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George R. R. Martin blames Tolkien for death

Author of A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin, claims that Tolkien’s killing of Gandalf was influential in his decision to kill off his own characters.

American author George R.R. Martin is well known across the world for his ongoing A Song of Fire and Ice series, which has been brought to millions more in the Game of Thrones television series. The books take place in a fantasy world of Westeros and are about the struggle for power.

Martin is a well-known fan of Tolkien by claiming he reveres The Lord of the Rings. However, he is also a critic of Tolkien, and, for instance in 2014 he criticised Tolkien’s simplistic approach to power by asking what was Aragorn’s tax policy.

Whilst praising Tolkien as part of PBS’s Great American Read, he said that the death of Gandalf had a huge impact on his own writings:

“By the time I got to Mines of Moria I decided this was the greatest book I’d ever read… And then Gandalf dies! I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can’t kill Gandalf… Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it. The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is 1,000 times greater. Because now anybody could die. Of course, it’s had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat.”

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 chaired another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.