J.R.R. Tolkien has had a huge inspiration on the fantasy genre ever since the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, which only grew with the release of The Lord of the Rings in 1954. Many of the authors inspired by him are now notable authors themselves, who have gone on to inspire others – and so Tolkien’s legacy continues.
Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, first published in the 1970s, was greatly inspired by Tolkien. It features multiple races like elves, gnomes, dwarves and trolls living together in a world that is troubled by a dark power. In 1978 it was even called a ‘rip off’ of Tolkien’s work, and Brooks has confirmed that Tolkien was an influence on his work. However, this has not stopped it from being a vastly popular series, nor affected any of Brooks’ other work. The Belgariad series by David Eddings is greatly inspired by Tolkien, although quite a bit shorter! It may be made up of five books, but each book is much shorter than each of Tolkien’s. It centres around a Dark Lord, a mysterious and power object, and an epic quest. Sound familiar? 😉 The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series by Stephen R. Donaldson is yet another that took inspiration from Tolkien. It sounds a little less similar plot-wise than the previous two, and also is notable for having a protagonist who is considered to be fairly unlikable.
Some authors even went as far as trying to create sequels to The Lord of the Rings, or other stories set in Middle-earth. Author Dennis L. McKiernan wrote a series which was originally intended as a sequel, but then had to be changed. The Iron Tower series was the resulting backstory. Something I was really surprised to discover when reading for this post was that someone actually has written sequels to The Lord of the Rings – and somehow managed to get away with it. Considering how strict the Tolkien Estate can be, this is quite shocking, but might also explain why the books have never been published in English. The author in question is Russian Nick Perumov, and his series, Ring of Darkness, is set 300 years after the events of LotR, and follows a descendant of Merry Brandybuck. Alternatively, the book There and Back Again by Pat Murphy is, as it sounds, based on The Hobbit, albeit a science fiction retelling of sorts.