meta ring

So we’ve got a small but powerful token,

originally belonging to a powerful being, but taken by a flawed hero who didn’t know what he was getting in for,

and who is defeated, losing the item into the water.

This token comes into the keeping of an eccentric mortal for many years, giving them long life and vitality,

until they pass it on to a younger relative, and their health immediately begins to deteriorate.

The adorable, dark-haired, doe-eyed new bearer,

carrying the token on a necklace,

sets out to find someone else to take it,

but ultimately must take ownership of the quest themselves.

Along the way, they encounter endless dangers and obstacles,

finally facing their greatest challenge yet at a volcano,

and return the token to its source.

Featuring super idyllic, completely culturally stagnated hometowns,

raptors of unusual size,

Dramatic Tower Is Dramatic,

and tiny boats sailing into the sunset.

tl;dr - Moana is Lord of the Rings without the actual evil.

I’m so disappointed when elves in fiction are merely immortal humans with pointy ears, and dwarves are just short humans with beards. Perhaps others enjoy it, but I am bored of banal human conflicts and vices projected ad nauseam onto supposedly inhuman races. 

I want to see things that really make me believe elves and dwarves and other fantasy races aren’t just disguised humans. Show me strange biology, incomprehensible minds, impossible virtues and unthinkable sins, oddities and curiosities of all kinds. 

I think that’s what drew me to Tolkien’s races, who have exactly those kinds of quirks that set them apart from ordinary humans - like dwarves having only 1/3 of their race female, or elves being capable of telepathy. I love fic that explores the consequences of these strange characteristics most of all.

It’s a bit more complicated than invisibility...

This occurred to me and I feel it’s worth posting since I’ve never seen any talk on this?

The One Ring doesn’t make you invisible. 

Why would it? Seriously, what purpose on Eru’s green earth does that serve? Sauron forging his ring of power in the heart of a volcano, thinking to himself, ah yes, invisibility would be a good trick to build into this thing! No. Cause you know what? Sauron’s ring does not make him invisible. And he certainly did not intend for anyone else to ever have it. So what’s it really doing?

Two words: Dimensional shift

I believe that when mortals put on the ring, they experience a dimensional shift in which they are pulled (stretched, transported) into a higher dimension, the plane on which the true spirit forms of the Ainur (and wraiths) exist. This would effectively render them invisible to those on lower dimensions, but the wearer would be able to view them with altered enhanced perception. Such as the effects we witness as described by those who have worn the ring. Especially well portrayed in the films is the ability to see the souls of others, particularly the ringwraiths (the battle on Weathertop is a good example, as well as even in Battle of the Five Armies when Bilbo is in Dale), black and white shadowy souls clear as day but invisible to the naked eye, as they exist on a different dimensional plane. It’s quite possible to me that the ëalar of the Ainur are in a higher dimension than that of mortal fëar, but that’s beside the point. They’re at least a couple dimensions removed from our reality, and thus invisible until one puts on the ring. 

Now, why would the ring have this power? I think, if I recall correctly, that Tolkien at one point did state that it was not intentional, that it was a byproduct of its making. Again, it does not turn Sauron invisible - it wouldn’t, he already exists on that plane. Mortals are bound to their bodies and so would not be able to perceive that higher dimension, but Ainur are not. I think most plausibly, this effect exists because Sauron infused a piece of his own soul into the one ring. The consequences of this are not well understood (it’s not like it’s a common practice) and we know in other ways, it is so strong in its desire to hearken back to its master, it can even influence the wills - a product of the souls - of those around it. I would not be surprised in the slightest if having a piece of Ainur ëala in an all-powerful object would result in the ability to bend reality to attempt to match the wearer to the properties of the owner. It would bring the wearer closer to Sauron, and allow him to perceive them, thus furthering its purpose to return to the whole from which it is a part. 

Just a theory, obviously, but I find it odd that I’ve never seen anyone question the rather absurd notion of ‘magic evil ring makes you invisible!’ Tolkien set up so many intriguing questions, concepts, and possibilities with underlying scientific principles - or at least, consistent rules - that I am sure this fits into his framework. 

it’s common knowledge that the names of the three elven rings match the fates of the three Silmarils, but think about the ring-bearers, too —

  • elrond is obvious; he had the ring of air, but he didn’t have his father, who was sailing through the sky with a silmaril on his brow
  • galadriel and maglor were the last of the grandchildren of finwë left in middle-earth; she bore the ring of water and longed to go back across the sea all that time, while his fate was to wander the shoreline after he flung his silmaril into the sea
  • gandalf, wearing the ring of fire, fell into the deepest parts of moria battling a demon made of flame; maedhros threw himself and his silmaril into a fiery chasm

and i wonder if the wise and knowledgeable ring-bearers could’ve noticed this, and if gandalf’s death would’ve, in a way, completed the last of the parallels

and i wonder, then, if a part of him knew, or perhaps thought he knew, that at some point he would have to die.

to me, the lord of the rings is all about friendship and love and how important those things are, and that’s what makes it such a special series.  Like, it’s not about how the power of friendship makes you magically ~stronger~ or some bs, it’s about how showing up for your friends, and being there to help them, and knowing that they’ll do the same for you makes you a stronger and better person.  

Nothing in lotr could have been accomplished by one person alone.  Frodo needed Sam, who needed Frodo in turn, and because they were there for each other the quest got done.  Even Frodo’s kindness to Gollum, a character who routinely betrays his friends, is proven to be worth it in the end.  

Aragorn the chosen King of Gondor doesn’t do it alone.  Sure, there are some things he alone can do, but to get there he needs the help of his friends.  He needs Legolas and Gimli to run with him across the plains on the mad hope that they can save the Hobbits.  He needs Eomer to charge together against the Uruk Hai, to inspire hope in the rag-tag defense at Helms Deep.  And he needs his brothers in arms, his rangers, and his adopted brothers Elladan and Elrohir to walk with him into the dark under the mountain to summon the army of the dead.

Lord of the Rings is Merry and Pippin sharing their culture and their stories with Treebeard in his home.  It’s Legolas and Gimli’s joy at finding one another after the battle of Helms Deep, so glad that they are both still alive together.  It’s Theoden’s grief for Boromir, a man who had nothing but kind words for his people.  It’s Arwen giving Frodo her spot on the last ship to Valinor because she can see the weight on his shoulders.  Lord of the Rings is a group of people setting out to do their best, if it can help even one person.

Alright but I just noticed the neat parallel between Sven and Romelle and Keith’s parents–and I think it’s a tradition that might carry over to Shiro and Keith, so real quick:

In 80′s Voltron, Romelle gives Sven this knife/dagger for protection. They end up being love interests in the dub. But even that aside, Romelle caring so much about Sven’s safety and wishing him well is kinda seen as a romantic gesture. Real quick, but Romelle is also an alien princess (from Pollux, Altea’s “twin” planet) and Sven is of course human. 

yOU KNOW WHO ELSE THAT SOUNDS LIKE,,,

Yeah, Keith’s alien mom also gave her partner a thematically important knife before parting ways. So, wouldn’t it make sense that, if Keith ended up having a human love interest who was about to head out into danger–that he’d maybe give them the knife before they left? As a sign of good faith and for luck if nothing else; carrying on his mother’s tradition. Considering how important the knife is to Keith, I can see him giving it away as a measure of the depth to his devotion–I’m lending this to you for luck. But you know how important this is to me, so I expect you to come back alive and return it–something like that. 

But now, couldn’t Romelle also appear later as part of the Blade of Marmora, and give Shiro her own knife? Perhaps. But two things–one, Shiro is already associated with Keith’s blade. And two, of all the blades we’ve seen so far, Keith’s is actually the only one that really resembles a dagger, which is what Romelle gave Sven. Antok, Ulaz, Thace, Kolivan, ect–all their blades look different in their deactivated forms. Here’s a good reference showing how unique Keith’s blade is.

Now as for Shiro, the first he hears of Marmora is right when he escapes. 

“The blade of Marmora is with you,” Ulaz says. How fitting then, that it’s a Marmora blade that cuts Shiro free when he crashes back to Earth. On a thematic level, I think this is so much more than just The rebellion is with you. It’s the narrative saying–Don’t worry, Keith will always be there for you. Because, of course it’s Keith’s blade that frees him; of course, Keith is running to his rescue. Like he always does. Of course, out of everyone, it’s Keith and Shiro who keep crashing back together whenever they’re torn apart. It’s like fate.  

Not only has Keith’s blade saved Shiro once already, but Shiro has defended Keith and his right to keep the knife in turn. If Keith is going to pass on his blade at some point like his mother (whether temporarily or not), thematically, I think it’s just a logical conclusion that that person has to be Shiro. After all, I think he’s the only one that would really understand the depth of such a gesture. Because who was there with Keith in the Blade of Marmora, who saw him fight tooth and nail and nearly die for this? Who was the one that took the form of Keith’s greatest hopes and dreams–who did he fear losing the most? Who was the person he most desperately wants to see

Ulaz was right; Shiro does have the backing of the Blade of Marmora–and his fate appears inexorably tied to one blade in particular. That Shiro was there for Keith’s trial, that he witnessed Keith bare his heart and soul and saw himself reflected there–their endurance of the trial binds them together in a way I don’t think anyone else could ever fully grasp. 

And I mean, I think it would speak volumes about Keith’s trust in Shiro if he were to offer the blade to him willingly. After all, a big part of his trial was Shiro trying to force him to give it away.

Seeing Keith give Shiro the knife to safeguard him on a mission before they parted ways would be especially endearing becuase, well–when he does give in during his trial, he only agrees because he’s so afraid of losing Shiro. 

Shiro threatens to abandon him if he doesn’t relent, and so he does. To see the blade offered then as a sign of their bond, to show just how close they are and that this isn’t goodbye forever, that Shiro will still come back–I think that’s just the kind of closure for them I want to see. 

THAT MATCHING SNOWFLAKE DESIGN INSIDE YURI AND VICTOR’S RINGS

What if it’s so meaningful to them not only because they’re figure skaters, but also because when Victor came to Yuri that April day, it was snowing?

AND it was also snowing one year ago on that fateful night in Sochi, at the GPF banquet where they first connected?

Listen I have a lot of thoughts about Legolas . I always pictured him a bit differently than how he was portrayed in the films, and while I think they got a lot of parts right, there’s some parts where they lacked and where I like to insert my own ideas to better imagine the character I understood him as since Tolkien added him late.

Here’s my thoughts in no particular order

1. Black hair

2. Olive skin

3. Eyes that are like the cloaks Galadriel gives the Fellowship in that they never seem to be the same hue

4. Always smiling softly like he knows what’s going on

5. MAKE HIM ACTUALLY SING??????!! HIS SONGS BREAK MY HEART

6. Not biased towards dwarves in that UGLY way but like in the kid-raised-in-right wing-home-carefully-unlearning way

7. FUNNY IN THE WAY THE KID WHO RARELY SPEAKS IN CLASS IS FUNNY

8. Helpful without needing to be and like knowing when ppl need help .

9. Young feeling.

10. Tattoos of vines tbh all up on his face and limbs n shit like he literally came from the dense woods in wartime let him blend in he’s the last prince of his people let him be hidden away and forest

11. Does NOT ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND SAURON LIKE HE THINKS HE DOES 12. MAKE HIM ACTIVELY TRY TO NOT BE TEMPTED BY THE RING MAKE IT HARD FOR HIM BC THE POWER OF THE ELVES IS WANING !!! IT WOULD NOT BE EASY FOR HIM !!! OMFG THAT CONFLICT IS NEVER SHOWN !!!!

13. Make him MISS SOME SHOTS WITH HIS ARROWS when he is VISIBLY AFRAID !!! (2 ideas in one , radical I know!!)

14. Have him put his head in his hands at least once .

15. Make him talk to Merry as Pippin even though they aren’t there when he’s actively searching to save them .

16. Make him console people somewhat through humour like he does in the books !

17. WHERE was his friendship with gimli after the war ? WHERE was the scene where they explored each other’s homes and left for the undying lands ?

18. Make Legolas androgynous 2kforever

19. Personally I was so excited to see mhis struggle to comprehend what is going on at the Black Gate when the Mouth of Sauron brings Frodo’s mithril shirt out like….. where’s his raw despair ?

But most importantly :

20.

WHERE IS THE SCENE WHERE HE HEARS THE CALL OF THE SEA FOR THE FIRST TIME??!!!

Headcanons About Middle-earth’s Women

To celebrate the end of Legendarium Ladies’ April (amnesty week), I did the prompt ‘The Forgotten People.’ Here’s some headcanons about the women of lesser known peoples in Middle-earth.

  1. The traditional costume of Haladin woman includes loose trousers, worn under a tunic or a skirt that falls to the knee. This scandalizes their Hadorian and Beorian neighbors, whose women wear long skirts.
  2. It is taboo for Drúedain women to perform stone magic. The Drúedain believe that part of yourself passes into your creation, and this transfer of power cannot be recovered. A women must keep her power intact, otherwise her children will be diminished, born weak, sickly, and ill-formed. This taboo is so strong that a woman who breaks it will be socially shunned and cut off from the community. But Drúedain men are discouraged from performing other magics, because of their lessened natural powers. Young, childless girls are the only ones trusted to perform magics of foresight, and female elders who have passed their childbearing years learn their people’s healing magics.
  3. Lossoth women quite literally keep their people alive. To cope with the extreme freezing cold of their native land, the Lossoth must wear garments of watertight furs and skins. Construction of these fur clothes requires highly developed skills, knowledge of the animals, and of the seasons they must be harvested, passed down orally from mother to daughter.  
  4. Freeborn Variag women have considerable social and political power, because Variag men are often away at war, raids, patrols, or long trading trips. Most agricultural work is performed by them, and they own the food they produce. Variag thrall women, on the other hand, have almost no rights and are often sacrificed when their master dies, to serve him in the afterlife.
  5. Among the Haradrim of the Inner desert, in some camel herding tribes the women are held to be the great navigators, entrusted with the ancestral memory of the water sources that give their people and animals life.
  6. The women of Umbar still make offerings to an ancient pre-Numenorean, pre-Sauronic protective goddess of sexuality, fertility, and motherhood. Her image has the head of a cat, and every Umbarrim woman keeps at least one cat as a protective spirit. When her cats die, the woman mourns them with the same rituals she would use for the death of a family member.
  7. In the Black Numenorean communities that survived the longest - the most conservative ones who refused to mix their blood with the Haradrim - a woman lived under a form of purdah, meant to ensure her chastity and celibacy until she was married to a husband of pure Numenorean blood.
The Layers of Meanings Behind the Rings

VictuuriWeek 2017 – Day 7 – Victor Prompt – Promises

So for VictuuriWeek day 7, I’d like to talk about the rings and all the various promises they hold. This post is written as a complimentary piece to @lazuliblade‘s amazing meta here (2 metas for 2 rings) so please make sure to read that one as well! In this analysis, we’ll be looking at the various tie-ins the series has to the various layers of meaning represented by the rings.

I’ll be going in the order of how they’re mentioned in Laz’s post so please enjoy!

Keep reading

Six Times Voltage Inc Tugged at my Heartstrings

I’ve been playing Voltage games for about four years now, and I have to say, there were moments in certain routes that made me Feel Things™. Generally, Voltage games aren’t really known for being cynical or overly emotional. Heck, their games, while having some mature content, mostly have an optimistic feel to them. However, there were some moments in particular that stood out to me—those scenes were written powerfully enough to shake me to the core.

I have to admit, it was difficult for me to select a few moments from hundreds of routes, but I tried my best to narrow it down as much as I could.

Disclaimer:

  • I limited it to one character per game to avoid repetition.
  • I haven’t played every Voltage game (or route for that matter). The moments I’ve chosen only come from the games I’ve played.
  • I didn’t include SLBP because I only started getting into it recently (plus I don’t know too much about the other lords to make solid conclusions about them lmao).
  • This is all my personal opinion, so that means you probably won’t share the same views as I do, which is cool (I’d actually appreciate it if you told me what your favorite moments were :D).

Anyhow, let’s begin! (long post below):


Keep reading

I get really annoyed by macho fantasy novels written by men because they try so hard to be tolkien reboots and some are even labeled “for fans of lord of the rings” and its just like, friends, tolkien taught u better than this. he gave us some of the least macho male heroes ever. and y’all wanna smear his legacy with boring ass failed aragorn archetypes? 

consider:

-the true heroes of lotr are frodo and sam

-frodo is not macho at all, frodo is not like your typical masculine hero. he is unassuming and rather demure and never angry and very calm and steady like a river. frodo shoulders his burden with no complaints. frodo admits when he needs help. frodo has zero physical prowess. yet he is considered the best choice for the quest. and his quest doesnt include any rigorous physical training or magical abilities that prove him worthy. he is worthy because of the pure nature of his hobbit heart and his morality.

-sam. sam is such a soft lovely male character. he is just trying to support and love and care for his friend. they have such an honest bond. Sam isn’t even called upon to be in the quest, he basically tags along and ends up saving the day. Lil ol samwise gamgee, the hobbit gardener, is responsible for saving middle earth. not aragorn. not borimir. not any of the more masculine characters. and why is that??? bc tolkien is fucking explicit about the fact that men are morally corrupt and easily swayed by the ring. hobbits aren’t as easily corrupted and are better heores for this quest because of it. their softness/gentle nature makes them better heroes.

-merry and pippin- also brilliant and not very masculine and lovable and help save middle earth

-boromir: the most macho character but also the biggest fuck up

-aragorn- now. so this is the one y’all male fantasy writers have been trying to recreate for years. well. you all fail. Aragorn’s character, while i guess more traditionally masculine than the hobbits’ also avoids the pitfalls of machoness in that he is all about responsibility and honor and duty. i mean yes he is basically the best warrior ever but he is also a. born to be that way and b. not a dick about it.

so fantasy writers, if u want to follow in tolkiens footsteps, please give me a cast of nuanced and well written and sensitive men who avoid the macho stereotypes.

Bilbo’s always compared to Frodo but what about Bilbo and Sam?

  • Bilbo writes the beginning of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings; Sam writes the end
  • they’re the most grounded and hobbit-y hobbits ever
  • characterized by their “plain hobbit-sense” and loyalty to their friends
  • like literally the Shire come to life
  • but they both enjoy stories about adventures
  • Sam watches Frodo succumb to the power of the ring, Bilbo watches Thorin succumb to the draw of the Arkenstone
  • Both bear the ring of power but are able to give it up willingly
  • Both are very loving and protective of Frodo
  • Unlike Frodo, both manage to live in peace after their adventures
  • Both ultimately cross the sea to the Undying Lands 

Headphone users beware! I’ve cranked up the sound in the TFP clip!

Some time ago, there was a post on my dash in which it was brought up that the ringing sound we hear when John wakes up in TFP might resemble a defibrillator sound.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the post any more … But I finally found the time to rewatch the scene.  And I compared it to

a) the ringing sound in TRF,
b) a defibrillator sound effect (x) .

At first I thought the ringing in TFP might just be a tinnitus as it was the case in TRF but comparing the sounds shows that they’re slightly different. (And is it me or does the ringing in TFP really get higher? If yes, then —>)  In my opinion, the ringing in TFP has more resemblance to the charging sound of a defibrillator.

Then there’s the groan (followed by John sitting up). I know, it’s not really the same as the shock sound effect and yes, we can still hear the ringing during the groan unlike in the case of the charging sound followed by the shock sound but let’s take a look at their functions:

The electric shock resets the heart rhythm back to its normal pattern to save the patient’s life, right?

Now let’s assume that TFP is taking place in John’s memory bungalow, that he picks up what’s happening around him and makes it part of his dream/hallucination/whatever-you-want-to-call-it:

the defibrillator is charging –> dream!John opens his eyes

electric shock results in a normal heart pattern–> dream!John groans, he sits up and dream!Sherlock notices that he’s awake

Brief thoughts about elves & children & Edain. I found an online copy of LACE and read this line, “for Ingwe and Olwe beget many children in the bliss of Aman,” and thought to myself “cool, this is not in the Silm - what does ‘many’ mean, I must know a number,” which accidentally led more rumination than strictly necessary.

So we know the maximum number of children is seven for elves, and only achieved once, because for elves it’s spiritual strength rather than sperm count that determines how many children you have. For the average elf couple that’s 1-6 children.

So if re:Finwe, one is few, is 3 about average and 4-5 means many? (Then 6 means ‘lots’?) But then I made myself sad when I thought about how elves had many fewer children in the later Ages, and did that mean that Elrond’s three children would have been ‘many’ children by then?

But seven really isn’t that many children for humans without contraception! Ten or fifteen maybe, but six is hardly noteworthy. Humans must have a ridiculous amount of babies by elvish standards. Do elves find human babies fascinating because elf babies are so rare? 

Whenever they come visit human friends, do they cluster around the new babies and hog holding them from each other? Are they the babysitter who is always eagerly available but terrible because they don’t have any experience? Do they sometimes confuse babies with their new siblings, because they’ve only been gone a year, you can’t have a new baby yet! And elves trying to talk with babies, and being very confused when they don’t talk back, because elf babies form sentences much earlier (Your baby is very rude, says the elf.)

Do the rangers have to teach younger elves visiting their camps - with longing in their eyes but hesitant fingers - how to hold babies, because they’ve never had a baby in their family to care for and they’re so afraid of breaking this tiny fragile little human? 

Are some of them disapproving when they find out you’ve got twelve children, because my goodness your poor wife, how does anyone survive that?! (But a little bit awed too when they meet her, because twelve children she must be so powerful!) How can you take care of them all?! And so close to one another, not even a decade between them. Scandalous!

an orc no more

It’s funny the way you can know a book so well that you practically have every line memorized, and yet not really think about what it means until something jogs you.

It seems to me that a lot of people have a tendency to view Tolkein’s work, Lord of the Rings particularly, through the lens of the inspired works that came after it rather than for itself. There’s a lot of things that most people don’t seem to get about what Tolkein was trying to do with this story. Primary among this is that guys, Tolkein was hella pacifist.

Here’s what I was thinking about today:

Towards the end of Sam and Frodo’s journey through Mordor (I won’t blame you if you don’t remember this part; it was awfully difficult to read, and deliberately so) Sam is trying to convince Frodo to put on an orc disguise, consisting of black-painted chainmail and an orc short-sword, to better sneak around orc-controlled country. Frodo protests, saying basically that he just hasn’t got the stamina to carry all that extra weight around; they agree that at this point, speed is more important than subterfuge, and ditch all the equipment down the nearest crack in the ground. Frodo has a line here, something to the effect of: “There; I’ll be an orc no more.”

But this line isn’t just about a disguise.

The thing about orcs in Lord of the Rings is that they are not and were never meant to be a race unto themselves, the way many later fantasy worlds have them as a race. Rather, they are Elves and Men that the Dark Lord has corrupted; and in the segments where we see the orcs up close (during Merry and Pippin’s captivity,) we see what form that corruption takes. An orc is not a creature, the way a giant spider or a warg is a creature; an orc is a person who has become so degraded by destruction and desensitized to violence that it is all they know. It’s very important to know, I think, that Tolkein based the dialogue of the orcs off of his own experience as a soldier in the trenches.

Frodo, throughout the books to this point, has never exactly been a great warrior; that was never the point of his character. He always preferred to hide or run from confrontations rather than fight, which is wise given that he’s smaller and weaker than just about anybody else. I don’t believe he ever succeeds in killing  anything, but he does on a few occasions try;  he fights the Wraith King on Weathertop, and he stabs the troll in the foot in the battle in Moria.

But this scene marks the last time in the books that Frodo even attempts  to use violence. Even when Gollum attacks him for the Ring a few pages later, after  Frodo pushes him off he doesn’t take the opportunity to kill him, instead just warning him off trying again. In the Scouring of the Shire epilogue, while Merry and Pippin are leading an army of hobbits Frodo doesn’t even have a weapon. His only role in the battle is, basically, talking the angry Hobbits down from massacring their prisoners. (The others even call him out on this; Merry says something to the effect of ‘You won’t cleanse the Shire by being stern and sad, Frodo.’)

From this scene until the end of the book, even until the end of his life, Frodo carries no weapon and makes no move of violence on any other living being. He’s not just throwing away a shitty orc disguise; he is forswearing violence and death. He will no longer be a slave to hate and destruction. He’ll be an orc no more.

Fantasy Tropes in ASOIAF: The Lord of the Rings, the Wars of the Roses, and ‘the Rightful King Returns’

Martin’s ASOIAF has been openly acknowledged to draw from the Wars of the Roses (among other historical events), which can be found especially clearly in Westeros’s War of the Five Kings. Martin’s debt to Tolkien and other high fantasy classics is also acknowledged and plain to see throughout the series. If we can comfortably draw this parallel from Westeros to England to Gondor, what does it say about the nature of Martin’s storytelling and the way he will ultimately conclude his tale? My thesis is that state collapse will be avoided and the Seven Kingdoms will, like England and Gondor before them, be once again united under a monarch who will come to be viewed by the people as the only rightful ruler.

The Wars of the Roses was the cap to an incredibly bloody couple centuries of warfare in England. The end of these wars is generally considered as the cut-off date for the end of the medieval period in England and the beginning of the English Renaissance, which culminated in the rule of Elizabeth I. Feudalism declined, the power of the nobility was weakened, and the power of the monarchy and the merchant classes grew, all of which were considered factors in England emerging from a ‘dark age’ of endless civil conflicts and into a new, more enlightened and (comparatively) peaceful era under the dynasty founded by the ‘rightful’ king Henry VII.

Historians can and do debate this assessment, but it’s essentially the story that our historical consciousness has decided on, and it’s a powerful one. You can see the resonance of this trope today in the number of fantasy stories that draw on the narrative of ‘the rightful king returns and brings peace to his warring realm.’ This is the overarching political plot of Lord of the Rings, which similarly sees Aragorn take the throne and, as part of the happy ending, guide his country towards a new, enlightened age of peace and plenty. The trope doesn’t seem to originate in the Wars of the Roses - the legend of King Arthur predates it, for example - but it’s telling that Martin chose as one of his primary historical sources an event that so closely maps onto this most classic of fantasy endings.

As I’ve said before, my basic reading of Martin’s work is that ASOIAF is a deconstruction of fantasy tropes that will be ultimately followed by a reconstruction. Martin isn’t writing in order to utterly disprove the foundations of all fantasy stories - he’s a realist, not a nihilist. What he’s doing, instead, is showing his readers ‘how the sausage gets made.’ He has taken the most classic tropes of high fantasy and demonstrated how they would really play out in a world where logic and consequences apply. In Tolkien’s work, we have the magical Elves and the lost glories of their ancient civilizations that our heroes look back on in wonder; in Martin’s work, we have the lost civilization of Old Valyria, which was similarly glorious and peopled by yet another magical, inhumanly beautiful noble class - but which was also a ruthless imperial power that ended countless innocent lives in its conquests and built its glories off the backs of slaves. Tolkien’s version is the bard’s romanticized telling; Martin’s version is the historical reality of empire.

I don’t compare the two authors to criticize Tolkien - who was creating something quite different from Martin and creating it very well - but rather because setting them up side by side can illuminate a lot of what Martin is trying to do with Tolkien’s legacy. In Martin’s world, Tolkien’s mystical, mythological stories still exist, but they exist in the songs of the poets’ that his characters are constantly contrasting with the grim reality of their actual lives. And the events that his poets sing these pretty songs about are likewise always revealed to be based on yet another grim reality. Stories romanticize by their very nature; this doesn’t necessarily make them false, but it does make them fatally incomplete as reliable sources on the past. This is why Martin constantly makes reference to the difference between the two, and why his books are so overpopulated with diverse, often conflicting songs and legends. The gap we see again and again between the truth and the telling of it isn’t a byproduct of his worldbuilding - it is very much the point.

These songs and legends serve the same purpose that Martin’s deliberately biased POV chapters serve - they function to make his readers question the narrative we are given, to teach us that the truth is a slippery concept and that, in Martin’s words, “every villain is the hero of their own story.” Martin doesn’t want trusting readers - he wants us suspicious and doubting. His strategy of inserting these constant small conflicts between one character’s version of events and another’s, or one song’s version of the past and another’s, is one of the ways he is training us to become so.

The in-universe Song of Ice and Fire, the Westerosi story of the War of the Five Kings and the events that followed, is going to be told and retold by poets and singers in the Seven Kingdoms for centuries to come. It will grow more romanticized and less accurate in every retelling, and the true motivations and actions of many characters will be lost or distorted, and the true ugliness and brutality of all the conflicts we’ve seen will be forgotten in favor of the glamor of beautiful queens and rightful kings, fantastical dragons and epic swordfights. These elements are not lies, of course - we do have beautiful queens and rightful kings and dragons and swordfights - but without the context of the surrounding people and events it is impossible to understand them properly. And history won’t understand them properly. But readers of ASOIAF will understand them, because we are the only ones who know the full story. The result is a sophisticated analysis on the nature of storytelling itself, particularly as it pertains to the construction of historical narratives and the cultural values that both inform and result from these efforts.

This is why Martin’s efforts at deconstructing fantasy tropes cannot be separated from his efforts to reconstruct them. He has to take them apart to show why they fail - to show why Robb was murdered despite his honorable intentions, or why Robert was a good rebel leader but a terrible king. But he also has to put them back together again if he wants to show the gritty reality of why tropes sometimes work - why a loving and loyal family unit like the Tyrells has an advantage over the constantly feuding Lannisters and Baratheons, or why Cersei’s clumsy efforts to rule by fear alone are an ultimately self-defeating political strategy.

This is why I believe that the ending of ASOIAF will follow the standard fantasy path of seeing the country peacefully reunited under the ‘rightful’ monarch: because if Martin doesn’t do this, he can’t spend his last book exploring all the ways in which this clean and pretty conclusion is neither clean nor pretty - but in which it is still, in the end, the best option available for the people of the Seven Kingdoms as a whole. State collapse is always a violent and destructive process, and the Seven Kingdoms reverting back to seven independent countries would necessarily involve economic devastation on a huge scale. One of the major ideas of this series is that the politics and wars of the nobility, no matter how exciting and dramatic and even at times honorable in intent, always hurt the smallfolk and result in the deaths and suffering of thousands. Another, subsequent major idea is that real heroes are the ones who try to stop this from happening. Thus, it seems unlikely that any of the more or less ‘heroic’ characters we’ve been following so far would deliberately contribute to state collapse, nor that they wouldn’t take steps to prevent it if given the opportunity.

State collapse would also fail to deliver on the major epic fantasy themes which the series has so far been faithfully following. Martin drew heavily from the Wars of the Roses in particular because he is explicity writing a fantasy-version of those events - a real, in-universe horrific conflict that later generations will come to view in romanticized terms as the end of an era and a turning point for their own country’s future. The new-and-improved dynasty will most likely involve increased centralization of the state and the monarchy, a diminishment of the nobility’s power, and the first step in the evolution from feudalism to a more advanced economic and political system. This is the practical, unidealized reality of Tolkien’s ending, and the answer Martin wrote to his own question: “what is Aragorn’s tax policy?” ASOIAF is about what happens when an author takes that question seriously - and it’s a question that can’t be definitively answered until you have an Aragorn-style monarch on the throne.

In the LOTR soundtrack the Elves are always represented by female vocalists/choirs while dwarves are represented by male vocalists/choirs (One example: The Elven Rivendell theme versus the Dwarvish Moria theme)

This rule also applies to the end credits songs!

The Hobbit focuses on Dwarven culture, which is why its end credit songs (Song of the Lonely Mountain, I See Fire, The Last Goodbye) all have male vocalists. LOTR puts a heavier emphasis on Elven culture, which is why its end credit songs (May it Be, Gollum’s Song, Into the West) all have female vocalists