Jay Kristoff, who recently released "Kinslayer" book 2 of "The Lotus War" series, shares with us how he was impacted by one of his favorite fantasy novels.
What’s your favorite Five-Star fantasy?
Ah, this is a really hard question to answer. And my answer isn’t a very cool one, but I suppose I’ve never really been “cool” so why bother pretending now.
I’d have to say The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. And I know it’s almost hip to look down on old prof Tolkien nowadays. I know it’s not cool to acknowledge the impact Tolkien had on the fantasy set, how it’s far more hipster to dissect the work until nothing remains. Yes, Tolkien was hopelessly in love with a concept of agrarian England that never really existed. Yes, his work is racist, and classist and elitist. Yes, his female characters are paper-thin or non-existent, yes the first half of FotR and most of TT is terribly boring. And yes, the writing is stilted in parts, and he’s overly fond of the Deus Ex Machina, or Aquilam Ex Machina as the case may be.
However, books are about more than the words inside them. Books are about who you are when you read them, and the person you changed into at the end of them. Books are about having your eyes opened, your mind expanded, your imagination set on fire. And The Hobbit was the first novel that really did that for me. When I first read it, I was maybe nine or ten years old. I was interested in dragons and knights and castles while a lot of my buddies were interested in football. I was introverted and nerdy and I had NO idea books like The Hobbit even existed.
When I found it (and please, can we all give a cheer for school librarians), it was like someone opened a door to an entirely new world. When I first picked it up and fell into its pages, I finally realized there were books out there for kids like me. I realized I wasn’t alone in my love of the terribly nerdy things no one else I knew seemed to be interested in. And for me (and I suspect countless others) The Hobbit was a gateway into a lifetime of reading. Not only in terms of the books it lead me to, but the books it lead others to write, which I discovered in turn. For good or ill, I’m not entirely sure anyone can realistically discount the impact Tolkien and The Hobbit had on modern fantasy. I’m not entirely sure what the genre would look like without him, and the genre is full of books I love. So yes, while Middle Earth and Tolkien can be effectively dissected, and the problems within are problems and worthy of discussion, the works themselves have inspired countless others, and lead to the formation of a genre I literally couldn’t live without (since, you know, it pays my mortgage now).
So, hats off to Bilbo Baggins. Thanks for paying my electricity bill, little buddy.