Wicked Wednesday with R.F. Long
I blame a lot of my love of fantasy on my childhood. Not in a bad way, you understand, but definitely, it happened in my childhood. Formative Saturdays spent watching B-movies and series such as Flash Gordon, Champion the Wonder Horse, Buck Rogers, Zorro and Robin Hood. The wonderland of adventure stories my Great-Uncle loved to read to me – Tales of Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, King Arthur and once again Robin Hood. And during the 80s a seminal fantasy adventure began on TV. It was Robin of Sherwood and once more featured the adventures of, you’ve guessed it, Robin Hood. Yes, I can admit it; I have a Robin Hood problem.
Adventure and romance form a central part of Fantasy Romance stories. In essence they all come from the same sources – mythology, folklore and the poems of the medieval troubadours.
These poems and tales formed something of a quiet revolution during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II, Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitiers. The courtly love of which Eleanor loved to hear made a new and modern assumption (in the late 1100s, an extremely radical one) – that a woman might have her own worth outside of family or dowry, that a woman was someone to be wooed and won for herself alone, and that a suitor might die for her love. The woman as lover started as an ideal, a fantasy creature herself, as elusive as the unicorn, but one that idea became entrenched in society, women started to expect to be treated this way, and men began to vie to show their worth. Chivalry was born. So too was romance.
The hero of a fantasy romance also stems from these disparate sources. The swashbuckling adventures of Robin, Zorro and the Musketeers, told of a world where men held honour, loyalty, their personal integrity and love, above everything else.
Like King Arthur’s Knights a fantasy hero might stumble and fail, but he will continue on, doggedly pursuing the goal of right over might, and his true love’s respect.
Because a lot of the struggles in these stories come down to the notion of respect – respect of self and others; respect for a partner, finding in them the strength needed to continue to the bitter end; respect for a leader, to find and follow a person or group deserving of respect; and respect of self, where the hero and heroine must ask themselves if they are in fact doing the right thing, no matter how difficult a question that might be.
While the stories which form the basis for modern fantasy romances might seem dated to us now, they carry fundamentally timeless themes at their core. The pursuit of love, honour, duty and respect continue to fascinate us. So too do those themes of redemption – that magical transformation that can sweep over a character who find the respect they thought lost through a series of trials and struggles. When that black moment takes the character, when they face themselves for what they are, or the thing they fear most – only one thing is going the help them rise above and succeed. We may portray these themes in different ways, wearing new faces in new worlds very different from our own, but the core remains the same.
Love – of self, of another, of one’s people, of one’s honour – eventually conquers all.
R.F. Long’s novel “The Scroll Thief: a Tale of Ithian” and her novella “The Wolf’s Sister: a Tale of the Holtlands” are both available from Samhain publishing (http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/r-f-long). Her second novel “Soul Fire” will be released from Samhain this summer.
Danielle’s Weird Question of the Day:
What is one thing you’re supposed to do daily that you haven’t?
- The laundry. I hate laundry!!!