Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fantasy Novels: Prudence

You know like any nerd I enjoy fantasy novels. I also enjoy writing them. And because this is my blog there are some things I'd like to complain about. I have some scars left by fantasy novels that I have read that really betrayed me. Most of them were recommended by friends who clearly do not know my tastes as well as they think they do.

The hero of the story is meant to represent an ideal that the reader relates to or disagrees with. There is something that the reader sympathizes with or else they don't enjoy the book. What's even worse is when the reader sympathizes and relates to the character and then the character makes a change for the worse and the reader is lost.

There are a few times this has happened when I was reading a book and unfortunately I remember those books better than the stories I truly enjoyed.
One book starred a girl who wanted to become a knight. This was something I related to. I admire women who enter male dominated spaces like the games industry or medical field. (Since that's what I have been trying to do!) However, at one point when she starts puberty, she receives a charm that prevents pregnancy which is almost immediately abused. The character lost my admiration and I never finished the books.

Another had a character that was a Catholic priest in the middle ages and an elf. He was intelligent and fought to remain faithful to Catholic teachings...until book two when he finally gives into the wiles of a woman. (By that time he had actually left the priesthood.) I was doubly betrayed and even a bit hurt by this because I am Catholic myself. He was so good and tried so hard, I hated that female character so much for what she did. (And this is just a book for gosh sake!) She had turned him into something terrible. In the end, Saint Francis of Assisi comes along to save the day...sort of.

There was another time when the character was not ruined until I read the second book which was not about him. In this case, it was the author who betrayed me and ruined a good character by revealing his past and revealing that his love interest in the first book and future wife...was his cousin. Not to mention that his mother was a terrible character and I simply could not relate to any of the protagonists. I was totally rooting for the bad guy. (I really, really sympathized with him. Poor guy. His wife cheats on him AND he had to kill his horses.)

Clearly, I was NOT in the demographic these books were intended to please. I'm too prudent and too Catholic. I want my priests to remain celibate just like ALL the priests I know and all the Saints I have read about (Edit: Yeah I know most saints weren't perfect but usually they were more risque BEFORE conversion and afterwards they manage to resist temptation). I like my female knights to prove their prowess outside the bedroom. I like my characters not to marry their cousins please. Thanks.
And I really like to avoid sex in novels unless it's just implied and really not a gimmick or self-satisfaction for an author. (Actually, I don't mind it if the characters are married...I'll still skip those pages but as long as they tied the knot first it's cool.)

So in short, don't betray your characters, especially female characters. And if the character is one of those goody-goody prudes that goes bad...DON'T RECOMMEND IT TO ME!! (Yeah I didn't like Grease either. What's SO bad about being GOOD?)

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