Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
This week’s topic is FAE
Surprisingly not in the Tough Guide. How can this be? Fairies are a constant in the fantasy world and it is time they get their own week. Give us your Fae, be they sweet or nasty.
Nathan is out this week and once again passed the buck reluctantly gave up the reins to Tough Travels to another. This week popular indie author Graham Austin-King takes over (and missed Good Fairies of New York somehow, for shame). Enjoy!
Faeries, the fae… the creatures that lurk in the deepest forests or pass into our world through faerie rings, preying on those humans foolish enough to cross their path. We’re not talking about your saccharine coated, Disneyfied fairys, or even that freak with the tooth obsession. We’re talking about faeries, the wee folk, the fair folk, the fae… and they’re really not nice.
In my own fantasy series the fae are about as far from the Disney cartoon version of fairies as you can get. I wanted my books to be about a truth hidden inside fairy tales and the book grew organically from there. If the fae were real then where are they? If they’ve been forced into hiding or pushed away from the world, then how? If they’re coming back, then why? I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to let slip that they’re a bit cross about the whole situation.
In Fae – The Wild Hunt I pretty much had free reign to do what I liked with the concept of faeries and the fae. Elves, and a reader’s expectation of them, have been pretty much set in stone by virtue of Tolkein, Brooks, Weis & Hickman and many other fantasy writers. The concept of elves is so entrenched that a writer might be in danger of being accused of getting it wrong if they moved outside these lines. The fae, on the other hand, are an ethereal concept that you can still play around with.
I wanted the fae, and my depiction of them, to be a little bit like GRRM’s Others. Mysterious, unexplained… scary as hell! When you first encounter the fae in my books that’s what I’m aiming for. Tales of faeries are very much about closing the shutters, huddling close to the fire, and making sure the candles are lit to ward away the night. They’re about the fear of the dark, strange noises in the night, and about the unknown. There’s a reason we hang horseshoes on the wall afterall, and it has very little to do with luck. Terry Pratchett said it best, he was talking about elves but it transfers well and I’m going to steal it. Nobody ever said faeries were nice… Faeries are bad! So here we go…
The King Killer Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss
Rothfuss keeps his fae delightfully mysterious. About all we really know about them is that they’re not fond of iron and enjoy a drink and/or a romp… or both! Kvothe’s apprentice/bodyguard Bast is swiftly revealed as one of the fae, cloven hooves and all. Capable of inexplicable magics and, in the case of Ferulian at least, carnal appetites no man could hope to match, their motives are unknown. What is clear is that they are far older and wiser than mankind. Faced with the very embodiment of carnal pleasure Kvothe is forced to try and keep up… it’s a hard life.
The Many Coloured Land – Julian May – This is a fabulous series that doesn’t just blur the lines between fantasy and science fiction, it rubs them out entirely. On the other side of a time portal leading from our future to our pliocene past, aliens known as the Tanu and the Firvulag are waiting for you. These are fae only by implication, it’s pretty obvious that they’ve been borrowed from Celtic mythology but the concept is a fun one and who’s to say they aren’t the root of the myth? Let’s do the tick list: wielders of glamours and illusion? Check. Love a good drink? Check. Enslavers of humans? Check. Haters of iron? Check. Insatiable carnal appetites? Check, check, check! Do you see a theme developing here?
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell -Susanna Clarke – Mr Norrell calls on the fae for help when he needs to bring a young lady back to life. In exchange the fae ask for half of her life. Seems reasonable right? When it turns out that the fae had something else in mind when he asked for half her life Norrell gets a bit stroppy really. Some people are just so ungrateful! Clarke’s depiction is probably my favourite. Hidden worlds, unseen forests that grow up overnight, faerie balls that none remember attending… just glorious
Graham Austin-King began writing with children’s stories for his own kids. He has always loved fantasy and so it is no great surprise that eventually one began to appear as he sat at the keyboard. He lives in England with his wife Gillian and an ever-increasing horde of small people.
Join us next week as we look at MUSICIANS/BARDS
BARDS often join questing parties and provide entertainment around the campfire. Sometimes their music even holds a little bit of magic. Or a clue to an ancient mystery. Or…
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As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!