There are so many reasons to love fantasy literature and its film adaptations! I thought I’d take a break from posts explicity about “The Crimson League” to explore a bit what it is about the fantasy genre that resonates so deeply with me and has ever since I discovered it. After reading, feel free to agree or disagree with me or express your own thoughts on the topic in the comments! Let’s begin with the most trite reason:
- ESCAPISM. This is a pretty common and obvious one, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to get away from the daily grind to ride a dragon, save a kingdom from destruction, fight evil with magic, learns spells with Harry Potter and Ron at Hogwarts, or train to be a king’s assassin with Fitz? (I am currently engrossed in The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, and HIGHLY recommend it, if you haven’t read it yet. It has been difficult to put the books down to get my own work done. They’re that
goodaddictive.) I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, and tend to be quiet and feel uncomfortable when I’m forced into new surroundings with people I don’t know. The beauty of a good fantasy novel, for someone like me, is that somehow, it ironically pulls me out of myself into an entirely different world while at the same time, providing some protection and shelter from the world I inhabit.
- POWERFUL CHARACTERS REFLECT HUMAN WEAKNESSES TO MAKE THEM THAT MUCH MORE STRIKING: AND UNDERSTANDABLE. I have been blessed with a wonderfully supportive and close family, good health, a fantastic education, and decent finances. Hey, I’m no Donald Trump, but I’m know where my next meal is coming from, and I’m I know I’ll have three of them a day. I find it is far too easy for me to grow complacent about my faults and my flaws, far too easy to just assume things will always come easy. Well, there’s no assurance of that, not for anyone. And when people as good as Robin Hobb’s Prince Verity, with his ability to read minds and influence thoughts and decision-making with the Skill can end up in dire situations they’re not sure they’ll get out of, well, it’s a reminder to grateful for all I have, to call up those who have supported me along with the way to give a quick thanks, and not to take the everyday blessings in my life for granted. When Harry Potter turns into an adolescent angst-worm in Order of the Phoenix, it’s a reminder to give people a break when they cut in line at the café or speak sharply, because hey, maybe they’re just having a rough day (or a rough life. Harry definitely has one!) Maybe they’ve been laid off and they’re worried about finding a job, or maybe someone they care about is sick and not doing well. Harry’s friends stand firm beside him despite his fits of feeling like–to quote the Potter Puppet Pals–“My parents are dead, my life sucks, I’m surrounded by effing goblins and s*** all the time, and I still have nightmares of Dobby eating my skin clean off every night!” In terms of my own characters, Laskenay Heathdon and the undeserved guilt she inflicts constantly upon herself are a direct reflection of a personal tendency I have, and when I think about her, it reminds me to give myself a break.
- FANTASY LANDS CAN SPEAK INTERESTING ALLEGORIES ABOUT OUR OWN WORLD. I’ve considered this a lot as I began to write fantasy, and I feel it is one of the most important aspects of the genre. When I finished the first draft of “The Crimson League,” I considered the world I had created, and I realized what a close analogy I could form between the situation of sorcerers in Herezoth and of the heroes who struggled in the face of hatred and unjust law to assert their human dignity in the Civil Rights movement of the United States. It made me admire those individuals so much more than I ever had before, gave me so much more reason to learn their stories and to strive to follow the examples they set in my own life. A book is just words on a page, and there’s really small value to that until we make comparisons and use those word to develop and mature our personal visions of the world in which we live. That’s why the arts matter. Music, paintings, literature, they all have this capacity to shape the human soul into something better than it used to be.
- DEBATES WITH MY FELLOW FANTASY FANS. I find as much fun in few kinds of frivolous debates than I do in discussing a shared interest in fantasy/sci-fi with my friends. Lupin or Sirius? (I am no hipster, but I take a kind of hipster-ish pride in that few people I speak of Harry Potter with share my love of Remus Lupin. He’s by far the best character in the series, in my humble opinion.) Picard or Kirk? Sam and Frodo: best bromance EVER, no? What brave little hobbitses! And DUDE, before HP and the Deathly Hallows was released to settle the question… Severus Snape: good or evil? GOOD OR EVIL???? My friends and I have passed many a great pub night arguing about these topics. The best time was the one we didn’t even realize we were arguing about how we share the same opinion. (This wasn’t a debate that focused on fantasy literature, exactly, but to be fair, the playwrights from 17th century Spain we were discussing did write mythological comedies and used prophecy in their work. As a friend and I hostilely agreed with one another, Calderón de la Barca is a far superior playwright to Lope de Vega. Make sure you read Life is a Dream / La vida es sueño, though my favorite of Calderón’s plays is The Wonder-working Magician / El mágico prodigioso.)
So, what do you love about fantasy??? I’d love to know!