I had this conversation once, with a friend, who asked me, as a fantasy sci-fi reader, which do I like better: Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?
My adamant reaction was, how dare someone even ask that? Nothing compares to Tolkien. NOTHING! N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!!!
Wrong. Three months later, I figure it out and realize my answer should have been... nothing. LOTR is much too different from GoT, so much so that the only thing they do have in common is their section in the bookstore.
Plus the fact that I have not read a single book in the GoT series (even though I have two of 'em sitting and gathering dust in my library), I really had no right to even answer the question.
But first, let me explain my near-violent answer three months ago.
I am obviously a very righteous fan of Frodo and the great Hobbit adventure. I think I've read the books 3 times each on average. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the movies (the extended versions are part of my yearly Christmas break ritual). And The Hobbit was the very first technically adult fantasy novel I bought for myself and devoured whole. I've said hobbit one too many times in a paragraph, haven't I? Might be 'cause I'm EXCITED for the movie.
So yeah, I'm a fan. But more than being a fan, I've considered myself to be a believer, of the themes and ideas Tolkien wrote of in his masterful trilogy.
Back in the (when were they published) 1950s/60s, as industry boomed after the war, Tolkien knew Mother Nature would struggle under the steel wheels of mankind, so he wrote of the importance of trees and the forest, how everything is better with good tilled earth. Amazingly even, he wrote of nature fighting back. Ents gatecrashing Saruman's dilly-dallying is one of my favorite scenes in Two Towers. He was, essentially, one of the world's first environmentalists.
Tolkien was also one of the first to write in women as strong characters into his storyline. Sword wielding Eowyn. Serene, collected yet strong-willed Arwen. Awe-inspiring Galadriel. They all had their role to play in the road to free Middle Earth from the fear of the would-be wrath of Sauron. Arwen steers Aragorn to accepting his fate as King of Gondor. Galadriel gives Frodo the bottled light of Earendil which saves him from Shelob. And Eowyn destroys the Witchking of Angmar ("I am no man!", another favorite, this time from Return of the King).
And Tolkien's presentation of good and evil is as clear cut as it gets. You knew goblins, orcs, Sauron, the Balrog, the Ring Wraiths and the Urukhai were evil. And you knew elves and dwarves and hobbits and eagles and men were good. Black and white. Good had to conquer evil and there's no going around that.
That was my main argument to the question posted. I said, I find the notion of politics, intrigue, cheating and lying and not ever knowing who's on whose side, makes GoT blurry and complicated. Guess it's why it makes for a good series. Its a book per season, you know. So GoT fans who rely solely on the telly, you've got a long way to go.
Fast forward to today, and I look into the books I'm into now. Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time blurs the lines of good and evil too, exploring the weakness of men (and women) to the temptations of power. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn explores cult formation and history manipulation, to rile the oppressed to fight or hide an unbearable truth from the general public. From my reading of Stromlight Archives B1P1, looks like Sanderson'll further delve into questioning what is right and what is wrong and peel back more layers to expose humanity for what it is.
Maybe its the trend of the new millennium. These are complicated times we're in. Nothing's as A or B as 20, 30 or 40 years ago. There's not just one road-not-taken here. The fork has morphed into a superhighway cloverleaf. Inasmuch as we'd like it to be, the world where Tolkien wrote his story is gone, replaced by this muddled sense of "hey, your own mother-in-law could be a serial killer". Okay, that may be too weird or extreme an example, but you get the point. Good isn't just simply good anymore. Good may be the president who calls in the explosion of an Afghan town that wipes it off the map in order to rid the world of the Al Qaida. Bad may be the corrupt police officer who just needs the extra money to pay for his son's school book photocopy. It's not as black/white clear cut anymore.
So, dear reader, people do turn over new leaves and sometimes eat their words. I honestly still prefer LOTR but I'm not going to put down GoT or any other budding fantaseries in the process of defending it.
Except maybe 50 Shades of NO WAY. But that's another entry for another day.