There Will Never Be Another Tolkien

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-By Caleb Jones

As the sidebar shows, I am always reading two books at all times. One fiction book (usually sword and sorcery fantasy), and one nonfiction book (usually business, finance, history, or self improvement).

Lately I've been hunting for more good fiction books to read, and I've read some very good ones. (Abercrombe's First Law series was surprisingly good.) The problem I have is an unusual one, and it's one I've seen other fantasy readers complain about before.

That is, that if you ask people what the best fantasy series ever written is, most people (not all people, but most) will answer Lord of the Rings. Even complete fantasy geeks who have read every fantasy series known to man will still usually admit that no one has surpassed J.R.R. Tolkien.

And that's the problem. Like most people who read fantasy, LotR was the first fantasy series I ever read. I was about ten years old at the time. In the 30 years since then, every fantasy book I have read, even the very very good ones, are not quite as good as Tolkien was.

How sad is it that the first thing you read within a genre is the absolute best thing in that genre? For the rest of your life, there will never be anything better.

I almost wish I had waited 20 years to read Tolkien, so it would have been after I had read other fantasy. Sort of a leading-up-to-the-best thing.

But alas, no. There will never be another Tolkien, and I, like most other fantasy readers, are doomed forever to read sub-Tolkien fare.

Oh well. Malazan Book of the Fallen is pretty damn good too.

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