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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:23 pm 
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Elvendork
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Let me join the chorus by saying that I've never read any other fantasy literature that matches Tolkien! :D

But I have a few suggestions:

1. Watership Down does get close. :) A real classic.

2. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed The Fionavar Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay. :) It's incredibly over the top :D (Jennifer Lowell as Guinevere, anyone?) but it's a total page-turner. It's not unlike LOTR with sex :D but much more Celtic and 'pagan' than LOTR ever is. Kay worked with Christopher Tolkien on editing The Silmarillion, back in 1974-5. So there are some nods in Fionavar to Middle-earth, but actually the trilogy is much more inspired by Celtic and Arthurian mythology. Kay is a natural-born storyteller, and his characterisations and dialogue are excellent.

3. The Book of the Dun Cow and its sequel The Book of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin. I guarantee that you'll never have read anything quite like this. It is very, very surreal. Basically the characters are all animals, apparently living in some pre-Edenic world where there are no humans. Their avowed hidden enemy is Wyrm, an obvious archetype for a satanic figure. Wyrm, of course, is out to despoil Eden. The main characters are Chanticleer the cockerel and his lady love Pertelote. And among the glorious pantheon of weird and wonderful creatures there's a weasel rejoicing in the name of John Wesley Weasel. Now tell me you can resist a story like that. :D

It's spooky, funny, dark, sometimes shockingly violent, moving and totally original.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:34 pm 
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superwizard wrote:
What books do you know of that are similar in style and structure to The Lord of the Rings?


Bored of the Rings

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:59 pm 
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Fëanoriondil
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You evil, evil man, Voronwë! I found that book in my attic, read the beginning, and then promptly gave it away to someone who said she could not get through LotR (my high school English teacher, actually) just so I would never be tempted to read it.

I will admit that the map is very funny, though. I like the little X-shaped forest. :D


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:57 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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I read that book a few times. Parts of it are excellent, while other bits are poor or at the least dated. Here's my favourite passage:

Quote:
When Dildo's eyes became adjusted to the pale light, he found that the grotto was almost filled by a wide, kidneyshaped lake where a nasty-looking clown named Goddam paddled noisily about on an old rubber sea horse. He ate raw fish and occasional side orders to travel from the outside world in the form of lost travelers like Dildo, and he greeted Dildo's unexpected entrance into his underground sauna in much the same way as he would the sudden arrival of a Chicken Delight truck. But like anyone with boggie ancestry, Goddam preferred the subtle approach in assaulting creatures over five inches high and weighing more than ten pounds, and consequently he challenged Dildo to a riddle game to gain time. Dildo, who had a sudden attack of amnesia regarding the fact that the dwarves were being made into chutney outside the cave, accepted.

They asked each other countless riddles, such as who played the Cisco Kid and what was Krypton. In the end Dildo won the game. Stumped at last for a riddle to ask, he cried out, as his hand fell on his snub-nosed .38, "What have I got in my pocket?" This Goddam failed to answer, and growing impatient, he paddled up to Dildo, whining, "Let me see, let me see." Dildo obliged by pulling out the pistol and emptying it in Goddam's direction. The dark spoiled his aim, and he managed only to deflate the rubber float, leaving Goddam to flounder. Goddam, who couldn't swim, reached out his hand to Dildo and begged him to pull him out, and as he did, Dildo noticed an interesting-looking ring on his finger and pulled it off. He would have finished Goddam off then and there, but pity stayed his hand. "It's a pity I've run out of bullets", he thought, as he went back up the tunnel, pursued by Goddam's cries of rage.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:59 pm 
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Ah, Bored of the Rings, where I first met:

Moxie and Pepsi Dingleberry (Two halfwits no one in town would trust with a burnt-out match)
Tim Benzidrine and Hashberry (Tim! Tim! Benzedrine! Hash! Boo! Valvoline!)
Goodgulf (Bring me my white robes! White robes for white magic? No, white robes for white flag.)

And other characters whose names I durst not type here. :D

Thanks for the memories, Voronwë!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:19 pm 
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I got bored of Bored of the Rings pretty quickly. :D

It has some funny and memorable moments, though, especially in the beginning, but, as Alatar said, many jokes are dated, and in the long run it just gets repetitive.

Superwizard, my advice in your case would be not to look in the direction of fantasy literature at all. :)
Compared to LOTR, all of it can only be shallow, as it either repeats themes and characters, or, if it brings something original, still fails in some or all of the following: writing skills, depth of meaning, background knowledge of the author.
(Also, of course, I would argue that LOTR is not fantasy lit at all, so why look there for similar experiences? ;) )

People for whom LOTR is nothing but an adventure story with cool characters understandably can read other fantasy and find no great difference, but once you understand the depth of Tolkien, you'll probably find that nothing compares to it.

In terms of plot and design, "Watership Down" is as far away from LOTR as you can get, but it is comparable in the author's writing skills and the thought-provoking nature of the story.

I think it's interesting in terms of what makes a book what it is that all the intentional Tolkien rip-offs fail to give what Tolkien gives, while something as unlike Tolkien as "Watership Down" reminds us of him.


(Hehe, Pearl, no surprise, I'm sure, that I have to contradict ( ;) ), as you know I beg to differ about Kay's skill in characterisation. Some of the dullest people I've ever met in books, the kids in the Fionavar tapestry, not to mention how completely predictable they are.)

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but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:27 pm 
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I have to admit that I've never actually read Bored of the Rings. :oops:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:37 pm 
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Vster--

But you, like I, are actually old enough to get all the jokes! :D

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:50 pm 
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Me too.

A copy of "Bored of the Rings" fell into my hands when I was about 13 years old, if I remember right. The next weekend I spent the night at my best friend's house (she was a fellow Tolkien geek), and we took turns reading it aloud. I've never laughed so hard in my entire life.

Her parents were quite restrained in not saying anything as we howled at jokes that we didn't entirely understand. Dildo? What's funny about that? Let's laugh anyway!

The "It's a pity I've run out of bullets" line was one that definitely put us in stitches.

Now, of course, I'm far too mature and sophisticated to appreciate it.

(Runs off to :rofl: )


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:19 pm 
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Well I'm not too much into parodies and such and so I dount I'd like Bored of the Rings. I'm actually searching for a book that's so good that I would want to reread it over and over again (so far my list of such books is limited to Tolkien's 4 books). I have to admit even while reading other books I sometimes wish I could The Lord of the Rings instead (I can't because whenever I start a book I end it no matter how bad it is). Most of all I was looking for a book (or series) that would have a world that is as complex and beautiful as Tolkien's is. When reading Tokien's books you feel that what he's saying is real. Reading The Sil it seemed to me that it was not just a book but the history of some far off universe. I'm not saying that I didn't still know it was fiction but that while reading it I would be able to believe in it. Rowling's universe did the same roughly when I was younger but now it just seems too shallow for me to be real. Thank you for your suggestions I'll look into these books :D


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:27 pm 
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Well I'll second Alatar on Raymond Feist's Magician and on George R.R. Martin - neither are Tolkien but they are very good.

And I'll second Di on Guy Kay - but not Fionavar! It was his first attempt at writing his own stuff and to my mind it suffers from a lack of experience and reads as somewhat cliched, I'm not of the same opinion as TrueHobbit though as I do feel she's being too harsh.

I'll also add Kate Elliott's Prince of Dogs series to a list of possibles - it maybe goes on a bit too long, but it's well written and well characterised.

But you'll not find anything, anywhere, to really match Tolkien :)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:33 pm 
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Ingólemo
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It seems to me like The Lord of the Rings is both a blessing and a curse...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:08 pm 
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Fëanoriondil
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Recently on TORc, Melilot wrote:
Quote:
I think that it is this mixture between reality and fantasy that makes LotR and Tolkien's other writings such a good read that somehow stays with you.

I have thought about this for a long time, because after running out of Tolkien books I tried to find other fantasy story which would satisfy me. Literally ten thousands of pages later I gave up. There is nothing for it: I have to admit that I hate fantasy - LotR is the exception, not the norm of the genre.

So why are JRRT's writings different different? I think it is because Tolkien somehow managed to imitate the qualities of true mythology...

Read the Iliad or the Odyssey, or (a shortened version of) the Mahabharata and you get the same thing - they are stories that can't be real (with gods involved and superhuman heroes and so on) but there are so many details that are real, so many episodes and vignettes that reflect upon the human condition... and all those superhuman characters (gods included) go through experiences that are all too familiar to humans....

These epics are good stories which get added to and refined though centuries of retelling by oral poets - and during all that time the many contributors also add their thoughts on basic human experiences - war, love, death, friendship, adventure, travel.... and those constant reminders of the human condition worked into a gripping yarn of a story makes them real at the same time as fantastic.


How exactly Tolkien as one author achieved an effect so similar to the result of centuries of oral poets adding verse upon verse I am not sure.... but he did.... :)


So, if you want more of Tolkien....read Homer :P

I read Guy Kay's Last Light of the Sun and quite enjoyed it. I know he has many other stories, but this was the only one set in the north, so it had more appeal to me. It is the clash of cultures and the end of an era...well done and seems very, very real. Welsh, English, and Viking are the cultures, but he doesn't use those names, so you get to leave some of your preconceptions out of it - he also (very wisely) does not refer to Christianity by that name.

I re-read Watership Down before I re-read Lord of the Rings, for what that's worth ;). If you have not read it, I would recommend trying it. But please don't pick it up hoping it will be just like LotR - it's most emphatically not!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:34 pm 
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Only, I think ancient epics still lack the ethic depth Tolkien has. :P

It would also be interesting to know the difference it makes what language/version you read the epic in.
Has anyone here read Homer in the original? Surely, if you want to compare to Tolkien, you'd need to know what Homer himself wrote.
In the versions I've read, the human basics were indeed so basic as to be rather rudimentary. At least, I don't remember anyone questioning things or wondering about what's right and what's wrong etc in epics.
But maybe I should answer that to Melilot in the thread the quote is from. ;) :)

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:40 pm 
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WampusCat wrote:
I recommend Prim's soon-to-be-published novel. Sight unseen. :D


Flirting with danger, I see! :D

(Just so it's been said, nothing I've ever written or ever will write should be mentioned in the same breath with Tolkien.)

A book that for me does rival Tolkien in the richness of the world it creates is ISLANDIA, by Austin Tappan Wright. Wright wrote nothing else; he died fairly young in a car accident, in the 1930s, and his daughter found a huge trove of manuscript about the invented country of Islandia, on an invented continent in the southern ocean. Histories, geographies, collected fables, and a gigantic novel about an American man who is allowed to go to Islandia as the first U.S. Ambassador in 1908 or so. Wright wrote it all entirely for his own satisfaction, with no intention of publishing it, but it was a very complete creation.

The daughter edited the novel down, though it's still huge, and published it. It's big and wandering and not a lot of extremely thrilling things happen, but the characters are real and well-drawn, and most of all the place is real to me—the only invented setting that comes near to rivaling, though it cannot surpass, Middle-earth. As John Lang travels over the country, it becomes real, and there is the same sense of history and geography barely mentioned or just out of view that I so love in Middle-earth. It's a wild and beautiful country, whose people think very differently from Americans or Europeans, even though there is no magic there.

Reading it is like taking an old-fashioned vacation, where one travels for a long time at a human pace from one beautiful place to another, and where the value in what you see comes from close and peaceful examination that brings out its beauty, rather than from flash and thrills.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:31 am 
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Impenitent wrote:
Tombadiddle, a acquaintance talked long and passionately about Dragonlance to me...they were dreadfully written pap! But I cast no aspersions on the original Chronicles, not having read them.

Yes, there are about half a billion (give or take a quarter million) books in the Dragonlance saga. Some are decent, some less so. The original Chronicles are pretty decent. I find that both kender and gully dwarves make very amusing comic relief. :D

I'll give you a for instance of the amusing things about the not-so-bright gully dwarves. Gully dwarves can count to two. Anything more than two is "a whole lotta twos". :rofl:

I think it goes without saying that pap is in the eye of the beholder. ;)


axordil wrote:
Tim Benzidrine and Hashberry (Tim! Tim! Benzedrine! Hash! Boo! Valvoline!)


O slender as a speeding freak! Spaced-out groovy tripper!
O mush-brained maid whose mind decays with every pill I slip her!
O mind-blown fair farina-head, friend of birds and beetles!
O skinny wraith whose fingernails are hyperdermic needles!
O tangled locks and painted bod! Pupils big as eggs!
O flower-maid who never bathes or even shaves her legs!
O softened mind that wanders wherever moon above leads!
O how I dig thee, Hashberry, from nose to sleazy lovebeads!



(Wasn't there someone on TORC whose account name was "Hashberry"?)

Anyway, Bored of the Rings was much funnier 30-odd years ago when it first came out. Its references are pretty dated now. :|

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:39 am 
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Ingólemo
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Prim ISLANDIA seems very interesting thanks for sharing it :D
oldtom wrote:
Gully dwarves can count to two. Anything more than two is "a whole lotta twos".

They seem pretty smart if you ask me...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:58 am 
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Rabbits can only count to four; anything more than four is "a thousand." Thus, Fiver's name is really mistranslated - it just means that he was last of the litter, not that there were five rabbits.

Great, now I'm drawing connections between Dragonlance and Watership Down!

A recent post by hashberry on TORc


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:45 am 
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I'm adding Ursula LeGuin to my list of authors who can create a full world, especially in the Earthsea trilogy.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:52 pm 
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Actually, one of the reasons "Bored" got on my nerves so much is because it seems so reactionary. Your quote is a good example of it, Tom.
Maybe you can like the flower-power kids better if you were not there at the time, but I almost resented the way the parody equalled love of nature with demented drug-heads.
Quote:
O mind-blown fair farina-head, friend of birds and beetles!


And another one:
Quote:
O flower-maid who never bathes or even shaves her legs!

ROFL, this is so American. The way that shaving one's legs is considered self-evident (and was so even 30 years ago) is quite absurd to a European. And, surely, taking a bath should be more natural than shaving your legs?

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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