I mean for goodness sakes …
For those of us that love fantasy, this seems like such an unlikely question to ask – I mean, who wouldn’t want to write fantasy – right? But ah! The power of italics …
For many, the real message behind the question is not a question at all but a categorical claim that the fantasy genre is a child’s game in which we lose ourselves in strange, new worlds, give free rein to our puerile minds and imagine ourselves time travellers, warrior elves or super-human daredevils. We escape the real issues, the ones that should concern us – racism, discrimination, poverty. It is the real world we should write about, not Bel’arán with its warrior elves, Deviants and Sand Lords.
The message is clear. Writing fantasy is a lesser art. Mind-numbing, a child’s game, a cowardly genre.
Well excuse me, but …
First off, it’s important to understand why we read at all. What do people seek when they pick up a book, turn it around in their hands, allow their eyes to dance over the cover, skim over the blurb … they could put it down and reach for the next, or open it, smell the pages, read a few lines…
Is it simple entertainment? A story in which to lose yourself for a while, or are you looking for a similar mind, one that understands how you think, that sees the same things you do?
Whatever it is that the reader is looking for, does it matter in which world it takes place? In fact, isn’t it better that it takes place in a world that has no label? That is not subject to the wiles of our own, equally strange, human society? Isn’t it easier to understand something when you don’t feel it’s your own land, culture, people, that are being criticised? Aren’t things better understood when unfiltered by our own, sometimes subconscious prejudice?
Path of a Novice starts out with a prologue and the line, ‘Bel’arán, land of striking contrasts …”’ If you can’t get over the fact that the story takes place in a different world, not dissimilar to our own, then you will never understand the issues that this book addresses. Fair enough, my characters are elves, Deviants and Sand Lords, but at the end of the day, I use them simply as a tool with which to exemplify human society. Why are ‘real’, ‘serious’ human issues suddenly invalid when they take place in a fantasy world, when the players are NOT human? Surely the arguments are the same? I mean we not racists, right?
But wait, perhaps you think that fantasy novels generally don’t address these, undoubtedly serious issues. And yet, why would you think that? Did you not get past that first line then, when you realised the action takes place in Bel’arán and not downtown London?
So why do I, write fantasy?
I live in a human society, something I am not, altogether happy about sometimes, but I do see it, every day, and I struggle to understand it. By writing fantasy, I can make it objective, I can illustrate social injustice when it is not attached to specific countries, politicians, religions, and by doing so it can, perhaps, be better digested. As Lloyd Alexander once said:
“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
― Lloyd Alexander
I couldn’t agree more. Fantasy brings together the ability to highlight social injustice, detach it from ourselves while providing that element of entertainment, of escapism. After all, living in this world deserves a few moments of well-deserved rest.
About the Book
Title: Path of a Novice: The Silvan Book 1
Author: R.K. Lander
A land at war, a failing king, a light in the forest …
Bel’arán, land of mortals, immortals, and those that dwell in between. The elven forest realm of Ea Uaré is threatened by ruthless Sand Lords seeking water, and the undead Deviants who crave the mindless destruction of elves.
The powerful Alpine lords strive to dominate the leaderless native Silvans through power games, leaving in their wake a bereft king, assailed by grief and a family unable to forgive him.
As the king drifts in endless sorrow, the forest people are loosing their identity. Discriminated and belittled, they are the warriors but the Alpine lords are their commanders – until a child is born to the Deep Woods – an elf with the face of an Alpine and the heart of a Silvan, an orphan whose only dream is to dare become a Silvan captain in a world dominated by Alpines – Fel’annár, Green Sun.
A born warrior, to his friends, Fel’annár becomes Hwind’atór, the Whirling Warrior, and together, they will step upon the path of a novice.
Adventure, hardship and self-discovery will mould the warrior he will become. But destiny will not be ignored, and Fel’annár is confronted with the truth of his own abilities and the mystery of his past, one shrouded in sorrow and intrigue – one that may change the course of history.
From child to novice warrior and beyond, Fel’annár is, The Silvan.
R.K. Lander was born in the UK. Fantasy was always a central part of her life and soon began reading authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Azimov, Ray Bradbury and J.R.R. Tolkien. Now living and working in Spain, Ruth runs her own business and writes as an independent author.
The Silvan is her first work, a YA epic fantasy trilogy revolving around the figure of a Silvan elf, Fel’annar. The first in the series, Path of a Novice is available for pre-order, and the second, Road of a Warrior, is approaching the editing stage.