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LotR vs Mistborn school essay


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Hello all, I've been given a literary comparison essay for my writing class, and I've chosen to do the Mistborn trilogy vs the LotR trilogy. I've come to the forum to beg your assistance, as I'm in desperate need of finding out the best points of contention between the two. Any advice is appreciated!!

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For starters, the story of the LotR trilogy, as a whole, is very similar to the story of the first Mistborn book, tFE. In LotR a tyrannical leader has risen once again, and is trying to take over the world to (likely) destroy it. In tFE, the tyrannical leader has already taken over the world. In both, a small team with very small chances of success set out to stop the tyrannical leader. In both, the mentor figure dies (Gandalf/Kelsier). In both, the heroes eventually succeed.


The above would result in a comparison between TLR and Sauron. You can broaden your scope though, for LotR is also very similar to the story of stopping Ruin, thereby comparing Sauron to Ruin, instead of TLR. Many of the comparisons will remain, and Ruin fits as a better counterpart to Sauron that TLR does.


Good luck!

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Well, LotR is the source of many of the tropes that we now see in fantasy literature.  You might consider counterpointing that with how Brandon subverted some of those key tropes.  (I.E., the Chosen Hero isn't who we think it is, the Evil Overlord was actually trying to save the world, etc.) 

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You'll have a fairly large number of author quotes to pull from, if you're interested.


Just searching "Frodo" on Theoryland gets you a lot of interesting hits; of particular note is how he uses LoTR as an example in "wonder-based" magic quite a lot and how the whole backstory for Mistborn was the idea of telling the story of what happens after the mythical hero fails on his quest, "what if Sauron got the ring" type of thing—though in this case it's more "what if Sam killed Frodo and took the ring."


Brandon also uses LoTR as examples in at 2 out of 3 of his "Laws" on writing magic systems.

Edited by Kurkistan
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TLoRs is very history driven, and most of it is on point.


Mistborn is very history driven, and its all wrong. 



Yes... LotR is completely historically accurate. When Sauron fell in 1836, all references to the great war, elves, dwarves, giant eagles, treants, wizards, and the rest, were all purged from our libraries and schools. As a result, the Lord of the Rings, we only see it as a fantasy piece of fiction, not actual history like we should.


Somehow, Dayman, I don't think this is what you meant, but sorry, I couldn't resist :)

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To be fair pretty much 90% of the things we learn in the Mistborn trilogy turned out to be wrong by the time we reach the ending.

You can't spin objects around with steel and iron he said . . . you can't pierce copperclouds he said . . .

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I don't know if you've read the silmarillion, but you could even compare morgoth to ruin. I guess that would make manwe preservation, if you want to go that far...?

you could contrast Vin with Frodo. They're the heroes of their stories, but they have vastly different backgrounds and personalities and are affected by their responsibilities and duties in different ways.. though they do both have a best friend that sticks with them to the end and ends up being vital to their success (vin/elend, frodo/sam)

Ooh, the fellowship is kind of comparable to Kelsier's crew. And eowyn is a total boss, just like Vin. c:

Plot-wise, though, both occur over the course of three books and end in overall success, though the main hero(es) were required to sacrifice a TON for their goals; although, in my opinion, Frodo did so more than Vin. In both, there were multiple people whose roles were vital to the success of the mission. Frodo and Sam's role involved being as inconspicuous as possible, while Vin and Elend's duties required them to kind of take the spotlight and lead everybody.

Both TLR and Sauron are unseen for the majority of the books they're a part of. The reader knows about them mostly through reputation and information given by the characters.

this might not help and it's a bit, but hey these are two of my favorite series. I had to :B

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  • 2 weeks later...

Focus on the difference between their magic systems - for more information, read Sanderson's First Law on his website. LotR uses 'soft magic'. Atmospherically, this makes the book feel more like a fantasy and more separate from the real world. Mistborn's magic, on the other hand, is 'hard magic'. This helps draw people into the world, once logic is applied to fictional magic. It makes the world seem more real, as if it could actually happen.


Then we have the matter of religion. Tolkien once said in an interview that LotR was a 'purely Catholic work, unconsciously at first, then consciously during revision'. Contrast that to Mistborn and the way Christianity-esque religions are portrayed in it.


In Lord of the Rings, there is no religion, because religion implies believing in something they don't have proof of. Sauron is clearly a dark lord, the wizards clearly exist, and there is no reason to doubt those facts for the people of Middle Earth. Its just common sense that elves live forever, that there are demons under the earth (Balrogs), and that the king of Gondor comes from a magical bloodline with a much longer lifespan. Without proof to back these up, their common sense would be seen as a religion, but in Middle Earth, it is fact. There is no room for other belief systems, because there is only one true belief system, according to Tolkien.


Then we have the Mistborn trilogy. While Sanderson is a devout Mormon, Mistborn has space for different religions and, throughout the first book, seems to preach a message of religious tolerance. The character of Sazed devotes his entire life to researching different religions. He even researches and records the Steel Ministry, the religion that obliterated every other religion, including his peoples'.


Even after his Ascension, when he is made a literal god, Sazed does not enforce his religion. After the Ascension, there are still - among the most dominant religions - Survivorites, Trellists, worshipers of the God Beyond and, most remarkable of all, Sliverists, who still worship the Lord Ruler, the dictator who oppressed most of the world for the better half of a millennium. The meaning between the lines is clear - Sanderson preaches both Mormonism and religious tolerance.


Also examine how they both treat Christian beliefs. As I already stated, Middle Earth assumes them to be common sense, meaning I will skip directly to the Mistborn side for this particular comparison.


Examine the similarities between the characters Kelsier and Vin with Mormon beliefs.


Mormons believe in the Christian idea of the 'Father (God), Son (Christ) and Holy Ghost'. But, unlike Christians, Mormons believe that they are three separate beings that, while having distinct consciousnesses, share common thoughts and intentions. It is widely speculated among the forums (and possibly proven, but I'm too lazy to do more than Wikipedia Mormonism) that the pseudo-deity Preservation, who here represents the Father, controlled Kelsier to liberate the Skaa. Kelsier died, deliberately martyring himself to give the Skaa motivation to fight, in this analogy making him the Son.


But the similarities with that particular belief don't end with Kelsier. Vin was actively manipulated by Preservation in an attempt to stop her releasing the manifestation of Ruin, whom Preservation had imprisoned within the Well of Ascension. The spirit would be released if someone took and then released the magic in the Well without using it. The prison, however, had cracks, and Ruin used them to discreetly manipulate religious texts on the Well to change certain words - now, as far as Vin knew, doing anything with the Well other than releasing the power held within it would destroy the world.


In order to prevent her from releasing the power, the spirit of Preservation stabbed Vin's husband, Elend, trying to force her to use the power to save his life. She didn't, and although Preservation then saved Elend, Ruin was released. This can be seen as the guiding hand of the Father to the Son. As Mormonism believes they are three separate beings, who share the same intentions but not the same consciousness. Thus while Preservation and Vin both wanted the best for the world, they had widely different knowledge on how it could be accomplished.


Later in Book 3, though, more evidence is provided for Vin to be a metaphor for the Son. After the death of Preservation, Vin is absorbed by the Mists, Preservation's physical form, in order to take his place. At the end of the book, she throws Preservation's full strength against that of Ruin - as both deities are equally matched, they are both destroyed, martyring Vin.


I could go on for pages, but it is currently three AM in my timezone. Hopefully I've given you enough to work on your essay.


EDIT: Thanks for the upvote. No longer a spearman! It feels... just like being a spearman, only somehow worse... mostly because bridgemen have to run in front of the army carrying an entire bridge and getting shot at.

Edited by TenzinKendrick
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  • 3 weeks later...

Also, both Vin and Gollum have a voice speaking to them in their head.


Not to mention those voices are everything that is wrong with what is happening, yet they both sound so friendly.

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Obviously, this is a little bit late to help with the essay, but you could look at the magic systems in each book as literary devices as portrayed in Sanderson's Laws essays (for future use in this kind of situation or anyone who sees this thread in the future and wishes to use it for such a project in the future). Here are the links.


Sanderson's 1st Law


Sanderson's 2nd Law


Sanderson's 3rd Law


I'll also give a summary of each.


Sanderson's First Law states that the author's ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic. He goes on to explain that he separates magic into categories of 'hard' magic and 'soft' magic. Hard magic is well defined so that readers understand how it works and what its limits are (Sanderson almost always uses this) and soft magic is not well defined and is not well understood by the reader (such as Gandolf's magic; we don't entirely know what he can and can't do with it). There is a middle ground where there are some rules that are set forth that aren't broken by the author but looking at the setting as a whole you don't necessarily understand the limits of the magic, such as in Rowling's Harry Potter books. Literately speaking, he states that it is better to use hard magic to resolve conflict so that you don't end up in a Dues Ex Machina situation.


Sanderson's Second Law is that Limitations are greater than power. He uses Superman as an example here. He argues that what makes Superman stories interesting isn't as much his powers but how he overcomes his limitations, or rather, how he resolves situations despite his limitations.


Snaderson's Third Law is to expand on what you have before you add something new. Basically, cover what you have revealed as thoroughly as possible at the point in your story before adding something new. This keeps the readers from getting confused about the magic and the world and makes it easier to keep track of your magic and world, which makes writing easier and readers more interested.


Now, the only one that has direct implementation on LoTR and Misborn trilogies is the first law (Mistborn presents Hard Magic and LoTR presents Soft Magic) but Brandon uses these essays to explain to his readers how he develops his worlds and magics in a literary sense, which is important to understand if you are analyzing his works. I would highly recommend that anyone doing an essay including Brandon's novels to read these essays and not just read these summaries as they only give a general idea. His essays are not overly long, only a few minutes read each at worst. I also find them extremely interesting.

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