Ah, high fantasy. A realm filled with magical beasts, valiant heroes, and enough mythical creatures to make a zoologist’s head spin.
At first glance, it’s tempting to dismiss these tales as mere flights of fancy, a form of escapism from the dreary realities of everyday life. But hold your sceptical horses, because there’s more to high fantasy than meets the eye.
In fact, these epic tales often reveal profound insights into the human experience, addressing themes that resonate deeply with our own reality.
So, before you scoff at the next person you see buried in a tome thicker than a London fog, let’s take a moment to appreciate the richness and relevance of high fantasy.
A Mirror Held Up To Humanity
High fantasy, like all great literature, is often a reflection of the world in which it was created.
The fantastical settings and characters serve as a canvas upon which the author can explore universal issues and themes.
For example, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series explores themes of power, corruption, and sacrifice, while George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire explores complex political intrigue and moral ambiguity.
By exploring these themes through the lens of an alternate reality, high fantasy allows us to confront difficult questions, such as the nature of good and evil, the role of power in society, and the consequences of our actions, in a safe and engaging way.
In other words, while high fantasy may whisk us away to a land filled with dragons and sorcery, it can also bring us face-to-face with the very real challenges that define our existence.
An Exercise In Empathy
One of the most powerful aspects of high fantasy is its ability to immerse us in the lives and struggles of its characters.
By stepping into the shoes of an orphan farm boy, valiant knight, or mythical creature, we are forced to confront the world from an entirely new perspective.
This exercise in empathy is particularly important in today’s increasingly polarised and intolerant world. (Don’t worry, I’m not going too political here).
Take, for example, the plight of the elves in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, or the complex social hierarchy of the various species in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Through these narratives, we are encouraged to examine our own prejudices and to consider the experiences of those who are different from us. In the process, we cultivate a deeper understanding of the human condition and a greater appreciation for the diversity that makes our world so rich and fascinating.
A Call To Adventure
Finally, high fantasy serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of adventure, courage, and perseverance in the face of adversity.
The heroes and heroines of these tales are often ordinary individuals who are called upon to undertake extraordinary quests, facing insurmountable odds along the way. (I’m sure now would be the perfect time to mention that you can read the complete Orphan Farm Boy of Destiny serial for free on Substack @joncronshawauthor, but I won’t do that).
These narratives inspire us to tap into our own inner reserves of strength and bravery, encouraging us to push beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones and to embrace the unknown.
In this way, high fantasy is not a form of escapism, but rather an invitation to engage more fully with the world and to confront the challenges that lie ahead with hope and determination.
So, the next time you encounter a fellow reader engrossed in the pages of a high fantasy novel, resist the urge to dismiss their literary choice as mere escapism.
Instead, remember that these stories hold the power to teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, our world, and the human experience.
Through the pages of high fantasy, we can explore universal themes, cultivate empathy, and embrace the spirit of adventure that lies within all of us.
Far from being a refuge from reality, high fantasy serves as a gateway to a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a wyvern to train and a kingdom to save, and this cup of tea isn’t going to drink itself.