Exploring Influences: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Continuing on the topic of influences, this week we’re looking at The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

If I had to say there was any one thing that made me want to write, it must be that I had access to these books. At an early age, I found myself with my mother’s dog-eared volumes. Like many, Tolkien’s work was my first foray into the fantasy genre. He was a pioneer in the field, giving rise to the versions of elves and dwarves and orcs the genre is known for today.

Orcs, in fact, are something we owe Tolkien for completely, as the barbaric green or gray-skinned creatures we’re familiar with today came first from his series. Likewise, prior to Tolkien, elves were regarded as mischievous and sometimes wicked spirits, rather than the pointy-eared and graceful humanoid beings seen in modern media.

In that respect, the development of these fantasy hallmark species in The Lord of the Rings has permeated the writing of virtually every addition to the fantasy genre. There’s still the occasional series that hearkens back to the traditional roots of various myths and legends, but it’s impossible to refute that the 1950s classic has impacted every fantasy writer, by simple nature of the fact that the books altered culture and classic folklore.

Last week: The Death Gate Cycle
Next week: Record of Lodoss War

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