Friday, June 5, 2009

Fantasy Friday


Reading Fantasy is not about escapism. It doesn’t teach magic to people. Fantasy is a genre to gain insights about being human or exploring the human soul by taking us out of the real world. In Fantasy, through the threats of sorrow and failure readers get a fleeting glimpse of joy and discover truths and an underlying reality.


Fantasy author and scholar Jane Yolen states the importance of Fantasy best:
"In fantasy stories we learn to understand the differences of others, we learn compassion for those things we cannot fathom, we learn the importance of keeping our sense of wonder. The strange worlds that exist in the pages of fantastic literature teach us a tolerance of other people and places and engender an openness toward new experience. Fantasy puts the world into perspective in a way that 'realistic' literature rarely does. It is not so much an escape from the here-and-now as an expansion of each reader’s horizons."


This week’s Cybrarian Book Review spotlight is on THE SEVEN SONGS OF MERLIN (Book 2 of the Lost Years of Merlin) by TA Barron. What I love about this series is it focuses on Merlin’s youth at the time he was first coming into his magic. Barron’s epic telling of this period fits very nicely with all of the contradiction and controversy that go arm in arm with the legend of the great wizard.


In this tale 13 year-old Merlin must battle an ogre named Balor to gain entrance to the Otherworld to obtain the elixir that can save his mother from the poisonous deathshadow.


As we learned in my book, The Destineers Journal of Fantasy Nations, ogres are in the same family tree as giants and are easily twice as tall as mortal men. They are the strongest humanoids known and are notorious for their fighting skills. Imagine the fear a 13 year-old must feel in coming face to face with such a creature. Ogres are burly and muscular, but not known for their intelligence. They are not stupid, but they do not think fast on their feet – something Merlin is able to take advantage of in dealing with this being.


To read the Cybrarian ‘s review, please take a moment to click over to the other site.


What are some of the fantasy creatures you remember from your childhood? Were they from some of your favorite books? I'll bet they stir some pretty vivid memories. Just a thought...

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11 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Hi Nancy,
Going back to childhood, my earliest memories of fantasy creatures are: the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, of course both witches (Glinda and Wicked Witch of the West), Peter Pan, oh my memory fails me.
Karen
http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Karen,

Oh those flying monkeys scared me more than the wicked witch, lol.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Patricia Stoltey said...

Trolls were pretty scary when I was a kid, but I can't remember the stories that made me uncomfortable. Seems like there was one living under a bridge that would terrorize those who wanted to cross. I would've gone on to another bridge for sure.

Patricia

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Patricia,

Trolls can indeed be pretty scary.

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Helen Ginger said...

I really like this: "genre to gain insights about being human or exploring the human soul" - on some level I knew that, but I'd never put it into words the way you did. It puts fantasy into new light.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Alexis Grant said...

Hi Nancy,

I really appreciated your first graph here -- explaining the purpose of fantasy. I don't read much of the genre, but your explanation makes it sound worth getting into.

Danyelle said...

I love fantasy! It has so many windows and doorways to throw open to the soul!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I liked this part of the post in particular…"In fantasy stories we learn to understand the differences of others, we learn compassion for those things we cannot fathom, we learn the importance of keeping our sense of wonder. The strange worlds that exist in the pages of fantastic literature teach us a tolerance of other people and places and engender an openness toward new experience…”

I’d never, ever looked at it that way. For me, it was always escapism, pure and simple. But that, I see, is the shallowest level of understand. (Well, it IS me, after all, so, you can’t expect much.) Thanks for sharing a new way to look at the genre. Gives it a whole new meaning.

Best Regards, Galen.
GalenKindley.com

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Helen! I really like the genre of fantasy and think there are a lot of lessons learned through the genre.

Hi Alexis! I think fantasy is a genre a lot of people associate fantasy with fairy tales and automatically think as they grow older they outgrow the genre. I think there are a lot of really good fantasy books and it is a growing genre. From literature, I think Harry Potter brought it back to the surface (as Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings did before it). I think the uprise of video games has also helped to grow an audience.

Hi Danyelle! I couldn't agree more and there are more and more doors and windows to open and explore all the time.

Hi Galen! I think fantasy continues where the fairy stories of our youth left off - there is often an underlying lesson to be learned and fantasy characters often mirror real life characters. Whether a reader chooses to see or learn a lesson is entirely up to the readers discretion. Two perfect examples are The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - see it with its christian themes and symbolism which have been studied by some of the top theologians of the day...or simply read it as an adventurous fantasy escape to an alternate world. Harry Potter is the same thing. The book is fraught with symbolism...if you choose to see it. And BTW, shallow...you? I don't believe it. You don't strike me that way at all.

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Marvin D. Wilson said...

My childhood was full of fascination with fantasy creatures, but above all - as a VERY young kid, stands out in my mind Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Marvin!

I love Peter Pan and Tinkerbell...little pixie attitude and of course pixie dust never hurt anyone, lol!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

 
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