Exploring David Eddings’ ‘The Belgariad’ and its undeniable influence on modern fantasy, from ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘Harry Potter’.
Once upon a time, as all good stories start, in the small town of Spokane, Washington, a man by the name of David Eddings put pen to paper and began to weave a tale of prophecy, magic and, most importantly, a farm boy named Garion.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, not another Chosen One narrative.”
Yes, I hear you, and I can only offer a shrug and a sheepish grin in response.
But if one were to dismiss Eddings’ work as just another predictable riff on the same old trope, they’d be missing out on an influential cornerstone of the genre.
“The Belgariad,” with its magical orbs, prophecies, and a cast of characters so colourful they make a bag of Skittles look positively monochrome, has had a reach far greater than it’s given credit for.
Its influence can be seen in the works of authors from across the globe, like a whisper of Spokane in every fantasy bookshop.
The boy who didn’t know he was a wizard until a giant man broke down his door one day?
Smells a bit like Garion’s own journey, doesn’t it?
The parallels go beyond the surface, though; they both grapple with destiny, they both have a dark lord to defeat, and they both have a wise old mentor guiding them (no points for guessing which one has a longer beard).
Into the Cosmere
Let’s not forget Brandon Sanderson, who seems to have taken a leaf or two out of Eddings’ book.
Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series, with its complex magic system, may seem far removed from “The Belgariad,” but look closer.
The deep, diverse world and the idea of prophecy as a central plot device?
That’s all very Eddings.
Plus, there’s also the whole “humble beginnings” thing.
Vin, the street urchin turned hero of “Mistborn,” could be Garion’s long-lost sister (or at least distant cousin twice removed).
A lasting legacy
So, whether you’re a fan of the “Game of Thrones” bloodbaths, the “Harry Potter” wizarding world, or the “Mistborn” metallic magic, you’ve got a bit of “The Belgariad” in your bookshelf.
Eddings may not have reinvented the wheel (or the magic orb, as it were), but he certainly gave it a good spin.
His work stands as a testament to the impact of a well-told story, and a reminder that even the most unassuming farm boy can end up saving the world.
In the end, the influence of “The Belgariad” is a bit like Garion’s magic—it’s there, bubbling under the surface, quietly shaping the course of things.
You just have to know where to look.
And don’t worry—unlike Garion, you won’t need a grumpy old sorcerer to help you out.
Explore the top friendships in fantasy literature! Uncover the bonds that define characters in Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and beyond.
Who doesn’t love friendship? Today we’re going to delve into the top-flight friendships in fantastical literature.
So, grab a cuppa, make yourself cosy (preferably with a dragon-sized pile of biscuits) and let’s explore ten of the best mates in fantasy books.
Frodo Baggins & Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of The Rings
Are you really surprised? It’s the fellowship that defines the word itself.
Here we have Frodo, a hobbit with the weight of the world (or a rather heavy ring) on his shoulders, and Samwise, the gardener turned warrior, who probably didn’t even know what he was signing up for when he eavesdropped on Gandalf that fateful night.
Their friendship is the epitome of loyalty, the kind that lasts through a long, wearisome journey to Mount Doom.
Quite frankly, if your mate isn’t willing to carry you up a volcanic mountain while being hunted by a creepy, ring-obsessed creature, are they really your friend?
Harry Potter & Hermione Granger & Ronald Weasley – Harry Potter Series
It’s the magical trio that faced down You-Know-Who and lived to tell the tale.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron showed us the power of friendship, courage, and the importance of a well-placed “Expelliarmus!”
Sure, there were squabbles, moments of jealousy, and that one time Ron left in a huff (we’re still not over that, Ronald), but in the end, they always stuck together.
They faced trolls, death eaters, and even the occasional murderous teacher, proving that the power of friendship truly can conquer all – even an angst-ridden, snake-loving dark wizard.
Lyra Belacqua & Pantalaimon – His Dark Materials
A girl and her daemon—Lyra and Pan are not just friends, they’re literally part of each other.
If that’s not a deep bond, I don’t know what is.
Pantalaimon, the shape-shifting animal embodiment of Lyra’s soul, is with her through thick and thin.
Their friendship shows us that sometimes, our best mate is our own true self (or our talking ermine, pine marten, moth, bird, whatever Pan fancies at the moment).
Locke Lamora & Jean Tannen – The Gentleman Bastard Series
A pair of thieves who would willingly die for each other, Locke and Jean are the definition of a bromance.
They lie, cheat, and steal, but they do it with such flair, you can’t help but find yourself cheering them on.
Their bond is as sturdy as Jean’s beloved hatchets and as intricate as one of Locke’s grand schemes.
If your idea of friendship involves elaborate heists, constant banter, and the occasional life-saving, this pair is for you.
This is a friendship that transcends the usual boundaries of camaraderie and ventures into the realm of the spiritual.
Fitz, the royal bastard, and The Fool, the court jester with a mysterious past, are as different as night and day, yet their bond is unbreakable.
They journey together through heartbreak, prophecy, and the occasional assassination attempt.
This is a friendship that shows us the power of understanding and acceptance, proving that our differences can often be our greatest strengths.
Vin & Elend Venture – Mistborn Trilogy
Initially, an alliance of convenience between a street thief and a nobleman, Vin and Elend’s relationship soon develops into a deep friendship and later a romantic relationship.
They challenge each other, learn from each other, and ultimately change each other in profound ways.
Their relationship is a testament to the power of trust and mutual respect.
It’s a reminder that sometimes, the most unexpected friendships are the ones that shape us the most.
Kvothe & Auri – The Kingkiller Chronicle
In a world full of magic, mystery, and music, the friendship between Kvothe, the gifted bard, and Auri, the enigmatic girl living beneath the University, stands out.
Their bond is gentle, respectful, and deeply touching.
Kvothe shows kindness and patience towards Auri’s peculiar ways, while Auri provides Kvothe a safe haven from his troubles.
Their friendship serves as a beacon of kindness in a world that often seems dark and unforgiving.
Geralt of Rivia & Dandelion – The Witcher Series
A witcher and a bard—an unlikely, yet captivating pair.
Geralt, the stoic monster-hunter, and Dandelion, the flamboyant troubadour, couldn’t be more different, yet their friendship endures through countless adventures and dangers.
While Geralt saves Dandelion from various physical threats, Dandelion often saves Geralt from his own cynicism, reminding him of the beauty and joy in the world.
Their friendship is a testament to the balance that opposites can bring to each other’s lives.
Sabriel & Mogget – The Old Kingdom Series
Last, but certainly not least, is the curious partnership between Sabriel, the Abhorsen-in-waiting, and Mogget, the mysterious cat-like being.
Their relationship is one of mutual respect and necessity more than affection, but it’s their banter and shared determination that really cement their friendship.
Mogget’s cryptic advice and quick wit often aid Sabriel in her dangerous quest, and while Mogget might not admit it, Sabriel’s steadfast courage and compassion likely save him just as often.
It’s a friendship that shows us sometimes, the best partnerships come from the most unexpected places.
So, whether it’s sharing an adventure, a laugh, or just a really good book, these friendships remind us that even in the midst of dragons, dark lords, or dystopias, having a mate by your side makes it all a bit more bearable.
Remember, a good friend will always pass you the next book in the series. But a best friend will buy you your own copy.
What are your favourite friendships in fantasy? Share yours in the comments.
Explore Terry Pratchett’s lasting influence on fantasy literature, tracing Discworld’s imprint from satirical institutions to genre-defining characters.
If you’ve ever found yourself chuckling at a grumpy, anthropomorphic Death or a suitcase on hundreds of little legs, then you have fallen under the spell of the late, great Terry Pratchett.
His legendary Discworld series, a mirthful, satirical romp through an absurd universe teetering on the back of four elephants (all of whom are perched on a giant turtle, naturally), has left a lasting imprint on the landscape of modern fantasy literature.
But how, you might ask, has Pratchett’s peculiar brand of comedic genius influenced contemporary works?
Well, let’s take a wander through the literary Unseen University and find out…
Breaking the Mould: Subverting Tropes
Pratchett’s Discworld, in essence, is a satirical deconstruction of fantasy, a genre often accused of taking itself a smidgen too seriously.
With a healthy dose of parody, Pratchett took typical fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads, doing a metaphorical handstand.
Take, for example, “The Colour of Magic,” where the protagonist, Rincewind, is a thoroughly incompetent wizard.
He’s not the archetypal wise and powerful sorcerer but a cowardly academic with a single spell in his head, and he doesn’t even know what it does.
The Unseen University Effect
Pratchett’s Unseen University, the centre of magical education in Discworld, parodies the stuffiness and bureaucracy found in many academic institutions.
It’s an amusing hotbed of ineptitude, where wizards devote more time to sumptuous feasts than actual magic.
This style of satire has been taken up by authors like Lev Grossman in ‘The Magicians.’
Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, although more ‘American fraternity’ than ‘British academia,’ embodies the same tongue-in-cheek critique of educational institutions.
Witty Social Commentary
Pratchett was no stranger to using his novels as a platform for social commentary.
He tackled everything from politics and religion to gender and racial discrimination, all neatly packaged within sharp wit and humour.
“Monstrous Regiment” is a perfect example.
It’s a delightful romp about a young woman dressing up as a man to join the military, only to discover that most of her regiment are also women in disguise.
It brilliantly challenges gender norms and expectations, all with a knowing wink.
Modern fantasy authors have taken this baton and run with it.
N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” not only uses a unique narrative structure to tell its story but also delves into complex themes of oppression, discrimination, and social hierarchy.
And she does it with such style, Terry would be proud.
Ankh-Morpork: City of Possibilities
Ankh-Morpork, Discworld’s bustling city-state, is a melting pot of species, cultures, and ideas.
Pratchett uses the city to explore themes like multiculturalism, commerce, and urban life.
Its influence is evident in Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” where the city of Camorr is as much a character as the protagonists themselves.
The Nanny Ogg Impact
Pratchett’s characters are wonderfully flawed, human (even when they’re not), and often, unapologetically female.
Take Gytha Ogg, known as Nanny, a witch known as much for her risqué songs and love of a good tipple as she is for her witchcraft.
Nanny Ogg’s influence echoes in characters like Kaz Brekker in Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows.’
Both are shrewd, street-smart, and have a wicked sense of humour.
They’re not afraid to enjoy life, even in the face of danger—a refreshing departure from the stoic heroes that often populate fantasy narratives.
The Power of Narrative: Storytelling in Discworld
Pratchett often played with the idea of narrative causality—the concept that stories, once in motion, have their own momentum and tend to follow certain patterns.
This meta-narrative approach has influenced works like Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Kingkiller Chronicle,” where the power of stories and storytelling is a recurring theme.
The Luggage Legacy
Pratchett’s Discworld is known for its wacky, sentient objects—the most famous probably being The Luggage, a travel trunk made of sapient pearwood, running around on countless little legs.
This tradition of giving life and personality to inanimate objects has been carried forward by authors like V.E. Schwab.
In her ‘Shades of Magic’ series, the magical coats, which change their form according to the wearer’s needs, bear a striking resemblance to Pratchett’s sentient artefacts.
The Night Watch and Modern Morality
The characters of the Night Watch, particularly Sam Vimes, embody Pratchett’s commentary on law, justice, and moral complications.
Vimes’ character development, from a drunken night watchman to the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, resonates with characters like Sand dan Glokta in Joe Abercrombie’s “The First Law” series, where a tortured inquisitor grapples with his own morality.
Embracing the Absurd
Perhaps one of the most distinctive aspects of Pratchett’s writing is his embracing of the absurd and ridiculous.
This is a man who created a character called Death who SPEAKS LIKE THIS and has a fondness for cats.
This embracing of the absurd has found a home in modern fantasy as well.
Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” is a prime example, with its bizarre characters and surreal Under-London setting.
It’s like Alice in Wonderland fell down a rabbit hole and ended up on the Underground.
The Granny Weatherwax School of Hard Knocks
Lastly, we can’t forget Granny Weatherwax, with her sharp wit, sharper tongue, and penchant for ‘headology’ instead of traditional spellcasting.
Her influence can be seen in characters like Minerva McGonagall in J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series.
Both are no-nonsense, wise, and possess a firm but fair approach to their charges.
The Patrician’s Political Prowess
Pratchett’s portrayal of the Machiavellian Patrician, Lord Vetinari, is a keen-edged satire of political systems.
Vetinari’s rule, while autocratic, is surprisingly effective and popular.
Pratchett uses Vetinari to question what makes a ‘good’ leader.
This style of political satire resonates with George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” where the struggle for power and the concept of ‘rightful’ rulership are central themes.
The Pratchett Paradigm
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has undeniably left an indelible mark on the realm of fantasy literature.
His unique blend of humour, satire, and insightful commentary, intertwined with memorable characters and absurd situations, has shaped the genre in ways that continue to resonate with readers and writers alike.
His legacy is a testament to the power of fantasy as not just escapism, but a lens through which we can examine our own world, one magical, absurd, and profoundly human story at a time.
Discworld continues to cast its spell over the fantasy genre, from its satirical institutions to its unconventional characters.
And we’re all the better for it.
After all, as Pratchett himself said, “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.”
So, here’s to the continued toning of our mind muscles, courtesy of Discworld’s legacy.
Explore the rise of epic fantasy across literature, TV, film, video games, and music. Discover how this genre has revolutionized popular culture.
We’re about to embark on a thrilling ride through the expansive realms of epic fantasy.
It’s been said that we’re living in a golden age of this grand genre, and as we venture from literature and video games, to television and film, it’s hard to disagree.
The past decade or so has brought with it a resurgence of epic fantasy that would make even the most hardened orc shed a tear of joy.
This period, brimming with magical creatures, intricate world-building, and complex characters, has heralded a revolution in how we consume and perceive this genre.
No longer confined to dusty tomes enjoyed in candle-lit, wizard-themed bedrooms, epic fantasy has soared on dragon wings, spreading its influence far and wide across popular culture.
Today, it’s as common to hear chatter about the latest dragon-slaying escapade on the commute as it is to discuss the weather.
In this thrilling expedition, we’ll delve into the staggering impact of epic fantasy on our books, TV shows, films, video games, and music.
So, pull up a chair, summon your beverage of choice, and join us as we embark on this fantastical journey.
An Explosion of Fantasy on the Bookshelves
First, let’s pay a visit to the realm of literature. It’s hard to talk about epic fantasy without tipping our hats to the unstoppable force that is Brandon Sanderson.
Sanderson churns out novels with the same speed that a poorly trained wizard casts fireballs (and with far less collateral damage). His “Stormlight Archive” series has given us a world so epic it makes the Himalayas look like a minor inconvenience.
Then we have the fantastical work of N.K. Jemisin and her ‘Broken Earth’ trilogy. Her powerful prose and intricate plotting rocked the literary world. Not only did she bag the prestigious Hugo Award for each book in the trilogy, a first for any author, but she also managed to subtly weave poignant social commentary into her lore. She has, quite literally, redefined the landscape of fantasy.
And, of course, there’s George R. R. Martin. His ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, a veritable ‘War and Peace’ of Westeros, continues to delight and horrify us in equal measure. (Of course, this mention is contingent upon the long-awaited sixth book ‘The Winds of Winter’ ever seeing the light of day. No pressure, George, but the kettle’s been on for a while now).
And Sarah J. Maas burst onto the scene like a unicorn on roller-skates with her ‘Throne of Glass’ and ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series. (I always want to see what A Court of Guns and Roses might look like, but after this year’s Glastonbury performance it might not be the best idea). Maas’s enticing mix of fantasy, romance, and strong female leads has inspired a new generation of readers to pick up the mantle and read past their bedtime.
A New Chapter: Indie Heroes of the Epic Fantasy Realm
If the corporate publishing landscape is akin to a neatly trimmed English garden, then indie publishing is the wild, untamed forest just beyond, rife with the unknown and bursting with possibilities.
With the rise of the digital age, an ever-growing crop of talented wordsmiths have bravely ventured into this wilderness, bestowing upon us a treasure trove of self-published epic fantasies.
Leading the charge is none other than Michael J. Sullivan with his ‘Riyria Revelations’. If you’ve not had the pleasure, Sullivan’s series offers a refreshing brew of classic high fantasy with a generous dash of modern sensibility. His dynamic duo, Royce and Hadrian, steal more than just gold.
Then there’s Anthony Ryan, who exploded onto the scene with ‘Blood Song,’ the first book in the ‘Raven’s Shadow’ series. Ryan’s tale, as gritty as a winter’s day in Grimsby, is proof positive that you don’t need corporate backing to win over fans. His success caught the attention of Penguin Books, who re-published his work, thus transforming this self-published gem into a mainstream marvel.
We mustn’t overlook Will Wight’s ‘Cradle’ series, an ingenious blend of epic fantasy and xianxia (a Chinese genre focusing on cultivation of moral and spiritual virtues). As innovative as a solar-powered teapot, Wight demonstrates the creative liberties of indie publishing, delivering tales unfettered by conventional genre expectations and marketing executives.
Amanda Hocking, the queen of paranormal romance, took a leap into the epic fantasy genre with her ‘Trylle Trilogy.’ Hocking proves that when it comes to indie publishing, not even the sky’s the limit. Why stop at the sky when there are entirely new worlds to explore?
Of course, indie publishing isn’t as easy as a Sunday morning lie-in. It requires the tenacity of a determined terrier and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson.
These authors aren’t just writing, they’re also acting as their marketers, and, on occasion, therapists.
It’s a challenging path, but as our highlighted authors prove, it can lead to rewards as satisfying as the perfect biscuit dunk.
A Feast for Our Telly Boxes
Shifting our gaze from ink and paper, let’s flick on the telly and cast our eyes towards the fantasy genre’s successful infiltration of the small screen.
Let’s start with the behemoth in the room, or rather, the dragon on the screen. ‘Game of Thrones’ gave fantasy television a jolt stronger than a double espresso on a Monday morning. George R. R. Martin’s deliciously intricate storylines, coupled with HBO’s willingness to shell out more gold coins than Smaug’s treasure hoard, resulted in a series that captivated a global audience and redefined fantasy on television.
Not to be outdone, Netflix threw its hat in the ring with ‘The Witcher,’ based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s series of novels. Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the grizzled Geralt of Rivia became an overnight sensation, as did his catchy tune, ‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.’ Who knew monster hunting could have such a rousing soundtrack? The series adeptly balanced monster-of-the-week plots with a grand overarching narrative, and the production value was higher than a gentleman’s top hat.
Amazon, too, is keen on joining this magical melee with its ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel series and the adaptation of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time’. Between you, me, and the lamppost, these ambitious projects are about as secretive as the Queen’s pudding recipe. Yet, the mere whiff of these beloved epics getting the screen treatment has fans twitching with excitement.
Fantasy TV has indeed proven itself as popular as a dog in a park full of squirrels, much to the delight of book lovers everywhere. The magic of these sprawling epics, replete with dragons, witches, and an alarming number of medieval political squabbles, has found a comfortable new home in our living rooms. Just be sure to keep your remote handy – there are endless worlds to explore, all from the comfort of your favourite armchair. What an age to be a fantasy lover, indeed!
A Silver Screen Spectacle
Just as the heartiest English breakfast isn’t complete without a slather of HP sauce, our tour of the golden age of epic fantasy wouldn’t be whole without a tip of the hat to its cinematic counterparts.
With bated breath, we’ve watched our favourite realms spring to life, one painstakingly rendered CGI dragon at a time.
First off, we must pay our respects to the grand-daddy of them all – ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Peter Jackson’s masterful adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga broke records, hearts, and the established notion that “those fantasy tomes are unfilmable, old chap.”
Following in Bilbo’s furry footsteps, the ‘Harry Potter’ series proved that fantasy wasn’t just for us old-timers. J.K. Rowling’s charming blend of magic and quintessentially British boarding school life bewitched a generation, and the movies broadened that spell. Hogwarts, with its shifting staircases and genial ghosts, became as real as Buckingham Palace, just with fewer corgis and more house-elves.
Of course, not every cinematic expedition into fantasy is a skip through the Shire. Take the ‘Eragon’ film, for instance. As the saying goes, “the book was better,” and never have truer words been spoken. The film was about as well-received as a fox in a henhouse, proving that bringing an epic fantasy to life requires more than a few spells and a CGI dragon.
In recent years, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’ films and Duncan Jones’s ‘Warcraft’ have shown us that fantasy films can wear many hats, from dark comedy to high-stakes action. ‘Warcraft,’ though it didn’t charm critics, nevertheless proved a hit with the fans. After all, who could resist the lure of oversized armour and epic griffin flights?
These days, we fantasy buffs are spoilt for choice. Between the magic-infused majesty of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and the whimsical journey of ‘Stardust,’ it’s clear that epic fantasy is alive and well in the cineplex.
Video Games: An Interactive Epic
As we continue our magical mystery tour of the golden age of epic fantasy, it’s only proper we take a side quest into the vibrant realm of video games.
First, we must traverse the snowy landscapes of Bethesda’s ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’. With its stunning open-world design and dragon-shouting (Fus Ro Dah, anyone?), it’s been as big a hit as the Beatles. Players find themselves immersed in a world teeming with lore, dragons, and an alarming number of cheese wheels. Whether you’re bashing trolls or simply enjoying a breathtaking aurora over the mountains, ‘Skyrim’ offers an epic fantasy adventure as expansive as the London Underground, but with fewer delays.
Then there’s ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’, CD Projekt Red’s gloriously gritty adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels. As Geralt of Rivia, players navigate a beautifully crafted world, grappling with beasties and moral conundrums in equal measure. The game’s rich narrative, engaging side quests, and dynamic combat system have been lauded as more satisfying than a perfectly brewed cup of English tea. A tip for the uninitiated: Beware the drowners and always – always – play Gwent.
Let’s not overlook ‘World of Warcraft’, an online universe so compelling, it’s been the cause of many a missed social engagement. Even after several years, its allure remains as potent as a nicely matured Stilton. The intricate lore, the sprawling world, the sense of community — it’s as thrilling as a surprise holiday, but with dragons.
For those with a penchant for intricate strategy, there’s ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’. BioWare’s gem presents a world where player choices shape the narrative. Do you save the village from a marauding horde, or let it burn? It’s like being in your very own epic fantasy novel but without the risk of paper cuts.
Indeed, the appeal of these games extends beyond their fantastic visuals and engaging gameplay. They offer an immersive, interactive experience that’s as close as one can get to actually living in a fantasy realm, without the inconvenience of having to polish one’s own armour.
A Song of Ice and Fire: Epic Fantasy’s Influence on Popular Music
No grand journey through the golden age of epic fantasy would be complete without an exploration of its influence on the music scene.
The modern metal scene has been particularly bewitched by epic fantasy. Bands like Blind Guardian have entire albums dedicated to Tolkien’s Middle-earth, while others, like Burzum and Summoning, delve into the darker aspects of the genre. Their music is as grandiose and dramatic as the tales that inspired them, perfect for those moments when life calls for a bit more oomph.
And, of course, who could forget the hit TV show soundtracks? Ramin Djawadi’s ‘Game of Thrones’ score, haunting and heroic in equal measure, not only enhances the on-screen action but has found a life of its own in popular culture. You can’t swing a direwolf these days without hearing someone humming ‘The Rains of Castamere’ or ‘Light of the Seven.’
Music artists, just like authors, have seized upon the imagery, themes and mythology of epic fantasy to infuse their work with a sense of grandeur and adventure. Be it through lyrics, album artwork, or sonically through the music itself, the influence of epic fantasy reverberates throughout today’s music landscape.
And let’s face it, there’s something utterly epic about belting out a power ballad infused with references to dragon-fire and elven lore.
Beyond the Realms of Fantasy: Epic Fantasy’s Impact on Popular Culture
As our journey through the golden age of epic fantasy draws to a close, it’s time to take a step back and admire the spectacular view.
From the bound pages of a well-worn tome to the digital reaches of a role-playing game, it’s clear that epic fantasy has permeated more than just our bookshelves, TV screens, cinemas, and consoles. It has, in fact, seeped into the very fabric of our popular culture.
The surge of interest in epic fantasy has had a profound impact, like a truly magnificent cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.
Suddenly, it’s no longer the preserve of the niche and the nerdy. The age-old stereotypes associated with fantasy enthusiasts—you know, the image of a bespectacled recluse in a dragon-emblazoned T-shirt—have been banished to the shadowy corners of ignorance.
Nowadays, confessing your love for fantastical realms is as normal as complaining about the weather.
TV series like ‘Game of Thrones’ have transformed fantasy into a hot topic at the water cooler, with office chat just as likely to revolve around the latest dragon sighting as last night’s football match.
Harry Potter, that bespectacled wizard boy, has charmed our language, adding phrases like ‘Muggle’ and ‘Quidditch’ to our lexicon as easily as a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
On the fashion front, elven jewellery and wizarding robes have sashayed from the realms of cosplay into everyday street wear.
Don’t be surprised if your next date shows up sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with a witty Game of Thrones pun or if your local fast-fashion store showcases a line of Witcher-inspired accessories.
Even our food hasn’t escaped the fantasy influence. From Butterbeer to lembas bread, we’ve developed a taste for fictional fare.
Suddenly, hosting a ‘Hobbit’-themed dinner party seems as reasonable as a Sunday roast.
And who among us hasn’t yearned to sample a flagon of ale at The Prancing Pony or indulge in a Witcher-style feast?
What this all boils down to is this: epic fantasy has transformed from a secluded genre into a cultural powerhouse.
It has become a shared language, a social glue that binds us together in our quest for the magical, the mythical, the marvellous.
The golden age of epic fantasy has spun tales that entertain, yes, but it has also fostered communities, sparking connections across borders and cultures. It’s made the world a touch more magical and a whole lot more fun.
So, whether you’re a reader, a viewer, a gamer, a self-published author or simply someone who enjoys wearing a Gandalf-inspired hat, let’s raise a glass (or rather, a goblet) to the golden age of epic fantasy.
Its influence has made our reality a little more fantastical.
Embark on a captivating journey through the enchanting world of coming-of-age fantasy. Explore themes, top books, and claim your free starter library. Let the adventure begin!
Welcome to the enchanting world of coming-of-age fantasy!
In this post, you’ll discover the heart of this genre, exploring why readers are so drawn to these tales, and highlighting the top books and authors that have defined it.
And as a special treat, don’t miss the chance to claim your free Ravenglass Universe starter library when you join our newsletter today.
What is Coming-of-Age Fantasy?
Coming-of-age fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that focuses on the growth and development of a young protagonist.
The stories often centrr around themes of self-discovery, responsibility, and the transition from childhood to adulthood.
With the backdrop of a magical world, these narratives resonate with readers as they follow the protagonist’s journey, both physical and emotional.
Themes and Subjects of Coming-of-Age Fantasy
Coming-of-age fantasy stories are rich in themes that explore the human experience. Common themes include:
Self-Discovery: As the protagonist navigates their world, they often discover hidden talents, powers, or abilities that define their identity and influence their destiny.
Friendship: The bonds formed with companions on the journey are integral to the protagonist’s growth, teaching them about trust, loyalty, and sacrifice.
Responsibility: As they mature, the protagonist learns to shoulder the weight of their newfound powers and the expectations placed upon them.
Conflict: Coming-of-age fantasy tales often involve battles against external forces, such as evil sorcerers or malevolent creatures, as well as internal struggles within the protagonist’s own heart and mind.
Good vs. Evil: The protagonist discovers moral ambiguity and navigates the complexities of right and wrong, light and dark.
Love: The protagonist experiences various forms of love—familial, romantic, platonic—that shape their character and choices.
Choice: At critical junctures, the protagonist must make difficult decisions that determine their fate and the fate of others.
Identity: The protagonist undertakes a journey of self-discovery to determine who they are and who they want to become.
Independence: The protagonist gains freedom from authority figures or home environments, allowing them to think and act for themselves.
Courage: Finding bravery in the face of fear and danger is central to the protagonist’s triumph over adversity.
Top Coming-of-Age Fantasy Books
Some of the most celebrated books and authors in coming-of-age fantasy include:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
This classic novel follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a young hobbit who discovers his own courage and resourcefulness as he embarks on a perilous quest.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling:
This beloved series chronicles the life of young wizard Harry Potter as he navigates the magical world of Hogwarts, learning about friendship, love, and the power of courage.
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman:
A thought-provoking series that explores themes of self-discovery, morality, and the nature of consciousness, as young Lyra Belacqua sets out on an epic journey through parallel worlds.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss:
This captivating novel follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary figure who recounts his rise from a lowly orphan to a renowned magician and adventurer.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle:
A moving story of Meg Murry, an awkward teen girl who embarks on an adventure across dimensions to find her missing father.
Sabriel by Garth Nix:
Sabriel, a young necromancer, must venture into the perilous Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.
The Belgariad by David Eddings:
Garion, an orphaned farm boy, discovers his destiny in a quest to retrieve a powerful orb and fulfill an ancient prophecy.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin:
The story of Ged, a sorcerer who must journey far from home to escape the darkness he unleashed into the world.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson:
Joel, a non-magical student at a school for Rithmatists–those who can animate chalk drawings and use them for defense–gets caught up in a dangerous mystery.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb:
This novel follows the life of FitzChivalry Farseer, a royal bastard who is apprenticed to become an assassin in the Six Duchies. As Fitz navigates court intrigue and the skills of his grim trade, he also struggles to find his place in a world that does not always welcome him.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the captivating world of coming-of-age fantasy, it’s time to embark on your own adventure.
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Embark on a journey through fantasy literature’s memorable bromances, from Gentleman Bastards to the unforgettable duo in Stormlight Archive.
As avid readers of fantasy literature will attest, there’s little in this genre that captures our hearts and imaginations quite like a good bromance.
These intimate friendships, often between two (occasionally more) men, present an opportunity for deep character development, exhilarating adventures, and emotional resonance that many of us can relate to.
But fear not, this isn’t a dissertation on the sociological aspects of male bonding in fiction.
Think of it as a merry skip through the flowering fields of fantasy bromances, occasionally stopping to point and exclaim, “Look at those guys, aren’t they just great together!”
The Greatcoats themselves—Falcio, Kest, and Brasti—have a friendship that can only be described as…well, coat of arms deep.
They squabble like schoolboys one moment and are ready to take a sword for each other the next.
Not to mention their synchronised cloak-swirling—that’s some real friend goals there.
Clay and Gabriel
But hold your horses…or should I say wyverns?
Nicholas Eames’ ‘Kings of the Wyld’ series boasts Clay Cooper and Gabriel.
These two old warriors come out of retirement for one last hurrah, enduring all manner of beasts and bedlam.
Their banter will have you chuckling like a goblin on giggleweed, but at the same time, their loyalty will make you sob like a heartbroken dragon.
An emotional rollercoaster, isn’t it?
Jon and Samwell
Next stop is at the frosty wall of Westeros.
If you listen closely, you might just hear the sound of Jon Snow and Samwell Tarley’s friendship, a heartwarming chord that rings true even amidst the incessant chill.
In George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ Jon and Sam start as green boys at the Night’s Watch but soon develop an enduring friendship that weathers both White Walkers and the politics of the realm.
Jon, the brooding bastard, and Sam, the self-deprecating scholar, are as different as ice and fire, but they stick together like two wights in a snowstorm.
Kaladin and Adolin
Our next bromance takes us to the ‘Stormlight Archive’ by Brandon Sanderson, where we meet the mighty Kaladin and the charismatic Adolin Kholin.
Although their friendship starts on rocky grounds (and who can blame them—class tensions, haunted pasts, and all that), they grow to rely on each other.
Adolin might be the charming prince, and Kaladin a brooding ex-slave, but their friendship shines brighter than a Shardblade in battle.
Plus, nothing says ‘bromance’ quite like fighting an ancient, desolate evil together, does it?
Harry and Ron
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley from J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series undoubtedly deserve a mention.
Despite the magic and mayhem of Hogwarts, these two chaps stick together through thick and thin (and troll encounters).
0They’re the epitome of childhood friends turned lifelong companions.
It’s a true bromance when your mate is willing to face down You-Know-Who and play life-threatening chess for you.
Kvothe and Simmon
Turning the pages to Patrick Rothfuss’s ‘The Kingkiller Chronicle,’ we find the bond between Kvothe and Simmon.
Kvothe might be the protagonist, the dramatic hero with a tragic past, but it’s Simmon’s steady loyalty that lights up their friendship.
Sim is there through Kvothe’s ups, downs, and frequent tavern brawls.
Sure, Simmon might not be a legendary hero or a magical prodigy, but he’s a bloody good made, and isn’t that what counts?
Kennit and Wintrow
Next, we whisk ourselves to the high seas of Robin Hobb’s ‘Liveship Traders.’
Here, we witness the understated, deeply emotional bond between Captain Kennit and his shipmate Wintrow Vestrit.
Their relationship may start with coercion, but it evolves into an unexpected friendship full of emotional depth.
It’s a rare bromance, crafted masterfully by Hobb, and one that’s hard to forget.
Frodo and Sam
And of course, how can any discussion about bromances in fantasy literature be complete without mentioning Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from ‘The Lord of the Rings?’
Their enduring, pure, and simple friendship as they journey through Middle Earth is stuff of legends. Sam carrying Frodo up Mount Doom is nothing short of bromance in its most epic form.
“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”
If you’re not a tad teary after that, well, I’m afraid you might just be a stone troll.
Honourable mention: FitzChivalry and Nighteyes
Our exploration of bromances in fantasy literature would be woefully incomplete without delving into the peculiar, profound relationship that transcends the barriers of species: FitzChivalry Farseer and Nighteyes from Robin Hobb’s ‘Farseer Trilogy.’
You see, the ‘bromance’ that Fitz, the royal bastard, shares with Nighteyes, his wolf companion, is quite unlike any other we’ve discussed so far.
It’s not just friendship, it’s a ‘soulship’ if you will, a bond of minds and spirits.
Through the Wit (a form of magic that allows telepathic and empathic bonds with animals), these two are bound together in ways that redefine the traditional concepts of friendship.
Nighteyes isn’t just Fitz’s pet or even his sidekick—he’s his confidant, his moral compass, and quite frankly, the sensible one in the pair (and yes, we’re talking about a wolf here).
When you have a wolf advising you on your love life, you know you’ve got something unique.
Their banter (if you can call telepathic wolf-human conversations that) is full of playful humour and wisdom.
It’s touching how Nighteyes, the wolf, often ends up being the one teaching Fitz about loyalty, courage, and living in the moment.
One might even say he’s the real hero of the story—Fitz certainly wouldn’t be the same without him.
But it’s not all sunshine and howls—their bond carries a profound sense of melancholy too.
As readers, we’re reminded of the fleeting nature of Nighteyes’ life compared to Fitz’s, a fact that lends an additional depth to their relationship.
It’s this blend of love, wisdom, and impending heartbreak that makes their bond feel so real and resonates with readers even after they close the book.
And in the echoing words of Nighteyes, “We are pack.”
It’s friendships like these that teach us the true magic in fantasy isn’t always about casting spells or slaying monsters—sometimes, it’s about having someone who’ll stand by your side, laugh at your bad jokes, and help you pick yourself up when you’ve had one too many pints of dwarven ale.
And aren’t those just the best types of friendships?
If you love a good bromance in fantasy, you might enjoy my Dawn of Assassins series which centres around the friendship of Fedor and Lev.
Read the prequel novel Birth of Assassins for free as part of your starter library.
Explore the colourful spectrum of character alignments in fantasy fiction. From Lawful Good heroes to Chaotic Evil villains, discover how these archetypes shape narratives and deepen character development.
Today, we’re going to delve into the captivating world of character alignments in fantasy fiction.
You see, fantasy fiction isn’t just all fire-breathing dragons and chivalrous knights, it’s also a grand tapestry woven with intricate character threads.
And the tool that helps us sort these threads into a tidy, comprehensive pattern is what we lovingly call ‘character alignment.’
But, what is this character alignment tomfoolery, you ask?
Imagine a giant Sudoku puzzle.
On one axis, we’ve got the moral compass: good, evil, and of course, the fence-sitting neutral. On the other, we find the scale of obeisance to rules: lawful, chaotic, and, you guessed it, another neutral option.
It’s where these two axis intersect that we discover our character alignments.
The concept of character alignment hails from the granddaddy of fantasy role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons, and is used to define a character’s ethical and moral perspectives.
A character’s alignment isn’t just a label, it’s a fundamental part of their belief system, acting as a guideline for their actions, reactions, thoughts, and motivations.
Understanding these alignments can help readers to make sense of a character’s behaviour.
It aids in comprehending why a character might slay a dragon to rescue a princess, betray their best friend for power, or choose to sit out an epic battle to enjoy a pint at their local inn.
As such, character alignments are incredibly useful for readers and writers alike, as they help flesh out characters, giving them depth and dimension.
In the following sections, we’re going to journey into each specific alignment, exploring their quirks, understanding their motivations, and spotlighting examples from popular fantasy fiction.
From Lawful Good heroes to Chaotic Evil villains and all those intriguing folks in-between, we’re about to discover how these alignments shape the colourful, fantastical world of fantasy fiction.
Lawful Good: Unsung Heroes of Fantasy
In the top left corner of the character alignment sheet, with a shiny gold star for good behaviour, we find the Lawful Good character.
Lawful Good characters are morally righteous and abide by the laws and norms of society.
They’re the ones who, when faced with a moral dilemma, always go for the right thing, even if it’s as tough as a two-quid steak.
They’re the reliable ones, the steady Eddies and Edinas, always stepping up to the plate and swinging for justice.
“But, where’s the fun in predictability?”
Sure, Lawful Good characters may not have the madcap unpredictability of their Chaotic Neutral counterparts, but they’ve got something equally appealing—moral fibre.
They’re a beacon of hope, a shining light in the grimmest of times, embodying a sense of justice and righteousness that resonates deeply with us.
Take, for instance, Samwise Gamgee from ‘The Lord of the Rings.’
Reliable, brave, and always putting Frodo’s welfare before his own, even when Frodo’s about as cheerful as a rainy Bank Holiday.
Samwise, the loyal gardener, is a classic Lawful Good character, embodying the ideals of courage, friendship, and unwavering loyalty.
He’s a beacon of justice and morality in the midst of a realm mired in corruption and deceit.
His strict adherence to the law and moral codes is as consistent as a cup of Yorkshire Tea—always high quality, but not quite as entertaining as some of those with a bit more mischief in them.
While Chaotic Neutral characters are the ones who chuck the Monopoly board in the air when they’re losing, Lawful Good characters are the ones who meticulously count every note and ensure everyone’s got the correct change.
And we need these characters.
In a world where it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped, their unwavering moral compass guides us, reminding us of the power of honesty, integrity, and steadfastness.
Neutral Good Characters: The Unseen Heroes of Fantasy Fiction
In between the pillars of ‘Lawful Good’ and ‘Chaotic Good’, comfortably situated like a lovely country pub halfway through a Sunday walk, we find our ‘Neutral Good’ characters.
Neutral Good characters, you see, are a charming blend of righteousness and flexibility.
They are committed to doing what’s right, but aren’t as concerned about adhering to laws or bucking the system.
They’re like that mate who always recycles, but occasionally sneaks a Quality Street into the cinema.
They’re all about the greater good, but they don’t mind bending a rule or two to achieve it.
“But, what’s so great about a goody two-shoes?”
While the Neutral Good characters may not have the thrilling unpredictability of Chaotic Neutrals or the moral rigidity of Lawful Goods, they possess a captivating flexibility.
They’re the ‘pragmatic heroes,’ willing to do what’s necessary to achieve good, and that makes them a right interesting bunch.
Take, for instance, the beloved wizard, Albus Dumbledore from ‘Harry Potter’.
While he is generally a force for good, old Dumbles doesn’t mind bending a few school rules here and there, does he?
As long as it’s in the name of stopping He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, of course.
He embodies the Neutral Good alignment, maintaining a strong moral core whilst occasionally sidestepping the rules when necessary.
Then there’s Bilbo Baggins from ‘The Hobbit’, a quiet, peace-loving hobbit who steps out of his comfort zone (and the Shire) to do what’s right, even if it involves a bit of burglary.
He’s the epitome of a Neutral Good character, isn’t he?
Comfortably sitting between a saint and a scoundrel, doing what’s necessary for the greater good.
In a world that’s often as clear as mud, Neutral Good characters offer a refreshing middle ground.
They represent the balance that we often seek in our own lives—the desire to do good, without being bound too rigidly by the rules or slipping into utter chaos.
Chaotic Good Characters: The Unruly Heroes We Can’t Help But Love
In the realm of ‘good’ but on the side of ‘chaos’, we find the Chaotic Good characters, causing a ruckus and saving the day.
Chaotic Good characters are the mavericks of fantasy.
They’re driven by a moral compass as true as a Yorkshire terrier to its favourite toy, but they won’t let a silly thing like ‘rules’ stand in their way.
They’re the sort of characters who will pick the lock to a city’s gates to let in reinforcements, all while flashing a mischievous grin.
“But isn’t that just anarchy wrapped up in a hero’s cloak?”
Chaotic Good characters infuse the narrative with a thrilling unpredictability, while their steadfast commitment to doing good keeps us firmly in their corner.
Consider Robin Hood, the legendary socialist outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor.
He broke the law left, right, and centre, but always with the aim of helping those less fortunate.
He’s a top-notch example of a Chaotic Good character—a rebel with a righteous cause.
And who could forget everyone’s favourite smuggler, Han Solo from ‘Star Wars’?
He may not be one for protocol (or for paying his debts), but when push comes to shove, he always ends up fighting for the forces of good.
Chaotic Good characters remind us that sometimes, rules need to be bent to achieve a greater good.
They are the embodiment of moral flexibility, proving that it’s possible to remain on the side of good without always following the straight and narrow.
Lawful Neutral Characters: The Unswerving Champions of Balance
Tucked in the middle of the Lawful spectrum and neither good nor evil, we find our steadfast Lawful Neutral characters.
These characters are the epitome of structure and order.
They abide by laws, traditions, and personal codes with a dogged determination that makes a bulldog chewing a bone look positively lackadaisical.
But they’re not necessarily out to save the world or plunge it into darkness—they’re all about the balance, the fairness of it all.
“But isn’t that a tad dull?”
Lawful Neutral characters may not ignite the page with anarchic antics or saintly deeds, but they provide a crucial anchor in the fantastical storm.
They uphold the rules of the world, lending an air of realism and balance that’s as comforting as a mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s eve.
Take Stannis Baratheon from ‘Game of Thrones.’
Now there’s a bloke who sticks to the rules, even if it won’t make him the life of the party.
His rigid adherence to the law, without leaning towards good or evil, makes him a classic Lawful Neutral character.
And consider Judge Dredd, the iconic comic book character who serves as judge, jury, and executioner in the dystopian future city of Mega-City One.
He’s not out to serve personal morality or malevolence, but simply to enact the law, making him a solid Lawful Neutral chap.
Lawful Neutral characters remind us that not everything is about good vs evil.
Sometimes it’s about maintaining balance, upholding traditions, and sticking to one’s principles.
They’re the steadfast lighthouses in the chaotic seas of fantasy narratives, guiding the story with their unwavering dedication to order and fairness.
True Neutral Characters: The Balanced Conduits of Fantasy Fiction
Bang in the centre of our character alignment square, refusing to take sides like a well-behaved football referee, we find our True Neutral characters.
True Neutral characters are the epitome of balance.
They’re not overly concerned with moral standings or societal norms.
They’re the types who’d happily sit on a seesaw all day, making sure neither end touches the ground.
Their primary concern isn’t with good, evil, law, or chaos, but with neutrality and equilibrium.
“But doesn’t that make them as bland as unbuttered toast?”
True Neutral characters may not blaze a trail of heroism or villainy, but their dedicated impartiality provides a unique perspective that’s as intriguing as a twist in an Agatha Christie novel.
Consider, for instance, the enigmatic Tom Bombadil from J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings.’
This whimsical character lives in harmony with nature and shows a conspicuous indifference to the power of the One Ring.
He’s neither swayed by its evil, nor particularly invested in the quest to destroy it.
Bombadil is a classic example of a True Neutral character, following his own beat without getting tangled in moral or societal knots.
Another fine example is Dr. Manhattan from ‘Watchmen,’ who observes the world with an almost aloof detachment.
He doesn’t bend to human morals, laws, or chaos, but rather maintains an absolute neutrality, making him a brilliantly engaging True Neutral character.
True Neutral characters, in their refusal to pick sides, remind us of the importance of balance.
They’re the tranquil centre in the maelstrom of fantasy narrative, providing a counterpoint to the grand battles of good and evil, law and chaos.
Chaotic Neutral Characters
Moving to the middle-right square of the character alignment Sudoko, we find the Chaotic Neutral characters.
They’re a right ‘mish-mash,’ aren’t they?
Neither good nor evil, neither lawful nor completely disregardful of rules.
They’re guided by their whims and desires, and they don’t fancy being shackled by rules or a dogged determination to do the ‘right thing’.
These are the ‘bloody hell, what are they going to do next?’ type of characters.
The ones that make the audience shout, “You did what, mate?!” at their telly, Kindle, or maybe even an actual physical book if you’re a bit old school.
But why do we love these unpredictable rapscallions?
It’s simple, isn’t it? They’re unpredictable, cheeky, and bring a breath of fresh air to the classic hero-villain narrative.
They’re like that one unpredictable mate in your group, the one who might show up at the pub wearing a tuxedo or maybe just their pyjamas. They keep things exciting.
Traditional heroes are predictable.
You know they’ll always do the right thing, the honourable thing.
They’re like a comforting, predictable old British weather. “Oh look, it’s raining… again.”
You know what’s coming, and it’s mostly, well, rain.
In contrast, the chaotic neutral character is like a whirlwind trip to the local fair.
They’re the candy floss, the rickety roller coaster, and the dodgy bloke who scams you at the ring toss.
They’re an entire experience packaged into one unpredictable and compelling entity.
Take, for example, Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. A veritable poster boy for the chaotic neutral alignment.
He’s self-serving, unpredictable, but he’s entertaining as hell.
Is he going to save the day or nick the treasure and do a runner?
Who knows, but we can’t wait to find out!
Another such character is Locke Lamora from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series.
Now there’s a gent who doesn’t give two hoots about laws or social order.
He’s an absolute rogue—but with that irresistible charm and quick wit, we can’t help but cheer him on, even when he’s pickpocketing the city’s elite.
Lawful Evil Characters: The Dark, Orderly Titans of Fantasy Fiction
At the intersection of orderliness and a decidedly wicked agenda, we find our Lawful Evil characters.
Lawful Evil characters are the meticulously organised villains of the fantasy world.
They’ve a grand evil scheme, sure, but they also have a five-year plan, colour-coded spreadsheets, and a solid retirement strategy.
They adhere to a set of rules and codes, even if their ultimate aim is as friendly as a wasp at a picnic.
“But isn’t that just a rather fussy baddie?”
Lawful Evil characters may not be the anarchic villains of nightmares, but their cunning, organisation, and adherence to their own codes make them captivating figures to follow.
Take Tywin Lannister from ‘Game of Thrones’ as a prime example.
He might not be the sort to cackle manically in a dark tower, but his ruthless dedication to family legacy, power, and order embodies the Lawful Evil alignment.
He is a villain with principles and rules, making him an intriguing and complex character.
Another shining (or should we say, shadowy) example is Lord Voldemort from ‘Harry Potter.’
Despite his unquestionable evil, he still adheres to certain rules, showing respect for ancient wizarding laws and customs.
This complex mix of evil and lawfulness makes him a character we love to hate.
Lawful Evil characters are the dark stars of the narrative cosmos.
They may be the baddies, but their respect for order, laws, and personal codes adds layers of complexity, making them deeply compelling.
Neutral Evil Characters: The Self-Serving Strategists of Fantasy Fiction
Nestled between chaos and order on the evil axis, we discover Neutral Evil.
Neutral Evil characters are the opportunistic pragmatists of the fantasy realm.
They have an agenda as sour as a week-old lemon, but they aren’t fussed about obeying laws or inciting anarchy to achieve it.
They’re about as loyal as a tomcat on the prowl and won’t let anything, or anyone, obstruct their path to power.
“But aren’t they just nasty without a cause?”
Neutral Evil characters may not champion a cause or adhere to strict rules, but their crafty manoeuvres and flexible morals make for a riveting read.
Take Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish from ‘Game of Thrones’ as an exemplar.
His moral compass is as reliable as a chocolate teapot, but he’s not exactly a rabble-rouser either.
He’ll scheme, manipulate, and play all sides to get what he wants—a classic Neutral Evil tactician.
And who could forget the White Witch from C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Chronicles of Narnia?’
She’s not about upholding order or fomenting chaos; she’s simply after power and will use deceit, magic, and a particularly tempting Turkish delight to get it.
Neutral Evil characters, with their flexible strategies and personal agendas, add a hefty dose of intrigue to the narrative stew.
They’re the self-serving schemers that keep us guessing, proving that sometimes, the middle road can be the most treacherous one.
Chaotic Evil Characters: The Unpredictable Malefactors of Fantasy Fiction
Where chaos and wickedness converge, we unearth our Chaotic Evil characters.
Chaotic Evil characters are the unrestrained villains of the fantasy world.
They’ve got a moral compass that spins more wildly than a child on a sugar rush, and a respect for rules that’s about as sturdy as a paper umbrella.
They’re the wild cards of malevolence, pursuing their own selfish desires without a jot of regard for law, order, or the well-being of others.
“But isn’t that just being unpleasant without any trousers?”
Chaotic Evil characters may not be tied to rules or causes, but their anarchic villainy creates unpredictability that’s as addictive as a bag of sherbet lemons.
Consider the inimitable Joker from the Batman franchise, a character who takes pleasure in sowing chaos and relishes his own unpredictable malevolence.
With no respect for laws or other people’s well-being, he embodies the Chaotic Evil alignment in all its unsettling glory.
Another sterling example is Bellatrix Lestrange from ‘Harry Potter.’
This lady isn’t exactly what you’d call a stickler for rules, and her wickedness is as untamed as her hair.
Chaotic Evil characters, in their unbridled pursuit of their own whims and desires, infuse the narrative with a volatile energy.
They’re the stormy seas in the voyage of a fantasy narrative, unpredictable and dangerous.
The Fluid Spectrum of Character Alignments: A Conclusion
As we reach the end of our journey through the varied alignments of fantasy fiction, it’s time to set down our tea and contemplate what we’ve learned.
From the righteous Lawful Good characters to the untamed Chaotic Evil personas, and the delightful mix of characters in-between, it’s clear that these alignments provide a framework to understand and predict character actions.
They’ve given us insight into the motivations behind our favourite characters, shedding light on the underpinnings of their choices and behaviours.
However, it’s important to remember that just as the bumblebee doesn’t exclusively stick to one flower, characters needn’t be bound by a single alignment for their entire existence.
Indeed, one of the great joys in fiction is observing character development, which can often involve a shift in alignment.
Consider Jaime Lannister from ‘Game of Thrones.’
He starts as a seemingly clear-cut example of a Lawful Evil character, but throughout the series, we witness a dramatic character arc.
As his story unfolds, he moves away from the ruthless dedication to his family’s power, towards a more morally complex identity, embodying aspects of the Neutral and even Lawful Good alignments.
In a similar vein, characters might temporarily adopt different alignments in specific situations, providing depth and flexibility to their characters.
This fluidity of alignment keeps readers on their toes, preventing characters from becoming as predictable as rain in a British summer.
So, as we come to a close, let’s raise our last cup of tea to the rich tapestry of character alignments.
Whether you’re a writer looking to flesh out your characters, or a reader seeking to delve deeper into the worlds you love, understanding character alignments is a tool as useful as a compass for an adventurer.
And remember, the best characters, much like a well-brewed cup of English breakfast, are a blend of several elements, making them all the more delightful to savour.
Explore the legendary Hero’s Journey as we delve into its usage in epic fantasy. From Frodo Baggins to Harry Potter, learn how this timeless narrative structure shapes our favourite tales.
Today we’re going to explore the legendary Hero’s Journey in the world of epic fantasy.
The Hero’s Journey, or as some like to say, the Monomyth, is a storytelling template made famous by Joseph Campbell, an American scholar (here’s not the place to delve into the other story forms that exist).
It has been used by story-tellers for millennia, both consciously and unconsciously, as a way to craft a satisfying narrative.
If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry—you’ll recognise its structure no doubt from some of your favourite books or movies.
So, grab yourself a cuppa, and let’s delve into the Hero’s Journey.
The Unexpected Invitation
The Hero’s Journey kicks off with our main character living a humdrum life. For instance, Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. One day he’s munching on second breakfast, the next, he’s burdened with the most feared piece of bling in all Middle-Earth.
Declining the Invite
Initially, our hero doesn’t find the idea of a dangerous journey as tempting as a troll’s tea party. Harry Potter, from J.K. Rowling’s famous series, spends quite some time denying his wizardry status. But a Hogwarts invite isn’t a letter you just ignore.
A Magical Helping Hand
Right when our hero’s in a dilemma, a mysterious mentor often pops up. Cue Gandalf, Merlin, and Albus Dumbledore, the all-knowing dudes with beards with a taste for obscure advice and quirky attire. They offer guidance, magical gifts, or at least some mystifying wisdom that makes sense only three books down the line.
Leaping into the Unknown
This is where our hero steps into a brave new world, owning their fate, probably with some dramatic theme music. Daenerys Targaryen from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, strides into a blaze, coming out with three newly born dragons.And with that, her path is changed forever.
Adventures, Allies, and Adversaries
Next, our hero has to get through a maze of trials, win over unlikely allies, and dodge possible foes. They might even have to rough it in a spooky forest or two. In Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, our hero Kvothe juggles all this and a magical university.
The Epic Showdown and the Spoils
In the tale’s peak, our hero faces their worst fear. They may even “die” metaphorically (or sometimes, literally) only to be reborn. Like Vin, in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, who *spoiler alert* topples the indestructible Lord Ruler. The prize? Usually a ton of power and a dollop of self-realization.
The Homeward Journey
At last, our hero comes back to their old life, bearing the gains of their journey. They’ve evolved, mastered a legendary weapon, realised they’re royalty in disguise, or perhaps, discovered the joy of home sweet home.
The Hero’s Journey has its fair share of fans for a reason.
It appeals to our innate desire to conquer, to explore, to evolve. Yes, it’s a popular route, but isn’t that part of its appeal? Each turn has its surprises.
And, of course, when author subvert this trope, it can surprise and delight…and sometimes leave us scratching our heads.
So, next time you delve into a fantasy epic, think of our brave hero. They’re doing all the heavy lifting.