#FantasyFunMonth


FantasyFunMonth Intro
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about fantasy, a topic close to my heart. A couple of writer friends, Jill Williamson (The Blood Of Kings trilogy) and Patrick Carr (The Staff And Sword trilogy), have designated March, Fantasy Fun Month. They developed a calendar of questions/topics for fantasy readers to answer/discuss. To make it easier for other fans to find our posts on social media, we’re using the hashtag #FantasyFunMonth.

Well, of course I came late to the party, but I thought maybe I’d do a little catch up today. So here are the questions I missed:

1. Fantasy Currently Reading

I have to admit I haven’t done a great deal of reading lately (football—including Peyton Manning’s retirement press conference, political debates, last season of Downton Abbey, and STUFF), but the book I’ve begun is Oath Of The Brotherhood by E. E. Laureeano—which I won, by the way. In fact I won the entire Song of Seare trilogy in a drawing. Very cool!

2. Fave Fantasy Series

This one is easy—Lord Of The Rings, hands down. It’s the story that hooked me on fantasy, so even though I’ve read any number of other good fantasies, this one remains at the top of my list.

3. Fave Fantasy Quote

I’m not great on remembering memorable lines. Probably my favorite scene is from Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis. The Pevensie children have returned to Narnia, but a thousand years have passed there and things are quite different. While the others are asleep, Lucy sees Aslan. He reproves her for not following him earlier, even though the others chose to go a different way. It’s a wonderful scene about trust and stepping out in faith.

But the quote I’ll use here is from the beginning of Lucy’s first conversation with Aslan:

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

4. Favorite Fantasy Hero(ine)
My favorite character is probably Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved him so much after reading the book that I was quite disappointed to learn that he would not be the main character of The Fellowship Of The Rings, first in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. In fact, I took quite a while warming up to Frodo. I was a little jealous that he’d taken Bilbo’s spotlight. And for a while, I held out the hope that Bilbo would in fact join the quest and would again take center stage. When he didn’t, I gradually warmed up to Frodo, but I don’t think I ever felt as invested in him as I did in Bilbo.

For numbers 5 and 7, I refer you to my post at Speculative Faith today in which I revealed my favorite book cover and my favorite sidekick. Which leaves us only with yesterday’s topic.

6. Fave Fantasy Map

glipwood-map1I love, love, love fantasy maps. I scour them before reading a word and refer to them often. I love having a sense of place. In fact, when I started The Lore Of Efrathah, I started with a dream and a map. To this day, I have to say that the map of Efrathah is my favorite, but it’s not public, so I don’t think it counts. So I have picked Tolkien’s map because that’s where I learned to love maps. It’s not the fault of all the other fantasy writers that I didn’t first see their maps.

Perhaps the maps I’ve enjoyed the most of late are those in Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga. Here’s one of the more illustrative type.

So now we’re caught up. I’ll be posting my answers to the rest of the Fantasy Fun topics on Facebook, of course using the hashtag #FantasyFunMonth. Hope you follow along, or even better, jump in and join us. Here’s the calendar.

FantasyFunMonth_calendar

Remembering C. S. Lewis – Prince Caspian


Prince_Caspian_coverFor me, some of C. S. Lewis’s most memorable lines, images, and scenes are in his Narnia tales. I want to share one of my favorites from Prince Caspian, the perfect illustration of “trust and obey,” and more.

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy return to Narnia a year after they had become kings and queens in Aslan’s world. But everything is changed. The animals no longer talk–at least most don’t–and the people have forgotten Aslan.

Eventually, with the help of a Dwarf named Trumpkin, they realize that hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand, have passed during their earth year. To put things to rights, they aim to join up with Prince Caspian who believes in the old stories.

To reach him, they must cross a river which is now in a deep gorge. They are discussing how to navigate around this obstacle, then this:

“Look! Look! Look!” cried Lucy.

“Where? What?” asked everyone.

“The Lion,” said Lucy. “Aslan himself. Didn’t you see?” Her face had changed completely and her eyes shone.

“Do you really mean–” began Peter.

“Where did you think you saw him?” asked Susan.

“Don’t talk like a grown-up,” said Lucy, stamping her foot. “I didn’t think I saw him. I saw him.”

“Where, Lu?” asked Peter.

“Right up there between those mountain ashes. No, this side of the gorge. And up, not down. Just the opposite of the way you wanted to go. And he wanted us to go where he was–up there.”

“How do you know that was what he wanted?” asked Edmund.

“He–I–I just know,” said Lucy, “by his face.”

The others all looked at each other in puzzled silence.

“Her Majesty may well have seen a lion,” put in Trumpkin. “There ae lions in these woods, I’ve been told. But it needn’t have been a friendly and talking lion any mor than the ear was a friendly and talking bear.”

“Oh, don’t be so stupid,” said Lucy. “Do you think I don’t know Aslan when I see him?

Eventually the five of them take a vote and choose to make their way downstream. After a hard march they encounter an enemy force and turn back. They camp, but during the night, Lucy hears someone call her name. She gets up and makes her way to a clearing where she finds Aslan.

“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy,”you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

For a time she was so happy that she did not want to speak. But Aslan spoke.

“Lucy,” he said, “we must not lie her for long. You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today.”

“Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy. “I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so–”

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.

“I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?”

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “You don’t mean it was? How could I–I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that . . . oh, well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right–somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

“Oh, dear,” said Lucy.”

“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me–what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”

Do you mean that is what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.

“Yes, little one,” said Aslan.

“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.

Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”

“But they won’t believe me,” said Lucy.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.

After Aslan reassures her and fills her with his lion-strength, she says she’s ready and goes to wake up the others. They’re all very sleepy and don’t believe her because they can’t see Aslan themselves.

[Susan said], “She’s been dreaming. Do lie down and go to sleep, Lucy.”

“And I do hope,” said Lucy in a tremulous voice,”that you will all come with me. Because–because I’ll have to go with him whether anyone else does or not.”

“Don’t talk nonsense, Lucy,” said Susan. “Of course you can’t go off on your own. Don’t let her, Peter. She’s being downright naughty.”

“I’ll go with her, if she must go,” said Edmund. She’s been right before.”

“I know she has,” said Peter. “And she may have been right this morning. We certainly had no luck going down the gorge. Still–at this hour of the night. And why should Aslan be invisible to us? He never used to be. It’s not like him.”

At last, despite all the objections, they set off, with Susan complaining the whole time.

Lucy went first, biting her lip and trying not to say all the things she thought of saying to Susan. But she forgot them when she fixed her eyes on Aslan. He turned and walked at a slow pace about thirty yards ahead of them. The others had only Lucy’s directions to guide them, for Aslan was not only invisible to them but silent as well. His big cat-like paws made no noise on the grass . . .

For a long way Aslan went along the top of the precipices. Then they came to a place where some little trees grew right on the edge. He turned and disappeared among them. Lucy held her breath, for it looked as if he had plunged over the cliff; but she was too busy keeping him in sight to stop and think about this. She quickened her pace and was soon among the trees herself. Looking down, she could see a steep and narrow path going slantwise down into the gorge between rocks, and Aslan descending it. He turned and looked at her with his happy eyes. Lucy clapped her hands and began to scramble down after him. From behind her she heard the voices of the others shouting, “Hi! Lucy! Look out, for goodness’ sake. You’re right on the edge of the gorge. Come back–” and then, a moment later Edmund’s voice saying, “No, she’s right. There is a way down.”

Published in: on November 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm  Comments Off on Remembering C. S. Lewis – Prince Caspian  
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Fantasy Friday – Prince Caspian


Well, I finally saw it—Prince Caspian, the movie based on C.S. Lewis’s second book in the Narnia series. By now, I’m guessing most of my visitors have seen it as well, and some of you, twice.

I purposefully stayed away from most reviews because I wanted to see the movie without a host of expectations, but it’s hard to flit around the blogosphere and not pick up on the tenor of the discussion. From what I’ve seen, there is hardly agreement.

Some reviewers were nearly irate over how the movie ruined the story. Others thought this movie was a huge improvement over The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Some accused the film makers of purposefully filtering out the Christian symbolism.

Here’s a sample, this from Sebring Cinema and Sports:

Where Adamson falls short is in his development of the characters and Lewis’s emphasis on innoncence and faith as the elements that propel the children’s relationship to Aslan and the magic of Narnia. He fumbles with it, and he loses us a bit when he raises the question of why Aslan does not save Narnia the same way he did before. It is, primarily, the erosion of innocent, childlike faith that begins to separate the older children from the younger – the pure faith by which we follow God when he calls whether or not anyone else does. It is a lesson we all need to learn or to be reminded of, and one that Adamson serves up halfheartedly.

On the other hand, Andrew Adamson himself says in an interview with Indielondon:

Andrew Adamson: I think CS Lewis would have hated the term allegory. He never intended the book to be allegorical. Certainly, he wrote from his own beliefs and he was a Christian. But he never intended it to be a direct allegory. And I didn’t steer clear of anything [any religious allegory]. I think everything that’s in the book thematically is in the movie. I just think it’s up to people to interpret it however they want – and that’ll be differently for people in different countries, from different cultures and different generations. You know, I read the book when I was eight-years-old and I didn’t know what allegory meant. I just thought it was a great adventure. Obviously, I look at it now and I get much more of the mythology and the other things that are going on and, as a filmmaker, you want to tap into all of those. But I think the movies are really reflective of what the books are.

(emphasis mine)

And in the same interview, he said, after re-reading the book once the movie was made:

I felt like I was reading the same story, just told differently …

My take? I loved the movie. It was the same story and different, by the very fact that it was a movie, not a book.

There were some changes, but certainly not as many as The Lord of the Rings movies made. There were some hints at key themes rather than full development. So be it. I was more pleasantly surprised that the themes were there at all. The bit I’d read ahead of time implied the movie was stripped of these thematic elements.

Cinematically, it was excellent—well-acted, great scenery, fast-paced, entertaining, up-lifting, without holes in the plot, funny, touching, special effects were special and not distracting, believable battle scenes, and on and on. It was really, really well done.

Most of all, however, I came away wanting to re-read the book. Now that’s probably the best part of seeing a movie, don’t you think? 😉

Fantasy Friday – Thoughts on Lewis


In one email group this week, someone posted a link to an article entitled “Awakening Narnia with Bacchanalian Feasts.” I don’t want to post the link because, quite frankly I’m not interested in driving traffic to that site. If you want to read it, of course you can simply by Googling it.

The gist of the article is captured in this quote: “Many [readers captivated by Lewis’s storytelling] forget that magic, divination and astrology — both real and imagined — clash with God’s Word.”

Unfortunately, this article was not posted on a blog, allowing for comment. I was able to find an email address, however, and this was my reaction:

Hi, [author’s name]

I read your article about Prince Caspian. I applaud your desire to read with discernment. Our culture, including the church, seems to be moving away from analytical thinking.

Unfortunately, I think your knowledge of Greek myths and undue literalism may be coloring your judgment.

Fantasy literature is very different from the realism of literary or other genre fiction. The fantasy world is one of the author’s imagination. Therefore, if Mr. Lewis wants the Creator-Lion’s power to be called magic, it does not mean he is ascribing to a belief in the “magic”—demonic power—of this world. When he brings in Bacchus as a character, there is no reason to assume Lewis was putting a stamp of approval on debauchery and madness. Rather, his implication is the redemption of the world.

In Surprised by Joy, Mr. Lewis’s non-fiction work recounting his coming to faith, he states plainly the tipping point was when he realized that the Christian story is actually the True myth. In his thinking, knowing that Christ did die on the cross and did rise from the dead, redeemed all myth, for he found in those pagan stories the echo of truth, the yearning after that which they did not know.

Of course, I have no way of knowing at this point how the movie will portray Mr. Lewis’s story, but the Narnia books, in my opinion, do a remarkable job shining light on Christ—the Creator-King, the Lion of Judah, the suffering Savior, the all powerful Friend, and so much more.

This, in my view, is the best kind of fantasy. The parts of the made up world are not to be understood literally or even allegorically. Rather, the stories are more reminiscent of parables. Even Jesus used an unjust judge in one of his stories to teach something about God.

Perhaps if you could set aside what you know about Bacchus or magic or witches, and read the story that Mr. Lewis wrote instead, you might see why so many Christians celebrate his fiction and desire to write like him.

No surprise, I haven’t heard back from the author. I suspect my line about the stories coming from his imagination didn’t win any points. She has a link (which I didn’t read) to an article (or articles?) about imagination. It’s associated with the reader’s imagination, so I didn’t think at the time it was relevant, but then, I don’t think I fully grasp the point from which arguments against fantasy come.

Fantasy Here, Fantasy There, Fantasy Everywhere


My head is full of fantasy. Just last Monday Sharon Hinck had a live chat with members of the ACFW Book Club discussing the April feature, Restorer’s Son, the second book in Sharon’s Sword of Lyric series. Great stuff. I was heartened to see so many readers, not normally fantasy lovers, who raved about the book. And I do mean raved.

On top of this, as you know, we’ve been collecting nominations for the Clive Staples Award. It’s been lots of fun to see what books readers are putting forward as worthy of recognition.

Yesterday I visited the web site of the Mythopoeic Society, a fantasy organization tilting toward the literary and scholarly, inspired by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. I discovered this organization also gives out awards—has for almost forty years.

Well, on Monday I also posted over at Spec Faith, and in the midst of writing the article got the idea for a “Commenters’ Choice” award for the best Christian speculative web or blog site. I’m still not sure if we should lump the two together and have one award or separate and have two separate awards. Still, the idea was exciting.

Then we’re nearly ready to put out the next issue of Latest In Spec, so the news authors are listing is always interesting to me.

Let’s see. One example, Bryan Davis‘s next series, the one published by Zondervan, has launched this week with the first book, Beyond the Reflection’s Edge. This sounds like an intriguing series.

Besides the contests and news, there’s this little movie coming out very soon, launching here in the L.A. area, I think, May 18. I’m referring to Prince Caspian. You can read an interesting blog post regarding the movie over at Fiction Mirrors Truth (love the name of that blog).

So there you have it. That should get your brain thinking about fantasy, too. One more recommendation: pick up a good fantasy to read when you want to relax. You just might find yourself transported to another world where you’ll stay until the last word on the last page. Ah, that’s the fantasy experience! 😀