Familiar Path


Dear J-

The typical fantasy storyline goes something like this: young person discovers they’re a once-in-a-millenium class talent (whether for sorcery or swords), but is unable to convince themselves of that fact without some kind of agonizing sacrifice, quest, or divine intervention (and if there’s one thing fantasy plots get consistently it’s the polytheistic. World these people live in). Ultimately, though, good trimphs over evil through the course of flexing thoe powers, the unkillable evil is rooted out and destroyed, and our protagonist settles in for a long, happy life with the one character that, as in romances, seems completely wrong and arrogant (feelings which actually hide the depth of their regard; thanks, Pride and Prejudice).

Worse yet is when the hero serves as author wish fulfillment, a Mary Sue. Everything about the charcter is just as the author, only more ideal. They’re a little handsomer or prettier, wittier by far, a dynamic, sparkling personality that no one can help but be attracted to without envy. I suppose you could make a case for those authors as control freaks: not only are they putting words into every character’s mouths, they’re also taking the opportunity o rewrite their reality into something more ideal. Really, there’s nothing wrong with that aside from the sneaking suspicion that I get sometimes that I’ve already read this stuff. I do tend to read in patterns and perhaps I’ve gotten too jaded as a result.

I’ve been reading the Path series by Dianna Pharaoh Francis and it’s reading a bit too close to the standard template for me to enjoy fully — granted it is well-executed and moves along in a snappy manner but the truth is I don’t know if that’s something I can spend reading time on when there’s so many other stories, classic and novel, out there elsewhere. It’s one reason I stopped reading Jean Auel: the character of Ayla was fast becoming a Stone Age superhero, able to leap credulity and the reality of her situation in a single bound. Here in the current series the heroine, Reisil has had deity-granted powers that make her unbelievably powerful yet immature enough to refuse them on first contact. On the whole, though, the effect is familiar rather than annoying and so I continue to read.



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