Can Tolkien beat G.R.R. Martin in the number of character deaths?
Just to pass the time, I decided to mark every page where the death of a named character occurs in The Silmarillion (excluding Akallabêth and Of The Rings of Power).
This was inspired by a hilarious image circulating the internet which compares J.K. Rowling’s and G.R.R. Martin’s own character deaths in their stories.
Whilst the creator of A Song of Ice and Fire series is impressive, and is often known for his ruthlessness against his own creations, can Tolkien claim the title of most character deaths in a fantasy world?
I post a picture of my results …
In just over 200 pages, I counted a total of 52 named characters who met an untimely death in The Silmarillion (though I am sure there are more). Most of these were killed by friends, foes or else took their own lives. The majority are Elves and Men, both major and minor characters (including men, women, young and old).
Without going into unnecessary spoilers for the uninitiated, there is a significant spike in the mortality rate particularly in Chapter 20 ‘Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad’ and Chapter 21 ‘Of Túrin Turambar’, where deaths seem to come pretty thick and fast.
Aaaaaaand on that point, I think it’s time to conclude this slightly morbid post.
Until next time!
7 thoughts on “GRR Martin vs Tolkien: Character Deaths in The Silmarillion [count]”
Haha! What a great idea, I never thought about counting deaths in The Silmarillion 😀
That’s a lot of death. Morbid, yet humorous, as often seems to be the case… Killing characters can be so much fun, I wonder if sometimes authors get a little bit carried away.
@The Story Sponge; I think they do. XD
Yes, I agree, I think they do. 😮
Appendix C of LOTR is far worse than any chapter of the Silmarillion with dozens of deaths of named, hobbit characters. And that’s just looking at the family trees of Baggins and Brandybucks!
PS: Congratz on 4 years with this blog, James.
My mom and I were talking about this the other day. As a writer, I feel guilty when I do something too mean to a character. I once spent the whole day moping about a scene I’d written and wondering if I’m a terrible human being for it. I have no idea how Martin does it. Of course, I didn’t even think about the death count in The Silmarillion… 🙂
I’m sure he sleeps soundly at night 😀