Rings is the grandfather of fantasy
Opinion by Trevor Leach
When it comes to fantasy, nothing compares to the seemingly endless world of Middlearth. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien set the standard for all other works of fantasy after it. As a series, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King construct a mythology for the modern era.
Each volume Tolkien composed is a work of literary genius, synthesizing an entirely new world with only language something from here is missing. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Tolkien lies in the subtlety of his writing. Characteristic elements of fantasy like magic and dragons are not as dramatized as they are in series like A Song of Ice and Fire, otherwise known as Game of Thrones. Notably, the power of the wizard Gandalf rests mainly in his wisdom and minimal action.
Contemporary works of fantasy do not seem as concerned with the aesthetics of building a mythology so much as they are with excessive violence and sexuality. Tolkien had personal experience on the battlefield during the first World War, which likely gave him knowledge and empathy for the horrors of war. While violence does pervade much of the writing by Tolkien, sexuality was taboo in literature during the 1950s. Authors like George R. R. Martin take advantage of a currently less repressed culture by placing a ridiculous emphasis on sex and violence.
Such a fascination with exploring deviance shows bizarre tendencies in the mind of the author, but it also creates a dramatic effect and draws attention. In contrast, The Lord of the Rings gained notoriety by capturing the imagination of generations around the world with an inspiring story.
In the end, Tolkien gave humanity a gift with his work. Upholding the values of friendship, hope, and endurance through struggle, The Lord of the Rings continues to inspire people as well as entertain. Popular fiction like Game of Thrones abandons the artful magic of literature to provide television-like entertainment. Martin exploits the writings of Tolkien, even going so far as to imitate his name.
Game of Thrones is infinitely more complex
Opinion by Austin Bolton
Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) are each excellent, both in their book and on-screen formats. However, Game of Thrones is simply better because it takes all of the aspects of LOTR that made it so good and does them better.
The elaborate world of Middle-earth is what initially drew fans into the series.
In Game of Thrones, the world is even more elaborate, not only in terms of physical locations, but also family trees, political allegiances, and all the history that comes with these things. The characters are some of the most memorable in literature. Who could forget Tyrion the imp, Jon Snow, the hated Cersei Lannister, or any of the other literal hundreds of people who are so raw and real?
These things can be seen as matters of preference and, indeed, they are. While both rely on fantasy elements, those in LOTR are front-and-center, such as the many fantastical races who play crucial parts in the story and the world. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, does have dragons and magic, but the central focus is on the human beings at the center of everything, rather than elves, hobbits, and orcs.
What really sets the two franchises apart is story. The Lord of the Rings, while fabulous, has a story that is less than groundbreaking; evil lord must be destroyed, characters go on quest to destroy him. Simple. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is far more complex, which translates into unpredictability, i.e. engaging story. On top of the continent-spanning war for Westeros, there is also the threat of the Others, the frozen-zombie-things in the north, and the complex tale of Daenerys and her dragons half the world away.
The story of Game of Thrones has innumerable players, all of whose decisions affect the world as a whole, rather than a band of friends who move laterally through the world. Frodo and Co. have a set destination from the very start, which is good, but it means that the story does not evolve nearly as dramatically as the tales of Jon, Tyrion, Sansa, Arya, and all the rest.
Game of Thrones is the complete package: immersive worldbuilding, complex story, and unforgettable characters.