Category: Fantasy

Author Death Battle: Tolkien vs. Lewis

We at Bookstr do what we do for our love of books, but once you get down to it, the publishing world is heavily competitive. Some writers win acclaim and fortune, while others are gradually forgotten over the ages. Logically, this brought us to imagine some of the world’s most renowned authors and pit them against each other in a Death Battle!

For our first week we have two fantasy writers who have mastered world building and captured the hearts of readers of all ages. Two contemporaries, two friends, two fathers of fantasy, today we have J.R.R. Tolkien versus C.S. Lewis!

Whose literary legacy has stood the test of time best? Let’s find out.

 

 

1-The Writing Style

 

Who has more description? Who’s the wordsmith with the power to transport you to a new world?

 

C S Lewis

Image Via CNN Belief Blog

 

On one hand we have C.S. Lewis. We all have a picture of Narnia in our head, but how wide ranging is it?

 

Image via An Sionnach Fionn

 

On the other hand we have J.R.R. Tolkien. Known as the master of world building for a reason. Even in the childish novel The Hobbit, he paints glorious descriptions of not just good, but also evil, so our little dwarves and a certain hobbit have a challenge ahead of them.

My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!

Get the picture?

 

Smaug

TheOneRing.net

 

By the time we get to the The Silmarillion, Tolkien hasn’t leveled down in his powers of description.

Sauron has become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.

 

Sauron

Image Via AbsoluteArts.com

 

Drawing based on the Silmarillion

Image Via Etsy

 

Compare that to Lewis’ description of the most infamous villain in all of Narnia: The White Witch. This description comes from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

 

Her face was white—not merely pale, but white like snow or paper or icing sugar, except for her very red mouth. It was a beautiful face in other respects, but proud and cold and stern.

 

White Witch

Image Via Pinterest

 

Where’s the contest? With Tolkien you will know everything about Middle Earth, from the food, the language, and, most importantly, the leaves by the time you’re done.

Score one for Tolkien!

 

Score one!

Image Via Tampa Bay

 

Tolkien=1

Lewis=0

 

2-How They WERE Back Then

 

Let’s step back in time. Lewis and Tolkien are writing their books, but which are we going to read? What would you read?

 

Lewis writingHow to Confuse the Masses 101 / Image Via Christianity Today

 

Lewis’ first book in the series was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The next book is Prince Caspian, then The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, then The Silver Chair. So far, so good. A linear story line, easy to understand.

THEN LEWIS JUMPS BACKWARDS! We got The Horse and His Boy, a book which takes place during the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Then he writes The Magician’s Nephew, in which he goes back even further with this prequel to the beginning of the whole series. The next book is the last in the series, The Last Battle, and thankfully he’s done.

 

Chronicles of Narnia publication order

Image Via Amino Apps

 

When first published, the books were not numbered. The first American publisher, Macmillan, enumerated them according to their original publication order, while some early British editions specified the internal chronological order. When Harper Collins took over the series rights in 1994, they adopted the internal chronological order.

Well, that’s confusing, and it’s not just me saying that. Some scholars note the line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the all powerful narrator says that, “None of the children knew who Aslan was, any more than you do”—which is stupid if one has already read The Magician’s Nephew.

Doris Meyer, author of C.S. Lewis in Context and Bareface: A guide to C.S. Lewis, writes that rearranging the stories chronologically “lessens the impact of the individual stories” and “obscures the literary structures as a whole.”

Let’s face it, that line exists because Lewis didn’t know he would ever write a prequel, but it creates confusion over the order of which this series is suppose to be read. What order should we read these books?

Confusion, confusion, confusion.

 

J R R Tolkien writing

Image Via Washington Examiner

 

Then we have Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit in 1937, and the famous trilogy in 1954 and 1955. That’s a long wait, Mr. Father-of-Fantasy. Granted he wrote a largely unrevised version of The Silmarillion at the same time, but his publishers didn’t want to publish it. The Silmarillion eventually came out years after his death in 1977 and it’s so big that that book should be registered as a lethal weapon.

 

J R R Tolkien explaining

Tolkien explains the Silmarillion / Image Via Biography.com

 

So even though I don’t like how The Silmarillion jumps back in time, I can live with it. At least he doesn’t jump back in time again, like a certain man named C.S. Lewis.

Score one for Tolkien!

 

Score one!

Image Via Popular Science

 

Tolkien=2

Lewis=0

 

3-ability to welcome new readers

 

How are these books for new readers? Well, I’m not going to count the linear timeline of publishing against Lewis (I already did that) because you can put The Chronicles of Narnia and the Middle Earth books in chronological order.

With that out of the way, how do they stack up for new readers?

Well, Narnia stays consistent in tone. Challenging, exciting, but still suitable for kids. But Tolkien’s Middle Earth series doesn’t stay consist. The Hobbit, the book that introduced this hypothetical me to the series, is greatly different from The Lord of the Rings. Yes, I know Tolkien’s kids grew up with the series, but kids today aren’t going to get that. Picture this:

  1. Kid picks up The Hobbit
  2. Kid is happy
  3. Kid then picks up the sequel, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  4. Kid wets himself.

Plus, Lewis’s books are shorter and they are complete stories. There! I said it. Yes, The Hobbit is a complete story, but tonally it’s more similar to this:

 

 

Whereas The Lord of the Rings is more like this:

 

 

Then imagine if a new reader, who has never heard of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings gets their tiny hands on The Silmarillion. Describe to me the plot of The Silmarillion in three, two, one…

No, saying ‘it’s a collection of stories’ isn’t a plot summary, it’s an excuse. Yes, the descriptions are beautiful, yes, it fills out Middle Earth, but a new reader, a young reader, isn’t going to fall in love with it the way they did with The Lords of the Rings or The Hobbit, while a new reader can fall in love with The Horse and His Boy just as much as a new reader can fall in love with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Silmarillion is for fans of Middle Earth, which can turn a new reader off if they pick it up first—assuming they can manage to pick it up.

Score one for Lewis!

 

Touch down

Image Via Sports Illustrated

 

Tolkien=2

Lewis=1

 

4-Influence on Pop Culture

Image result for pop culture

Image Via The Inclusion Solution

 

Lord of the Rings brought about a great trilogy that changed the face of movie making (possibly for the worse). More than that, the books have been adapted many times over for radio, video games, animation, and will be brought to television thanks to Amazon. The book series has also made a huge impact on music and pop culture. Several musical artists, including legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath, are known to have songs inspired by the fantasy epic. A number of parodies were also created such as the VeggiTales children’s cartoon episode, “Lord of the Beans,” showing how much Tolkien’s books have influenced not just fantasy nerds, but everyone who has come across it.

As far as films go, Narnia came to the big screen later on as a Lord of the Rings rip off. However, the book has a number of adaptations as well. Three times, The Chronicles of Narnia was brought to TV screens in the United Kingdom, and there will be a fourth when Netflix releases theirs. Narnia has also made it to the stage and radio a number of times. With music there is a great deal of inspiration from the books, mainly from Christian artists. As far as any pop culture influences, The Chronicles of Narnia was referenced in the adult comedy Epic Movie, aside from that, there are very few if anymore.

Fundamentally, Narnia is more influenced by things than it has influence.

Lord of the Rings draws from plenty of lore but creates an entirely new world, magical systems and all, while Narnia is greatly influenced by Christianity.

Ex:

Jadis=Judas

Aslan=Jesus

See the connection!

Tolkien scores!

 

Image result for soccer goal! game

Image Via Image Via Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Tolkien=3

Lewis=1

 

5-Impact On the Real World

You have to hand it to Tolkien, the man created an entirely new language. That’s creative genius taken to a whole new level, and it has impacted the way we think of world-building in any kind of storytelling—ranging from writing novels to creating stories for Dungeons & Dragons.

However, Lewis also continues to have a great effect in people’s lives. As a man of Christian faith, his writing speaks to the religion and therefore those who follow it. In fact, Lewis’s name has become so big in the Christian community there is an entire foundation in his name. The C.S. Lewis Foundation is a nonprofit aiming to restore vital Christian presence throughout higher education, the arts, and the culture at large—they also have an annual retreat, where members meet to engage mind, spirit, and imagination in the tradition of C.S. Lewis.

Lewis scores!

 

Image result for lacrosse goal

Image Via Image Via Pioneer Athletics

 

Tolkien=3

Lewis=2

 

Winner: J.R.R. Tolkien!

 

Now, how would this death battle play out in their fantasy world turfs, you ask? Hold my Turkish delight.

 

An invitation started the whole farce. If it weren’t for the fact that they were such close friends, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien would not have answered to the call.

“My old friend, there is much that I have to discuss with you,” says Clive Staples Lewis.

They meet in an open field of green. A lush forest just beyond the two men approaching each other on horseback with awkward smiles.

After all the formalities and “How are you”s are through, out comes the truth.

Lewis sighs as he slowly reaches into his greatly oversized red, satin bag, “I’m afraid that, friendships aside, I’m going to have to put an end to things. To you I mean.” Swinging out a thin but piercing gold sword, Lewis attacks Tolkien in a flash. It is the sword, Rhindon.

Tolkien, with his army training coming back to him, jumps back in shock, and just barely misses being grazed by the sharp point. Upon realization that pleading with Lewis is futile, Tolkien leaps onto his steed, making way into the forest. Lewis follows on his horse, carrying Rhindon as well as a shield to protect him from harm.

Through a thicket in the forest, Lewis loses sight of Tolkien. Only a horse remains at the bottom of a large, rock incline. Lewis dismounts his horse, eyes shifting left and right for his foe, when all of a sudden an arrow flies swiftly into his sword bearing arm.

Tolkien rushes out from beyond the trees carrying a bow and several arrows, firing with great speed and intensity. Lewis, though in great pain, moves toward Tolkien, blocking every arrow with his shield. To Tolkien’s dismay, Lewis’ advances succeed, and standing before him stabs Tolkien with Rhindon.

Tolkien falls to the ground. Lewis relieved, falls himself to rest his weary body, dropping his sword and shield before him.

After pulling the arrow out of his arm, Lewis grabs from his petticoat Queen Lucy’s Cordial, and lets out a relieved sigh. However, that relief fades as soon as he sees Tolkien rising from his assumed fallen state. Tolkien makes his way towards Lewis, intensity in his eyes and a golden ring in his hand.

Shocked cold Lewis shouts, “But how? I stabbed you with Rhindon!”

Tolkien scoffs, “What can I say, I was thinking ahead.” The man opens his shirt, revealing a Mithril shirt. “I’m always about the smallest details after all.”

As Tolkien charges at Lewis, Lewis haphazardly pours the healing solution onto his wounded arm. With fervor, he reaches for his sword to strike at Tolkien, but when he finally reaches towards it, Tolkien vanishes yet again.

Using the corruptible power of the One Ring to Rule them all, Tolkien vanishes, sneaking behind Lewis for a sneak attack punch and then vanishes. Lewis catches onto where the ring-bearer is, following his footprints. Slashing Tolkien indiscriminately he knocks him down again. Knowing that the ring won’t fool him any more, Tolkien takes off the ring, returning back to visibility. In pain, Tolkien crawls up the rock incline. Heaving in his breath, Lewis follows.

Preparing his sword for one final blow, Lewis follows Tolkien to the very top of the rock.

Tolkien cries, “Why you? We have been friends for so many years! What is it that you hope to achieve?”

“You have it right in your hand”, Lewis grins.

Tolkien looks to the Ring. Possessed by its call. Gripping it tighter, he shakes his head. “The Ring is mine to bear.”

“Then here you will die,” Lewis exclaims.

As he pulls back his sword, the Earth begins to shake beneath the two men. From far into the forest, a glowing green light moves steadfast toward Tolkien and Lewis.

The Dead Men of Dunharrow come charging to protect their creator, Tolkien. From the other end of the forest comes Aslan to protect Lewis from harm. But alas, the Dead Men of Dunharrow are ghosts and can flow through anything at will. Aslan is left useless in protecting his creator, and Lewis is knocked down the rock and plummets with a painful landing.

While Aslan battles the Dead Men, some of the others help Tolkien up, giving him Elvish bread to retain his strength.

Tolkien makes his way to Lewis, who is still on the ground in pain. The Dead Men provide Tolkien with the Legendary sword, Andúril, as Aslan reaches his end against the Dead Men. Tolkien raises Andúril, and ends Lewis with one final blow.

 

Nominate which literary juggernauts should go at it next in the comments!

 

Featured Image via Collage Maker

 

 

7 Literary Characters That Desperately Need to Go Back to School

With the start of September comes a new semester of school. Not the most exciting time of the year, unless you’re Hermione Granger. Good on you if you’ve made the leap to educate yourself. It is indeed something many people desire to one extent or another, but for some, it is an absolute necessity due to a severe lack of intellect. To speak in layman’s terms, for those of you who don’t understand, some people are pretty dumb.

In honor of the start of school, we are counting seven literary characters who are very much in need of a good education.

 

 

1. Crabbe & Goyle from The Harry Potter Series

 

Image result for crabbe and goyle

Image via DeviantArt

 

Without question, Malfoy’s lackeys are in desperate need of schooling, together. The two would surely have to go to classes together as they are so lacking in intelligence separately they’d have to combine their minds, either figuratively or literally via magic, to pass any of their classes.

 

2. Captain Ahab from Moby Dick

 

Image result for captain ahab

Image via DeviantArt

 

The man had goals, but not the wits to catch one particular whale. With a little more to learn, Ahab could greatly benefit from learning more about whales in Biology. That or he could go for his teaching license in Whaling. You know what they say, “if you can’t do, teach.”

 

 

3. Ariel from The Little Mermaid

 

Related image

Image via Tenor

 

Finding your place in the world is a huge part of school, especially in high school and college. At the very least with education being the central focus, it’ll prevent you from making undersea deals with strange old hags and running away from home for some pretty boy—or so we hope. Ariel could certainly learn about stranger danger if she enrolls now.

 

 

 

4. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum From Through The Looking Glass

 

Image result for tweedle dee and tweedle dum gif

Image via Giphy

 

With an inclination toward mischief and violence, the twins would give any teacher a hard time. However, if separated and placed in the right classes, their bad habits could be turned around. Have them involved in a sport like football or volleyball, and on the side, fostering their apparent interest in poetry could help them to express themselves in more productive ways. Then again, going back to the chaos of Wonderland it would take much longer to find progress, unless they dorm that is.

 

 

5. Ophelia from Hamlet

 

Image result for ophelia hamlet

Image via Wikipedia

 

School could have literally saved Ophelia’s life in Hamlet. When you’re with a really great teacher, you can be tested to think for yourself. Granted, in Medieval Times women were expected to follow the men, Ophelia being swayed left and right is a tragedy in itself. If she was given an education, then maybe she’d be more logical in thinking with her heartbreak over Hamlet. At the very least she could have benefited from swimming classes.

 

 

6. Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein

 

Image result for victor frankenstein gif

Image via Giphy

 

In spite of how smart of a scientist he was before his grave-robbing began, Dr. Frankenstein realized only at the end how much of a fool he was to try and play God. Even then, he still did not understand that he is no hero in this tale of horror.

Victor may not need to go back to the basics of Science, but he ought to register in several classes on Ethics as soon as he can.

 

 

7. Dr. John Watson from The Sherlock Holmes Series

 

Image result for dr watson gifs

Image via Giphy

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Watson is a Doctor, he’s already gone through years of school. Not enough when he keeps being schooled by Sherlock. Maybe Dr. Watson should go back to Elementary.

 

So good on you for making the smart choice of an education! *Cough* Hope it’s not a waste of money. *Cough*

As for this bunch, they definitely need to be making the choice to go to school. It’s still not too late for them to apply, but they’re probably too stupid to know that.

 

 

Featured Image via cornel1801

Can ‘The Earthsea Cycle’ Be Successfully Adapted This Time?

Written by late author Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Cycle is a fantasy series set in an archipelago of hundreds of islands and focuses on the coming-of-age story of a young wizard named Ged, who must use his powers to stop those who threaten to upset the islands’ way of life.

 

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin. Image Via Polygon

 

In 2004, the Sci Fi Channel created a three-hour loose adaptation for television of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, entitled Legend of Earthsea. Thanks to budget constraints, the addition of a romantic subplot, and whitewashing, the film anger not only fans of the series but also Le Guin herself.

It posed the question: Can you adapted The Earthsea Cycles successfully, or is the pressure of a studio system too great?

Yet you need the money to adapted The Earthsea Cycles. The original idea was that the book series was going to be made into films, with Le Guin giving her blessing to adapt the series after her death. Now, the plan has shifted and Earthsea will become a television series instead.

 

 

Jennifer Fox, the producer of the Jake Gyllenhall film Nightcrawler, is teaming up with studio A24 to bring the series to the small screen, in hopes of shopping it around to potential networks.

 

Jennifer Fox

Jennifer Fox. Image Via HBO

 

The series has often been compared to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Fox has even described Le Guin as second only to Tolkein:

 

 “Ursula Le Guin is a literary legend with a huge fan base and her work has been translated into practically every written language on the globe. She is second only to Tolkien in influence in this genre, and before she died last year, she agreed to put her most beloved work in my hands. This project is, therefore, a sacred trust and priority for me as well as an opportunity to create an iconic piece of American culture.”

 

Are you a fan of The Earthsea Cycle? Do you think this adaptation will work out for the best, or should they combine the first two books into one movie?

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Nag

 

Our Favorite Tolkien & Lewis Apocrypha

Tolkien and Lewis were both in residence at Oxford for many years, studying and teaching both. They were also close friends, even though they disagreed on almost everything. Sure, they had a shared interest in language, and in what we now call fantasy, but they disagreed on religion, and on the tones of their books. There are also a lot of stories about their friendship, few confirmed, but all amazing. Here are our favorites!

 

1. The Lamppost

 

Image via Dissolve

 

There’s a story that says Lewis specifically put the lamppost in Narnia because Tolkien said a good fantasy story would never have one. The sheer pettiness. What an icon. No fantasy story would have a lamppost? Well this one does! Please, TELL Lewis what his story can have. There’s no slowing him down. A lesson in spite we should really all take to heart.

 

 

2. Religion

 

Image via IOL

 

Tolkien was, as well as being a linguist and historian, quite Catholic, and Lewis found his philosophical suggestions appealing, becoming religious himself. Tolkien didn’t get what he wanted, though, because though Lewis became more religious, he was Protestant, and Tolkien didn’t at all appreciate how much religion was in Lewis’ books. Kinda played himself.

 

3. The Draft

 

Image via The Creative Penn

 

Apparently when Lewis first read his draft of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to Tolkien and a croup of friends, Tolkien hated it. He thought it was terrible and combined too many mythologies. He wanted more consistent world building, and I don’t have a good source for this, but I’ve heard he even told Lewis to stop writing.

 

 

 

Featured image via J A Carlisle