With Game of Thrones steadily conquering fantasy charts, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy remaining one of the most epic fantasy series ever created, it’s time to find parallels! And believe it or not, there are tons. For this, I’ll be focusing on the movie/show adaptations as well as the books. Contains spoilers!
- Forged By Fire
For ASOIAF (A Song of Ice and Fire), the branding icon is the Iron Throne, and for Tolkien’s masterpiece, it is the One Ring. And guess what they’ve got in common? They were both made in fire! The One Ring was forged by Sauron in the volcanic fires of Mount Doom, while the Iron throne was created by melting a thousand swords by Balerion the Dread, one of the mightiest dragons to ever grace the pages of literature.
- Back From the Dead
In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow died a tragic death, stabbed in the heart by his own people. But he was resurrected by the sorceress Melisandre, for he had a destiny to fulfill yet. In the same way, Gandalf the Grey from LOTR fell in the Mines of Moria, fighting the Balrog. But he emerged unscathed in the next book, reborn as Gandalf the White, for he too had a purpose to serve in the events to come.
- Saved in the nick of time
Remember the epic Battle of Bastards? Well, it would have turned out rather differently, had the Knights of the Vale not rode in to save the day. Along the same lines, in The Two Towers, the Battle for Helm’s Deep is almost lost by the good guys, but right on time, Gandalf brings help and it all ends well.
- Faces of dead folk
Game of Thrones boasts of a lot of violence and gore- so the Hall of Faces doesn’t really surprise anyone. Housing skinned faces of dead people, it is a hall within the House of Black and White, where the Faceless Men do their business. They are typically used as disguises.
In Lord of the Rings, on their way to Mordor, Frodo and Sam have to pass through some swamps- but they’re no ordinary bogs. Inside, bodies from the Great War remain intact, the faces of the dead men lit by candlelight staring up at passerby’s and tempting them to come inside. Spooky, eh?
- Not men, but women
Any die-hard Game of Thrones fan knows these words- Valar Morghulis. All men must die. But Daenerys, the dragon queen, has a different interpretation- when her new friend, Missandei of Naath quotes this, she conjoins by saying, “Yes, all men must die- but we are not men.” This simple but powerful statement is why Daenerys is one of the strongest female characters ever.
But she isn’t the only badass female in literature. Eowyn, niece of King Theoden of Rohan is simply awesome. In The Return of the King, she faces the Witch King of Angmar, the leader of the Nazgul, alone. When she picks up a sword, he leers and says, “You fool! No man can kill me. Die now…” And our heroin stabs the sword through his heart with the golden words “I am no man!”.
- No one likes a snitch!
Littlefinger, aka Petyr Baelish, is one of the most complex and cunning fellows you’ll ever meet in Westeros. And he’s also done some of the most horrible stuff in the story, apart from Joffrey and Ramsay of course. He always plays the double agent, supporting whichever house he thinks will benefit him most. He pretended to help Ned Stark, but at the end it was him that held a knife to his throat.
Although Littlefinger’s repertoire is hard to beat, Gollum aka Smeagol has done some pretty impressive things himself. Beginning with strangling his cousin to get the One Ring, he later betrayed Frodo by leading him to the lair of Shelob, a freakishly huge spider, so that he would be killed and Gollum would get the Ring.
- The Chosen One
Game of Thrones’ Azor Ahai is an amazing conversation starter. Azor Ahai is the Chosen One, the Prince that was promised to deliver the world from darkness. With speculations ranging from Tyrion the Imp, to even Daenerys, this theory gets all fans raging.
In the Lord of the Rings, the Chosen One is the One who will be able to withstand the corrupting power of the Ring and be successfully able to toss it into Mount Doom and save Middle Earth. Although Frodo is the Chosen One, one does wonder how the story would have differed had Samwise or one of the other hobbits been chosen in his place.
- Army of the Dead
This one is the easiest parallel to spot. In GRR Martin’s books, the Army is the Night King’s army- the army that will soon destroy all of Westeros after winter has come.
In JRR Tolkien’s case, it is the dead men of Dunharrow. This ‘ghost army’ is not salvaged because of a broken promise that they made to the King of Gondor. So Aragorn, who is heir to Gondor, summons them to fight and eventually they trounce the enemy troops in the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
- Let’s plant more trees!
Trees seem to be very popular in both the franchises. Remember the Godswood, aka Trees with faces? And yes, in Lord of the Rings, we’ve got the majestic Ents, aka trees that walk and talk. The Children of the Forest are also an allusion in the former. Oh, and yes, let’s talk a bit about flags and sigils.
Below, on the left is the sigil of House Forrester of Westeros. On the right is the flag of Gondor. Is it just me or do they look pretty similar?
Pictures courtesy: HBO and Warner Bros Entertainment
That’s it, folks! Hope you liked reading the parallels between these amazing worlds. Even in interviews, GRR Martin has admitted that his work is influenced by Tolkien’s works a lot. And it should be, because Tolkien rules fantasy literature. Some of these similarities might just be coincidence too- who knows?
If you’ve got more to add, please comment below and share your findings!
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