I wrote and published this post before staggering into work this morning on
3 – 4 hours 2 hours of sleep. Why so sleep deprived, you ask? I attended the midnight showing of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Thursday night into Friday morning! Hey, if Bilbo can free Thorin’s Company from Mirkwood, I can surely handle a work day on just four hours of sleep, right?
I’ve written here in the past about Tolkien resources, so today I thought I might try a different angle, and suggest some other authors whose work might conjure the same spirit as the esteemed linguist, if not the exact character.
The Sword Of Shannara by Terry Brooks — When I was a kid spoiling for something more after finishing The Return Of The King, I tried reading Tolkien’s Silmarillion. After realizing reading this was akin to reading the Bible, I pulled the ripcord and began looking elsewhere. That’s when I found Mr. Brooks’ work. Not sure if the Brothers Hildebrandt covers did it for me, or something else drew me in, but I jumped in feet first and never looked back. This definitely filled the void left by finishing The Lord Of The Rings.
Lord Foul’s Bane (Book I of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) by Stephen R. Donaldson — If I hear another pundit on NPR refer to George R. R. Martin as the “American Tolkien” I will likely utter something unprintable and shut off the radio until the next pledge drive ends. Besides sharing twin “R’s” in their initials, the only other thing Martin and Tolkien share in common are rabid fan bases. Yes, they both build amazing worlds, but the similarities end there. Donaldson’s incredible Covenant saga begins with Lord Foul’s Bane, and for me hails much more closely to Tolkien’s epic style than Martin’s Westeros tales. This does not mean I don’t love Martin, but I do not accept the constant and (IMHO) erroneous comparisons to Tolkien.
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay — I did not know about Mr. Kay until a good friend and mentor turned me onto his stuff. Tigana represents a brilliant and accessible introduction to this Canadian author’s work. In some ways more nuanced than Tolkien, the villains in Tigana possess certain human qualities that make them real and complicated. In this way Mr. Kay’s work resembles George R. R. Martin. He can take a character you utterly hate in one chapter and slowly transform him or her into a sympathetic and even likable one. Perhaps more important to Tolkien fans, Mr. Kay possesses a unique talent for world building. His fantastic places feel real and grounded.
That ought to be enough to get anyone started on Tolkien read-alikes. Feel free to offer your own titles in the comments section!