fantasy

Equality and Diversity of Humans…and Elves?

Fantasy tales are often populated with a wide array of beings. Elves, humans and dwarves are a common trio, along with trolls, orcs and countless other variations. Not all authors have filled their stories with these fantastic races to purposely tell stories of diversity or race-relations.  However, long before terms like diversity were buzzing in everyone’s minds, two masters of fantasy had made a statement on equality among people. Joseph Loconte writes in A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War:

[J.R.R.] Tolkien and [C.S.] Lewis encountered the horrific progeny of [eugenics] in the trenches and barbed wire and mortars of the Great War [World War I] — and it gave them great pause about human potentiality…the characters in their novels possess a great nobility, creatures endowed with a unique capacity for virtue, courage, and love. Indeed, a vital theme throughout is the sacred worth of the individual soul in Middle-Earth and Narnia, every life is of immense consequence.

The “races” of Narnia and Middle-Earth are very much like us, always at odds with each other: Elves hate dwarves; elves look down on humans; hobbits are obviously different from their larger human cousins; orcs once were elves.  And yet the fellowship of the ring throws together polar opposite, feuding races in a quest to the save the world.

Against all odds, they succeeded.  A powerful message among the many in these stories.

Tolkien and Lewis began writing during a time when eugenics was on the rise. This misuse of science and philosophies pretending to be science was rationale to cleanse humanity of undesirable races, beliefs or attributes. People remember the result of this horror in World War II under the Nazis, yet don’t know that this thinking had been promoted among the “elite” thinkers and governments across the world for decades.

While many many post-WWI writers saw hopelessness, and others turned to Progress as a god to right humanity, Tolkien and Lewis saw the importance of every life. They wrote of evil that couldn’t be reasoned away — and could be hidden behind “science” and “progress.” The equality of peoples doesn’t automatically equate to the equality of ideas and actions. Even Tolkien’s “dreadful orcs are presented as rational beings” — but being rational isn’t the same as being on the side of virtue.

Middle-Earth and Narnia showed how mankind, even with its capacity for wrong, has innate qualities that can defeat the most terrible of evils; qualities that transcend superficial differences among people, and show that we are much more than a result of randomness and fate.

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Dark Snowfall

The following is an all new story — a Lost Tale of sorts — set in the world of the Watchers of the Light that was first revealed in Among the Shadows. Readers of AtS will have met Milena before. Those who have not are about to learn why the Darkness fears her. Enjoy…

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Why do Young Readers Turn to Fantasy?

The fantasy genre has exploded in popularity over the past twenty years. From the big screen adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, to endless new novels often directed to teens and young adults. Fantasy has always appealed to younger readers as escapism, but is this the only reason, or is there something more for the current generation?

Rebecca LuElla Miller writes of deeper reasons in The Appeal Of Fantasy For Young Adults, in that these readers have been:

…expected to do little more than have a good time and do their homework, [now they] long for significance. They want to do something that matters, that has eternal purpose…long for a life that matters, and they find in fantasy a world that needs someone who will step up and do just that.

Then too, fantasy helps young people organize the world. There is moral right and wrong, and the characters in fantasy must align themselves with one or the other. There’s also history that makes a difference in the here and now, prophesy that tells about the future, and decisions that make or break a destiny.

So I suspect that these, and the other reasons that LuElla details, are not all that different for all age groups. Finding your true purpose, your place in the Story, is the desire that burns in all people.

Younger readers just haven’t given up on that quest. They haven’t allowed societal forces to tell them where to go or what to do. Yes, one could also argue that flawed materialistic and relativistic beliefs have replaced solid and logical worldviews.

Perhaps a good dose of fantasy is, ironically, needed to show us reality.

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A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War

Check out the trailer for the upcoming series on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis:

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Awakened, Uncontrollable Power

Kat Bloodmayne was experimented on by her father.  Now her soul is dying and an uncontrollable power within her threatens all around her.

When we last left Kat in Tainted, she had learned of the darkness infecting her father.  He seeks to capture her and take her power for an insidious Frankenstein-esque goal — and is willing to sacrifice his daughter in the process.

Now, in Awakened, Morgan L. Busse continues Kat’s trials as she seeks a cure for what is destroying her from within, while her father’s bounty hunters chase her to the ends of Austrium.

Awakened is set in a steampunk era that almost was: Victorian style, merged with the industrial age, and one of airships and mechanized war.  So are you ready to enter this world where the Darkness is rapidly descending? Will Kat control her power and restore her soul?

Or will she destroy all those around her, even those she loves?

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Templars of Fact and Fiction

The Templars played a part in the history of Among the Shadow‘s origins.  This was years ago,  when the Knights Templar became the central focus of novels, revisionist history books and films.  Suddenly, the medieval Knights were everywhere, from being in control of secret organizations, to being the key to finding lost treasures and solving religious mysteries. A new History Channel drama, Knightfall, may soon bring the Knight Templars back into the limelight (check out the trailer here).

The problem with many of the Templar books is that they are based on fake history , or create their own.  Partially thanks to medieval fake news and propaganda spread by the Templar’s enemies, the Templars are easily abused by those with imaginative views of history.

In spite of this onslaught of fake history, the real history has always been largely available.  There are the classics Dungeon, Fire and Sword and The Knights Templar, which give a complete picture. Others like God’s Battalions and The Templars and the Shroud of Christ address many of the claims of revisionists.

So how does this apply to my writing? Years ago, during the height of Templar mania, I was reading The Knights Templar, and came to chapter on the battle at the Horns of Hattin. During this battle, the Crusader army had brought with them what they thought was a relic of the True Cross. The battle was a catastrophic loss.

Instantly, though, I had an Inspiration Moment that would from the basis of Among the Shadows: Epic battles, legendary warriors and powerful relics. This would merge with my new found fascination with the fantasy genre and help define historical fantasy.

Ultimately, the Templars and the Battle of Hattin would recede into the background of the novel. The lost relic would remain prominent, as would threads of history — history that I wanted to remain accurate as opposed to how it was being handled by other writers. Of course, being fantasy, the fantastic is dropped against the historic backgrounds. Blurring the lines a bit, but leaving history intact, leave readers wondering what  in myth and legend may be hints of forgotten truths.

Maybe the Templar connection will be explored again in future novels, but for now, their history remains part of our own all these centuries later.

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Lost on Nan Madol

The mysterious Nan Madol is in the news, due to attention from a television show. These ruins of a forgotten city on the island of Pohnpei have long been the center of myth and legend. In one of the opening scenes of Awakening, sequel to Among the Shadows, Ethan, Milena and Kyra, are vacationing on the ancient isle, but they find something unexpected in an empty tomb. A brief excerpt from the forthcoming Awakening

Next to Ethan, Milena put her hands on the boulder. She closed her eyes, and cleared her mind with the box breathing she learned when training with her katanas. The energy began to surge within and she felt it intertwine with Ethan’s.

“On three. One…two…three.”

She opened her eyes, lit green from within, her husband’s burned blue.

“It’s moving!” Kyra yelled…With a little help from gravity, and more from their strength, they rolled the boulder out of the way…

Kyra turned the light on the darkness, chasing it away. “There are steps going down into another chamber.”

“Let me have one of those.” Kyra handed her father his flashlight and he started down. As soon as Ethan reached the last step, the light reflected off a crystal pyramid, twice the width of the boulder, but no taller. It sat dead center in the room, nearly filling it. The low ceiling added to the claustrophobia as Milena and Kyra joined Ethan. Krya approached the pyramid and reached out her hand.

“No, wait!” Milena yelled, running for her a moment too late.

Kyra’s palm pressed on the crystal and light swirled within it, illuminating the room. The walls shimmered and vanished. The tomb, the ruins, the island — all of it — had been replaced by a dusty, vast plain under a blazing sky. Haze obscured the jungle covered hills rising in the distance. Shadows passed over the ground.

Kyra looked into the sky and screamed.

Read how their adventure began in Among the Shadows and look for Awakening coming in 2018.

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Imagination and the Doorway to Reality

Writers often draw us into the worlds and characters that burst from their imaginations.  These “made-up” worlds are reason for some to shun this or that genre because they are imaginary. The truth, though, is that authors aren’t writing imaginary stories. Alister McGrath, in his biography of C.S. Lewis, explains:

Narnia is imaginative, not an imaginary, world. Lewis was quite clear that a distinction had to be drawn between those ideas. The “imaginary” is something that has been falsely imagined, having no counterpart in reality. Lewis regards such an invented reality as opening the way to delusion. The “imaginative” is something produced by the human mind as it tries to respond to something greater than itself…to “communicate more Reality to us.”

Lewis would use his imaginative world to explore serious themes like “origins of evil, nature of faith, and the human desire for God” — not unlike most writers have grand ideas of deep thoughts woven through their narrative.

Quite often their starting point to accomplish this is surprisingly very simple. Narnia started with “an image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels through a snowy wood.” Tolkien scrawled on a paper, “In a hole in he ground there lived a hobbit,” after the idea popped in his head and he “did not know why” it had. From these humble origins, grand tales came to life.

What lives in your imagination, ready to inspire, entertain and challenge?

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Are You Ready to Choose a Side?

The War Among the Shadows has begun. Are you ready to enter the fray? Will you stand with the Watchers against the Darkness? Six will face the creatures lost to myth and legend. Will you join them? Among the Shadows Kindle edition is now $2.99 for a limited time. Step through the veil before it’s too late!

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Find Life Before it’s Lost Forever

This extended excerpt from Among the Shadows is from a chapter that serves as an interlude in the story. In the midst of the dire situation Milena found herself in, this was an opportunity to see more into her mind and her husband’s, and explore deeper themes relevant to all of us. Enjoy…

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