Okay, so fantasy hasn’t technically died. As far as I know, it is still alive and kicking and I’ve actually heard somewhere that there are more people writing fantasy than ever before. I can’t remember where I heard that little snippet but I recall hearing it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that great books like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia have been made into movies. Or perhaps it has something to do with that teenage wizard, Harry Potter.
The beginning of the love
I think my love of fantasy had the same start as many, many other people. Mine started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (bet you thought that I would say The Lord of the Rings). I think I first picked it up when I was in the second grade and finished it and slowly worked my way through the whole series (my favourite in the entire series was Prince Caspian and it always felt as though all of the other books picked up and picked up until Caspian and after that they all slowly tapered off). But being in a country which was subject to sanctions and on the other side of the world from where all of the interesting fantasy books were being brought out, it was difficult to find any similar books. Of course, the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit existed but I hadn’t heard of them by that time. But come the sixth grade and one of our comprehension tests in English made use of a small section from The Hobbit, where Bilbo was rushing to try and escape after having found the one ring. I remember reading the last sentence where he barely escapes and the buttons of his vest are ripped off by the closing door and wishing I could walk away from the test and find the rest of the book. Funny thing was that my Gran had had a copy of The Hobbit all along and when I told her about the section I read she disappeared and came back with The Hobbit. Which I then devoured and had to wait for my Great-Gran to give me The Lord of the Rings as a birthday present the next year. That copy of Lord of the Rings must have been the most ‘abused’ book I have ever owned. I have read that copy twelve times personally and lent it out to all of my friends who also wanted to read it. I think in total, that copy was read more than twenty times. I think I now have three copies of Lord of the Rings on my bookshelf and will not part with any of them. And it seemed as though after the Lord of the Rings, I discovered a whole treasure trove of fantasy. Although my favourite was Dragonlance. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that apartheid was over and the sanctions had been dropped but there seemed to be more fantasy than ever. I just couldn’t get enough.
The fall of fantasy (at least in my eyes)
And then came The Wheel of Time. The first three books were fantastic and I couldn’t put them down. And then it seems as though the publishing house realised that they had found a money maker and the Wheel of Time started to drag and frustrate and torture. I finished the first three books in less than a month (all of them combined) but for the fourth book it took me a year and a half. For me and my reading style, that is an eternity. It felt as though it became a bottomless pit which sucked all of the enjoyment out of reading and made it more of a chore than for enjoyment. I couldn’t take it and kept shifting between different books to try and keep myself entertained. But I forced myself through book four and book five and by the time I reached the end of each book I enjoyed the end so much I wanted to see what happened in the next book. But the first seven hundred pages are always a drag. I have realised that I can’t take it anymore. Call me a quitter but I have put down Book Six, The Lord of Chaos and that is where the Wheel of Time ends for me. I’ll read the synopses on Wikipedia for the rest. It feels as though it has become the Days of our Lives of the Fantasy world and I cannot take it. Unfortunately Robert Jordan was unable to get to the end of the series before he lost his battle with amyliodiosis (the spelling of which is probably horribly wrong) and for that it is a shame. It would have been nice for him to have been able to finish the series which he started. I found that I detested more characters than I enjoyed and that is a shame. I have officially put down The Wheel of Time and will not spend my hard earned money on another one of its books (may it rest in peace).
The redemption of fantasy
And then along came Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of The Wind. Admittedly, I haven’t finished it yet, but so far I have enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than the last two and a half books of Wheel of Time that I’ve read. And I ‘discovered’ Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar saga and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth. And I have Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy waiting for me once I have finished The Name of the Wind. I actually can’t wait for him to finish up the revisions to the sequel and send the next one through to be published. Really can’t wait.