Thursday, April 18, 2013
The A to Z Fantastic: Fantasy Rapid Fire Part 1
You've all heard of the Hero's Quest, but how about the Hero's Geas? A geas is a concept that comes from Celtic Mythology and it can be either a taboo or an injunction placed on the hero, typically by a woman. For instance, Cuchulainn has a geas on him to never eat dog meat and he is also bound by a geas to eat any food offered to him by a woman. So naturally one day a woman offers him dog meat to eat. Geasa frequently lead to the doom of the hero who is bound by them.
In the real world, we are confronted daily with the knowledge that we are mortal and must die. Perhaps this is why in fantasy Immortality is such a common theme. For better or worse we all at times wish that we could live forever. In fantasy, people can live forever, but frequently they find that it is not as wonderful a thing as they thought it would be. Is this a way of compensating for our inability to live forever, simply to make us feel better about it? Or is there truth there?
Fantasy stories frequently feature great Journeys across vast lands. Think The Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time or any major epic fantasy series. Readers go along for the journey, often following along with a relatively clueless character who has never traveled beyond his home town before. In this way the reader experiences the same discovery that the character does as he sees new lands and meets new people and learns new things. Only in fantasy can we make such journeys of discovery in wholly new worlds.
Fantasy has become the refuge of the Kingdom. While Kings and Kingdoms still exist in our modern world, they are simply not the same anymore. And it must be confessed that there is something romantic and awesome about the Kingdom. Part of us longs for the pomp and circumstance that goes along with a kingdom and some of us long for the romance of princes and princesses. But perhaps it is just as well that the good and bad of the monarchy is mostly preserved for us in the pages of a fantasy book.