I have to say I don’t read a lot of fantasy. I tend to be selective about what fantasy I decide to read because I’m always afraid it is going to be redundant. I should read some other authors and discover something new.
However, considering the fantasy I have read, I wanted to share some insight I have obtained through the pages of some of my favorites.
I understand some people do not enjoy fantasy and prefer more realistic storylines or even more thrilling adventures in the ‘real world’ so to speak. I love those novels too. But I believe there are some valuable lessons to be learned from reading fantasy as well.
When I was younger I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but at the time I was too young to really grasp them, so I reread them in college and found enormous appreciation for the ideas Tolkein had.
These novels illustrated to me that it does not take a person with power to change the world. The world is changed by everyday people who are destined to make a difference, often out of pure circumstance. Adventure found the hobbit characters, not the other way around. Then there are the peaceful hobbits themselves, showing the truth behind the fact that it doesn’t matter where you come from if you set your mind to face your fears and succeed in the face of adversity.
The other ideas behind these particular novels is the portrayal of things like greed, corruption, pollution, war, oppression, and regeneration coming forth after treachery or terror. There are the poisons of a toxic society seeking to destroy the world, a monstrous evil spreading its malice a hate into the various nations in an attempt to control them, and both of these reflect the fears most of us have of a tyranny rising to ruin our lives. I learned so much about how the common people and the wealthy alike would handle such a frightening scenario and that opened my eyes to question what I myself would do.
I read the first five Harry Potter books when I was young and I plan on getting the whole set and reading them again because I loved them so much. These books again showed be that it is the people who feel most insignificant who can make some of the most significant changes. It portrays strong friendships that endure through all kinds of hardship, and there was a constant thread of love. Of course I watched the movies, but that does not mean I will not finish the books! J.K. Rowling shows the importance of companionship and the power of love that triumphs all enemies. The relationships between the characters was comforting to me while reading them as a child, and I found that I could almost befriend them as well. There are evil people in this world, people who want to see us fail, but we cannot give up and we must continue pressing on if nothing more than to prove them wrong.
I am currently on the eleventh book of The Wheel of Time and this series is by far the best work of fantasy literature I have ever read. I am unsure of where to begin. The strength of companionship and love is consistently prevalent, but there are also the political and social instabilities seen in The Lord of the Rings though on a larger and more complex scale. This series is deeply psychological and I have learned so much about characters who do not even exist. Some people face their fears in vastly different ways than others. Some characters (there are hundreds of characters!) are common folk, others are noble, and most characters are somewhere on the spectrum of good and evil and not entirely one or the other.
The Wheel of Time does a lot of study into how men and women interact with one another and amongst themselves. I can see how men view the events in the story and draw parallels to see how men in the real world face them in similar ways.
Then there comes the issue of intricate political corruption. This is a mammoth topic in this series, so grand that I will not be able to do it much justice. Robert Jordan had an excellent way of exploring the ways that government works inside and out. There are threads of deceit intertwined with people who have good intentions. There are parallels with the Catholic Church and the purging of heretics and those who are seen as too freethinking. I was able to get in the minds of someone who kills innocent people while believing they are absolutely in the right and following good morals, which was disturbing but eye-opening as well.
Anyway, I could talk at great length about all of the things I have learned from The Wheel of Time.
These are the biggest novels I have read or read part of that I would consider to be my favorite fantasy books. I have read others, but I do not want to write a long essay about them all here, but I will write often about what I learn from what I read.
I plan on writing blog posts about books I finish reading so you can hear about them from my perspective. I know this was a bit fast paced, but it is a lot to get through without pouring out pages.
Fantasy has been able to teach me things about the world in different but just as important ways as any other work of literature. I learn the ways in which people can be corrupted as well as ways people fight corruption either in themselves or in others. We are all fighting some kind of adversity and after reading these fantasy books, I am gradually thinking more and more about how to face my own fears. We often have to go through some fearsome circumstances, but we should never give up fighting for what we believe in and working toward seeing what is right come to fruition.