“Prologue. 1 – Concerning Hobbits. This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history.”
This, of course, is the opening of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic “The Fellowship of the Rings”.
Tolkien’s epic novels are Fantasy Fiction. What is Fantasy Fiction?
Fantasy Fiction is defined as a genre that uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme or setting. I define Fantasy Fiction as a worthy escape from reality. We don’t write and read Fantasy Fiction to rehash old facts and explore prior events in greater detail. We are tired of what is here and known. We enter the realm of fantasy to discover world’s unknown, beyond our imagination.
Historical Fantasy maintains a semblance of the real world while injecting myth and magic.
J.R.R. Tolkien swept us off to Middle Earth, a world he fastidiously pieced together, detailing myriad details and nuances of characters and places the reader will hardly know he labored long hours to finally arrive at.
And that is the real magic of Fantasy Fiction. To seamlessly draw the reader into a world they never knew existed and feel the emotion of the characters living there. That is the tale-teller’s priority. Make this strange new world the reader enters seem so real, it is almost possible it once existed – or for some – will one day exist.
“Matthias cut a comical little figure as he wobbled his way along the cloisters, with his large sandals flip-flopping and his tail peeping from beneath the baggy folds of an oversized novice’s habit.” – Opening line of Brian Jacques ‘Redwall.’
“Hear the sage as his song descends like heaven’s rain or tears, and washes the years, the dust of the many stories from the High Tale of the Dragonlance.” – Opening line of the Canticle of the Dragon, from Weis & Hickman’s ‘Dragons of Autumn Twilight.’
‘Out of the night sky there will fall a stone that hides a maiden born of murky deeps, a maid whose fire-fed, female mysteries shall give life to a lambent, gleaming blade, a blazing shiny sword whose potency breeds warriors.” – The opening refrain from perhaps my favorite Fantasy Fiction series, authored by Jack Whyte, ‘The Skystone.’
So why do we need fantasy?
Personally, I believe fantasy, good fantasy, helps us explore moral dilemmas we otherwise avoid in real life. More often than not, Fantasy Fiction forces us to consider the plight of others and develop empathy for the underprivileged, the downtrodden, the small, the weak and the desperate. Fantasy Fiction instills in us a sense of honor while stoking the flames of outrage towards evil, real evil, mendacity and cruelty, lies and hate. We identify with the dreamer, the diamond in the rough, the forgotten son, the orphaned girl, the legend waiting to rise from the ashes of anonymity and prevail.
We seek flawed heroes, much like ourselves, to rally our support behind. We want to like them, love them, curse them, chastise them and eventually cheer them. Why? Because somewhere deep in our hearts, we seek the kind of magic they are channeling. We want that in our lives. We want to discover the courage to right the wrongs in life.
Life sometimes seems to real and we are consumed by the challenges of the mundane, or work, bills, promotions, demotions, love, lost love, grudges and forgiveness. These challenges are our orcs, our imps, and our dragons.
The world has taught us the futility in fighting them, opposing them – resisting them.
Fantasy Fiction reaches down into our spirit and touches that magical places that says, “NO! I CAN RESIST! I CAN FIGHT! AND I CAN WIN!”
The true challenge for the reader of Fantasy Fiction is not to be so fantastically absorbed into the fictitious creations of another person that we believe this is the only place magic happens. But rather, the reader must learn to embrace the spirit of the protagonist’s lessons and apply them to their own lives. We must step out of the shadows and believe against all hope, we will survive. We can endure the death of a loved one. We can exceed the diminished expectations of our naysayers. We can bring light to darkness.
“I have tasted the fruit of your kingdom, beheld its everlasting beauty and been blinded, spellbound. Command me Lord as you would command your holy angels. I am ready to make my stand in life. Place your faith in me and my love for Anthea and watch me change the world.” – Excerpt from my book – “The Crystal Crux – Betrayal”
We all have fears that control us to a certain extent. It is a fool that does not acknowledge them. Fantasy Fiction helps us remove the masks we wear. We can learn to show our true selves when we locate the magic, the spirit thriving in our hearts. The one that says, “Yes, you are human. Yes, you are weak. Yes, you are afraid. Go forward anyway. The dragon is scared too. He is not indestructible. There are ways through his defenses. You were made to rise. Battle hell itself and win!”