Oh, y’all, I am so ready for this post. I actually just got a tiny bit ranty in someone’s comments about how done I am with GRRM, but I don’t think I ever did an official “I hate this man goodbye to literally everything he’s ever written”, so here we are!
Let’s get one thing out of the way very quickly: I am lifelong Tolkien fan. I have an entire series of posts dedicated to him in which I’m trying to read everything he’s ever written. I have a full sleeve of tattoos to celebrate Middle-earth. My Silmarillion readalong is still one of my most viewed series of posts. I love this man so much, it’s a little bit ridiculous sometimes. That’s not where this starts, though, just where it ends.
I first started reading A Song of Ice and Fire back when the first season of Game of Thrones released. I watched the first season in its entirety, decided I had to know what came next, and immediately bought all the books. I started reading and didn’t stop, even when I got frustrated at having to read an entire book set in the south when about half of it could have been cut because does anyone actually care about the finances of Westeros? No. Not a single person. I kept reading even when I was frustrated with the path some of the characters were taking because it felt weirdly out of character for them, or when new characters were introduced with long, drawn out backstories only to be killed in the same chapter, or when plot lines appeared and then just disappeared half a book later with no closure.
I was willing to keep on keeping on because I trusted Martin to see us through to a powerful, complex, unexpected ending. Like many, it was D&B that eventually ruined that faith. I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially saw the series ending for GOT, I still retained faith. I thought that, given two more books, GRRM could make it make sense. He could take the hellscape that was the show and actually write it out in a way that worked, that wasn’t rushed, and that didn’t feel as much like a betrayal as the show did. But if we’re being honest? No one is coming back from that ending. No one could convince me, even with two full books, likely over 2000 pages of material, that Daenerys could shift that wildly from kindness & hope to absolute mayhem via massacre.
I could carry on, but honestly? I don’t want to. We all know that the end of the HBO adaptation was absolute trash. We all know that there’s no coming back from that. We all know that the books are probably not going to deviate that much from the story in the show, and that’s if we ever even get the last two books in the series. And that’s part of why I gave up, too, because are we really expected to wait a decade or more in between books? #sorrynotsorry, but no. Yes, expecting authors to publish a book a year is often not at all feasible, but you can’t tell me that it’s taking him ten years to write a book with everything else he’s publishing. And if it really is? Well, then maybe he should be less of an asshole about, well, everything?
And we’ve circled back to Tolkien! I’m not going to link the interview because I don’t want to give GRRM an actual physical presence on this blog, but the Tolkien Society did the dirty work for me and quoted him:
Tolkien, of all the authors I mentioned earlier, had an impact on me, but Tolkien is right up there at the top. I yield to no one in my admiration for The Lord of the Rings – I re-read it every few years. It’s one of the great books of the 20th century, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s perfect. I keep wanting to argue with Professor Tolkien through the years about certain aspects of it.
He did what he wanted to do very brilliantly, I’ve said this before, but… I look at the end and it says Aragorn is the king and he says, ‘And Aragorn ruled wisely and well for 100 years’ or something. It’s easy to write that sentence. But I want to know what was his tax policy, and what did he do when famine struck the land? And what did he do with all those Orcs? A lot of Orcs left over. They weren’t all killed, they ran away into the mountains. Sauron fell down, but you see all the Orcs running away. Did Aragorn carry out a policy of systematic Orc genocide? Did he send his knights out into the hills to kill all the Orcs? Even the little baby Orcs? Or was there Orc rehabilitation going on. Trying to teach the Orcs to be good citizens. And if the Orcs were the result of Elves… could Orcs and Elves intermarry?”
I hate him so much, and for so many reasons. Do you truly want to know why Tolkien didn’t go into any of those details? Because no one wants them! No one cares! No one wants to read about genocide! Jackson kept the scourging of the Shire out of the films because no one wants a hopeless, hateful ending. Literally not a single person wants to know about tax policies. We don’t like it in the real world, why would we want it in fantasy? And honestly, I think that quote can stand for itself, but I’m going to get on my Tolkien soapbox for a moment.
Tolkien was a better writer in all ways. He was also a better person! In comparison to everything that is GRRM and all that he’s done, Tolkien is better. He was kind, compassionate, and curious about the world. GRRM saw that world and said, “It needs more violence. It needs to villainize all of its women. It needs greed and despair.” And the fact that GRRM holds himself up against LOTR and says he’s done better, well.
George RR Martin can fuck right off. I’ve unhauled his books, and I’m never reading anything by him again. He’s a man that glorifies abuse, misogyny, and assault. He treats his women characters as though they are worthless and to be disrespected at all times. He writes about the finances of Westeros, the sewage systems and the tax policies, and the mass genocide of several different races because he was so incapable of ever being original that he just implanted the real world on an already established fantasy world, and I hate him.
This is, officially, the last time that I will ever talk about his books on this blog, so buckle up for even more Tolkien in the future.