Lord Foul's Bane vs Lord of the Rings

Brys

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
813
I said:
I could have sworn that I'd read a list of claims purporting to show that Lord Foul's Bane derives a lot of it's actual plot elements from Lord of the Rings - the only accusation I can specifically remember is that of both chasing after a powerful ring.

I'll see if I can find something on the net.

Until then - for those who've read the series - how do you take claims that Donaldson might have borrowed heavily from Tolkien?

Is the format simply too different? Or is it a case of Tolkien having used so many different themes and concepts, that it's hard not to incidentally repeat some of them?
I'm one of the ones advancing these claims, though focusing more on the world created than the plot (though Lord Foul's Bane was very similar to LotR). Let's get through the basic things:
A powerful ring in both novels.
A very powerful dark lord who can be defeated by arbitrary means
A fellowship to help the main character succeed
Hordes of mindless minions
A lair for this darklord
A quest
An unlikely hero (going a bit far, admittedly)

You might argue that, so what, most of this stuff is in the bulk of epic fantasy. I argue that doesn't excuse it - originality, and in more than one aspect, is necessary. Sure, it's the archetype of fantasy and commonly accepted, but I don't think anything using this plot can be an excellent novel - or at least I haven't seen an example of one yet. The overarching plot may not be Tolkienesque, because it's all about character development. But then if we argue that, we end up saying that Erikson, Bakker, Martin and Mieville all write Tolkienesque plots because their overarching plots have some similarities. What's important is what the bulk of the story is - that's the plot - and in Covenant, it's a tale of good vs evil, albeit in a world that may not exist beyond Covenant's head. There's a Tolkienesque plot, and there's a twist in it. It's still very similar to Tolkien's. One element of originality doesn't suddenly make every aspect original. As for characters - while there are few direct copies of any, and Covenant is very original, the inhabitants of the land tend to be archetypes based on similar ones found in Tolkien, and there's a similarly racist outlook (before anyone kills me for saying that, I mean that race dictates personality and outlook on life to some extent in this world).

Or is it a case of Tolkien having used so many different themes and concepts, that it's hard not to incidentally repeat some of them?
(and even inevitable) similarities
I can't take that this seriously. Just because Tolkien wrote a decent epic fantasy doesn't mean that other people can't use their own imagination. Tolkien didn't even use that much. And so many authors have written very different things from Tolkien, I don't see why you can't write your own novel - Bakker, Calvino, Erikson, Harrison, Kay, Leiber, Martin, Mieville, Moorcock, Peake, Powers, Vance, Swanwick, Vance, Vandermeer, Wolfe and Zelazny all managed it - and I have only been reading fantasy for a few years, so someone better read than me can probably come up with a load more who have as well. And for a trilogy described as "good enough to be compared to Tolkien" (the Riddlemaster trilogy by Patricia McKillip) it's startingly original and very different from LotR, even while being a very traditional epic fantasy.

And now after attacking Donaldson, I'm going to have to say I think that I prefer the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant to Lord of the Rings - because LotR was all the elements I just said I didn't like in Covenant, but without the redeeming feature of the characterisation of Covenant.
 

Rahl Windsong

Last of the Windsong Clan
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
Messages
642
Location
Squamish, BC, Canada
Like I have said in countless other comparison posts to LoTR, I simply do not care. If I enjoy reading a story then in my own mind it must be good if not then well I'll find a new book to read that I enjoy more. I enjoyed LoTR and the one book I have read of Donaldson's I enjoyed it as well, for me that is all that matters, period.

Everything "borrows" something from that which came before...see R Scott Bakker's "thoughts" on this which in my opinion leads us to understand just exactly what the "Thousandfold Thought" is. And Bakker's concept on this applies to just about anything the human mind can think of. If nothing had come before then inspiration to create more would not be there and we would all be sitting around doing absolutely nothing save breathing and eating then sleeping. However when we sleep we dream and the "Thousandfold Thought" can then be revealed from something that came before.

Rahl
 

speedingslug

Cyber Pest
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
128
Most thing have already been said but for my part, I would say they are different, there could be shades of Tolkien in Donaldson but when you read the whole thing the whole land concept is like taking an acid trip and writing a book (A good book )

I love both

Got to love NOM !
 

SkywardShadow

I dream in turn-based.
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Messages
25
I personally didn't find very much similar between the two. Covenant engaged my mind, and truly changed the way I looked at the world (I was in middle-school when I first read the books). LotR bored me, though I read them long after reading many other fantasy series. I do acknowledge that Tolkein helped make the fantasy genre what it is today, but I believe that the authors that have come since have improved upon his stumblings a thousandfold. The Hobbit was a fun adventure though.

Thomas Covenant is good, LoTR is mediocre. ;)
 

Chabio

Pupil of life
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Messages
29
Comparison is a bias critique meal to be taken with a pinch of salt.

They are both good in their own right.
 

Karsa Orlong

Unchained
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
Messages
201
Donaldson's my favourite fantasy writer, so of course I'm gonna have to go with him. No disrespect towards Tolkien, he was of course a great influence on Stephen, but The Chronicles... are something else, absolutely breathtaking in every possible way.
 

epicfantasy7

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2006
Messages
23
Location
Love classical guitar and making miniature diorama
I have to take the stance that Donaldson's work is unique and bears only superficial similarities to Tolkien's work. Because both works have elves, magical horses and dwarves doesn't really say anything. If this were of import I guess that every single fantasy writer would have to be accused of copying the writer of Gilgamesh. And Tolkien himself openly proclaimed his homage to William Morris who wrote several fantasy novels in the 1890's such as The Well at the World's End and The Wood Beyond the World. In my opinion Donaldson is another brilliant writer who has continued on the fantasy tradition - let's say he has followed in the footsteps of Tolkien.

After all, every story has already been told. Now it's just a matter of how you tell it.

Sidenote: Anybody heard anything about the next Chronicles novel? I think it's title is "Fatal Revenant"
 

Saltheart

Bitter Giant
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
180
The Chronicles are certainly not a rehash of Lord of the Rings. In The Chronicles, the world personifies the essence Covenant and Linden and the philosophical ideas they represent; whereas in LOTR, the world is its own existing place. In LOTR, Tolkien's aim was to create a world for his language to inhabite. In The Chronicles, each and every person, place, or thing symbolizes something, and Donalson's aim was to showcase philosophical ideas and how a bitter, lonely man learns to accept himself and life.

In The Chronicles, the white gold wedding band represents a vow, as does the name "Covenant", and it is the key to understanding all the other symbols in the first volume of the entire series. It is a binding promise. And Thomas wears it even though his wife abandoned him, because he is still bound by his own personal oath in his wedding vows to support her till his death (as proven in the second volume of the series), even if she herself broke the pact--and as a reminder of the bitterness of reality. When he wears the wedding gold, he has wild, uncontrollable power in which he can save and destroy everything around him, just like his personal vows keeps him living even though he has destroyed almost everything which makes him human. When he takes off his oath, his wedding ring, he is impotent to do anything; he is just a physical, emotional and spiritual leper: he doesn't feel anything, have any purpose or prophecy to fulfill, any personal oath to keep.

In LOTR, the One Ring is power as well, but a lot less symbolic and paradoxal and interconnected with all the elements: Tolkien might has well had made it a glove, or a boot, or a belt, since they all represent Oneness, because only one owner can wear it at a time. He only made it a ring, I bet, because rings are so small, like Hobbits, and common, that he wanted to show that nothing is insignificant--but because the man claimed to hate allegories, we can throw that theory out the window and conclude he did it "just because".
 

Saltheart

Bitter Giant
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
180
Yes, my name is a reference to Saltheart Foamfollower, who is my favorite character in the whole series (and my favorite literary character so far).
 

fantasy noob

i hate working
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
81
Location
i hate snow
w3ell of course there is simalaritys but the subtle differences make up for them

i love the chronicles so here we go

as to the elves thing yes there are tree singer but they are not a different race they dwell in trees but there not pointy eared homos

and the dwarves they are called stone downers they are human as with the tree ones they arent a different race they practice stone lore

lets see the ring can be used for both good or evil lotr its just evil, white gold - yelow gold

all in all the chrons of t.c is frikin sweet and i do beleive that lotr sux a whole lot but that is my opinion

also lord foul would whoop the livin crap out of sauron hahah take that

- FN
 

robdmw

New Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
1
Could it be that Donaldson deliberately "borrowed" from Tolkein, as Covenant constantly disbelieves what is happening to him? Could it be his disbelief might be based on the fact that he may have read Tolkein earlier in his life, he is a writer after all, and thinks he's dreaming that adventure with him in it?

Just a thought....
 

Blind Prophet

Undaunted Soldier
Joined
Jul 10, 2007
Messages
8
If you actualy think about the books, its not just Tolkein that Donaldson borrows from. In Lord Foul's Bane, Covenant is in the Land for something like two or thee weeks, but when he awakes in hospital, only four hours have passed. Is it just me or does this seem rather like the titular wardrobe for "the lion, the witch and the wardrobe"?
 

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,886
If you actualy think about the books, its not just Tolkein that Donaldson borrows from. In Lord Foul's Bane, Covenant is in the Land for something like two or thee weeks, but when he awakes in hospital, only four hours have passed. Is it just me or does this seem rather like the titular wardrobe for "the lion, the witch and the wardrobe"?
Perhaps, though that sort of thing is common in fairy tales and ballads stretching back several centuries....
 

manethrall jimbo

New Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2007
Messages
2
okay,just a few points,.. i read "the hobbit" at a young age and instantly fell in love with the sf/fantasy thing,naturally went on to read lotr and one day i told my uncle of my newfound hobby.he told me to read the covenant series but being so young and ignorant i plain forgot all about it until a few years later while visiting some friends abroad, i picked up a copy of "lord fouls bane" just lying amid a stack of old novels. My friend let me take the book home but I was already wrapped up in the story before I got back to the green, green grass. I think it's only fair to say that Donaldson was treading a path that was forged by Tolkien and certainly others before him-homage where due-but hand's down, the Thomas Covenant saga truly surpasses lotr by miles. the meticulous care with which Donaldson delves into the inner plight and turmoil of Covenant made Samwise and Frodo's little adventure read like,to me anyway, uh, let's see, Hansel and Gretel... I won't get into the subtle similarities between, or the vast differences in the two(Ranyhyn - Shadowfax, Rhadamaerl - Dwarves, Woodhelvennin - Elven folk,not to mention the ring, although if you think about it, the two powers are completely unalike), as this has already been eloquently touched upon elsewhere in this thread,(fairplay to you Saltheart and all).I will say this- Donaldsons depiction of the Lands vitality was breathtakingly beautiful, and the sense of dire peril and woeful rue of the Sunbane nearly had me suffering Lindens plight myself. I have yet to come across a fantasy epic that comes close to "Covenant" and all's I do is read! To all the unbelievers-there is time enough to refine the soul while the fingers can turn the pages...To all who just can't put the books down, look forward with great patience to October 9th- "Fatal Revenant" will soon be here!!!! YYESSSSSSSSS!!!! (HEH, HEH, I didn't have the "great patience"- I read the first couple o' chapters on Donaldsons official site --- are you up to scratch?????) p.s.-NOM
 

pyan

Great Old One
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
8,857
Location
47°9′s 126°43′w
One of the things that is a major contribution to enjoying any fantasy novel is a sense of identity with one of the characters, often, but not always the chief one.
I couldn't find anyone to do that with Donaldson, and though the Frst and Second Chronicles still sit on my bookshelf, they remain one of the very few series I have never completed, or felt any desire to.
 
Top