George R.R. Martin: The American Tolkien

George R.R. Martin is known for the mega-success of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, based on his A Song of Ice and Fire book series. He, however, has been a big part of the literary world long before the aforementioned seven-book series was out. The author has successfully made a name for himself beginning in the late 1970s.
His love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s works has inspired Martin to create an epic fantasy series of his own, similar to The Lord of the Rings. This gives birth to the A Song of Ice and Fire that fans love today.
Explore the life and success of Martin and learn why he gets the credit of being the American Tolkien.

The Early Life of Martin

Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, Martin created his own world, which was “five blocks long,” with his imagination.
His imagination is beyond impalpable, bringing him to different places that he started writing in elementary. At an early age, Martin already used his talent as his investment to earn, selling monster stories to other kids.
Come high school, he began penning fan fiction stories based on comic books and created new superheroes, too. Martin continued his love for writing during his college years. After his graduation, he worked with the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation and became a college professor.

Early Works

Martin sold his first short story, The Hero, in 1971 to the science-fiction magazine Galaxy. He then dropped a collection of short stories called A Song for Lya and Others in 1976.
Later, he launched his debut novel, Dying of the Light, in 1977. From here, Martin started to gain a good credit score in the fantasy and science fiction worlds.
Though he was yet to achieve commercial success, he managed to get Hollywood’s attention, making him the editor of the Twilight Zone remake in 1986. He also worked for the production of Beauty and the Beast.

The Start of a Huge Success

Martin started working on A Song of Ice and Fire book series, beginning with the first volume, A Game of Thrones, which was out in 1991.
Though it took time for the book to be successful, word of mouth helped boost its sales. It wasn’t until the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, in 2005 was out that Martin experienced the commercial success he was hoping for.
The start of his huge success began, becoming one of the best-selling authors.
The epic fantasy novels made their way to be known by a larger audience with the coming of the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones in 2011. The incredible degree of its fame paved its way to becoming the biggest and most influential TV show in history.
In the same year, he published the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, which turned to be another best-selling novel for the author.
Though the show already ended in 2019, Martin is yet to drop the last two installments in his book series, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
Until now, fans are still waiting for its release for already a decade.

The American Tolkien

With his gritty and earthy fantasy stories, Martin is often compared to English writer Tolkien. Time’s Lev Grossman and other literary critics even named him “the American Tolkien” as he finds inspiration in the great author’s legacy.
Some even noticed that The Lord of the Rings heavily influences A Song of Ice and Fire.
The novelist, however, tries to deviate from Tolkien’s “medieval philosophy” and gets credit for the rise of grimdark fantasy, which is the “modern form of anti-Tolkien approach to fantasy writing.”
Grossman said Martin is “by far the best” among the authors who work in the grand-epic fantasy tradition.