Q: A major concern in A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones is power. Almost everybody – except maybe Daenerys, across the waters with her dragons – wields power badly.
George R.R. Martin: Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles? In real life, real-life kings had real-life problems to deal with. Just being a good guy was not the answer. You had to make hard, hard decisions. Sometimes what seemed to be a good decision turned around and bit you in the ass; it was the law of unintended consequences. I’ve tried to get at some of these in my books. My people who are trying to rule don’t have an easy time of it. Just having good intentions doesn’t make you a wise king.
Hey, G.R.R. Martin, you think Middle-earth was prosperous? It had lots of kings and queens that were good kings and queens but it was never in a constant state of “oh we have a good king everything is perfect now.”
Remember Feanor the King of the Noldor in the West, and the Kinslaying that happened during the exile back to Middle-earth? Yeah they pissed of a lot of people. And killed a lot of innocent people that shouldn’t have been killed. That was a bad decision. At least, the way they went about it.
Oh and remember that time when Isildur had the chance to destroy the One Ring but because he isn’t a perfect kingly human, he decided to keep the evil thing? On the one hand, it would have been easy to just destroy it… but… why? Why destroy it? Why let go of power? I’m sure he didn’t think about it at all, I’m sure he was just like “Oh cool, I got the Dark Lord’s Ring!”
What about when Thorin and Thrain couldn’t quite settle their racist differences and their armies coulda almost killed each other for the treasure Under The Mountain? You know, rather than being perfect and wise and just, getting along and sharing? You’d think that them being the good guys in the story they’d be able to not fight each other based on the colour of their skin.
Remember when Theoden King was stupid enough to let someone named GRIMA WORMTONGUE into his service? HAHAHAHAHA.
"Tell me, Wormtongue… can I trust you?"
"Why YES. Yes, of course you can trust me, my name IS Wormtongue, after all."
Tolkien may not have mentioned his tax policy but Theoden kinda did get everyone fucked over because of this.
Or do you remember how Saruman The Wise, one of the Maiar (you know, those “Wizards” sent by the Valar to help Middle-earth in the fight against Sauron), betrayed ALL the free peoples? I’m sure it was an easy and simple decision for him. And while on the subject of the Maiar, what about their masters, the Valar? Where’d you get that word from, G.R.R. Martin? Valar? From J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe?
I’m also thinking about Numenor, remember that kingdom that got swallowed in the Sea? Yeah their last king, Ar-Pharazôn, one of the most powerful they ever had, got stupid and got power crazy and was like, “ooooh I’mma go get n’ kill the t’rrists out East and I’mma capture Sauron Bin Laden and take him back prisoner and sheeyit” which lead to the entire Kingdom being destroyed. Good job, Ar-Pharazon. You are a good and wise king and make good decisions all the time.
This next part isn’t really a royal or political matter, but remember the incest between Turin and Nienor? Eew. Like, EEW. They had sex and everything. Had kids and a bloodline that would eventually take the throne. Brother and sister. Had sex.
Aragorn’s tax policies and maintaining an army… the story ended at the end of the Third Age, not to mention that Tolkien died in the middle of writing literally everything still. He may not have had a chance to write a new novel taking place during Aragorn’s reign, but we do know that Aragorn wasn’t perfect. He married is distant cousin, he and Arwen are COUSINS too much incest up in this fantasy what the fuck. And after the Battle of Pelennor Fields he took the last of Gondor’s and Rohan’s armies to the Black Gate for basically suicide. Most people would be in so much protest if any country did something like that today. That was a fucking hard decision. "Hey Soldiers. We’re going to war. We’re all going to die. But it’s all good, all for the greater good, so no worries. Let’s go! Easiest war tactic ever made!!!"
And also, he fucking wasn’t even at his throne for decades, dude. Not saying it wasn’t a good decision, it was, but besides King David and Aragorn, what other King remains in exile in the wilderness for long periods of time trying to find her way back to make her claim to the throne?
Tolkien’s Middle-earth is full of humans and elves and other peoples making bad decisions, good decisions, bad ones that became stupid. Good ones that ended up fucking everyone over. It’s never black and white. Tolkien’s stories and the political strife that was constantly weighing upon Middle-earth and all of Arda spanning thousands of years and more than three ages are unmatched.
And Tolkien did it all without needless descriptions of sex.
Although, I admit, for all his prose and beautiful language and stories, the thing that Tolkien was lacking in his mythologies, were the well-written words and imagery that Martin was great at.
"Even his manhood was ugly, thick and veined, with a bulbous purple head." - A Storm of Swords
"She had high firm breasts with nipples the color of dark chocolate that hardened instantly when Sandy brushed them with his fingers" - The Armaggedon Rag
"And suddenly his cock was out, jutting upward from his breeches like a fat pink mast." - A Feast For Crows
"The queen slid a finger into that Myrish swamp, then another, moving them in and out" - A Feast For Crows
Beautifully written, G.R.R. Martin.
Last night I was playing Ni No Kuni while Shira played the Sims and I was just thinking how it was a good summer for RPGs.
Ni No Kuni, Persona 3 and 4, Final Fantasy 10 and 12, Joan D’Arc, Child of Light, Borderlands (Always forever Borderlands), Dragon Age Origins, Torchlight 2.
I think those were the main ones. Are we counting League of Legends? I’m counting League of Legends
In which I am
playing Sims 2 for shirasheep to try and troubleshoot her crashing problems
no-encore-today replied to your photo “So, shirasheep and I are having cheap American beer even though it’s…”
My great great aunt was the last Pabst of the name. She never married or had kids, so the name died out with her, but I take a tiny bit of pride in knowing I’m related to the famous Pabst beer makers!
I used to live in Georgia and PBR was my go-to for simple hang-outs with friends. You are right to feel proud of your heritage :D.