Friday, May 24, 2013

_Strategies of Fantasy_ by Brian Attebery

People that study the Fantasy genre can’t agree on a definition of what Fantasy is. Occasionally a nonfiction book comes out from a scholar that tries to explain Fantasy and give it a legitimacy as literature. These books can be interesting to the Fantasy reader in gaining a better insight into the purposes of the genre and intentions of the authors. Strategies of Fantasy by Brian Attebery is such a book. It traces the literary importance of Fantasy as an important, viable literature.

Brian Attebery is a scholar who studies and writes about the Fantasy genre. He presents his ideas about the genre in clear, straight forward words. His expertise spans several books and he is part of the conference for t¯he International conference on the Fantastic in the Arts every year. Several aspects of Fantasy are explained in this book: a definition of Fantasy, its relationship to literature, and the contributions of women to the genre.

Defining Fantasy literature with a set meaning has been debated for a long time. Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a Fantasy work. In his book, Brian Attebery provides a viable and sensible one. He believes that Fantasy is a fuzzy set that revolves around core books and expands out to books on the fringe. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is an example of a core book. People’s conception of High Fantasy springs from this book. He thinks other core books are at the center of several sub-genres with a few books that defy definitions. Once Mr. Attebery established this definition, he moves on to explain the relationship of Fantasy to literature.

The author uses several literary theories to compare Fantasy books against. Through an exhaustive use of examples, he demonstrates that Fantasy is a part of literature. Readers gain insights into the importance of the genre and how it fulfills its purpose by story and character. He covers several books that are classics in the genre like John Crowley’s Little, Big. Mr. Attebery thinks the power of story and characters give Fantasy a legitimacy for consideration.

Lastly, the contributions of women authors to Fantasy have increased the genre’s strength. Mr. Attebery thinks women have helped the genre by addng their unique points of view. He tells how women authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Andre Norton and many others have created female heroines of strength and intelligence to the genre. They have brought us the women’s coming-of-age story to our attention. Women add different stories than the standard male hero.

Strategies of Fantasy by Brian Attebery is a fascinating book about the Fantasy genre. He develops many interesting ideas like a definition of Fantasy, the genre’s relationship to literature and the contributions of women authors in the book. Readers will get valuable insights about Fantasy from reading this book. If you come across this book, be sure to read it.

Book Review: _Owlknight_ by Mercedes Lackey

How does a reader of Fantasy feel when the last book of a series comes out? Satisfied? Relieved? Joyous? These are the feelings readers will get with Owlknight by Mercedes Lackey, the final book of a trilogy set in the Fantasy world of Valdemar. The book is an entertaining conclusion because of its likable characters, adventurous plot and strong themes.

The likable characters continue to mature in the final book. Darian undergoes various ceremonies to take his place as the respected leader of his Vale. He is troubled by memories of his missing parents and weird dreams. This drives him to find closure before taking his place as a leader. Keisha is confused by her love for Darian and fears rejection by him. She must work through this problem with the help of her friends. Both of them are assisted by various friends like the Hawkbrothers and Kelvren the griffin. All of the characters come together by Ms. Lackey’s strong talent to write believable characters that are lifelike.

An adventurous plot keeps the reader hooked on the book. Darian keeps having strange dreams and visits from totemic spirits while doing ceremonies for his leadership. He is driven to find any trace of his parents many years after their disappearance. The discovery of a vital clue sends him along with a group of allies on a long journey to find a northern tribe that might have information about Darian’s parents. Along the way they encounter many dangerous problems like large predators and vicious raiders. Plots are important to books so they make sense. Ms. Lackey puts her plot threads together seamlessly for a story that flows well from beginning to end.

Lastly, strong themes in a book leaves readers with something to think about when finished with the book. This book has memorab ple strong themes. Most people have a need for closure before moving on with their lives, which is the main theme of this book. Darian needs to know what happened to his parents before assuming the role of leader in his community. Another theme is love and how it gives strength to people in adversity. Keisha finds this through the support she gets from Darian, her sister and her friends. The author includes these themes in her book in a subtle way that helps keep the reader engrossed in the story.

Owlknight by Mercedes Lackey is the final book of a trilogy. The likable characters, adventurous plot and strong themes provide this book an entertaining end to another story set in the fantasy world of Valdemar. Readers will find a satisfying conclusion for the time invested in reading the book. Mercedes Lackey adds another good book to her large series of Valdemar.