Irresistible Ork Child
- Jan 19, 2005
- Reaction score
- An afternoon's ramble from Buckland
I know this is a subject that has been touched on countless times, with the relationship between the authors, the mutual fans of both books and the impending and released movies, but I thought it would be interesting to start a thread on the similarities between the two authors' very different worlds. It could be intriguing should anybody be able to shed light on who "borrowed" from whom. Regardless, here are a handful of noted matches between the two highly enjoyable and classic tales.
- Narnia sees Puddleglum and his human charges travel to Harfang, their journey taking them across the Ettensmoor. Tolkien includes in his books the location of Ettinmuir
- In the same journey in The Silver Chair, the travellers run a gauntlet down a ravine populated by several giants who initially appear to be stone, and indeed in the BBC dramatisation are interpreted as almost completely stone. Tolkien includes in The Hobbit his (almost entirely abandoned) "stone giants". I cannot remember if they are throwing stones around like Lewis' giants, but I have my suspicions...
- The Silver Chair itself, the instrument of sorcerous control and torture depicted in Lewis' book of the same name, bears in my mind striking resemblences to Morgoth's chair in which he places Hurin. Indeed the entire story of Rillian matches aspects of Hurin's tale, including the ploy of an enemy using a heroic king against his own people (though I cannot suggest Morgoth's chair to be silver, nice as it would be!). The juxtaposition of having one king betray his people through his knowledge (Hurin) and the other (Rillian) almost betray his people through lack of knowledge is also interesting.
- The (already commonly discussed) use of the word Bree, as the nickname of Shasta's horse and Tolkien's famous village.
- The already discussed creation, both mythologies of which have music as the catalyst for the world's birth.
- A very touchy point, but Lewis uses the dark-skinned Calormenes as some of his arch-villains, while Tolkien's "swarthy" Easterlings skim very close to the same unsavoury insinuations. Sorry if that point was either tasteless or offensive.
- Cair Paravel, Narnia's capital city and the seat of the High King's power is also referred to as a fortress. Tolkien's much lower profile fortress Cair Andros has a very similar name, and the "Cair" can reasonably be assumed to be some sort of linguistic reference to its function (I don't speak elvish )
- King Caspian the Tenth is known as Caspian the seafarer, and speaks of the Telmarine golden age of seafarers, which his own father Caspian IX participated in. Indeed, it is his own voyage in the Dawn Treader gives him his nautical moniker, one similar perhaps in feel to the Numenorean "Sea Kings" (I believe they were called in the Akallabeth?). Perhaps a weaker point, but one worthy of discussion or notice, surely?
- In Prince Caspian more than other books, the trees live and awake. While this is a feature of Narnia from the beginning ("Be talking waters. Be walking trees"), the trees behave in a very entish way in this book that I feel cannot be overlooked.
- The general geography is similar enough. A large land mass bordered on one side by an ocean, distant and largely unexplored desert to the south, mountains to the north, a distant and eternal country (Valinor/Aslan's Country hold many similarities) far across the only ocean, impossible to visit save for those chosen by the gods (Aslan in a vision summons Reepicheep, then allows Eustace and Jill to be sucked across from their world, and we all know about Earendil )
- This last is a much weaker point, and one that I cannot base on literary reference, rather describing my own thoughts on the books. Roonwit, the centaur in The Last Battle, I have personally always equated with Tom Bombadil. He is an old and wise creature and noble, though the chief similarity is rather the way that he interdicts the main characters near the story's beginning and remains with them for a period of safety, preparing them before releasing them into the heart of adventure.