A note on the story, plus ramblings on Fantasy

I’d like to say a quick word about the content of the story of my book. In the previous post I talked a little about fantasy themes; sword hilts and whatnot. The story of my book will be set in a world easily labeled a “fantasy” one, but it won’t feel very much like Dungeons and Dragons. I love the fantasy genre as far as its possibilities are concerned, but within that genre I haven’t read many volumes that I thought were truly engaging and original, and those are both labels it would obviously be nice to attach to my own creation.

I am not a heavy reader; I can’t devour books at breakneck speed like my wife can. My mind wanders a lot, and it can take me a while to finish a novel. I reread sentences constantly, a few times, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Therefore, when I choose books I try to be pretty selective about their content; I usually won’t commit to something which seems run-of-the-mill or cliche, no matter what genre they’re in. I made that mistake with Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’. (Steel yourself for the following opinions if you are a lover of his works, and also know that I never got past the first book.) I had already decided that the series looked kind of cheesy, but one of my friends (a respectable guy) swore by them and I agreed to give it a shot on the condition that he’d, in turn, try the Lord of the Rings, which he’d always put aside as well.

I’m sorry Robert Jordan, but Tolkien got to me, and history in general, first. Everything in Wheel of Time is from Lord of the Rings. There is an Elf, a Ranger, three friends with a sword, a bow and an axe. They have a wise and crabby old-man friend. There is a Dark Sorcerer Lord scouring the kingdom for the Boy with Unexpected Magical Powers. There are even Orcs (“Trollocs”… ugh). And those are just the glaring ‘similarities’. It even had my most hated pet-peeve fantasy/adventure theme cliche, which I will most likely refer to again in posts to come: the “kid who finds out s/he’s the savior of the world for absolutely no reason and plus gets sweet powers” cliche. Otherwise known as the ‘Harry Potter’ theme (or the ‘Naruto’ theme, as I like to call it). Some books are able to utilize this theme in a unique way. ‘WoT’ didn’t.

Some fantasy works I like:

*the Riddle of Time trilogy by Patricia McKillip
*Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind(graphic novel) by Miyazaki Hayao
*Lilith by George MacDonald
*The Water of the Wondrous Isles by William Morris
*Watership Down by Richard Adams (well, it’s sorta fantasy)
*The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
*The Silmarillion may be even better fantasy than the LotR Trilogy

Obviously, there are more, but if you know any of those titles, maybe you have a clearer picture of how not-Tolkien-y they are. I guess I’m just solidly in the camp (I hope there is one, or I’m gatherin’ firewood all alone) that holds that you just shouldn’t mess with elves and dwarves and rangers any longer, or you will be stomped on by Middle Earth’s mighty boot. Do I hear an “Amen”?

Wow, that all took a turn for the nerd. At any rate, none of those appear in the world I’m crafting. I promise. More later on what will, because I’d like it to be up for a little discussion. Oh, and my Wheel of Time friend “didn’t really get into” Lord of the Rings. He thought they were pretty uncreative.

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