Friday, 29 January 2016

The Worm Turns

As my previous post indicated, I have started reading "The Worm Ouroboros" which is a fantasy novel of an older kind. A pre-Tolkien kind. In fact, he was inspired by much of this book for his own works.

But it isn't a book for everyone. I'm only four chapters in, but the story moves at a very lax place. Settling you gently into this rough yet beautiful Celtic landscape and setting with characters that are at both wondrous and terrifying. This is a fantasy that draws me in while keeping me at a distance.

In fact, I've been mostly interested in looking into pre-Tolkien fantasy recently. As much as I love Tolkien's stories, he started a trend that everyone else tightly grappled on to without carrying over any of his beautiful themes or fascinating characters. Much as I've been reading things like A Princess of Mars in regards to Science Fiction I've also been looking further back for Fantasy. Reading recent opinions on the Appendix N listing (a list of stories that inspired Dungeons & Dragons, which in turn pretty much took over the genre) has me interested in what is missing nowadays.

And reading The Worm Ouroboros really shows me there is something missing. I don't mean the archaic language (as it doesn't fit every story) or the lax pace, but the larger than life feeling of fantasy as larger than yourself and your world. A story that goes beyond. Larger than life characters that aim high, settings that seem somewhat possible but are not, and a sense of purpose and peace with this crazy magical world we might never understand but know that we will find our place in it.

It's an essence Tolkien and those that came before caught like lightning in a bottle but I don't see too often anymore. Of course I haven't read everything out there, but it is definitely not the standard of the genre anymore.

Still, this is the age of the indie book. The indie author. Anything goes these days. With the gatekeepers dying off, we could see almost anything now. And I'd like to hope we will.

As for me, well, I hope this is the year I can finally show my stuff. Will I be aiming as high as Eddison or Tolkien? Probably not. But that doesn't mean I don't have my own place out there with what I'm doing. Fantasy is more than archaic settings and dialogue. It's also a genre about superversive ideas and themes, a place for imagination and wonder, and a hope in eternity.

At least there, I hope I can aim high.


  1. Digging into the influences can be a really enlightening experience. I've mostly looked into John C. Wright's but even that was enough to show me how much of the past is laying around under the present.

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    I've found myself spending a lot more time reading older work these days just out of pure fascination. Much as I really enjoy Tolkien (I mean, a lot) it was reading chapter XII of "The Worm Ouroboros" that instantly brought to mind his work before he'd even written it. Makes me wonder what Eddison's influences were as well.

    Writers that intentionally divorce themselves from such a rich past hold no interest for me these days.