A Personal View



So what's so special about fantasy?


Many people seem to regard fantasy as fun to read, perhaps a little light relief in these troubled times.  While accepting that there is some truth in this, I think it goes a little deeper than that.

For me, above all else, fantasy is highly imaginative, literally magical both to write and to read. To paraphrase Elton John, 'It's as if something unknown had come into your life.'   According to Neil Gaimon, all fiction is fantasy.  I would modify this slightly to say that all fiction that contains an element of magic is fantasy. Fantasy, in its own inimitable way, while not factual must read as if it is true.  To paraphrase GK Chesterton, fantasy is more than true not because it tells us that demons exist but because it tells us that demons can be defeated.

Fantasy demands a lot of imagination from both writer and reader.  Epic fantasy creates a whole imaginary world, with rules of its own, yet obeying fundamental "immutable" principles.   It is very popular with children and women in particular. With children at a certain age, when they are coming to terms with the world and reading fantasy of the epic sort, it appears to involve a peculiar if interesting rites of passage.

Having written in several different fiction categories, and widely in non-fiction, I wonder if the intellectual interest of writing fantasy derives from two things: the breadth of creativity needed to create an entirely novel world, with all of its governments, rules, wars, different peoples, with their histories, and the creative freedom that comes from putting believable characters into such a challenging setting.

As a final thought, I have long believed that a book, and most particularly a work of fiction, involves a kind of creative compact between the writer and the reader. The creativity doesn't just stop with the writer.  The reader applies his or her own creativity in interpreting what, after all, are merely words on the page.  That's why films are often disappointing when one has already read the book - the film-maker must apply his or her own creativity to interpret the book, and this may be quite different from that of the reader's.   I read, at the front of a recent novel by Neil Gaiman, the dedication, "I wrote this just for you" - and I think he hit the nail on the head. It is true in the case of every writer who ever lived.  And it is true of all four books in my fantasy series, "The Three Powers".


Now as to the Series Itself . . .

As visitors will know by now, the first three books, The Snowmelt River, The Tower of Bones and The Sword of Feimhin have all been published, with something like 130 ratings and reviews on Goodreads alone. I strongly recommend that folks read them in the right order, since, although each book has its own storylines, the deeper theme would be incomprehensible without doing so. I'm delighted to say that Book 4, The Return of the Arinn, is nearing completion and, hopefully, will be published in November 2015. So not too long to wait. I shall post further news on this and other tid bits over the coming months.


Frank P Ryan

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P.S. Do take a peep at a letter from J.R.R. Tolkein to a reader.