Tendrils of Darkness — Epilogue
Epilogue With No Man’s Land finally behin...
Tendrils of Darkness — Epilogue
Epilogue With No Man’s Land finally behin...
Tendrils of Darkness — Chapter 50: Final Confrontation
Final Confrontation Years of sentinel train...
Tendrils of Darkness — Chapter 49: Secrets Revealed
Secrets Revealed Circling Copius, the owlbe...
Let’s be clear, modern fantasy, high fantasy in particular, is what it is today because of one man, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. J.R.R. and his Middle-earth has been the thing upon which much of what has come since had been inspired. There had been fantasy before The Lord of the Rings was published, of course, but nothing had grabbed the zeitgeist like it did, both inside and out of the fantasy book world. And since renowned filmmaker Peter Jackson adapted it in the early 2000’s, the adventures of Frodo, Gandalf, and the Fellowship had drawn new fans into the genre.
After publishing The Hobbit, the publisher had asked for a sequel, and what Tolkien delivered was this. It wasn’t accepted, which lead to him writing what would become The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien had written five stories about the history of Eä, the world in which the books and films take place, and his son, Christopher, took them and edited them together into a source book of legends of the world his father created and that had inspired so many.
If you were enamored by the world of Middle-earth itself, if you want to know more about Sauron and the Ring of Power, about Gandalf, Saruman, and the Maia, or the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth, the eras before the trilogy, this is where you would get all of that information. Additionally, a lot of The Hobbit’s film adaption pulled information from here and other source material, to make enough content to turn one book into a trilogy.
Dungeons & Dragons is maybe one of the most clear followers of the Lord of the Rings formula. Any game that has ever been played involves a group of heroes going out against seemingly insurmountable odd to do the apparently impossible. Salvatore writing his first novel in the Forgotten Realms setting of the tabletop role playing game, is no different, the first appearance of his most popular character, the dark elf with a heart of gold Drizzt Do’Urden. If you have played almost any edition of Dungeons & Dragons or any of their side products, such as board games, comic books, or MMORPG, you have heard of Drizzt.
A fully realized world, a large cast of characters, and magical items with terrible power, all of the hallmarks of high fantasy that The Lord of the Rings made famous. Any viewers of the film who want to know more about their pen and paper game’s lore would deeply enjoy these books.
Whedon has created many things that fans of fantasy and science fiction enjoy today, but nothing as so short lived and revered as the space western Firefly. Though cancelled before the whole of the first season aired, it has since garnered a cult following which had earned them a movie, Serenity, a bevy of comic books, and a tabletop role playing game.
What does Firefly, a show set in a different solar system deep in the future after Earth had been abandoned, you might be asking yourself. Well, it has a group of characters each with their own rich history before the show starts, who come together to evade and in some cases thwart the plans of a dastardly oppressive government. They persist against high odds and stick together when it would be more advantageous for them to turn on each other. Sounds a lot like what the Fellowship deals with, just with fewer swords and more spaceships and Chinese swear words.
Another western-esque entry on this list, book one of King’s self proclaimed magnus opus opens a series a that is a mix of western, dark fantasy, and horror. Soon to be a film starring Idris Elba as the eponymous gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as the man in black.
The gathering of the ka-tet, this world’s version of our adventuring party or Middle-earth’s as well as their mission to stop a dark power from threatening the world. Inspired by The Lord of the Rings itself, it’s fully fleshed out world and harrowing adventure would be a great follow up after a viewing of the films.
Described as “Lord of the Rings meets Bridesmaids” by the creator, Rat Queens is a hit comic book published by Image Comics following an adventuring band of bad mouthed women dealing with a plethora of threats, including the incursion of a Cthulhu-esque tentacled god and an orc invasion. Though on-going, the book has three volumes at the date of writing this, more than enough to get one going.
If you loved the comedy between Gimli and Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, want to see more strong women without bikini armor in your high fantasy, or just want something more comedic and light-hearted after over nine hours of Tolkien cinema.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Set in another of Dungeons and Dragons’ settings, Dragonlance, this follows a group of friends and warriors in a world where their gods have abandoned them, and a new cadre of entities are trying to replace them. Lauded as a part of the most important tales in the setting of Krynn, Dragons of Autumn Twilight would be a great place to start if you’re a movie watcher or a D&D player tired of the more common setting of Faerûn in the Forgotten Realms.
Of all the things on this list, not penned by Tolkien himself anyway, Dragons of Autumn Twilight might be the closest in style to The Lord of the Rings. Long quests with a party in which good and evil is clearly defined, and where the touch of darkness can be visibly seen, this is a great read if you’re looking for a slightly more modern take on the books the films were based on.
First book of the truly huge Discworld series, set on a disc shaped world that stands on the back of four elephants that in turn stand on the back of a great turtle, is crafted as satire, of both fantasy and of real world things, a well needed breath of fresh air for a genre that tends to take itself too seriously. Specifically, as one doesn’t have to read all of the books if they’d prefer to just follow one of the main characters, I choose this book as it is also the first book following the wizard Rincewind.
Rincewind is a coward, and wouldn’t rather not go on adventures, but is forced to do so by circumstance. He lampshades many of the tropes common to fantasy, and allows us to get respite from the often tiresome ‘heroics’ of other titles. Nevertheless, though, Rimewind does find himself saving the day, and in the end, is that not what you want?
Another comedic fantasy title, this one a comic book by Image Comics, same publisher as the aforementioned Rat Queens, Skullkickers follows a pair of of mercenaries, doing whatever they can for bounty and glory. Film fans coming from the roleplaying world would love this title, as it is filled with the kind of hijinks that could be found in the Merry and Pippin segments of the movies or around any gaming table.
Additionally, if you come to the films for the images of combat, hundreds of orcs at the gates of Helm’s Deep and all that, Skullkickers will deliver for that as well. A dwarf with double axes and a human with a pistol, this mismatched pair get into it every issue. Collected in six trade paperbacks or three hardcovers, there is more than enough to hold you until your next rewatch.
In the same way that Tolkien was the lord of high fantasy for his generation, Martin can and should be called that for his. By now, I shouldn’t have to tell you what A Game of Thrones or the rest of The Song of Ice and Fire series is about. It’s an award winning and wildly popular HBO series by the (mostly) same name.
Why I include it is because of it’s world building, it’s attention to the connections to all things in the world, and how it artfully juggles between all of it’s characters. If you haven’t read it, only knowing of it because of it’s recent effect on the cultural zeitgeist or from watching the show, I do implore readers of this to pick up one of the doorstopper books, there are many things that the show miss that watchers of the films who get engrossed in the high levels of details would love.
High fantasy novel fans might have disagreed with the above statement about George R.R. Martin. If they did, I can see them answering Robert Jordan and his The Wheel of Time series over A Song of Ice and Fire. I wouldn’t dare to put my chit down on either myself, but for those who love the adventure aspect of The Lord of the Rings but are less politically minded, not caring for the machinations of A Game of Thrones, I would suggest this book instead.
The world is huge, flavored with more Asian influences than other series, and is, of course, at peril. It has a deep history spanning hundreds of years before the first novel, and that, I think, is the key reason this novel would be popular amongst watchers of The Lord of the Rings.
The trilogy sits at nearly six hundred minutes long, seven hundred for the extended cuts. Watching them, back to back, is a staggering event that dedicated fans do yearly, but there is no reason as to why film fans can’t fill the months in between with the written word. None of the above titles are stand alone, each a part of larger series any one of which could bridge that gap. The Fellowship of the Ring is over fifteen years old now, and still as popular as ever. One can only hope that even one of these titles will elicit such enjoyment from a book minded film viewer.
Do you have a bone to pick with my list? Did I miss one of your favorite Tolkien inspired novel? Is something on this list your favorite titles of all time and want to gush about it? Either way, tell me which, and why, in the comments below.
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings -- cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings' laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha'ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings' mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings' power...if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don't find her first.
David Castro is co-editor and co-founder of Babbling of the Irrational, a submission based literary blog. Writer, Nerd, other single word descriptions. Flushing, New York