Friday, December 7, 2007

Why I Read About Elves

I just finished reading The Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks, who also wrote a short story entitled "Why I Write About Elves." For some reason, fans and writers of fantasy fiction feel the need to explain and defend their interest in epic tales involving elves, druids, wizards, dwarves, and other invented life forms. I don't know personally anyone who reads fantasy, in fact I know a few who would turn up their noses at the thought, but I know my soul/book-mates are out there somewhere! Terry Brooks has written about twenty fantasy novels that have been on the New York Times Bestseller list. So I know it's not just me. Nonetheless, here are my "excuses" for reading about elves and such:

1. I'm drawn to the idea of the unlikely hero. Just like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, the main characters in the Shannara series often feel an internal struggle between the ordinary person they want to remain and the powerful force or hero they are destined to become.
2. It's a chance to satisfy the inner child in me--a return to the days of reading the Chronicles of Narnia and getting swept away in a magical world as only a child can. I can capture a bit of that magic when I read a good fantasy novel as an adult.
3. I love the concept of the quest and the obstacles met on the way of obtaining the goal. Hmm . . . this sounds a bit like what life is all about.
4. Themes like death and power can be presented in ways that could not otherwise be portrayed in a completely realistic story. A good example--the Harry Potter series. And yes, there are even elves in Harry Potter.
5. I am a geek. (Oops! That's not going to help my cause!)

I began the Shannara series almost twenty years ago, (I still remember who introduced them to me--Jeremy Tietjens--a friend in my art class) I have been rereading the first two series to refresh my memory, and then I want to go on to read the many he has published since then. The next on my list is to reread The Talismans of Shannara, and then it's on to new territory.
I know I don't have many readers, but if there is anyone in my small but select readership who has read the Shannara series or can recommend another great fantasy writer/series, reassure me that I am not alone.

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