:

    Well, there’s always George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis. The problem is that no one has ever heard of MacDonald, except in his role as an inspiration to Tolkien and Lewis, and Lewis’ adult fantasy novels were either drawn from Christian theology or (in the case of Till We Have Faces) Greek mythology. Had Tolkien’s work been less immediately popular, I have no doubt that fantasy would have continued in the same vein as before, mostly being fairy stories for children, theological/mythological stories, or the “person from the real world wakes up in a fantasy one”… at least until the next Tolkien came along.

    Tolkien’s use of northern European myths did open up a great deal of what we consider staples of modern fantasy (European dragons, elves, dwarves, magic, etc.), but I think what may have been most important about it wasn’t set on Earth. Yes, I know that Tolkien intended it to be sort of a mythical history of England/Europe. But it’s not recognizably Earth. Nobody is from modern-day London. The main character isn’t even human. That idea of a completely disconnected world seems to be something that Tolkien really inspired, even if he wasn’t the first one to come up with it.

  34. Sweguy on 3 April 2012, 17:42 said:

    I heard that Tolkien and Lewis were friends IRL, but when it came to the writing Tolkien loved to bash his friends work and calling it a pile of crap. Can anyone verify that?

  35. Pryotra on 3 April 2012, 17:53 said:

    Er…Tolkien disagreed with Lewis for writing fantasy as an allegory, but the most his letters seemed to say, from what I’ve read, is that he sometimes that that his fame was getting ridiculous.

    I know he had a writers group with his friends, and they debated over such things as whether ‘dwarfs’ or ‘dwarves’ was the proper plural for ‘dwarf’ though.

  36. Kyllorac on 3 April 2012, 19:42 said:

    As for whether the Odyssey is epic fantasy… I’d say probably, yes.

    I’d say no. Scylla and Charybdis were believed by the Greeks to be real monsters, and they do have real-life bases in a nasty shoal and a whirlpool that claimed the lives of countless sailors.

    There’s a huge difference between fantasy and myths and legends. While fantasy may draw heavily from myths and legends, fantasy is understood to be purely fictional. Myths and legends, on the other hand, were (and sometimes still are) believed to either have been or still be real and/or factual accounts. Whether or not modern understandings of the world and history have determined them to actually be real or factual is unimportant.

    At the time of their creation and recitation, the Iliad and Odyssey were believed to be factual (or at least plausibly embellished) accounts of events. For that reason, I think it grossly mistaken to classify (or even consider) either of them to be fantasy.

  37. Oculus_Reparo on 3 April 2012, 19:44 said:

    I’ve read that Tolkien didn’t like the way Lewis used mythological characters/creatures in his Narnia books (if I remember right). I think maybe he didn’t like the fact that Lewis threw things from classical mythology into the world of Narnia, but I could be wrong.

    The writers’ group was known as The Inklings, and met at an Oxford pub called the Eagle and Child (nicknamed the Bird and Baby). Funnily enough, one of the members hated LotR so much that he would groan and swear when Tolkien read his stories.

  38. swenson on 3 April 2012, 22:11 said:

    Yeah, Tolkien and Lewis were great friends and part of Inklings, but Tolkien was always very harsh on Lewis’ writing. He considered stuff like Narnia to be sort of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, where he threw in everything from werewolves to talking animals to Santa Claus. And Tolkien was never big into allegory—while certain parts of his mythology obviously represent real world things (Iluvatar is God, etc.), he always said it was more about applicability than direct allegory.

  39. Betty Cross on 4 April 2012, 08:14 said:

    Tolkien objected to Lewis including centaurs and fauns in Narnia. His objection was that everybody knew about Classical mythological figures already. What was needed was more elves, dwarves, and dragons. Teutonic / Norse stuff.

    Well, Tolkien succeeded at that, all too well, to the point where elves, dwarves, and dragons have become tiresome to me.

  40. Pryotra on 4 April 2012, 08:32 said:

    True that. I don’t mind good story with the Fair Folk, but I like it when they’re portrayed as being somewhat ambiguous (or in the goodish Seelie Court and the Chaotic Evil Unseelie Court).

    So, guys, what mythology would you want to see explored in fiction? For me its China and/or Japan in a fantasy setting.

  41. swenson on 4 April 2012, 11:59 said:

    Something totally different and strange. Mayan or Aztec mythology, perhaps. Or the myths of other Native American peoples. Maybe some African myths too. I’ve read some stuff based on African myths, but there’s not nearly enough out there.

    Or, in a category that there has been some notable works in, Indian mythology. Like Lloyd Alexander’s The Iron Ring. That one novel is what got me interested in non-medieval-Europe fantasy. It was just so new and different to me!

  42. Catflap on 5 April 2012, 00:41 said:

    “So, guys, what mythology would you want to see explored in fiction? For me its China and/or Japan in a fantasy setting.”

    1. Babylonian-Assyrian or Sumerian.
  43. I love the Sil in particular largely because a lot of the imagery is from those cultures – all this stuff about holy mountains, assemblies of gods, semi-divine beings that are neither gods nor men, dragons and other monsters, that kind of thing.

    Apparently the Black Speech – or that part of it engraved on the One Ring – is based very closely on Hittite:

    APPENDIX: Was the Black Speech based on Hittite/Hurrian?

    http://folk.uib.no/hnohf/orkish.htm

    About the Hittites themselves:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Hittites

    Sumerian texts in translation, inc. mythology:

    http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/catalogue.htm

  44. Sweguy on 5 April 2012, 01:36 said:

    I just finished a space traveling/sci-fi-ish fantasy (if that is a sub-genre?) where the architecture and history is largely influenced by Greek mythology. I like all sorts of tales and myths around the world but the Greek is nearest at heart, even though I’m a Scandinavian and should know a lot about the bad ass Asars I find the Greek pantheon much more intriguing. So in my universe the seven gods are sluts who party and sleep with many mortals, each other and ramp around doing whatever pleases them pretty much.

  45. Prince O' Tea on 6 April 2012, 13:48 said:

    Ancient Greek is easily the most well known branch of mythology, but Norse is coming a close second now. They really seem to like Norse mythology in Japan, and a lot of popular anime/videogames contain heavy Norse influence, like Valkyrie Profile and Tales of Symphonia. I wouldn’t be surprised if by this point, almost as many people know about Odin, Thor and Yggdrassil as they do about Zeus, Herakles and the Minotaur.

  46. VikingBoyBilly on 6 April 2012, 19:49 said:

    I think Egyptology is very well known, but hasn’t been explored much. Most of what you get for fantasy centered around it is modern day explorers going into ancient ruins, and running into supernatural curses involving Egyptian gods and such. I’ve hardly ever seen anything that takes place in a world inspired by Egyptian mythos, with no connection to our world.

    A book set in old Egypt called the Golden Goblet was pretty good, but I wouldn’t call it fantasy, it’s more like historical fiction. There’s no magic or anything that would be unrealistic.

  47. Kyllorac on 6 April 2012, 20:14 said:

    Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander might fit the bill for Egyptian-inspired fantasy, at least, part of it.

    Tales of Symphonia had a lot of Classical references in addition to the Norse. It was more a weird hodgepodge of “Oooh! This bit of Western Mythology is cool so we’ll toss it in here too!” Not that it hurt.

  48. Shady on 10 April 2012, 15:31 said:

    Your comments only show that you have utterly and despicably failed to appreciate Tolkien’s work.

    “Shallow, two-dimensional characters, poor characterization…”? Tolkien’s work is largely about his WORLD. Not the characters. LOTR was more an invented legend (and Tolkien had originally intended it as such) than your regular just-for-entertainment novel. And have you read any literary classics at all? Would you call Lucie Manette (A Tale of Two Cities) a two-dimensional character? But she is! Why? Because she is meant as a symbol of Light more than a flesh-and-blood character. Not all characters are made to be three-dimensional. Sometimes the story, the symbolism, or the world itself overrides characterization. (Or maybe you will start a spork on Charles Dickens as well?)

    And all the things you criticized only show Tolkien’s brilliance in fleshing out the world that he created. It’s all those details that make it so real. I have no idea what you mean by his being pretentious – if it is pretentiousness, he definitely has the right to be pretentious. Who else can invent a language the way he did, as a philologist? Who else could attend to so many details, from geography to botany to astronomy and many more, for a created world? Who else can write an ENTIRE HISTORY of a world and make it not only three-dimensional, but FOUR-dimensional?

    I can say nothing if you find LOTR boring. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But your disrespect for Tolkien sickens me. Keep your opinions PERSONAL – don’t make them sound like they are justified.

  49. Kyllorac on 10 April 2012, 17:42 said:

    Shady, take note of the posting date. Reassess (or not) accordingly.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with providing justification for one’s opinions; it’s always better to have support than wishy-washy “just because I feel that way”. Opinions are the basis of all arguments (in the rhetorical sense), after all, and one cannot have discussions or debates without voicing opinions. Just because you disagree personally with someone else’s opinion does not invalidate that other person’s opinion.

  50. swenson on 10 April 2012, 19:31 said:

    And one should never be afraid to post their opinions because someone else might take them personally, so strike that argument straight off the list. There are plenty of reasons why not to express one’s opinions, but “some anonymous person on the Internet might be offended” is not one of them.

  51. goldedge2 on 11 April 2012, 02:40 said:

    also Micheal Moorcock heavily criticized Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in his essay Epic Pooh. If your still intrested in doing this Spork give this a look: http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=953

  52. Kat on 16 June 2012, 14:53 said:

    Hey everybody,

    Tolkien’s books aren’t the problem. The way everybody treats them is.

    As a side note, LOTR is fifty years old. D & D came long after it.

    As for the wordiness, Tolkien is archaic done right. Paolini is archaic done horribly wrong.

    The problem isn’t that Tolkien is a bad author. The problem is that everybody keeps waiting for “The Next Tolkien” <insert music of doom> This makes young, gullible authors think they have to mimic Tolkien, which almost always produces horrible results.

    It’s not that Tolkien’s elves and dwarves weren’t original at the time. It’s just that everybody keeps copying them.

    The problem isn’t that Tolkien’s books are perfect. The problem is that people think they are, goading people into nitpicking the faults that are there.

    All that being said, if you can hang in there until the rather moronic hobbits reach Bree, (after a very creepy run-in with the barrowright) the pace does pick up. Then it comes to a dead stop at Rivendell, but then it picks right back up, leading into the reason why a shortcut through dwarven mines seems to pop up a lot in fantasy; it was done right in LOTR. Now everbody wants a piece of it in their books.

    While I love Tolkien’s work, it is treated at the be all and end all of fantasy which has produced some disastrous “literature.”

    In this spork, I’m reading a lot of viciousness and resentment in between the lines. Both of those cause defensiveness, rather than openly considering what you have to say.

  53. Kat on 16 June 2012, 14:55 said:

    And a plague on this idiot comment mechanism which mashed my respone together.

  54. Kyllorac on 16 June 2012, 15:54 said:

    Most online commenting systems don’t support indents. The safest bet to break up paragraphs is to place a blank paragraph in between paragraphs.

    I’ve fixed up the formatting on your comment so it isn’t all mashed together.

  55. Karma on 22 June 2012, 10:22 said:

    This was very angry for a spork, even an April Fool’s one. Someone mentioned that Tolkien gets away with capitalizing “Hobbits” while PaoPao does not (with Urgals… or Urugals… I can’t remember) – fun fact, is that all races: Elves, Dwarves, Men (not Humans, mind you), Maiar, Valar, Orcs, etc, are all spelled with a capital letter (and man/woman with a lower case refers to gender of any race, hence Elu Thingol is an Elf and a man, but not a Man, and Eowyn is a Man but not a man).

    I think the problem with Tolkien’s work is that many authors and critics compare their work/other works with it and goes “Tolkien didn’t do it, hence it is bad” or “This is a little bit like Tolkien – it is obviously good fantasy!” Anyway, I suppose this spork would’ve been a little funnier if it wasn’t spitting venom at the same time. Like really…

  56. eekee on 19 March 2013, 22:04 said:

    Erm… started reading this hoping for humour, but it quickly started feeling like Rorschach was ripping apart half the books I’ve ever read and loved, and that just wasn’t funny. An info-dump was quite a common feature of books of Tolkein’s era, and such info-dumps often very funny. The Hobbit previous book had every reason to exist as a written work within the world; Bilbo fancied himself a chronicler. To pretend the fiction was real was THE way fantasy stories were introduced back then, and the jibe against this was the worst of all because it attacks just-about every fantasy story I’ve ever enjoyed, many of which were more attractive (and much shorter) than LotR.

    I’m not angry, I’m just a little squicked by the implicit attacks on so many books I’ve enjoyed, and I think even a jesting spork of LotR would be better performed by someone more familiar with the norms of that era. Either that or I just have the wrong sense of humour for this.