Lord Foul's Bane vs Lord of the Rings

Wyomork

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I wonder if anyone has seen the similarities between T.C.'s "real" life and his existance in the land?

Real Life - He has written a best selling book that allows him to bring things that he loves into his life. Time to spend with his beautiful and somewhat magical wife. A small but lovely farm. A new life that he created.

Then what? Hanson's disease. Slowly the things that he loves are taken from him. Son, wife, farm, companionship, feelings. He's powerless.

Now in the land he suddenly finds himself whole again. One by one, he is introduced to a multitude of things he can finally love again. Then, one by one, the Despiser ravages them!

This time he has the power to stop the destruction. But then there is T.C.'s Ockham's razor.
 

wombat888

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There are too many shared themes to be coincidence. I suspect that Donaldson consciously used a lot of Tolkien's concepts to allow him to focus on what he wanted to explore. If you lean on some existing material, you don't need to focus your energy on building those pieces. I think Donaldson wanted to explore somber adult concepts about life, illness, mental stability.

Lord of the Rings is high-quality fantasy and provides a rich world of its own that you can disappear into if you like, but it has very limited application to our lives. Thomas Covenant is more likely to mean something to you in your life aside from entertainment. It won't for some people, but for others, it definitely will.

Lots of similarities, which in some cases are cultural touchstones that long predate Lord of the Rings and in other cases seem difficult to explain other than by Donaldson's interest in Tolkien ...

- A ring that contains power. That power can be used perfectly by those with great knowledge or their own intrinsic power. It is useless or worse for those without knowledge.

- An evil lord who wants the ring for his own purposes, and focuses his efforts on acquiring it.

- That evil lord is in rebellion of some sort against the real "god" or "gods" of the books. Those gods, however, are constrained not to directly meddle in the world.

- If the evil lord gets the ring, his powers will grow enormously - allowing him to conquer the world (LOTR) or destroy it and attack the Creator (Covenant).

- Magical wood folk in one, elves in the other. Magical stoneworkers in one, dwarves in the other. Ents in one, forestals in the other. Orcs in one, cavewights in the other. Nazgul in one, ravers in the other. Isengard destroyed by ents in one, Lord Foul's army destroyed by the forestal in the other. Wizards (each with a staff) in one, lords (each with a staff) in the other. Lost Elven magic (Third Age vs. Second Age) in one, lost wards of lore in the other.

- When the evil lord loses, he doesn't typically die, he typically loses his power and is forced to spend hundreds or thousands of years recovering it. Ultimately, he's put in a state of eternal impotence.

I think it's difficult to overstate the LOTR influence on Donaldson.

That said, the themes of the book are far darker in a fundamental way. We are asked to sympathize with Frodo's struggles as he wrestles with the ring's growing influence on him, and we're asked to accept that if Sauron wins, things will be really bad (presumably because he'd be a tyrant), but neither of those concepts really is that strong unless we buy into it.

But we understand Covenant's struggles with himself. They are vivid and powerful. And, we understand (especially in the second trilogy) that Lord Foul is really making the Land into a perversion of what it should be. If you are a fan of the books, the Sunbane will cause you great distress the first time you read about it. And ultimately, Lord Foul wants to literally destroy the world.

LOTR is richer in the sense of an encyclopedic history, functional languages, logical progressions from age to age and between races and types of beings. But it's poorer from an emotional standpoint.
 

Ravensthorne

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Incredible! What a great thread. I read both series in the late 70's and early 80's and enjoyed them both immensely - - and only stumbled on this thread quite by accident in looking up another matter and the title intrigued me. So I went through the nearly 8 years of discussion here and enjoyed reading the opinions as much as the books (saved it as a 'favorite' - want to go back and read them again). All said, before even reading the thread I had already come to my own opinion long ago, similiar to the first poster here, that Donaldson had used certain 'concepts' from very long ago, as also did Tolkein, and never really thought to consider who or what borrowed from who (other than to acknowledge they both borrowed a great many concepts from ancient Norse lore and others.) I was a bit fascinated that many focused on their dual use of the ring. And those that said, "why a ring" and things it represented. I'm not sure I saw anyone mention the symbolic power that a ring gives a monarchy and the kiss afforded among its subjects in acknowledgement of that power. There are so many reasons they both could've chosen the ring (many cited here). But I will say in the end there are probably plenty of great Leprechaun tales that focus around the shamrock and one could focus more on the 'power of the shamrock' versus the 'power of self-effacing soul' that wields the shamrock. From there the story can throw in rainbows where they want and pots of gold where they want and who knows what else. But the tales all will tell different stories (likely) with perhaps different morals, messages, and conclusions. I think Tolkein and Donaldson both started with a Norse canvas and perhaps Norse paints and a ring (or shamrock) - - but they both produced different paintings which communicate different impressions to their audience viewers. But what a great discussion here - - anxious when I have more time to come back and read more - - and am hoping others post more. Thank you.
 

paranoid marvin

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A wise, old powerful figure sends a vulnerable person on a mission to take a gold ring to the home of his enemy that lives far away in a fortress protected by rivers of fire. Over a trilogy of novels the hero attempts to achieve his quest and delivering the land from evil

Yes, there are similarities!

The Giants seeking for their long lost kin are reminiscient of the Ents, Mhoram is very Gandalf-like, Ravers similar to Wraiths, Ramen virtually indistinguishable from the men of Rohan, urviles/wights = orcs and of course Foul is Sauron, the man who corrupted himself involuntarily.

Then again,there are many differences -but it is understandable why many may say that The Land and Middle Earth are closely related.
 

biodroid

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I read a review somewhere that in Lord Fouls Bane the heroes do a lot of travelling and not much else happens. The reviewer also mentioned that this became tedious and boring. Is it true? Not sure which reviewer it was but it wasn't any of the Chrons. I read it in some news site.
 

martin321

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I read a review somewhere that in Lord Fouls Bane the heroes do a lot of travelling and not much else happens. The reviewer also mentioned that this became tedious and boring. Is it true? Not sure which reviewer it was but it wasn't any of the Chrons. I read it in some news site.
It's more or less true, except the part about it being "tedious and boring", which is in the mind of the reader.

The Thomas Covenant books tend to divide readers into two groups: some people think that the books are incredibly boring, and other people just love the books. I'm in the second group, for me the First and Second Chronicles are some of the best fantasy books ever written (I'm only half way through the Third Chronicles at the moment, so I won't comment on those).

There are certainly long sections where not much happens (other than travelling, arguing, introspection, complaining, moaning) interspersed with short sections of extreme and dramatic action, but I find those long sections fascinating rather than tedious.
 
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scientia

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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.
This is explained by Donaldson himself at the end of the first book of his Gap series. No, he did not take ideas from Tolkien. He took ideas from the similar myths that Tolkien took his ideas from. I have to say though that I'm rather confused by the rush of some in this thread to try to claim that Tolkien's work is all original. Tolkien himself mentioned two ideas he took directly from Shakespeare. Tolkien's description of elves is original but his description of dwarfs could have been lifted directly from Snow White. Is anyone confused about where he got the dire wolves from?
 

scientia

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Much of the claim of similarity with Tolkien is ludicrous. There are no elves, hobbits, dwarfs, trolls, orcs, goblins, dragons, or balrogs in the Covenant series. You could probably draw some parallels between Sauron and Lord Foul. Both are immortal figures of evil. There are some differences. Lord Foul seeks to destroy the Arch of Time which would destroy The Land completely. As far as I know, Sauron doesn't seek to destroy Middle Earth (which comes from Norse mythology, BTW). The horses in Donaldson's series, the Ranyhyn, should be pretty obvious. These come from the Houyhnhnm in Gulliver's Travels.
 

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