01 June 2010

Fantasy Authors Tackle Challenges Others Wouldn't Dare Try

I just finished reading Robin Hobb's Renegade's Magic, the third book in her Solder's Son trilogy, and it occurred to me that fantasy authors like Ms. Hobb often take on challenges that many other authors never face. In Renegade's Magic, the POV character is trapped inside the body of another version of the same character. As a result, the character must have "conversations" with himself, he watches himself doing things he does not want to do, and even gets cut off from the rest of himself from time to time. Hobb combines this puzzle with other, more traditional fantasy challenges, like creating two new cultures in a new world, setting forth the "rules" of magic, and creating characters that defy the fantasy trope and yet are still familiar.

I think that's one of the reasons I like fantasy so much. It creates challenges for the reader's imagination. But until I started writing the stuff, I never really understood the amazing amount of talent it takes to put together a good fantasy yarn. In Renegade's Magic, Hobb puts her own talent to the test and succeeds admirably.


lesleylsmith said...

You make some good points, Dave. I learned in school recently that fantasy was born out of a reaction against rationalism/scientific method/industrial revolution. Fantasy can challenge the very nature of reality itself. Wow.

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