Friday, February 26, 2010

Fantasy, Part Two

So, if you read the title of this post you obviously saw the Part Two thing.  Well, I never actually did a Part One.  But looking back at my previous post about dragons I decided that there are so many other things about fantasy
than just dragons.  So here's Part Two of, most likely, many parts.

FANTASY, Part Two, Elves

So, as we all know there are about six main races in fantasy with variations here and unique races there, so I'll focus on the main five.

  • Men
  • Elves
  • Dwarves
  • Orcs/Goblins
  • Dragons
  • Wizards and other magical beings
I hope to cover each of these races as well as others in this series.  But this post I'll focus on elves.

So, what makes an elf?  Why are elves different than say, a human?  I mean they're both kind tall, usually slim and well built right?  Is the pointed ear thing such a huge thing that separates them?  No, there's so much more.
Just a side note, for most of these races I will be basing off of Tolkiens versions as well as a few others.  In most fantasy books and/or movies elves are portrayed as immortal beings.  I want to go with that a bit.  I can't explain why they're immortal except by saying that in Lord of the Rings and other works by Tolkien, elves were immortal mainly because they were the first-born of Ilúvatar (also known as Eru), but that's a completely different post.  So, on the basis that Tolkien is, in a way, the father of modern fantasy, and his elves being immortal, elves in almost every other fantasy novel are immortal as well.  I'm not well versed in ancient elven lore, as in, before Tolkien, which is my fault, I should probably do some research in that area.  But besides explanations before Tolkien, best I can explain is what I said above.  
So, being they are immortal, and keeping in mind that most modern fantasy is descended from the ideas that Tolkien put in his work, there's the question of why elves are always so moody?  That sounds funny, but I'm being serious.  Often in books elves are very happy in one moment, singing and being merry, then the next, very solemn and, often times, mad.  The reason I've come to by my own research and thinking is that they have more to bear.  I think of it this way.  We don't get to see very many young elves, most ones we see are at least over five hundred years old, some as old as three-five thousand!  So, think about us.  When we're young, in our teens and even up till around sixty, we are very merry and happy, and don't have very many, truly solemn moments we see in the elves.  We never get to experience all the weight they have on their shoulders at such old ages.  But we get a glimpse of it.
For example, and don't take this the wrong way, I have nothing against the elderly, in fact I hold them very dear, but when a person starts to get to a certain point in their life they start to become more, not sure what the word is here-weary-, but not in the way that they are just tired from lack of rest, but truly weary, as in, they've run the race, and now their ready to go.
That's how I see it.  And that's why they are so solemn all the time.  They're tired and have immense weight on their shoulders.  But they don't get an end like we do, they continue to go on (and that's part of the reason why they left to go across the sea, in LotR at least).  So, that covers the main attributes of elves.  I know that this probably isn't the most accurate information, and please correct me if you see something wrong.
Look out for the next post on Dwarves!

The Narrowing Road claim no copyright to any of the pictures used in this post nor does it's owner


Millardthemk said...

Looks good Steadfast. Good in-sight, still cooking it in me mind lol.

Barie said...

Just so you know, elves come from norse, english, and german mythology :)
Which, interestingly enough, one norse story included a patially elven king names Gandalf. lol

Chris said...

So, a series of posts on Fantasy Beings? Cool!

I like elves, but for my book I took the cliche and made it interesting in my own special way. For one thing, they aren't immortal, they just age slower. For another, I've only shown teenage elves, which gives me a lot of leeway to do things we haven't seen before.

I like Tolkien's elves, but I think I've them too often for them to be interesting.

I guess, like the elves, I'm a bit world weary. Dwarves on the other hand... dwarves are cool. I'll keep an eye out for that post. :D

Seth said...

Yes, I know that Barie. Like I said, I'm not well read in fantasy(including elven mythology) before Tolkien, that's why I said this stuff is not completely accurate, partially ;).

Seth said...

Yes, dwarves are awesome lol. It's impossible not to like dwarves methinks.
Actually, in my book I as well am not making elves immortal, they live to around five hundred or so years. Teenage elves? Dude, that sounds awesome.
Again, I agree that Tolkien elves are a bit overused, and not that he didn't do well with them, but at a certain point those kind of elves just start to get too predictable :shrugs:.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Neat post Seth. Very LOTR heavy ;)

If you need another source, check out the Sword of Shannara books. Their elves, gnomes, and dwarves were quite interesting :)

Seth said...

lol Yeah, but as many have said before, most elves after Tolkien's are based some way or another off his. Like I said, wasn't the most accurate post, but I did my best.

Swords of Shannara... I've looked into them, I just don't have the money right now.

Wayne Leeke said...

Good post!

Check the library for the Shannara books, as they are quite well written and contain all the major races. For books with wizards and such, look into the the Lost Years of Merlin books. Personal I enjoy stories with warlocks; not the evil kind though.

Seth said...

Hmmm, I'll look into those, although I'm afraid I don't have the time to read them(Man, it's just excuse after excuse lol), I just bought Red, White, and Black by Ted Dekker at a garage sale, plus I still haven't finished Isle of Fire by Wayne Thomas Batson.

Beorn said...

After Dwarves, you should do Wizards. I am highly interested in this race, but most Christians see them as evil. There are certainly iffy wizards in some books, and I'm not trying to say there aren't, but I don't think they always have to be bad in Christian audiences. Take Gandalf for example. He was an ordinary wizard, not really connected with Christianity in any way, except the allegory behind him. That's where it depends on the meaning behind the book more than the actual appearance of the book.

Seth said...

I'll definitely consider doing wizards/spiritual beings next. Actually, on a forum I participate in we were just having this conversation (about whether magic is OK for christians), I suggest you check it out...

Beorn said...

Very interesting! So far I have read up to the long HP post, and, I must say that my views about it have been changed.

Thanks for this link. This will help quite a bit in my own writings.

Seth said...

No problem, glad to help! I'm hoping to post my article on dwarves sometime tonight.

Beorn said...

Sweet! I'll try to visit before I hit the sack =)