Tolkien's Kids in Fantasy Literature
JRR Tolkien is the father of modern Fantasy. He is the one who brought us LOTR (adapted into the EXTRA SPICY movie franchise)- but did you know about all of his kids?? I'm talking metaphorically of course. It's no secret that Tolkien's introduction of Middle Earth hailed a new era for the fantasy genre. Elves, Dwarves, wizards, Orcs- ect. all got their start here. Before Tolkien many of these creations lacked a cohesive world, dwelling instead in the realm of faerie tales and children's stories.
What Tolkien brought to us was not only cohesive versions of characters from various mythologies (ie dwarves and elves based on Norse mythological beings, men straight out of Avalon, and dark creatures from your nightmares.) but also an epic tale of bravery, temptation, birthright, and sacrifice. And of course people were inspired- he provided the groundwork for what would become (and still kind of is) the formula for modern high fantasy.
So you’ve got this character- let's call them Billy. And Billy lives in the boonies- a wholesome hamlet called #pumpkinspicevillage. Billy lives with their other equally hick friends, farming goats or whatever else. Billy and their friends enjoy village festivals and getting into what constitutes as mischief around those parts. Oh! I nearly forgot- the farthest our protags have ever journeyed was the next closest village to get some eggs or something.
Soon however, Billy’s peaceful lifestyle comes to an end. The great wizard Whitesage shows up and is like “come with me and save the world!” of course Billy is initially reluctant but then a thing happens and they're like “okay but I'm bringing a friend or two along.” You see the great SHADOW LORD has awakened and is about to rein lots of nasty bad things down on the world unless the hero can defeat him… the hero is the ONLY ONE who can defeat him.
On his Journey Billy and co team up with other wayward adventurers, a once proud and noble warrior now exiled and wearing the mantle of the ruffian. The elegant Elven hunter/rogue. The strong and proud (although admittedly dim witted) Dwarf. Billy and friends also began to develop skills and attributes that help to compartmentalize them into whatever roles they end up fitting. Does this setup sound familiar? Its the standard backdrop for not only LOTR but also many, many other works of Fantasy.
Y’ALL THOUGHT I WAS PLAYING??
“The Wheel of Time” Series By Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson) has gone down in lit nerd history as one of THE greats of high fantasy. The story involves Rand Al’thor- a youth taken from his unassuming village of Two-rivers by the sorceress Morianne with his friends on a mission to defeat the Dark Lord Shai-tan. Rand is in actuality not merely a farm boy- but the reincarnated “Dragon”- a powerful sorcerer destined to Break and reform the world. Along the way Rand not only discovers his own vast reserves of power but his childhood friends Matt, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve also find themselves drawn into this EPIC plot of magic and intrigue.
“The Sword of Shannara” pits Shea Ohmsford and his half brother Flick against the forces of the dreaded Warlock Lord. The two brothers are taken from their backwater village by the Druid Allanon, and along the way they team up with twin Elven warriors, and a noble human fighter who is actually heir to some kingdom. I think you get my point here, both of these household fantasy epics follow a nearly identical formula. There should be no surprise that both Jordan and Brooks were fans of Tolkien's work.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE
So from all of the examples of works of fantasy influenced by Tolkien's mythos- my personal favorite is none other than Dungeons and Dragons. That’s right- D&D is a direct product of the high fantasy world building archetype engendered by the middle earth creator. I mean, come on. The “Halfling” race was originally the “Hobbit” race in Gen 1 before being replaced because… legal stuff. Even the setup of your standard campaign involves a ragtag group of travelers (from different races and backgrounds) joining forces to crawl through dungeons and eventually combat the great threat from the north… or the south… or whatever really.
WHAT AM I SAYING WITH ALL THIS?!
At the end of the day, everything comes from something. Tolkien drew upon his experience in World War II, Mythology and even the Bible (still mythology lol) for the basis of his literary work. I think his contributions have been wonderful. Without Tolkien we wouldn't have WOT, Shannara, Warcraft, D&D, SKYRIM, and many other amazing creations. At the same time we have the opportunity to take these troupes and intentionally subvert them completely (*cough*Martin*cough*). Whatever the case we know that the works of Tolkien's mythos have contributed to shaping not only our beloved nerd lore- but to our culture as a whole.
PS if you havent yet- I wholeheartedly suggest picking up WOT, Shannara Chronicles, AND starting a DnD campaign.