Many of Martin’s clones seem to think Tolkien’s world is something to enjoy as a teenager. Something you must grow out of. They claim Tolkien-esque fantasy is unrealistic while making a conceited effort to make all their characters despicable. Because that’s what realism is. The Ned Starks of these novels who are fundamentally good people are seen as rarely as the grey morality of Gollums in the Tolkien Clones.
To that, I would say that black-and-blacker morality is juvenile. Just as the 2003 version of Marvel comics’ Daredevil was juvenile.
People are quick to critique Tolkien because for being unrealistic. They demand so much grit and realism from their works that many seem to forget that they’re reading fantasy.
Of all genres, fantasy has the most potential. Fantasy is the genre in which you can do anything you want. And you’re demanding fantasy novels “evolve” towards realism?
Have they forgotten that realistic fantasy is an oxymoron?
The Martin Clones love to poke fun at Tolkien Clones. The same people who deride them for being unoriginal refuse will unquestioningly accept world after world of fantasy societies in the mold of a High School understanding of Medieval England.
And that’s the problem with a lot of modern, lighter stories being labeled Tolkien Clones for surface elements. How close does Wheel of Time, Lord Foul’s Bane, The Fionnavar Tapestry or any of the other Best Tolkien Clones come to Tolkien?
These claims are ridiculous. It is equivalent of saying watching movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and saying, “No, I want more movies like the 2003 Daredevil. Superheroes can’t be fun. They have to be serious.”
Fantasy is a genre you can do anything in. Your Elves can be as powerful or weak or tiny or tall or nonexistent as you want. You can base your world off of England or create a nonsense world where the laws of physics go out the window. You can do a mix of both! (Just please, if you’re not writing Alice in Wonderland, stay consistent with the rules you establish.)
Don’t let the demand for grim, gritty and realistic fiction stop you from writing the story you want to tell. Don’t let the urge to go against what’s popular dissuade you, either. Nobody wanted Marvel to embrace the silliness of superhero comics until movies like Iron Man came along. Don’t let someone tell you that fiction has to be serious in order to be taken seriously.