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George R.R. Martin: My ending will reflect The Lord of the Rings

Best-selling author of The Games of Thrones and A Song of Fire and Ice series, George R.R. Martin, has stated that the ending to his books will reflect J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Speaking at the Medill School of Journalism in Illinois last week, Martin discussed how his final two books will have echoes of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In the past Martin has spoken of his admiration for Tolkien’s works, as well as being friendly critic of some of Tolkien’s approaches. However, this time he agrees with Tolkien about the ending to stories, saying “I think you need to have some hope”:

We all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I’m attracted to the bittersweet ending. People ask me how Game of Thrones is gonna end, and I’m not gonna tell them … but I always say to expect something bittersweet in the end, like [J.R.R. Tolkien]. I think Tolkien did this brilliantly. I didn’t understand that when I was a kid — when I read Return of the King.

In The Lord of the Rings, although the quest is successful, when the hobbits return to the Shire they discover that it was been over-run by Saruman’s men. Following Saruman’s downfall, Frodo ultimately leaves Middle-earth creating a bittersweet ending in the chapter “The Grey Havens”. Vulture reports that Martin wants to recreate this sense that life cannot return to normality:

He notes that Tolkien’s use of allegory to reveal life’s grittier truths (the tragedy of post-war Britain in the late ’40s and early ’50s, in the case of Lord of the Rings), even in the face of a well-earned victory is brilliant. You can’t just fulfill a quest and then pretend life is perfect, he said. Life doesn’t work that way.

Original story: Vulture

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He also chairs another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.