January 18, 2007

"Ice and Fire" Deal Invokes Tolkien

Just like every music player has to bill itself as as "iPod Killer", I guess J. R. R. Tolkien has become the touchstone of Fantasy movie adaptations.
HBO has acquired the rights to turn George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series "A Song of Fire & Ice" into a dramatic series to be written and exec produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Martin's series has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien, because both are period epics set in imagined lands. But Martin has eschewed Tolkien's good-vs.-evil theme in favor of flawed characters from seven noble families. The book has a decidedly adult bent, with sex and violence comparable to series like "Rome" and "Deadwood."

"They tried for 50 years to make 'Lord of the Rings' as one movie before Peter Jackson found success making three," Martin said. "My books are bigger and more complicated, and would require 18 movies. Otherwise, you'd have to choose one or two characters."
Author George R. R. Martin (because ALL epic novelists must have two middle names starting with "R") confirmed it on his LiveJournal after VARITEY Magazine broke news of it yesterday.

I don't know about the Tolkien comparison. "Yeah, it's JUST like Lord of the Rings... except it doesn't have Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, or talking trees. And the prose isn't nearly as complex (is that entirely a bad thing?), and there's no complete languages to learn. And no good-vs-evil plot. But there ARE Swords and magic involved, so that's fantasy... and since we really don't want to invite comparison to ERAGON... let's just go back a few years to the last big one NOT involving a boy wizard... AH! Tolkien. That's how we can spin this release!"

From initial reports, it's more a story of warring family dynasties. Kind of like DUNE, set in NARNIA, except with seven families? There's a bit of discussion on the DIGG.COM posting of this article already. (Thanks to my brother for the scoop!)


  1. Okay Chris,
    Just to clarify a few things; the writing, while not as archaic as Tolkien, is at least as good, if not better. It is Fantasy - it occurs in a world whose existence could not be (and is not attempted to be) explained in scientific or logical terms (the definition of fantasy).
    And I'm going to punch you in the arm really hard for saying it in the same sentence as Eragon. There is magic (though it is a rare, rather than commonplace thing), and it is not in Narnia - dont expect any magic lions or camels. I know Mel may have some negative feelings about the absence of hobbits, but if done right, the end result could end up being something superior to LOTR.

    You may be pleasantly surprised.

  2. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that since it's NOT Tolkien it must be crap. Tolkien, IMHO, was a good storyteller, but a bad Writer if you catch my meaning. Story was epic, good characters and a complex history, but the actual words on the page were unreadable at times.

    I know that there is more to the fantasy genre than Tolkien, and I'm happy that there is! My meaning was that I wished that studio execs and entertainment writers did as well. This looks to be a unique fantasy story in its own right, and I wish they hadn't decided to invite the comparison is my point. Again, not that Tolkien is immediately superior, but that they are unrelated except by genre. It's just the rhetoric of the studios that every SCi-Fi movie has to be compared to Star Wars, every fantasy movie with Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, every animated film with The Lion King or Shrek.

    I'd pick up the first book of this series, but Orson Scott Card (Damn you!) has released some additional books to his "Ender's Game" series when I wasn't looking, and I'm playing catch-up. And we don't know who, but someone has borroewd the first book of our "His Dark Materials" trilogy! GRRRRR.