How Lord Of The Rings Helped Shape Game Of Thrones, According To George R.R. Martin


The Lord of the Rings saga is so rich – so incredibly engrossing – that it’s not too much of a stretch to say that J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary masterpiece inspired a generation of storytellers, one of which was George R.R. Martin.

The celebrated scribe is perhaps best known as the founding father of Game of Thrones, another fantasy-fuelled epic about warring dynasties and great, mythical creatures. And while Thrones is undoubtedly the talk of the town as HBO braces for season 8, Martin recently opened up about the ways in which his IP was inspired and shaped by Lord of the Rings.

In fact, the author narrowed the focus down to a single moment from LOTR that would ultimately inform his own approach to storytelling – the willingness to kill off major characters “at the drop of a hat.”

And then Gandalf dies! I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can’t kill Gandalf. I mean, Conan didn’t die in the Conan books, you know? Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it.The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die. Of course, that’s had a profound on my own willingness to kill characters off at the drop of a hat.

So, there you have it; Tolkien’s decision to bump off Gandalf had a marked effect on the young, 13-year-old George R.R. Martin, who would go on to become a literary legend of his own, crafting one of the most enthralling fantasy series we’ve seen since, well, The Lord of the Rings.

It’s poised for a comeback, too, what with Amazon Studios plotting another trip to Middle-earth in the not-so-distant future. There’s still much work to be done before LOTR is back on television, but thankfully, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will satisfy your itch for top-tier fantasy drama next April.