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Old 05-06-2003, 03:26 PM   #1
Meela
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Sting Writing Fantasy

I'm currently writing a novel, but I am restricted due to the fact that I am a Tolkien fan, and I have seen the responses some crazy people give to other fantasy works that share elements of Tolkien's ideas. I know that these responses are not to be taken seriously, but it gets me worried.
I want to write fantasy, but I am worried of being accused of copying Tolkien, now that he is so popular. For instance (and this is purely example, not from my book) if I had a guy in my book who was eventually revealed to be some kind of greater guy, eg. a fantastic sorceror or lord rather than the simple peasant he appears as, would people turn around and yell "Aragorn! Plageriiiiism!!!" or would I get away with it, if I made it as disimilar as possible?
Does it really matter? Obviously at the moment it does to me, because it affects the way I think and write. I'm constantly holding back because everything seems similar to Lotr or related works.

[ May 06, 2003: Message edited by: Meela ]
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Old 05-06-2003, 04:25 PM   #2
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Don't worry about it. Everything has been done before. With your example, you find a thousand other characters in various books and movies that do the exact thing. Remember, Tolkien invented modern fantasy, so you're bound to overlap in some areas.
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Old 05-07-2003, 09:41 AM   #3
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I don't think you can write fantasy without taking from Tolkien a little, but one trick is to stop reading it (I can't believe I said that on a Tolkien site!) Some writers stop reading entirely while they are writing, just to keep from being blatantly derivative. Immerse yourself in your own created world, and avoid everyone else's.
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Old 05-07-2003, 10:51 AM   #4
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Old 05-07-2003, 05:32 PM   #5
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most fantisy books are similar in some ways. thats what makes fantisy fantisy. i mean look at harry potter. there are a ton of similarities between that and lotr. its gunna happen no matter what u write.
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Old 05-07-2003, 05:45 PM   #6
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Even if there are physical similarities, there are so many things that you can do with the style of writing that it's very rare that you'll find similar fantasy books. Unless they were by the same author or inspired by the same author, if their style isn't too difficult to imitate.

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Old 05-08-2003, 01:21 PM   #7
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Sting

*chuckles to self* Mine's original... I made up my own language.............. ok. So it does have simaralities.... but EVERYTHING, as said before, has been done before!
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Old 05-08-2003, 02:40 PM   #8
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I agree! I'm noticing some things creeping up in my work that are a bit like this show called The Raven that used to come on a UK kids' TV channel...I started watching it for costume and geographical research when I was working out all the stuff about Nanudorian history and religion and things like that, and slowly some of the bits of the games began to creep into my work.

I started coming up with bits of my own language as well, but that's struggling a bit now. I got as far as the meanings of the names of the peoples of my land and then gave up.
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Old 05-09-2003, 07:28 AM   #9
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Sting

Thats one thing thats worrying me: I'm writing my own language, but I don't want it to be too similar to elvish. It won't matter, will it? I mean, I don't know any elvish, so I can't really be accused of plagerism or anything.
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Old 05-09-2003, 12:43 PM   #10
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Sting

Dont think of it as copying Tolkien, think of it as a tribute to his work.

And not everything has been done before. Not if you know how to be truly original. Writing comes from your heart and your mind, and no two of them can be the same.
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Old 05-10-2003, 09:30 AM   #11
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Sting

A good page for writing fantasy, click here
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Old 05-10-2003, 11:53 AM   #12
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Sting

like what babsies said, a lot of fantasy books are similar, in alot of ways. Although some may be really far-fetched and another not.
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Old 05-17-2003, 04:08 AM   #13
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Silmaril

According to, well something, there are a certain number of themes which are in every story ever told, written or made for TV. This includes the "Eternal Triangle"- eg Arwen, Eowyn and Aragorn and "Redemption through suffering" eg Boromir. I would imagine that your story will also have these themes (if I can find them, I'll put them up) and you can't escape it. It's not plagerism (Don't know how to spell that!) it's inevitable (or that!).
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Old 05-17-2003, 10:56 AM   #14
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Silmaril

What a coincidence, I'm writing a few fantasy stories myself! except I'm stuck because I need to find creative ways to kill off some of the characters...

Are you an author on Fanfiction.net? if you are, I'd love to read some of your stories! And don't worry about the insane reviewers, they just want an excuse to accuse someone of playgerism. Explain to them that it isn't playgerism and tell them what it was meant to be, plus the story probably isn't published so what does it really matter? Good luck on the story!
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Old 05-18-2003, 02:20 PM   #15
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Tolkien

I have a problem with trying to stay away from Tolkien as well. I just finished my first book [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] {yay} and it was entirely fantasy. I kept having to go back and reword things because I felt it was too much like Tolkien. It's hard, but somehow you just have to work around it.
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Old 05-18-2003, 03:01 PM   #16
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Sting

i really recommend you go on the links if youre writing fantasy. there are alot of us there and we always discuss issues like these, even though it has been quiet for a while. new members will liven it up!
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Old 05-18-2003, 03:28 PM   #17
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Sting

I also write fantasy, and I suggest that you, Meela, try not to worry too much about being a 'copycat'. If it's your writing and you stick in stuff you like, then it's your story. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Quote:
I don't think you can write fantasy without taking from Tolkien a little, but one trick is to stop reading it (I can't believe I said that on a Tolkien site!) Some writers stop reading entirely while they are writing, just to keep from being blatantly derivative. Immerse yourself in your own created world, and avoid everyone else's.
A good idea, but it has its disadvantages. By doing that you will be limited to what you have previously read, and you will automaticly copy the fantasy you have read. I suggest that you read as much as you can, but not just Tolkien's stuff but try other authors too. That way you will see what you like and don't like in stories. Also, you could try reading some mythology, a bunch of stuff in there people have yet to use.
See you later! [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
~M
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Old 05-18-2003, 03:31 PM   #18
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Sting

Thanks for the advice! I actually read a ton of mythology. Thats where i picked up on Lotr's background in detail. Norse mythology entails a lot of info on magic rings [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 05-18-2003, 04:00 PM   #19
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Sting

You're welcome! I just got a book on Japanese mythology and I'm enjoying a bunch. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
Indeed, there's a lot of similerities in between Norsh and LotR. And if you read Beowulf you'll see where Tolkien got some names and ideas.
Also, for reading, try some different genres too. You never would of thought of ideas you could get from Roots or the Iliad.
See you later! [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
~M
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Old 05-22-2003, 05:16 PM   #20
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Silmaril

My brother and I are both writers, not anything specific, but just writing for ourselves and the choice few people that we allow to read the work. But we've developed a few writing tricks. Actually, I shouldn't say developed, because I'm sure many many other people use them, but we figured them out for ourselves before we learned that they're pretty common.

Trick numero uno: if you feel like your character is becoming too much like a character from some other auther's work, change him/her a bit. think of a friend that shares qualities and give your character a few of the friend's attributes. For instance, if your friend has horrible luck with men, make your character have a few bad relationships.

Trick number two: if you are worried that you're copying someone else's plot lines, don't worry about it. The Greeks did pretty much everything first, it's inevitable that you'll end up with a similar story line to someone else. It's not the story line that makes a piece of writing original, it's the characters and the developement. At least that's my opinion.

Trick number 3: rather than reading fantasy, veer off to historical fiction or some nonfiction for awhile. Not only are they a good way to 'expand your horizons', they'll take your mind off of previously done fantasy. You'd be surprised how inspired you can get by reading a book about immigrating to the U.S. or something like that.

Just remember that if you write from the heart, you'll have a very unique piece of work.
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Old 05-22-2003, 08:02 PM   #21
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Sting

I know exactly what you mean, Meela. I find it hard not to be inspired by other works, especially Tolkien (and Lucas, to a slightly lesser extent). I've done (or started) a lot of the things he did, like create languages (still working on that part [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] ), draw maps, and write up a timeline. I worried that this would seem like I was trying too hard to be like the good Professor, but then I remembered why I did all those things in the first place - I needed them for the story. I needed at the very least a basic vocabulary for two languages because it simply wouldn't have made sense for everything to be one language (for my little story, anyway). I needed the maps to get the basic idea of where towns and countries were, and how far they were from each other. And the timeline started as a fun way for me to write out histories for the world, but quickly turned into a nice method for keeping all the events in the storyline in order.

As for plot and characters, well, the way I see it, every writer is different. And unless that writer practices blatant plagerism, there are going to be many differences in each fantasy novel. Now as it is with any genre, there are going to be clichés and random similarities. But that's where the challenge of being creative comes in. Also, I think a lot of it comes down to the characters - if the reader feels for these people, sees them as individuals with their own strengths and flaws, wants very much for them to succeed (or in the case of most bad guys, fail miserably), then I think that will really make your story stand out.

Just as long as one of your main characters isn't Daragorn, King of Bondor, then I'm pretty sure you'll be all right. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Quote:
Remember, Tolkien invented modern fantasy, so you're bound to overlap in some areas.
So very true. He pretty much laid the path for all fantasy writers in the 20th century and beyond, so it would take a lot not to draw a bit from him.

Quote:
Just remember that if you write from the heart, you'll have a very unique piece of work.
Very well put. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 06-05-2003, 11:17 AM   #22
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Tolkien

Ya know , I do belive that there might be people who will think so but , for example , did anyone insulted G . Lucas for plagerism for the phrase "You carry the faith of all of us" in the film Star wars?
And even more silly is the fact that Elvis Presly fans are ready to bring an action against P.Jackson for using the phrase "The Return of the King" as the title of the third film , for Elvis was called The King and fans are still waiting for him to return . So that means they are bringing this action against to Tolkien which , I belive , wrote this book before any Elvis was born . Nice isn't it ?
P.S.Sorry if I'm writing something really not about this topic ....
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Old 06-05-2003, 09:21 PM   #23
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Silmaril

I really want to start a fantasy novel too, but I'm stuck on plot. I have a few huge concepts but everything I think of sounds like Tolkien or other fantasy authors (ie a "fellowship" and elves and dark lords in black cloaks.) But then again, every fantasy book I've ever read has borrowed something from Tolkien. I think the first step to writing something good is to create characters that are satisfying to both you and the readers and a world that the characters can interact with. Within that world can be the places and cultures that have shaped the character's personality and present the possibilities of the plot. I have trouble with naming characters. Does anyone have any idea how to come up with fantasy names? It's getting difficult to describe my story by saying "and then this guy said this, which caused the other guy to kill him" help!
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Old 06-06-2003, 09:50 AM   #24
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Sting

I literally just discovered this second that twisting ordinary names actually creates some pretty good fantasy names. In my opinion, anyhow.

Eg. Craig is now Craigan. Much more fantasy-ish. (is there a word for that? Fantasy-ish, i mean? Like, do you actually say fantastical? Its much more fantastical?)

And Craigan's going in my book [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] So thank you to Elvanui for asking how you come up with fantasy names, thats actually helped me tremendously!
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Old 06-06-2003, 10:35 AM   #25
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Sting

I always do plans for my stories first before I sit down to write them. I get character plans from writing websites, draw maps with various features and track my characters' journey on them, and always write chapter synopses so if I get stuck I can write a new bit and see where that goes. Generally I'm one of these people who finds that if you trust to fate your story suddenly gets boring at about chapter three or so, and then I give up cause I can't work with it.

Just a question to ask everyone here: What's everyone's opinion on having lots of book projects occuring in parallel? I'm nearly a third through one novel, have begun the first chapters for another two and am currently formulating ideas for a fourth. It's difficult, but I still feel I need to get the ideas down as soon as possible or I'll forget them. I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.

Also, how do people pick the names for their characters, places etc? Usually I use name generators or name-meaning websites, but sometimes I get dumb names out of them. What does everyone else think?
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Old 06-06-2003, 01:06 PM   #26
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I think it's fairly impossible to directly copy from a book without changing it a little. For example, I'm in the middle of writing a fantasy book (the first of a series), and I will admit that I have gotten a few ideas from Tolkien. For example, my main character's home was destroyed by the forces of darkness, the main character grows up in the wilderness with a band of Ranger-types, and the villain is remarkably like a Ringwraith, hooded and cloaked in black, although the person is actually a person, not a wraith. The languages that I'm also using in the story are of my own devising, but the general sound resembles some of Tolkien's languages and some words/languages from Mercedes Lackey's books.
I think it's all right to use elements from other stories. After all, that's what Tolkien did. I don't think he would mind if we did the same from his works.
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Old 06-06-2003, 01:06 PM   #27
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Sting

Yes. When I first started out my writing, I started with short stories, then novels, then trilogies then series and before I knew what I had, I was in the middle of writing one novel, one trilogy and one series all simultaneously. I know its fine to have multiple pieces of work being created and completed at the same time, I try to limit myself to one piece of work at a time, but, that's just my method of writing.
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Old 06-09-2003, 12:37 AM   #28
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Silmaril

I actually have the start of so many stories that I think would be good, I just can't make myself finish them. However, my best friend, Zel Ladrona, has written a trilogy and is currently working on her second. In a way, I'm her coauthor. She bounces ideas off of me, and I'm writing the story that goes in between the trilogies (there's about a sixty-year gap.)

Whoops, that's off topic.

I think that any fantasy novel with have some elements of Tolkien in it, and as someone, I cannot remember who, sorry, said, there are themes that occur in everything, from sci-fi to fantasy to historical fiction. There are just certain types of things that make good stories. And I don't think that using some elements from another author is plagiarism.
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Old 06-09-2003, 09:18 AM   #29
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Quote:
Just a question to ask everyone here: What's everyone's opinion on having lots of book projects occuring in parallel? I'm nearly a third through one novel, have begun the first chapters for another two and am currently formulating ideas for a fourth. It's difficult, but I still feel I need to get the ideas down as soon as possible or I'll forget them. I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.
I do the same thing. I find that putting them on the computer makes things easier because then I can use floppy disks to separate them - for example, I have a blue disk for my original story, and a green disk where I put all my fanfic material. And I do the same thing you do, which is to write everything down as it comes to me so that I don't forget it.

Quote:
Also, how do people pick the names for their characters, places etc? Usually I use name generators or name-meaning websites, but sometimes I get dumb names out of them. What does everyone else think?
Hmm... names always seem to come to me. But I agree with what Meela said about using normal names and just twisting them around a bit. For example, I took one of my friends' last name, Jetton, took some letters out, added some letters, and got the name Jeteiryn. You could also take a regular name and change the spelling to where it still sounds the same but looks different, like what I did with Ryan, changing it to Ryon.

And hey, if worse comes to worse, you could always just close your eyes and hit the keyboard a bit and see what happens. Like this:

*closes eyes*

liughn;;ioug

Okay, ignore the two semi-colons... [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img]

I can get the name "Liuno" out of that, or maybe "Luhnig"... If I add letters, I can get a name like "Liunel" or "Niora"... I dunno, something like that. [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] I guess my best suggestion would be to just play around with sounds, see what is pleasing to the ear (or perhaps not-so-pleasing, if you want a villain's name).
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Do you enjoy reading and writing LotR fanfiction?
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Old 06-09-2003, 10:34 AM   #30
the guy who be short
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For names i just twist my friends names. eg, gavin beale becomes Naivag Leeb. Sometimes I just make up names that sound good to me. The important thing is they sound good to your ears.
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Old 06-09-2003, 07:01 PM   #31
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WOW, I am doing the same thing, I mean,...trying to write a story. The same thing keeps happening to me, I keep holding back because I think it sounds like Tolkien. If you want, I'll let you read what I've got done already, and maybe you could help me, I've been stuck on thuis one part for quite some time.
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Old 06-10-2003, 11:08 AM   #32
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I have the same problem!!!!!!! But considering that every fantasy book I've ever read has borrowed something from Tolkien, it seems kind of inevitable. He did invent the genre after all. I know what's gonna happen at the end of my story and the beginning, but not the middle. I'm worried that just having characters fight monster after monster will get boring and redundant. Any other people have this problem?
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Old 06-11-2003, 03:17 PM   #33
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Meela:

You have not even read LotR, how can you be offended when Obloquy calls you a newbie? What he said was 100% accurate. And if you are not a newbie, then who is? Someone like Obloquy maybe? No wait, I know, Ulmo is a newbie, yup that hast to be it.

BTW, How are you writing LotR fanfic without even knowing the exact story? You can't honestly tell me that you think the movie is word for word from the books? Here is something you should try: instead of writing fanfic, try reading LotR. Unless you are an extremely slow reader it shouldn't take more than a month. I know people that have read LotR in less than a week even. Go ahead, pick up a book, just try it.

Next time someone calls you a newbie, don't take offense, read the books and prove them that you know what you are talking about and that you belong here. Not reading LotR and insisting that you are not a noob is just dumb.
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Old 06-11-2003, 03:54 PM   #34
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I picked this thread because this is the thread where you said you did not read LotR.
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Old 06-13-2003, 02:50 AM   #35
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I just sent a pm saying the exact same thing as Orald, but for the record, I'll back him up here as well. I think it is ridiculous to call yourself a Tolkien fan, if you've not read Tolkien.

And closer to the intended topic, my writing efforts have often been sidelined because I can't get Tolkien's plots or themes out of my head. But I think that is largely because Tolkien uses many of the universal themes and plots in his work. As far as fantasy goes, Tolkien is like the Scrabble Dictionary. It's hard to find something good that isn't in there. I've given up on original fantasy for the moment (burnout), and am concentrating on a fanfic that may be done in several hundred years.

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Old 06-13-2003, 03:02 PM   #36
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Most of the fantasy I've ever read draws on Tolkien. For example, The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks is about a half elven guy who lives in a peaceful valley who joins a quest led by a druid (the shannara equivalent of a wizard) to find a legendary sword to destroy a dark lord. there is a subplot involving the exiled heir to the throne of a human kingdom. Sound at all familiar? It's still a good book, perhaps I enjoy it Because it reminds me of Tolkien...I am currently reading Robert Jordan, which has similar Tolkien themes...this is probably b/c reading about an epic hero and the forces of good vs evil are topics that fantasy readers find interesting. The only truly original fantasy series I've read so far is Philip Pullman's Golden Compass series. Most fantasy I've read is similar to Tolkien b/c he created the idea of fantasy(or at least made it an official genre). Everyone else's fantasy is still entertaining b/c it expands and creates new worlds and characters to explore new worlds. originality comes in the creating of these worlds.
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