Friday, April 02, 2010

Elves in Fantasy

We imagine sylvan forests of beauty and gleaming cities of delicate architecture. Humans don’t live in these places. They are too beautiful and perfect for us. These glorious places are inhabited by an immortal race of magical beings that hold a fascination in our imaginations. Elves have been a part of our mythology and legends since ancient times. They have become a fixture in Fantasy to the point of redundancy. Their continued existence is assured by many Fantasy authors who find new ways to include them in stories.

Elves come in many shapes and sizes. Some are tall, beautiful creatures beyond description. These beings are warriors and builders of fantastic civilizations. They are aloof, sometimes amoral creatures with different motivations than humans. Some are small statured creatures. These tend to be tricksters or helpers to humans. The common threads among Elven-kind are that they are magical and immortal.

One Fantasy author that writes about elves is Mercedes Lackey. She has brought them into our modern day world in her book with Ellen Guon of Bedlam’s Bard. Elves interact with humans in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They provide the creative inspiration for humans. Two humans, Eric and Elizabeth, help one of the elves to keep another one from enslaving humanity. The authors give us interesting twists on the lives of elves like getting addicted to caffeine.

Another author that uses elves in her books is Rosemary Edghill. She brings them to our world and has a woman from here travel into his world. The Sword of Maiden’s Tears has an elf mugged in a city. A woman helps him to recover his stolen sword, combating monsters in the process. The other books, The Cup of Morning Shadows and The Clo ak of Night and Daggers, move the story into the elf’s world. Ms. Edghill is a very descriptive author and gives her story a strong sense of romance and adventure.

Elves take on more roles in the sub-genre of Epic Fantasy. J.R.R. Tolkien presented readers with a noble, immortal race of elegant beings. He created whole stories and a language for his elves. There are Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas and many other interesting characters in Lord of the Rings. Other authors used his creations to inspire their own elven inhabitants.

Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey have different elves in their collaborations of The Elvenbane and Elvenblood. In these books, humans are the slaves of the elves. Dragons help the humans by providing a rebel leader. Shana, a young half-elven, half-human girl, is raised secretly by dragons to fulfill a prophecy against the elves. These are entertaining books by two good Fantasy authors.

Tom Dietz uses the Celtic stories of the Sidhe in his David Sullivan books. His human characters keep dealing with the powerful elves of Samnildinach and other Sidhe through several books. It starts in Windmaster’s Bane. David Sullivan has the Sight and sees the elves on one of their marches. He eventually becomes a reluctant friend and ally to these beings.

Elves are part of many other Fantasy books. Terry Brooks has them in important roles in his Shannara series. Guy Gavriel Kay has the Lios Alfar in his Fionavar Tapestry. Katherine Kerr has an intere psting elven culture in many of her Deverry books. Tad Williams included an intriguing group of elves in his series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. The list can go on for a long time. For those that like short stories, there is the anthology Elf Fantastic too.

Readers are attracted to the magical and immortal elves. They haunt our imaginations with dreams of strange beings capable of wonderful creations. Fantasy authors bring bring these aloof, capricious creatures to life in powerful, entertaining stories. You will encounter them in many books and stories by the best authors in the genre. Enjoy them.

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