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Question: Which fantasy work do you like best?  (Voting closed: November 23, 2010, 01:33:17 PM)
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling - 5 (25%)
The Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - 15 (75%)
Total Voters: 20

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Ocicat
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« on: November 09, 2010, 01:33:17 PM »

At last, it comes down to this.  Lord of the Rings vs. Harry Potter.  The classic from the 50's vs. the newest kid on the fantasy block, who's series was just finished three years ago (and will finish on film next year). 

This poll will run for two weeks, to assure that everyone gets a chance to have their votes heard!
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kibitzer
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 08:41:03 PM »

Aww come on!! Surely there's no argument about this one??
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2010, 12:18:28 AM »

While I remain firmly in the obviously correct camp, it is worth noting that Harry Potter is a lot more accessible than LotR and thus might be perceived as more enjoyable.  Many readers I know of found LotR to be a slog at times.  (Lord knows I skimmed parts of Two Towers and Return of the King.)
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Talia
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2010, 01:44:26 AM »

I have no problem admitting I voted for HP.  LOTR is clearly a classic, and one that should be read and enjoyed for all time, but Harry Potter is just utterly satisfying on some level that LOTR doesn't, for me, achieve. I think that its just really, purely, fun, and there is much to be said for that.
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2010, 11:29:50 AM »

I voted for Potter. Mostly because, although I respect and appreciate what Tolkien did, I'm not sure how soon I want to reread those books again. (Although my library does have them all in audio, and I'm slightly tempted.)

Harry Potter I can see rereading several times over.

The movies, OTOH? I'd definitely rather watch LotR.
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eytanz
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2010, 11:53:58 AM »

LoTR is a real classic and was extremely influential in the creation of the modern fantasy genre, but I found it a tedious read and the movies boring. The Harry Potter series, while certainly uneven, I enjoyed so much more, and at least at this point in time they are also extremely influential. History will judge whether they will remain so, and whether they will have a legacy to match LoTR - I doubt so, because they weren't so much groundbreaking as just a really good example of the genre - but they get my vote (though the films, IMO, are only marginally less boring).
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Talia
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2010, 01:06:15 PM »

the movies boring

*narrows eyes suspiciously* Tongue

Can't say I understand that at all. For me the movies were 1000% the furthest possible thing from boring.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2010, 03:05:10 PM »

I reread LotR several times, with gusto.  Harry Potter I also reread, of course; I reread most anything that I enjoyed the first time.  LotR is vastly the better book series by almost any measure.  The only edge Potter has is that it isn't as dense or complex, which to some of us isn't actually a benefit. 

I would not call the Harry Potter books exemplary of anything; they are popular, and they are not openly terrible like some popular series I could name, but I can't see them as beacons of literature no matter how dusky and shadowed the landscape.  LotR is just better-written and has had a much stronger impact and influence on the genre.  To me, the success of Potter here is similar to the way the "Best Movies of All Time" list on the IMDB always includes a handful of recent CGI blockbusters alongside the actual enduring classics.  It's fun, it's light, everyone's read it, and most everyone can enjoy it on some level; even serious critics can admit that it does what it wants to do and doesn't seriously misfire at any point.
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2010, 03:37:45 PM »

Ah 'Cat. I can always count on you to organize and arrange my incoherent feelings and then type them up. Now I only need to get you to sign my name on them.....
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 05:06:15 PM »

<Snip>
The only edge Potter has is that it isn't as dense or complex, which to some of us isn't actually a benefit. 

I would not call the Harry Potter books exemplary of anything; they are popular, and they are not openly terrible like some popular series I could name, but I can't see them as beacons of literature no matter how dusky and shadowed the landscape.  LotR is just better-written and has had a much stronger impact and influence on the genre.  To me, the success of Potter here is similar to the way the "Best Movies of All Time" list on the IMDB always includes a handful of recent CGI blockbusters alongside the actual enduring classics.  It's fun, it's light, everyone's read it, and most everyone can enjoy it on some level; even serious critics can admit that it does what it wants to do and doesn't seriously misfire at any point.

I disagree Smiley As you pointed out earlier, Potter is loads more accessible than LotR. To be totally honest, I find the characters far more interesting. Ditto the plot(s). Maybe Tolkien has some kind of edge on the "language" (which like eytanz, I found...frustrating), and I'm not trying to knock the cultural significance of it. But I think Potter had quite a bit of cultural significance, too. (Although I agree that the real test will be time.)

I know "Fun" is subjective to who is reading, but I think it's also underrated as a measurement in literature. And I think part of the reason HP is so beloved is becasue it knew how to have fun.

Anyway, I don't have any qualms saying I think Potter is better in several ways than LotR  Wink
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birdless
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2010, 05:43:46 PM »

Anyway, I don't have any qualms saying I think Potter is better in several ways than LotR  Wink

Dave! Heresy! Grin Honestly, it truly amazes me when i find a geek who doesn't thoroughly enjoy Tolkien! I know that's silly, but Tolkien's world has such depth and so many facets that all tie in so neatly together. Admittedly, his prose can sometimes get dense, but as 'cat stated, for some of us that's enjoyable! On the other hand, i thoroughly enjoyed HP, but i've already read LotR more times than i intend to ever read HP, and will definitely read LotR several more times at some points in the future. I'll probably reread HP, too, but it's definitely a bigger commitment in terms of reading length!

Eytanz's dislike of the LotR movies always surprises me every time it comes up. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 08:16:43 PM »

For me, LotR was way more fun than Harry Potter.  About the only part of the books I really enjoyed other than scenes/moments here and there were when Snape or Lupin was onscreen.  They were the only characters who seemed to me to have any depth to them, and I just can't enjoy fluff for fluff's sake.  Maybe that's a failing on my part.  So when I count "funness," LotR comes out above HP every time.  As I said, the only objective point that I think you can give to HP is accessibility, and that I certainly will grant.  I just don't find accessibility to be particularly endearing or worthwhile in itself, and HP's characterization, plotlines, themes, and general use of language were all inferior to LotR, in my opinion.  Hell, even in YA fiction, I find D.M. Cornish's "Monster Blood Tattoo" series or Terry Pratchett's "Bromeliad" trilogy to be much more enjoyable and higher quality literature than HP.

Don't get me wrong; I don't hate Harry Potter.  (Okay, I hate HIM, the character, but not the books that bear his name.)  I just don't find them to be, in absolute terms, particularly good books.  They are noteworthy for their popularity, which I suspect is due in part to their accessibility, in part to their harmlessness and high levels of light-heartedness, and in part to sheer luck.  I'm not mad that they exist, and I don't resent J.K. Rowling for catching hold of that lightning bolt.  They've given me mild enjoyment for several hours of my life.  But I likely won't be buying them for my children (if they ever exist.)
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Talia
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2010, 10:53:37 PM »

I've read quite a bit of "YA" and "juvenile" fiction and find HP to be among the best of its kind. To my mind Rowling does a good job of fleshing out the characters of the main protagonists (full disclosure: I'm not sure how much my viewing of the movies has affected that opinion), and I flat out love all the charming little imaginative details she fits in here and there. The books are simple, but that's part of the joy - they're exciting, essentially warm (I'm hard put to explain that particular descriptor, but I stick by it), and VERY reader-friendly. As bonus, they've gotten a whole generation of kids interested in books! (when you're considering what to buy or not buy for your future kids, keep that in mind. Great gateway books!).

Now, I liked the LOTR books, I truly did. But they can run towards dry, and I found it MUCH harder to emotionally invest in them at all. Harry Potter, on an emotional scale, sucked me right in. Smiley I guess HP just did a better job about making me care about the characters than did LOTR.  I guess that's all a matter of taste though. 100% no doubt LOTR is more intellectually stimulating. But that's of far less interest to me than how it makes me FEEL.



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birdless
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2010, 09:40:36 AM »

Now, I liked the LOTR books, I truly did. But they can run towards dry, and I found it MUCH harder to emotionally invest in them at all. Harry Potter, on an emotional scale, sucked me right in. Smiley I guess HP just did a better job about making me care about the characters than did LOTR.  I guess that's all a matter of taste though. 100% no doubt LOTR is more intellectually stimulating. But that's of far less interest to me than how it makes me FEEL.
Interesting how much it's a YMMV thing. I felt more emotional depth and investment in the LotR characters. Again, i thoroughly enjoyed HP, i just wouldn't put the two in the same class. =)
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Talia
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2010, 10:34:32 AM »

Well, I'm not sure I'd put them in the same class either. They're both fantasy series, but aside from that they're different sorts of animals. HP doesn't aspire to be LOTR, and well it shouldn't – it's good right where it is.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2010, 03:12:19 PM »

Harry Potter has had some other impacts that haven't been brought up yet.

It has opened the door to fantasy (again?) allowing it to be mainstream and publicly acceptable. It has done for fantasy what Star Wars did for Science Fiction.

It hooked another generation of readers at a time when other entertainment mediums are crowding the field.

It's a gateway for fantasy. Although I picked LotR for the poll, I would be more likely to hand Harry Potter to someone who is looking to wander into fantasy.
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« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2010, 04:44:23 PM »

Interesting how much it's a YMMV thing. I felt more emotional depth and investment in the LotR characters. Again, i thoroughly enjoyed HP, i just wouldn't put the two in the same class. =)

Totally  Grin  Which I guess should prove to me why "fun" is such a subjective measurement. And again - I like LotR alright (and love the films to death) and certainly understand and respect their impact. But I was just never invested in the characters or the plot as much as I was with HP.

Harry Potter has had some other impacts that haven't been brought up yet.

It has opened the door to fantasy (again?) allowing it to be mainstream and publicly acceptable. It has done for fantasy what Star Wars did for Science Fiction.

It hooked another generation of readers at a time when other entertainment mediums are crowding the field.

It's a gateway for fantasy. Although I picked LotR for the poll, I would be more likely to hand Harry Potter to someone who is looking to wander into fantasy.

It also essentially legitimized YA as an incredibly lucrative field. The NY Times had to create a separate Children's Bestseller's List because publishers (and presumably authors) were so frustrated that Rowling was taking up multiple spots at a time (I can't remember if it was 3 or 4) on the NY Times Bestseller list.

I didn't vote for it for those reasons, of course - I voted because I had loads more fun reading HP and felt more attached to the books than I ever did the LotR novels. But I think it's worth mentioning. 
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2010, 12:51:24 AM »

I agree with Dave completely.  I have to admit that it took 3 attempts before I could even finish The Fellowship of the Ring.  I only made it through the first chapter of The Two Towers and just couldn't go any further.   So, I haven't even read the whole trilogy.  I didn't read the Harry Potter series until after The Deathly Hallows was released.  Then, I got so sucked in that I finished all seven books in less than a month.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2010, 03:17:38 PM »

I stand corrected. Surely, there is argument.
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2010, 03:53:02 PM »

Heh. Yeah. But either way it looks like the Boy Who Lived is going to get his butt kicked.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2010, 05:36:34 PM »

Well, I voted for LotR, because it is clearly the better classic Wink

But, I think that has more to do with the fact that LotR is an adult series, no matter the fact that many of us probably read it in our early teens. It definitely has more depth; literary, philosophical, social, etc.

On the other hand, HP is a children`s series, no matter the fact that many of us read it as adults Wink. So, of course it will be less heavy. How else are kids as young as 7 and 8 supposed to get it? And, aside from bringing Fantasy to the main stream, I think HP should also be lauded for bringing young kids (especially boys) to reading, and for paving the way for a whole range of new books geared to inquisitive and rambunctious kids (everything from Percy Jackson to Captain Underpants!). I remember the deserted landscape we had in terms of reading when I was 7, 8, and 9. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys was about it! It wasn't until we moved to an area where the local librarian know about science fiction and fantasy that I discovered authors like John Christopher and Lloyd Alexander. These types of books just weren't in the main stream. So, I really value what HP has done for kids, kid's fiction, and the fantasy and sci-fi genre.  And I will certainly be giving the HP books to my kids in the future.

But, when they are a bit older, I will give them LotR Wink
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« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2010, 11:13:26 PM »

Heh. Yeah. But either way it looks like the Boy Who Lived is going to get his butt kicked.

Neville would have done it in four books.

(Every time I see that shirt, I am further tempted to just buy it already...)
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kibitzer
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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2010, 08:33:06 PM »

I remember the deserted landscape we had in terms of reading when I was 7, 8, and 9. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys was about it!

Hey hey hey -- what are you saying? ND and HB aren't available anymore? A sad loss!! And don't forget The Three Investigators. Man, talk about classic literature  Wink  Grin

I read all of those (well, as many as were out at the time -- I know the landscape's a little wider now.) The Mystery of the Green Ghost scared the beejeezus outta me, as did the cover picture.
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2010, 09:06:36 PM »

Oh, the Three Investigators!  I loved those books!  "Terror Castle" always creeped me out, for some reason.
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birdless
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« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2010, 02:20:45 AM »

And don't forget The Three Investigators. Man, talk about classic literature  Wink  Grin

THANK you! I was trying to think of those, too, after the HB/ND reference!
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2010, 03:00:41 AM »

I still have almost all my original 3 Investigators  hardcovers (with those royal blue endpapers!).  Jupe's Hawaiian shirts were the best!
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kibitzer
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« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2010, 08:44:18 PM »

I still have almost all my original 3 Investigators  hardcovers (with those royal blue endpapers!).  Jupe's Hawaiian shirts were the best!

Gold!
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« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2010, 08:52:29 PM »

I voted for LotR because, while HP has a really interesting story, Tolkein is far better writer Rowling, and he set a really impressive benchmark for high fantasy.

Also JRR when to my school...
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« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2010, 01:33:06 AM »

I remember the deserted landscape we had in terms of reading when I was 7, 8, and 9. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys was about it!

Hey hey hey -- what are you saying? ND and HB aren't available anymore? A sad loss!! And don't forget The Three Investigators. Man, talk about classic literature  Wink  Grin

No, I think ND and HB are still going strong. My problem isn't with those series per se, but rather that there wasn't much else, back in the day. Now, the choices are much broader, and frankly more to my liking.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2010, 09:25:13 PM »

And so it ends!

What, no further comments???
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« Reply #30 on: November 28, 2010, 11:14:16 PM »

I think the plate of beans has been thoroughly over-thought, K.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2010, 01:33:51 PM »

I'd ment to give a celebratory post, but the holiday weekend caught up with me... :-)

So Congratulations to LotR, still the undisputed champion of fantasy works! 

Certainly it was the favorite all along, but I was by no means sure it would win.  There are a lot of great modern fantasy works out there, and I suspected one of Gaiman's might take the prize.  But in the end the masterwork got it's due.

I have no immediate plans for another poll series.  I don't feel qualified to do a horror novel poll, since my sampling in that area is quite small.  I may revisit films eventually for an SF film poll, but it will be a few months at least.  Feel free to beat me to it!
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AliceNred
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« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2010, 01:03:16 AM »

While I remain firmly in the obviously correct camp, it is worth noting that Harry Potter is a lot more accessible than LotR and thus might be perceived as more enjoyable.  Many readers I know of found LotR to be a slog at times.  (Lord knows I skimmed parts of Two Towers and Return of the King.)

I think JRT was genus. He changed the world for many of us. That said, I think if it were published today, that it would be a different read, with aid of a more modern editor.

Pip and Mary were interchangeable. And then there is war that Bilbo was knocked out, therefore saving JRT from writing an action scene.

I say this as someone who spent MANY a happy hour playing D&D, was a member of SCA, and I know that many, many wonderful tales would not have been written without it. Some of prose is poetic.

HP is indeed a much easier to read. One reason HP is is a great read is Neville  Longbottom. I LOVED at the end of the first book where he is rewarded for standing up against his friends. Also, in book 7, he runs the rebels, and you can see where, yah, if HP had died, Neville would have and could stepped in.

There is real growth in most of the of HP characters.  And HP has so much you can get out of it, both lit wise and morality wise.

I love sucking the marrow out of a good story, and HP gives good marrow.
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