Saturday, March 26, 2011

Opening Salvo

So - Politics and Metaphor.

I'm currently working on a novel - the White Bull, and in that process I've become increasingly fascinated with the society and politics of the typical fantasy world. Of course world building has a long tradition in this genre, but I think there are some fundamental themes that are pervasive, rarely acknowledged and hardly ever challenged.

One is the fascination with the 'noble bloodline'. Often these are lost bloodlines. Nobility fallen upon hard times until the protagonist is able to use those long hidden qualities to overcome petty politics and save the realm. This was at it's epitome in Tolkein, who I see as the progenitor of our genre - though you can even see it in much of golden age scifi as well, from Robert E. Howard to EE Doc Smith.

There are some authors who buck this trend - Steven Brust comes to mind - and while his world still revolves around the the fundamental reality of a nobility he does paint a great picture of the beginnings of a the revolution in "Teckla". I'd like to see more of this "low fantasy" genre - see the revolution come. See Aragorn up against the wall.

See that attitude sink deeper into our own culture - one that still reveres the bloodline - from the English Nobility to the Trudeau and Kennedy dynasties.

Screw that, I say Vive La Revolution.


  1. You would probably enjoy Matthew Stover and Scott Lynch.

    Fantasy also lets you take the noble bloodline from the assumption of divine right straight into actual divinity. As an analytical tactic, stripping some of the nonsense of its subtlety and laying it out in the open can make the dissection easier to follow.

    I'm with you on seeing Aragorn up against the wall. Numenoreans Go Home. Bloody posers. Learn to bloody swim if you have to.

  2. Definitely enjoy the Scott Lynch. Not read the Matthew Stover, I'll give it a look. Lynch is fun because he's nicely pissed off. At the whole damn nobility and the blind eye to those without means.

    Though Darwinian societies make for really great dramas - especially court dramas. Look at Dangerous Liaisons. Now there's some fun.

    As for the divinity - when a god is a character, well it certainly puts things in a different light eh? You get to question the motive of the god. which is always fun.

    As for the Numenoreans - I hear they put may on their bologna. talk about squick