I wrote this post last month but realized that, with the entire GoT community enthralled with Season 8 on HBO, it might not be a great time to exalt a book by the creator. Neither is it the first time I have written about Martin, either in awe or frustration.
I had not read what the book was about when I started to listen to the audio version of Fire and Blood. My initial reaction was that this was a bust, a clumsy attempt to get GoT fanatics to spend more money.
This book is fictional history and presented exactly as one would expect when reading about the Roman Empire or the kings and queens of England. It is one person narrating about events, sprinkled with the occasional legend or rumor. But there is no dialogue and a very different angle on character development than what one expects in a novel.
And yet I was intrigued. I listened through the long and intricate history, getting excited when the origins of such things as how the Iron Throne and even King’s Landing came about. When I began to see a link forming between what was being read (and absolute kudos to the incredible narration by Simon Vance) and what I know is coming in ASOIAS, my excitement rose. I listened twice to the chapter about Bravos.
When I sat to write this post, my goal was to exult the world-building vision of George R.R. Martin. Who could possibly get away writing fiction without dialogue? Who would dare try? I came up with only a single comparable and the epiphany shocked me.
There is only one other author who could possibly have pulled this off, a certain Oxford professor for whom an incredible movie was just released and largely ignored (I think – did you watch it?).
I have always considered Tolkien to be a one-off, an author such as we have never seen in terms of such comprehensive world building, and will never see again. Now, despite my frustration with Mr. Martin for allowing the TV series to get ahead of the books, and the general pace of his production (go ahead George – kill off my favorite character!), I bestow upon him the right to stand alongside The Professor in the pantheon of my legendary authors.
I know this is a strange referral, but an anonymous reviewer on the Amazon page wrote exactly what I want to articulate. He or she refers to themselves as DM and their review is the first of 897 entitled The History Tolkien Longed To Publish (DM – if you read this, please reach out – I would love to properly attribute your excellent review).
Essentially, when he wrote The Silmarillion saga, Tolkien was attempting to provide us with the depth of the world he had built, something only hinted about in The Hobbit or LOTR. Whether he achieved this or not, I will leave to the Tolkien scholars to debate.
All I know is, as I reflect on the world I created in the Wycaan Master series, and now the Kingfisher Saga, I follow in the footsteps of giants … two giants who continue to motivate me to raise my own level of what we authors call The Craft.
Finally, in response to the Starbucks scandal (see 1st image) below, I loved this response (2nd image) of how the coffee order was likely made. Hopefully, I leave you with a laugh, and use as an excuse to boast that my eldest son is now officially a barista at Peet’s and, in my totally unbiased opinion as a proud father, rocking it!
Alon Shalev / elfwriter
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, and five other Wycaan Master books all published by Tourmaline Books.
More at http://www.alon-shalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).
Just checked the total lifetime grosses for “Tolkien” @ $7,776,413, so … that makes me one of the few who went to a real theater and watched the film about Tolkien’s early life.
I enjoyed “Tolkein” the film,
For a comparison, “Detective Pikachu,” a semi-cartoon, has already grossed more than $413 million. I might never see this one.
Perhaps it is more about the money. Glad you enjoyed it despite the graphic war scenes
Watching the graphic trench warfare scenes of World War I helped me appreciate the combat tour I served in Vietnam in 1966.
What I mean by that is that none of the combat I experienced in Vietnam was anywhere close to what Tolkien went through and so many other troops in WWI.
Good to hear. I had a hard time sleeping though I never saw trench warfare. Woke up several times in the night drenched with sweat and panting.
I belong to two PTSD support groups and I think that helped me – twice a week, every week.
My Wednesday morning group meets from 9 to 10:30 AM at the VA medical center in Martinez.
My Thursday afternoon group meets from 5:00 to 6:30 PM at the Vet Center in Concord.