The Role of Prophecy in Epic Fantasy: A Soothsayer’s Guide to Unraveling Destiny

Dive into the intricate world of fantasy prophecies, from Tolkien to Martin. Explore how these foretellings drive plots, shape characters, and tease readers with destiny’s dance.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a fantasy novel in possession of a good prophecy, must be in want of a destiny.” – (Almost) Jane Austen

It’s no secret that every epic fantasy author worth their salt toys with the notion of prophecy.

It’s the narrative equivalent of a spicy curry on a chilly, winter’s night. It warms you up, gets your heart racing, and if done well, leaves you satisfied and anticipating the next course.

A Prophecy? Rings a Bell…

Take J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings,’ for instance.

The One Ring, to rule them all, had a prophecy wrapped around it tighter than a sushi roll.

The whole Middle-Earth shindig was driven by the prophecy that a halfling would bring about the downfall of the Dark Lord Sauron.

No pressure, Frodo.

A Song of Ice and Soothsayers

George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ employed prophecy in a similar, yet distinct, fashion.

Characters like Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister are guided (and misguided) by prophecies, resulting in a series of events that make a rollercoaster seem like a leisurely drive through the countryside.

Sands of Prophecy: The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan’s sprawling epic, ‘The Wheel of Time,’ offers a fascinating study of prophecy guiding the characters’ actions.

The Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor, is the central figure of many prophecies in this series.

His future actions, which are prophesied to either save or doom the world, act as significant drivers of the plot and character decisions.

The Hidden Destiny: The Belgariad

In David Eddings’ ‘The Belgariad,’ the protagonist, Garion, grows up unaware of the prophecies that predict his role in overcoming the dark god Torak.

The series showcases how prophecies can be intertwined with the protagonist’s coming-of-age journey, providing both external conflict and internal growth.

The Prophecy of Elan: Mistborn

Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series presents a unique twist on the prophecy trope.

The series’ characters believe they are acting according to a prophecy to overthrow a tyrant.

Still, as the series progresses, they realise the prophecy has been manipulated, leading to an unexpected outcome.

This series beautifully illustrates how prophecies can be used to introduce surprising plot twists and explore themes of power and deception.

The Witch’s Oracle: The Witcher Series

Andrzej Sapkowski’s ‘The Witcher’ series includes a prophecy involving the protagonist’s adopted daughter, Ciri, who is destined to cause a catastrophic event known as the Time of Contempt.

This prophecy influences several character’s actions and alliances throughout the series, illustrating how prophecies can impact not only plot but also character relationships and political dynamics.

A Prophecy Unfolds: The Chronicles of Narnia

In C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’ the prophecy that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will rule Narnia and defeat the White Witch drives the entire plot of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’

The prophecy not only foretells the outcome but also provides motivation and validation for the characters’ roles, demonstrating the power of prophecy in establishing character identity and purpose.

The Purpose of Prophecy

So, why does prophecy get such a good gig in fantasy?

Well, it’s a nifty tool for foreshadowing, creating tension, and driving the plot.

But it’s not just that.

Prophecy also explores the complex interplay between fate and free will, the nature of time, and the reliability of perception.

The Prophecy Paradox

Yet, there’s a paradox in prophecy—if the prophecy is going to come true, can the characters do anything to stop it?

This is where authors often get creative.

They may use deceptive wording, dual meanings, or self-fulfilling prophecies to keep us on our toes.

The Takeaway

Prophecy in fantasy is as integral as a cuppa to a good British morning.

 It adds layers of complexity to the plot, deepens character development, and keeps readers engaged.

So the next time you crack open a fantasy novel, keep an eye out for the prophecy. It might just foretell the adventure that awaits.

Rediscovering Pratchett: A Dive into ‘The Colour of Magic’

Revisiting Pratchett’s ‘The Colour of Magic’: a journey through Discworld’s humor, worldbuilding, and the antics of the reluctant hero, Rincewind.

Ah, Terry Pratchett’s ‘The Colour of Magic,’ an enigmatic tome that has a special place in my heart, much like an old pair of slippers that’ve seen better days but still possess an undeniable charm.

With the new audio editions of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series now out, I decided to revisit it was time for a re-read from the very beginning.

And let me tell you, it was as comforting as a cup of tea during a drizzly afternoon.

The World on Four Elephants

If there’s one thing that Pratchett does with aplomb, it’s worldbuilding.

Now, you might be thinking, “How difficult can it be to build a world that’s essentially a disc on the backs of four elephants standing on a giant turtle floating in space?”

But it’s not just about the peculiar shape of the world; it’s about the colourful (pun intended) inhabitants, the odd logic, and the unapologetic defiance of traditional physics.

From the bustling metropolis of Ankh-Morpork to the mysterious Counterweight Continent, every corner of Discworld brims with its own unique flavour.

Each locale is a testament to Pratchett’s staggering imagination, an exquisite blend of the fantastical and the absurd.

You can almost smell the distinct odours of Ankh-Morpork, a pungent mixture of questionable street food and wizardly incense.

Not always pleasant, but always memorable.

A Laugh a Minute

Pratchett’s humour is like an impish sprite that leaps out at you from the pages.

It’s there in the footnotes, the character dialogue, and even in the most dire of circumstances.

The man could probably make a tax return hilarious, given half the chance.

In ‘The Colour of Magic,’ Pratchett uses satire, parody, wit, and puns to transform the mundane into the hilarious and the serious into the absurd.

The humour isn’t just an added spice—it’s baked into the narrative like currants in a hot cross bun.

This is a book that makes you chuckle, guffaw, and occasionally snort tea out of your nose (this isn’t a good look, especially if it’s been several hours since your last cuppa).

The Unlikely Hero

Let’s talk about Rincewind.

Rincewind, the wizard with no spells, the eternal pessimist, and the man who turns running away into an art form.

It’s safe to say he’s not your typical hero.

In fact, he’s a downright coward, more likely to be found hiding in a barrel than brandishing a sword.

Yet, it’s this very cowardice that makes Rincewind so endearing.

His flight instinct, strong enough to qualify as an Olympic sport, often lands him in situations where, much to his exasperation, he ends up saving the day.

He’s a hero who doesn’t want any part of heroism, thank you very much.

Can’t a man just enjoy a quiet pint in peace?

Rincewind’s character is a testament to Pratchett’s ability to subvert expectations and create characters who are deeply flawed yet irresistibly charming.

He’s not the hero we’re used to, but he’s the hero Discworld deserves.

A Lesson in Magic

Revisiting ‘The Colour of Magic’ has reminded me, as an author, of the power of creativity and the importance of humour.

Pratchett’s world is not just a flat disc on four elephants—it’s a vibrant universe that lives and breathes in the minds of its readers.

His characters are not just characters—they’re old friends who make us laugh, roll our eyes, and occasionally, shed a tear.

Pratchett has shown us that it’s okay to be different, to break rules, and to create characters who are gloriously, unabashedly, themselves.

And he’s reminded us that sometimes, the best heroes are the ones who’d rather be somewhere else, preferably with a good book or a pint of ale.

So here’s to you, Rincewind, the reluctant, cowardly hero.

May your legs always be swift, and may your Luggage always be close behind.

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