Hi everybody! It seems February is the month of firsts, last week my first series and today my first guest blogger. Thanks to Amy for taking a break from her daily posting schedule to stop by. And without further ado . . . Amy!
When Andrew asked me to blog about something genre-specific—something related to fantasy—I mulled over the whole universe of options. But then he wrote last week about his love for comics, and that made me start thinking about why I love fantasy.
My first fantasy reads were The Chronicles of Narnia books by C. S. Lewis. I loved the Pevensie children, Aslan, the talking animals, the horrible witch, Prince Caspian, Reepicheep—the whole world. It’s rich and beautiful and inspiring. From there, it was an easy leap to Madeline L’Engle and the whole A Wrinkle in Time series. And then I discovered David Eddings, Stephen Lawhead, and Robert Jordan, and I could no longer bear to read in the real world.
I’ve tried to analyze why I’m so drawn to epic fantasy or high fantasy. There are some great authors across speculative fiction altogether, but why do I gravitate toward that particular subgenre?
High/epic fantasy delves into the “what ifs” that other spec fic subgenres don’t always touch. What if… Animals could talk? Fairies really existed? Real wizards had influence in human affairs? Humans had access to mystical power? The world never progressed as far as the industrial era? I love those questions. I love that when we put humanity into a different setting, we can explore what our own failings and beliefs and practices in a “safe” setting.
Heroes are painted with broad brushstrokes, and alpha males are okay. I know alpha males are okay in other genres, too, but in fantasy, they’re almost expected. I like that it’s a given that I can open a fantasy novel and find at least one or two. I know the later books got really preachy, but I loved Terry Goodkind’s early books and Richard Cypher Rahl’s completely ridiculous assurance that he is the smartest, most competent warrior on the planet. It never occurred to him that he was anything less than awesome. I love that.
Moral ambiguity isn’t shunned. Look at George R. R. Martin. His characters are some of the most flawed protagonists around. Even Ned Stark, arguably the “best” and most morally upright man in the series, had his issues, and the trust he had that everyone around him would be as noble as he was eventually led to his downfall. This isn’t a new trend. Even Frodo and Edmund Pevensie struggled with their own moral failings and questions. People in a rough medieval world do things “for the greater good” or even for their own good and give us an opportunity to examine moral ambiguity against a different backdrop.
Horses, swords, and castles are cool. I mean, really. Just objectively speaking, they are, don’t you think?
The spiritual tends to be acknowledged and discussed more openly. I firmly believe there is an unseen world all around us and that spiritual things influence our earthly journey more than most of us care to admit. Fantasy gives those of us who are more interested in spiritual things a place to explore the ideas inherent in spirituality without being forced to read specifically spiritual books. We can look at the way Aslan, Sauron, Dumbledore, Rand al’Thor, King Arthur function in stories and talk about good and evil, transcendent virtues and morality, and the influence of spiritual worlds over our own by looking at stories where magic and power are more tangible.
It allows us to revisit archetypes and myths that resonate somewhere deep within. Not saying these archetypes aren’t in other forms of literature, but fantasy gives us the ability to explore them in easily recognizable forms. The Hero, the Mentor, Evil Personified, the Chosen Child—we know these in story and legend form from time immemorial. Fantasy puts new clothes and faces on them and lets us look at them from a new perspective.
And we get to do it with swords, horses, and castles, which is awesome.
Did you guys know Amy just released her debut fantasy Ravenmarked? It’s this epic story . . . hang on. I’ve got a blurb that explains it better.
Connor Mac Niall has everything he wants. As the best freelance man-at-arms in the known world, his reputation brings him jobs that provide adventure, women, and money in abundance.
But Connor has a secret: He’s ravenmarked. The avenging spirit of the earth, known as the Morrag, has chosen him to be her angel of death–to kill those she wants killed. Connor has run from her call half his life, and working as a freelance helps him keep the need to kill quelled.
When Connor reluctantly agrees to escort a fleeing royal heir to safety, he has no idea that the journey will bring him face to face with the Morrag–and require that he choose between destiny and freedom. He finds himself confronted with old regrets and new choices. On one side pursued by a sorcerer who wants him dead and on the other side tempted by the Morrag to submit his will to hers, Connor unwittingly escorts his charge right into the path of greatest danger for them both. He faces a choice: Submit his will to the Morrag’s control or let the royal heir die.
Set against a backdrop of romance, political instability, and magic, Ravenmarked is the first in a five-book epic fantasy series titled The Taurin Chronicles.
See? Much better and pretty picture to look at.
Thanks again Amy!
Info Stuff about me Andrew, the guy writing this blog- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and for the month of February, Tuesdays and Thursdays will be devoted to my Love series. Eight loves that have shaped me into the writer I am.