9/19/09

fantasy


I learned something interesting from Corey Olsen's Tolkien Professor Podcast. Every author of fantasy has the dilemma of how to persuade the reader to suspend disbelief, and how to introduce the reader into their invented world. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is a comfortable homebody, whose greatest hardship is a missed meal. Like the reader, he is only conceptually familiar with the fantastical and magical world. As Bilbo begins his adventure, he gradually leaves cultivated, tamed lands for wilderness (Rivendell is the "last homely home"). By the time he reaches the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo has changed from a comfortable hobbit with thoughts only for meals and smoking his pipe to a full-fledged adventurer. He has, as well as the reader, been slowly immersed in the world beyond his home, in the world of Tolkien.
Thinking about it, I realized J.K. Rowling essentially does the same thing in her books. Harry is an outsider to her world, and the whole first book is giving the reader the definitions necessary to understand the rest of the series. Hagrid defines muggles, Hogwarts and You-Know-Who, Olivander explains wandlore, Ron the sorting hat and houses, etc.
I think this way of introducing the reader into the author's world along with the protagonist is a great way to write fantasy. It is a subtle way to bring the reader into a fantasy novel. I get irritated with books with so many invented names and words in the first chapter that you actually can't understand whats going on till you finish the book and go back and re-read the beginning. Just to keep in mind if you are planning to write a fantasy adventure.

So....anybody have any good book to recommend?

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