Great big, fantasy series with large casts of characters, epic battles between good and evil?
Maybe, maybe not. Tolkien certainly create a more black and white universe compared to Martin’s infinite shades of gray. On the other hand, Tolkien found a very nice level of actual productivity. He basically wrote one amazing thing and actually finished it. Sure, there were a few other peripheral works that came out during his lifetime, but Lord of the Rings is it. He also wrote in an era when there was no expectation of ever becoming blindingly, insanely rich creating such a universe. And hence, very few temptations to the dark side of endless drivel, never completed in a single human lifetime.
So what would Tolkein have thought of the Song of Ice and Fire series?
A Game of Thrones? A game indeed. A foul and sniveling one, bereft of winners, the sole purview of losers, to be played by pudgy children, the spawn of editors and lawyers alike. Darkness and daylight, vagueness and vividness of perception, ease and action, horror and euphoria. These are the elementary contradictions of superior prose. To wit: nowhere are these basic tensions to be found within the shoddy sentence-making and cheap simile that marks the Martin oeuvre.
Little wonder (after wading through the Mordor-ian depths of this endless and execrable tome) that some have suggested (as well they might) that there is indeed a distinction to be made (if not a gaping lava-bottomed chasm to be forded) between what learned men call “high fantasy” and what dimwitted sausage-sniffers refer to as “merely genre.” And this, my friends, I can tell you with no compunction and even less regret, is indeed the lowest, most gormless “genre” I have ever had the displeasure to read. Or should I say cursorily skim and, at long last, fail to finish?
It’s really very good — funny, profane and irreverent. You should read the whole thing.
(And yes, I’m a big fan of both but I frankly haven’t been able to make myself read the most recent Martin book, Dancing Dragons or whatever.)