Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another Note On "Martin's Middle Earth"--Female Warriors

I've given some more thought to "Lord of the Rings if done by George R.R. Martin" scenario I posted here and I've come up with some more ideas.  Here there be spoilers, so watch out...

Despite the faux medieval setting, Martin has included several notable "warrior women" like Brienne of Tarth (who's as big and strong as most men), Asha Greyjoy, Maege and Dacey Mormont and the other women of Bear Island, and the pint-sized death machine Arya Stark.  Although the Norse had "shieldmaidens," women being active combatants in medieval times was fairly rare due to cultural norms and physical size issues.

It's been a long time since I've read Lord of the Rings or seen the movies, but the only female combatant I recall depicted in action is Eowyn.  Galadriel is described as having thrown down both during the War of the Ring and in the era depicted by The Silmarillon, but that could have been in a command role as easily as physically grappling with an enemy.  The movies depict Arwen as a better rider than Aragorn who evades the Nazgul to bring Frodo to Rivendell and even draws steel on them, but I don't think the rather old-fashioned Tolkien would have gone for that.

So, basically Martin's version of Lord of the Rings would have a far more active and violent female cast.  I'm drawing comparisons now to the Elves, who are different from the other peoples of the West due to being immortal and the oldest race, and the Dornish of A Song of Ice and Fire who practiced equal inheritance regardless of gender, allow their women much more sexual freedom, and were never conquered by the Targaryens.  The Elves could be a more gender-equitable society due to their smaller numbers and how long-lived the Elves are.

(Even if Elves have the same physical strength differentials than humans have, due to the Elves being so long-lived, Elven women would have more time to learn ways around that--think martial arts.  Even if they'd still be at a disadvantage against Elven men who would still be stronger and have the same thousands-of-years-of-free-time thing going, they'd be a very dangerous opponent for a man, a dwarf, or an Orc.)

Thus Martin's LOTR, if it included the flight to Rivendell from the Nazgul, would resemble the movie more than the book.  I'm thinking we might see Galadriel throwing down with the Forces of Darkness at the Battle Under The Trees and the destruction of Dol Guldur as well.  I'm thinking you'd see female Elf warriors as well, probably more in the vein of Asha Greyjoy (who is fairly normal in looks and size and seems to rely on non-grappling weapons like throwing-axes) than Brienne of Tarth (who is physically man-like to the point some fans have guessed she had a glandular problem).

As far as humans are concerned, Eowyn would still be there.  Making her, the one who slew the Witch-King of Angmar, into some Sansa Stark analogue who gets abused and forced into marriage for dynastic reasons, comes off as dubious and almost insulting even if there are some similar circumstances (a man who desires her, regardless of her opinions, and the dynastic thing) and the brutality is par for the course in Martin's work. 

However, if she's the one who kills Wormtongue, makes the decision about what to do with his rape baby (be it abortion or telling her infanticidal brother that she isn't going to allow a child to be killed because the father is a pervy traitor) if Martin's LOTR includes that plot element, and engages in hard-core warrior stuff like in canon, that might make up for it.

She could still kill the Witch-King of Angmar per canon or perhaps Saruman, especially since in the latter case there'd be a revenge element.  Even with the One Ring Sauron's physical body could be destroyed, so Eowyn could relieve Saruman of the hand with the Ring on it and then relieve him of his head.  If she manages to avoid thrown fireballs or other magical attacks or telekinetic wizard-staff-kung-fu like in the movie, it'd be a fight worthy of her canonical battle with the Witch-King.

(Of course, apparently one reason Bilbo could carry the Ring for so long without ill effect is because of his good heart and how he pitied Gollum and spared him when he could have killed him while invisible.  An embittered, angry Eowyn might be in serious danger of being corrupted by the Ring.  Unless of course she's wise enough to have it gotten away from her immediately, and she seems like she's got a brain based on what I remember from the books.) I'm tempted to write a fan-fic depicting the battle between Eowyn and Saruman, with the latter's taunts and mind-games expositing the whole sick back-story.

Not sure who else there'd be.  If we want an analogue to Bear Island, where the women became warriors because the Ironborn and wildings would attack them while the men were fishing, maybe the Gondorian provinces closest to Umbar and its corsairs or the Easterling borders have a military tradition among the women as well?

About female warriors and the Dwarves, that might be trickier due to the fact that I think Tolkien said only a third of Dwarves are female and many Dwarven men never marry and instead devote themselves to their work.  Such a culture would have even more surplus males to expend in war and would have even more reason to be protective of women, even though I can imagine female dwarves being very physically formidable.


  1. I don't see a way to contact you directly, and I realize that my comment is unrelated to this post, but you did say you wanted to learn more about Jeff's critic, so here goes. I'm him. I posted this to Jeff's blog as a response to you but I suspect he won't want you to see it. I know you'll probably delete this after having read it. I just don't like being misrepresented and I think it's a shame that writers like Jeff get attention on blogrolls. They're not helping the self-publishing industry at all. Here's the comment:

    Hey Matt, I’m the critic. I’m just a random redditor who finds the purported subject matter of Jeff’s book fascinating. I told him that the science he’s dealing with is actually much stranger and more wonderful than the summary of it one of his characters gave. You can find our first discussion here (I’m mesquinho):

    Basically, after a discussion of the science he suggested that I read it in full before commenting. I told him I would once he’d found a decent editor, as there were many obvious typos in the work. The conversation continued here:

    I couldn’t believe he was blaming Amazon services and readers for his slow sales when his piece so obviously hadn’t been proofread. So I proofread the sample for him. He took to heart some of my suggestions. However, it seems he thinks that a few of the errors I identified are not actually errors, when they clearly are.

    You can find our most recent correspondence here:

    Clearly, despite his suggestion otherwise, he hasn’t quite “let it go.” Which is good, because it alerted me to the errors in his description. Hopefully he’ll fix those, too, and have a slightly better chance at more sales.

    I summed up my position at the end of that thread:

    So that’s it. I don’t think Jeff has any real respect for the craft of writing, nor, by extension, his readers, because if he did he would do the basic proofreading his work so sorely needs, or at least find someone to do it for him. Especially after the errors have been pointed out to him! But he won’t. Even after I explained compound adjectives, for instance, he apparently has yet to accept their proper punctuation. I’m not talking about the stylistic suggestions I made – that’s entirely a matter of taste. But readers do expect work to be proofread. Jeff’s sort of writing is very bad for the self-publishing industry as a whole, as exemplified in this popular post:

    So that’s the state of things. I don’t know what your work is like but I’ll take a look at your blog. I’d guess you have much more respect for your readers than Jeff does for his.

    I’ve elaborated on my position here:

    I believe Jeff has mischaracterized me as a “troll.” I honestly do hope he proofreads his work someday, but given my experience with him, I’m not confident it will be soon.

    Peace. I’ll post this directly to your blog as I have a feeling Jeff might not want you to see it.

  2. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I'm a member of the same writing group as Jeff (I helped critique "Slip Drive," for starters) and I don't remember poor grammar and lots of typos.

    I would hope editing in response to our comments made it better, not worse.

    I took a brief look at the links you posted, but I would probably be better served if I read them when I wasn't so tired.