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Comparison of Common Source Material

Many fantasy writers appear to base their works (oft-times of questionable quality) on the same source material - either derived from other authors or directly from the ancient, original texts such as The Edda, The Arthurian legends, Ancient Germanic and Celtic mythology (i.e. Das Nibelungenlied, Beowulf, Kalevala) or ancient Greek mythology (The Iliad and Odyssey, etc.)

Tolkien, as professor of philology and Anglo-Saxon obviously used the original texts, but Tad Williams comments on the general state of Fantasy today:

[…] I generally don’t like epic fantasy. Yes, that sounds funny, but I wrote one in part because I was so bored (back in the late 70s and early 80s) with what felt like an endless parade of Tolkien derivatives.(25)

It might be safe then to say that Tad Williams tried to deliberately ignore Tolkien in an attempt to create something new. He succeeded to some degree. His secondary world is unlike any other in modern Fantasy literature (excluding Middle-Earth). Yet there are definite similarities with Tolkien’s creation. This may stem from the fact that both authors used the same source material - Tad Williams states that he derived a number of his ideas from the Arthurian legends. It may also be due to the fact that Tolkien’s ideas and creations have become such an integral part of Fantasy literature that one cannot write a Fantasy epic without including at least some of Tolkien’s themes.

Let us now follow these arguments through to their logical conclusion.      nextblue.gif (9574 Byte)

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