Magic Swords, Mythic Creatures, and Mighty Warriors
Pike, Jonathan. “Magic Swords, Mythic Creatures, and Mighty Warriors”, Boston College, 2003. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/438.
Synthesizing elements of so many traditions, fantasy has grown into perhaps the most pervasive genre of literature in the western world. The archetypal adventures and themes that have been carried into fantasy through ancient legends and myths have survived over the ages because it was decided long ago those tales had great worth. It was the unpopular and poorly formed legends that died out, while the superior stories were carried from culture to culture under new guises. In this way, fantasy can be seen as the culmination of human legends, filtered throughout history so that only the great tales remain. On what greater pedestal could a form of literature be based? Fantasy has even continued the refinement process in the last fifty years, with active writers like Jordan and Goodkind incorporating elements from the greatest of previous fantasy authors like Tolkien, Howard, and Donaldson. Thus fantasy is continually improving upon itself and evolving in new ways through its modification of old themes. How long can critics refuse to recognize fantasy as a legitimate form? With such admirable authors writing today, it seems logical that the answer would be sooner rather than later. Might fantasy be vanquished by sneering critics and replaced with another form of fiction? Gandalf claims even the Wise cannot see all ends, and while in no way do I profess such wisdom, I find it difficult to believe that, as the successor of mythology, fantasy will ever fizzle and die. A force greater than all the magic swords and rings combined would be necessary to kill four thousand years of human imagination.