For the past eleven years, Goodreads has run an annual reader award, where book lovers can vote on their favorite books based on the categories: Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Humor, Nonfiction, Memoir & Autobiography, History & Autobiography, Science & Technology, Food & Cookbooks, Graphic Novels & Comics, Poetry, Debut Novel, Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade & Children’s, and Picture Books. This definitely puts into perspective how much is published every single year, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably excited to add twenty more books to your “to be read” list. This is one of those fantastic occasions where readers are able to decide what books they feel should earn an award, so if you weren’t able to participate in the voting this year, then definitely vote in the 2020 book awards!
One might note that there are two distinct categories for fantasy literature that has been published in this past year. This article will highlight the two winners from the Goodreads’ 2019 Annual Choice Awards, and it will also recognize the four runner-up nominees from both sections. To see both lists in their entirety, check out the 2019 Fantasy list and the 2019 YA Fantasy list.
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens. The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
“Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light… That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…”
Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
“The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
“After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.”
Both series fall under the genre of fantasy, but afterwards the similarities fall apart. They don’t have similar themes, similar characters, the setting is vastly different. They are different as heaven and hell, cheese and gravy, pens and shotguns. But I want to step up and proudly announce, “Who gives a snap?”
I still want to compare and contrast them and the reptilian part of my brain wants to see them fight to the death.
Thus we introduce the American Tolkien and the Queen of Magic, George R. R. Martin and J. K. Rowling. One is the pirate-version of Tolkien, the other is an English woman who’s got a magic wand in one hand and a magic pen in the other. One has finished their series, the other says he will. Well, take a break from writing Georgie because…
Ignoring the broader themes of Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal work, Fight Club, we’re going to do what we do best and have two people fight each other.
Since we can’t talk about Fight Club (see rules one and two), we’re going to write about it. Specifically, we’re going to have two writers fight each other. Three rounds will determine their strength as we go through their impact on the world at large, their power of description, and their distinctive style.
It’s the fight of the week, guys, because it’s GEORGE R. R. MARTIN VS J. K. ROWLING!!
NOTE: For all these sections, we are only relying on the words from the books, not movies, not fan art, not pictures, and certainly not Tweets.
She’s done other things, but those are the most important.
Image Via Indie Wire
Now George R. R. Martin is an American novelist and short story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres as well as a screenwriter and television producer. Let’s focus on his A Song of Ice and Fire series because, if we’re being honest, that’s the only thing we care about.
Like J. K. Rowling, his series was adapted, but this time it was a television series for HBO known as Game of Thrones. In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin “the American Tolkien,” and in 2011, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
Each series is well-known, but which has more influence? For that, we’ll have to talk about international markets.
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A Song of Ice and Fire was adapted for an HBO TV series, which the name of the first book for the name of its series. It’s very grotesque. There’s a lot of graphic violence and sex and nudity. From incest to rape to murder to torture, there’s a lot of heavy stuff here.
And that hurts marketing.
Image Via MuggleNet
On the other hand, Harry Potter started out a middle grade series and then became a YA series. It’s a book series, but it’s also a film series, it’s also a dozen or so video games, it’s also two major theme parks, never mind the merchandise. It’s primary audience is children and young people and thus everyone and their families can get involved. Not so with Game of Thrones.
Harry Potter gets dark, but never THAT dark. The adult content is largely subtext, such as Aberforth’s love for goats or Fenrir’s interest in children.
Which do you think is more marketable?
Image Via PInterest
Plus, even if you don’t know the story, every single person has heard the name Harry Potter and knows about the boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar who goes to a magic school.
Even people who are moderately familiar with Game of Thrones can’t point out any of the main characters or tell you anything about the plot because it’s all over the place.
Point for Martin! JK
Point for Rowling!
2-Power of Description
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To start this section, we’re going to tackle the big dogs. How does Rowling and how does Martin describe their iconic imagery? How does J. K. Rowling’s description of Hogwarts par up with Martin’s description of the Iron Throne?
Just to be clear, we’re going to tackle only the first description of description of these icons. They are referenced numerous times throughout the first books in their respective series, but how does the author describe them when we first feast our eyes upon them? That’s what we’re going to look into. First impressions make a big impact.
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
“No more ‘n four to a boat!” Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.
“Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself, “Right then— FORWARD!”
And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
“Heads down!” yelled Hagrid as the first boat reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy which hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they clambered out on to the rocks and pebbles.
“Oy, you there! Is this your toad?” said Hagrid, who was checking his boats as people climbed out of them.
“Trevor!” cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid’s lamp, coming out at last on to smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.
“Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?”
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
Compare that to George’s description of the Iron Throne as per his first book in the series, Game of Thrones:
Image Via Game of Thrones Wiki – Fandom
Through the high narrow windows of the Red Keep’s cavernous throne room, the light of sunset spilled across the floor, laying dark red stripes upon the walls where the heads of dragons had once hung. Now the stone was covered with hunting tapestries, vivid with greens and browns and blues, and yet still it seemed to Ned Stark that the only color in the hall was the red of blood.
He sat high upon the immense ancient seat of Aegon the Conqueror, an ironwork monstrosity of spikes and jagged edges and grotesquely twisted metal. It was, as Robert had warned him, a hellishly uncomfortable chair, and never more so than now, with his shattered leg throbbing more sharply every minute. The metal beneath him had grown harder the hour, and the fanged steel behind made it impossible to lean back. A king should never sit easy, Aegon the Conqueror had said, when he commanded his armorers to forge a great seat from the swords laid down by his enemies. Damn Aegon for his arrogance, Ned thought sullenly, and damn Robert and his hunting as well.
The description of Hogwarts breathes power, glory, and magical wonderment, but the concrete details are a bit spare. After learning the castle is “[p]erched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky,” we learn that Hogwarts is “a vast castle with many turrets and towers.” The place is big and it seems to grow ever larger as we come closer, hence the line “[i]t towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.” The place also has a “huge, oak front door.”
The description of the Iron Throne is one of horror. After learning the hall is “covered with hunting tapestries, vivid with greens and browns and blues,” and we go from the mention of “hunting” to noting that the only thing “the only color in the hall” that Ned Stark sees is “the red of blood,” we earn that the throne itself is an “ironwork monstrosity of spikes and jagged edges and grotesquely twisted metal,” and is “a great seat from the swords.”
Instead of a lake “smooth as glass,” we have “the light of sunset spilled across the floor, laying dark red stripes upon the walls where the heads of dragons had once hung.”
Instead of a big castle “with many turrets and towers,” (note the word ‘many’ and how, um, vague that is) we learn about “ironwork monstrosity of spikes and jagged edges and grotesquely twisted metal.”
George adds some history to his descriptions to even further amplify his readers with a sense of scale and dread, from “the immense ancient seat of Aegon the Conqueror” and beyond, but we’re only focusing on the physical details, and, well…
The long and short of it is that J. K. Rowling leaves things up to the imagination. She lights a fuse, and we let it run wild. That’s great and all, but not for this section.
Before we go onto the next section, style, let’s talk about food.
Image Via The-Leaky-Cauldron
I love food, you love food, wizards love food, muggles love food, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone introduces the magic of food with this:
Harry’s mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? Delicious!
The people of A Song of Ice and Fire, like all us muggles, love food. How does George R. R. Martin describe food? Well, in A Clash of Kings, we get the Harvest Feast at Winterfell, presided by Bran.
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There were great joints of aurochs roasted with leeks, venison pies chunky with carrots, bacon, and mushrooms, mutton chops sauced in honey and cloves, savory duck, peppered boar, goose, skewers of pigeon and capon, beef-and-barley stew, cold fruit soup. Lord Wyman had brought twenty casks of fish from White Harbor packed in salt and seaweed; whitefish and winkles, crabs and mussels, clams, herring, cod, salmon, lobster and lampreys. There was black bread and honeycakes and oaten biscuits; there were turnips and pease and beets, beans and squash and huge red onions; there were baked apples and berry tarts and pears poached in strongwine. Wheels of white cheese were set at every table, above and below the salt, and flagons of hot spice wine and chilled autumn ale were passed up and down the tables.
These two passages beside each other bring out some faults in the other. For one, George R. R. Martin made a bigger list, which always gets points. But it’s not just a list, we have sentences! We get one list, and then we get “[t]here was black bread and honeycakes and oaten biscuits; there were turnips and pease and beets, beans and squash and huge red onions; there were baked apples and berry tarts…”
The use of the phrase “[t]here was” over and over only makes this list seem longer.
Second of all, in addition to listing things, he added more description, noting, for instance, that the wheels of white cheese are “set at every table, above and below the salt.”
Who’s more descriptive when it comes to food between J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin? The answer is George R. R. Martin Really likes food.
Image Via IMgur
We have to give the point to George for this section. It was close, and it makes our hearts ache, our stomachs hurt. In fact, George wrote it best in A Storm of Swords:
There was a sickening crunch. Ellaria Sand wailed in terror, and Tyrion’s breakfast came boiling back up. He found himself on his knees retching bacon and sausage and applecakes, and that double helping of fried eggs cooked up with onions and fiery Dornish peppers.
Yes, they both write fantasy, but for vastly different audiences. J. K. Rowling talks about friendship and love, George talks about honor and loyalty. Looking at just the style is too narrow a view, so we’ve decided to instead compare and contrast…
3-Style WORLD BUILDING
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It’s one fantasy world we’ve loved to live in vs one fantasy world where we go “Nah, where I’m at is fine.” We’d all love to live with Harry Potter, but we’re not talking about that. We’re asking this, who built the better world? Which one is richer?
World of Harry Potter / Image Via Pinterest
At first glance, it seems that J. K. Rowling has this in the bag. She’s only gone into detail about Hogwarts and the Wizard World of England and not the sprawling, near hundreds of places George has gone into. Less room to mess ups.
World of Westeros / Image Via PInterest
Over the course of five books (so far), George has explored how various characters were shaped and shape their world continuously. There was a Mad King some time ago. His reign caused Danny to be cast out as a child, caused Jaime to lose his honor, caused Ned to go off to war and come back with a bastard child named Jon. The aftermath of his reign brought gave us King Robert, who brought in a council of sycophants who took advantage of him and put his kingdom into debt, brought Cersei Lannister closer to him than anyone should ever get to Cersei, and much, much more.
This all happens before the novel. The event affects the characters.
J. K. Rowling does the same thing, but on a smaller scale. Harry Potter is affected by the wizarding war, he’s the boy who lived but lost his parents, and we learn that Snape lost the love of his life and turned ‘good,’ Neville lost his parents, Sirius Black was blamed for crimes he didn’t commit, and so on.
So far, as far as the world events affects the characters, they are on even ground.
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Getting into the nitty-gritty, Danny’s freeing of the slaves and the following chaos is similar to Hermione’s vain attempts to free the House Elves, facing racism. But here we get a problem: We learn Ron harbors some feelings that House Elves like being servants, but nothing comes of that. In fact, the two get married, and Ron’s ill-feelings are largely brushed aside.
In fact, that happens a lot in this series. Filch is a squib, unable to perform magic, but he’s mean so it’s okay to mock him. And that’s that.
Danny frees the slaves, but meets chaos and rebellion at every corner, never mind her own destiny tugging to move to Westeros. Even though the series isn’t done, we already know that these events won’t be brushed aside.
With George, we learn how prejudice affects people. Tyrion is short and is constantly mocked for it. Thus, he’s forced himself to be smarter than everyone else, but also wallows in self-hatred and is a drunk. He loses the love of his life and meets Shae, a woman who wants him because she thinks it’ll get her ahead. When Shae betrays him, Tyrion outright murders her (unlike in the show, but we’re only talking about the books here BTW).
J K Rowling introduces prejudice, but then it’s either dropped or…Lupinned?
To explain, Professor Lupin was a werewolf who, when his conditions is revealed, has to leave Hogwarts. People refuse to give him a chance because of his conditions, showing how prejudice affects and defines people even more so than their condition. But then we meet an evil werewolf who wants to affect children with his condition, showing that maybe, just maybe, that kicking someone out with this condition could be maybe, just maybe, justifiable.
George R. R. Martin’s world shows how people shape their worlds and the worlds affect the people. Prejudice not only hurts people, but it defines them. Rowling does something similar but she’s a tad, let’s say sloppy, when it comes to prejudice.
Sorry J. K. I’d still move to Hogwarts instead of Westeros, but points goes to George.
The night’s crescent moon lit the abandoned castle through hallowed windows, the cold air crawling in. George R. R. Martin sat there in the main hall, warmed by a small banquet of food residing in front of him, a scorching fireplace lit ablaze behind him, and a pen and paper sitting alone on the far end of the table. The thoughts in his head spiraled one after the other.
“After this meal it will all be done. Or maybe I can try my hand at some sightseeing to stir my imagination. Or maybe I need a good book, or a visit to the nearby town. That video game I signed to work on could use some of my attention too.”
After finishing another turn of the giant roast pig on a spit beside him, he slammed his fists on the table, grumbled in frustration, only to slice himself yet another delectable piece of tarty lemon cake. George was so preoccupied in his thoughts and his eating that he hadn’t noticed the shady figure of a woman creeping into the hall.
“Expelliarmus!”, shouted a voice. A flash of light charged towards the author, who just managed to dodge the blast, save for his desired lemon cake that now oozed down the stone wall.
George was enraged, “That was my desert!! Now I’ll never finish Winds of Winter! Who the hell are you?!”
The dark figure came into the light, it was J. K. Rowling!
Rowling directed her wand straight at the man in front of her, never standing down as she slowly walked toward him. “I figured you would be in a pathetic state of procrastination, but this is bloody awful!”, J. K. sneered at him. “First you lock yourself up in a cabin, now a castle?! Ridiculous!”
George stood tall and stared her down, “We all have low points. At least I’m not spouting out half-assed crap that only tweens and socially awkward teenagers can fall back on.”
K.’s eyes lit up in fury, “That does it! My agent suggested that I collaborate with you, but I can see you’re just a grotesque lard of a man, and a poor excuse of a professional writer!”
George was not amused, “Ok, are we gonna go ahead and fight, or are you just going to keep monologuing?”
J. K. lowered her wand and raised her hands as an eerie smile came across her face. From behind her, black puffs of smoke flew into the hall from it’s one and only entrance. One by one the smoke faded and men and women wearing skulls to mask their face were revealed—it was the Death Eaters!
Martin was outnumbered 13 to 1.
Martin leaped under the hall’s table as J. K. Rowling and her Death Eaters fired one spell after another at him. With the long table covered in cloth, there was no telling where Martin was exactly.
Rowling commanded her troops, “Destroy the table! Find me the fat man!”
Spell after spell rocketed across the hall and at the table, resulting in an explosion of broken up wood, various meats, potatoes, and pies. No one noticed the snow storm that began engulfing the castle.
There was such a mess of smoke that had blocked the Wizards’ and Witches’ view of their target that Rowling ordered them to cease fire. With that the smoke had a chance to dissipate. There was nothing but the gray from the smoke. Then three pairs of blue glowing eyes appeared.
“Impossible”, whispered one of the Death Eaters.
Heavy marching began to sound outside the castle, and the smoke finally cleared to reveal three armor wearing White Walkers standing guard to defend Martin, who was crouched behind them. Two of the undead soldiers took a step ahead, ready to attack in a battle stance, while the third, who was wearing armor twice his size, began to take its armor off and hand it to George.
Rowling saw the fear in her comrades’ eyes, but she wasn’t backing down. “Friends! We spoke of this possibility and knew of the risks! You know what to do!” They all nodded, fear still filling their eyes.
The Death Eaters closely circled Rowling who swirled her wand in the air, steadily creating a vast lasso of flames to surround the group. The White Walkers shook at the sight of the flames, but did not move from their spot. From the hall’s entrance the army of White Walkers stormed in, and while they too shuddered at the fire, they slowly continued to march on and attack the Death Eaters.
Rowling began her march toward Martin. “Forward!”, she yelled.
Slowly Rowling’s Death Eaters began to die off one by one from the onslaught of the undead. With every death of her men and women, there were several White Walkers burned to the ground.
Martin charged to the roast pig and thrusted out the steel spit, ready to make his move. When Martin’s three White Walker guards were burned and leviosa’d out the open castle windows, Rowling ordered her last Death Eater, “Hold the army back while I finish the job.”
Martin gave her no chance to cast any spells on him and attacked her with the steel spit in a fencing combat style. Jabbing endlessly, Martin began to break a sweat, and just managing to dodge the blows Rowling was sweating from the heat as well.
Hitting the wall of the castle Rowling yet again dodged Martin’s attack that surprisingly so powerful it cracked into the stone. In an intense rage Rowling punched Martin in the opening of his armored helmet, knocking him to the ground.
“Master!” cried the lone Death Eater, “I can’t hold this army much longer!”
J. K. Rowling did not respond to her subordinate, her eyes were fixated on her kill. She stood on top of Martin and cast a paralysis spell on him.
“Damn you!” Martin cried.
With a grin on her face Rowling reached into her pocket and took out her cell phone, pointing it’s camera at Martin’s face.
“This will be for my next Twitter post. And what lovely lighting we have this night.”
But Rowling’s perfect picture was about to be ruined with a surprise visit from one of Danaerys Targaryen’s dragons, Drogon. Drogon’s head entered the hall and he was face to face with a very shocked J. K. Rowling.
Martin’s paralysis began to fade just enough to give the order, “Dracarys!”
The flying beast’s jaw opened and released an intense fire that instantly destroyed J. K. Rowling.
The final Death Eater called for her Master in tears as the White Walkers finally made their way through the fiery wall of magic and destroy Rowling’s final comrade.
Martin regained his ability to move and patted the dragon on the snout.
“Wow”, he stated. “That was some fantastic inspiration for Winds of Winter!!” He threw his hands up in the air in joy and danced around. He turned to his army of White Walkers and shouted, “But first, let’s have a feast!!”
Who are literature’s worst monsters, but aren’t actually all that bad? Who has a silver lining that we can look into? Who are the almost monsters of literature that are almost terrible but not quite?
Let’s find out!
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At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!
Not only did this pig in a human suit lie to Harry, but he abused him since he was a BABY. He’s not even magical.
Objectively, of all the characters from the Harry Potter series, Vernon Dursley is just the worse. He’s human, so we can judge him as much as we want, for keeping a baby in a closet under the stairs for ELEVEN YEARS. Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but Vernon just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents, and threw him under a closet for ELEVEN YEARS.
To make matters worse, no one called the cops. At least Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby.
At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!
Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but this pig in a human suit just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents. At least Aunt Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby. Of all the characters in the Harry Potter series, he’s not even magical, but he’s certainly one of the worse.
OR IS HE?
Horcruxes can influence those around them and Voldemort made one out of Harry. Thus the Dursleys’ dislike of him was exacerbated by Voldemort’s magic.
James was amused by Vernon, and made the mistake of showing it. Vernon tried to patronise James, asking what car he drove. James described his racing broom.
Vernon supposed out loud that wizards had to live on unemployment benefit. James explained about Gringotts, and the fortune his parents had saved there, in solid gold.
Vernon could not tell whether he was being made fun of or not, and grew angry. The evening ended with Vernon and Petunia storming out of the restaurant, while Lily burst into tears and James (a little ashamed of himself) promised to make things up with Vernon at the earliest opportunity.
Either way, Vernon might not be as bad we thought he is (though he’s still pretty terrible)
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The titular character from Moby Dick, at the end of the day, is a WHALE. It has no concept of good of evil, it’s just a big whale.
Image Via The Guardian
Captain Ahab is the rotten one here. Blame him, not the whale!
6-Alexandra Finch Hancock
Image Via To Kill A Mocking Bird.com
While not the worse character in To Kill a Mocking Bird (the real monster is Bob Ewell), Aunt Alexandra is a racist piece of crap. The formidable matriarch of the Finch family, Aunt Alexandra is the king of woman who wears a corset even under her bathrobe. Before she even comes onto the page, Scout compares her to Mount Everest: “throughout my early life, she was cold and there,” but when she comes on the page she far exceeds our expectations of her.
Bossy, hyper-critical, Aunt Alexandra likes thinks done her way or the highway. Imagine the pressure poor Atticus is under when she targets him, taking umbrage with his client, Tom Robinson, noting that the case might endanger the Finch reputation.
She forgoes human decency because of the family. To her, “what is the best for the family” is more important than the family itself.
Aunt Alexandra, in underlining the moral of young Sam Merriweather’s suicide, said it was caused by a morbid streak in the family. Let a sixteen-year-old girl giggle in the choir and Aunty would say, “It just goes to show you, all the Penfield women are flighty.” Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.
She’s obsessed with family streaks, hinting that she believes that the Finches are destined to be superior. In a book about racism, the real reason Aunt Alexandra doesn’t think Atticus should take the case are clear.
She also uses it to beat Scout over the head with.
Oh, yeah, Scout is in her line of sights as well. Scout is a tomboy, Aunt Alexandra is a proper lady, the pinnacle of the South. Thus, Alexandria sets to work trying to quash Scout’s tomboyish tendencies and forge a new identity for her.
Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life.
But it’s not just racism, Aunt Alexandra is also a classist. When Scout wants to play with Walter, a poor boy, Aunt Alexandra:
…took off her glasses and stared at me. “I’ll tell you why,” she said. “Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what.”
Image Via PInterest
However, are we judging her too harshly? Is our picture of her incomplete?
After Tom is killed, family affection that looms largest for Aunt Alexandra, telling Miss Maudie:
“I can’t say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he’s my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end. […] It tears him to pieces”
She’s concerned for her brother, standing by him even when she disagrees with him. Make of that what you will, but at least she’s not Bob Ewell, a man so terrible that I’ll bet when Boo Radley killed him no one in town even batted an eye. Not even his daughters.
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Depending on your translation of Beowulf, she is either called Grendel’s mother or Grendel’s dam, but I’d liked to call her Mother-whose-son-had-his-arm-ripped off.
I think we can all sit down and agree that Grendel is a monster. He terrorized a village and Beowulf was in the right in defending the town against that monster, but Grendel’s Mommy isn’t that bad. Her son was returned to their cave mortally wounded, one of his two arms (or claws) ripped from its shoulder socket and now hanging in a mead-hall as a grotesque trophy.
Of course she’s going to be mad. And you know what? Good for her for stealing her son’s arm back. Why’d they even want it so bad?
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But Beowulf just had to come, invading her home, and decapitating her.
Her motive is human and, from her point-of-view, she’s lived there over a hundred years and was never a problem. She just wanted her son’s arm, but they just had to kill her because she was a monster. As Tyrion once said, “I wish I was the monster you think I am!”
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Pecola Beedlove, a young black girl, is routinely mocked by other children for her physical appearance. The only person to find her desirable is her father.
Cholly Breedlove makes this list. To make a long story short, he abuses his wife, he burns down his family home, and repeatedly rapes his own daughter.
But he’s not quite the evilest character Toni Morrison has ever created. In his one and only appearance in The Bluest Eye, we learn quite enough about him that creates a picture of how abusive is cyclical.
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Abandoned in a junk heap as a baby, Cholly is taken in by two white men who force him to perform sexually for their amusement. When he finally meets his father, he shits his pants.
Thrown in a world where people abuse him, Cholly grows up into a man who doesn’t care about life. He’s free, but he cannot love or be loved. He does what he wants, uncaring for what happens him.
He rapes his daughter to remind himself that he is alive. He rapes her to feel the pain he felt as a child because that’s all he knows. He’s a monster made from monsters who tries to make his own daughter into a monster, all the time thinking ‘monster’ is synonymous with ‘human.’
Image Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire – Westeros
Snobbish, rude, Jaime Lannister is in a relationship with his twin sister, Cersei, making three bastards that are set to become Kings and Queens themselves without the actual King Robert none the wiser. He even throws Bran out a window when he catches him having sex with his sister, crippling the boy.
But do I even need to explain why this character from George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series just isn’t as bad as he sounds?
At the age of fifteen Jaime become the Kingsguard to the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. He took an oath to defend the King no matter what, and he broke that oath.
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Yeah, he killed the king, but for two years he witnessed the Mad King’s growing insanity and tendency for burning men alive first hand. One night after burning someone alive, Aerys visited the chambers of his wife and raped her. During this time, Jaime was outside, telling his fellow Kinsguard that they were sworn to protect the queen as well, to which he was told, “but not from him.”
Later, during a rebellion, Aerys devised a plot to burn the entire city to the ground rather than lose it. Upon learning about this plan, the Hand to the King resigned and Aerys burned him alive. Jaime stood back.
When Aerys ordered the city to be burned, Jaime killed everyone involved, including the King, an action which saved the whole city and caused them to hate Jaime for breaking his oath. Even after he was pardoned, even Jon Snow, who “[knows] nothing,” notes that “[t]hey called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered ‘Kingslayer’ behind his back.”
Taking the film into consideration, however, the Wicked Witch is still sympathetic. Dorothy murdered her sister, dropping a house on her head, and then her sister’s body disintegrated. The last thing the Witch has to remember her sister by is a pair of shoes, which Dorothy can’t give her and Glinda refuses to take off her feet.
Image Via IMDB
Imagine if your sibling was murdered and the murderer had their prized heirloom on their feet, refusing to give it you because they didn’t like you. And why doesn’t Dorothy try to talk to the Witch? Is it because she’s Green?
The Witch was in the right. She might not have gone about it the right way, but Dorothy is a murderer hanging out with a discount iron man, a scarecrow (don’t give him any fear toxin), and a lion.
Plus, Wicked, both book and musical changed our minds about this Witch.
Tons of Game of Thrones news has hit over the last few days. The original writers left the Star Wars franchise, one of the proposed prequels centering around the White Walkers was just cancelled, and another one focusing on the Targaryans, titled House of the Dragon, has been given a 10-episode order. With all this news happening all at once, what does the creator of the world of Westeros have to say about it?
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George R. R. Martin spoke about all these developments in a blog post titled The Dragon Takes Wing. He expressed happiness at the recent prequel news, but also said that he was sad that The Long Night, the working title for the White Walkers prequel headed by writer Jane Goldman, never went through:
It goes without saying that I was saddened to hear the show would not be going to series. Jane Goldman is a terrific screenwriter, and I enjoyed brainstorming with her. I do not know why HBO decided not to go to series on this one, but I do not think it had to do with HOUSE OF THE DRAGON. This was never an either/or situation. If television has room enough for multiple CSI’s and CHICAGO shows…well, Westeros and Essos are a lot bigger, with thousands of years of history and enough tales and legends and characters for a dozen shows. Heartbreaking as it is to work for years on a pilot, to pour your blood and sweat and tears into it, and have it come to naught, it’s not at all uncommon. I’ve been there myself, more than once. I know Jane and her team are feeling the disappointment just now, and they have all my sympathy…with my thanks for all their hard work, and my good wishes for whatever they do next.
However, unlike the original show, Martin will not be involved in the series until the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, is finished:
“But… let me make this perfectly clear… I am not taking on any scripts until I have finished and delivered WINDS OF WINTER. Winter is still coming, and WINDS remains my priority, as much as I’d love to write an episode of HOUSE.”
The Winds of Winter still does not have a release date.