George R.R. Martin

Fans have long held up ‘Game of Thrones’ against ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ for comparison, both being the pre-eminent fantasy series of their times. Now, according to a new statement from ‘Thrones’ author George R.R. Martin, ‘The Lord Of the Rings’ may have had more of an impact on his series than fans had previously thought. While talking about reading ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ as a child and the impact it had on him, Martin says it was all going well, and then:

“And then Gandalf dies! I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can’t kill Gandalf. I mean, Conan didn’t die in the Conan books, you know? Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it.The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die. Of course, that’s had a profound on my own willingness to kill characters off at the drop of a hat.”

Can you imagine ‘Game of Thrones’ without that constant suspense that any character is about to die? It has been hanging over our heads ever since the death of Ned Stark in Season 1, and it is why we so willingly believed that he would kill Jon Snow at the end of Season 5, being that no one is safe in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Of course, Jon Snow got a second chance, but he alone has that honor, as over the years we have watched many, many major and beloved (and some reviled) characters meet their bitter ends on the series, and there was nothing we could do about it. Such is life in “Game of Thrones’s’ Westeros. But to know that he was inspired by Tolkien’s handling of Gandalf’s death in ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ is fascinating, though even Gandalf got a second chance when Tolkien brought him back as Gandalf the White. I don’t see any characters on ‘Thrones’ coming back that way (aside from the already mentioned Jon Snow), especially as we head into Season 8, the final season, but who knows?

Here’s hoping that Martin and company manage to wrap up their own fantasy even half as well as Tolkien did because, with all the delays and all the hype, they have a lot to live up to.

Source: The Great American Read