Monday, February 13, 2006

English fantasy fiction

I recently re-read two very long English fantasies: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Pullman's His Dark Materials. After careful consideration, I must declare that I prefer Pullman's book to Tolkien's.

Of course, Pullman and Tolkien were trying to do two very different things when writing their stories. Pullman was trying to re-imagine the Fall from a humanistic viewpoint. Tolkien was trying to "sub-create" a world as a backdrop to his invented languages, such as Klingon (oops, I meant Quenya ;-).

Thinking over all the Tolkien material I've read, I think the short story Farmer Giles of Ham is my favorite. At least, I needn't fear uttering "not another elf" when reading it.

Update (2/14): Tom Bombadil == Winnie the Pooh ?
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Josh said...

There was one thing that bothered me a little about The Amber Spyglass. When Pullman gets to the end of his trilogy, he wraps up a lot of his loose ends in very unsatisfying ways. Almost as if he found himself at a very different place at the end of the story than he did at the beginning. Patricularly Lord Asriel doing a 180 on dust.

big mike said...

>Patricularly Lord Asriel doing a 180 on dust.

Upon re-reading (or listening to the excellent unabridged CDs), you will find that Asriel was always "for" Dust.

Asriel claimed to want to destroy Dust only when trying to lure Marisa to join him in crossing the bridge to the new world. The actions of their daemons indicated their very strong sexual attraction to each other. More than that, Asriel knew she would be a great ally if he could eventually get her on his side.

Near the end of The Amber Spyglass, Marisa says, in effect "You were for Dust all along." Asriel agrees.