Fantasy has been enjoying a fourteen- or fifteen-year-long renaissance, starting I suppose with Peter Jackson’s Fellowship. Maybe renaissance is the wrong word. Maybe it’s too grand. But something has been happening, and I can’t help thinking that it is the best thing that has happened to literature and popular culture in a while. Fantasy (of all kinds) deserves a lot of credit for getting people interested in story and getting people thinking about meaning, about beauty, about truth, about evil, and about the good.
So it always makes me happy to see one of the great fantasy writers today, George R.R. Martin, express his admiration of Tolkien, one of the progenitors of modern fantasy (and still the greatest of its practitioners, in my opinion). And Martin has said on a number of occasions that he admires Tolkien and his work.
Yet Martin also faults Tolkien for having a too-simplistic view of good and evil, and Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire is his answer, not necessarily to Tolkien himself, but to the fantasy trope that Tolkien started: the forces of light battling it out with the dark Enemy and his minions.