The Rise Of Fantasy in the Modern Age Written By Daniel

Why Fantasy? What has made us as readers and watchers gravitate towards this vast field of literature and screen. From the streets of Chicago filled with gangsters, werewolves, vampires, fallen angels, and a wizard that is to stupid for his own good in the Harry Dresden Series, to the Harry Potter phenomenon, we as an audience are reading and watching this material in our millions.

Yes you could argue that fantasy has always been there in some form or another. In the shape of Lord of the Rings, Dune,  Alice in Wonderland and even further back Greek mythology, and stories told around camp fires to scare children giving rise to folklore, myths, and legends, but what has caused this surge in people wanting to explore the world of fantasy.

Don’t believe me?Just check the New York Times or Sunday Times bestseller lists, and I will guarantee you there will be at least two fantasy books in the top ten. Whether it be Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Cassandra Clare, and Jim Butcher just to name a few, the range of choice never seems to stop flowing, with new voices and ideas coming to the forefront all the time, challenging what we think we know about the world of so called fantasy. I mean you cant even stroll down a couple of channels on which ever platform your using, without seeing some kind of fantasy based drama.

Just to put in perspective the sheer scale of the popularity, Westworld a HBO series which premiered in October 2016, has recently being ranked as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever. Grossing an audience on average of twelve million across all of it’s platforms, with a second season already commissioned. This is just one program in a mountain of shows, movies, and books that are planned for release this year. From Game of Thrones, to Stephen Aryan’s new trilogy set in the same world as the Age of Darkness, to the new Logan movie you couldn’t ask for a better time to be a fantasy geek.

But what is causing this shift? Is  it that we wish to be taken back to our childhoods where we become  knights and fight in a deadly duel against the fire-breathing dragon. Because lets be honest, that is how most people that don’t read and watch fantasy view it. It is usually the first thing that comes out of their mouth, when you breach the topic. ” Or I am not reading or watching that, all it will be is a load of dragons burning the place down”. Yes and to be fair in some cases they may have a point, because to be frank there are way to many dragons, but you got to love them. However I am please to say the arena of fantasy is constantly changing. We have vampires falling in love with mortals, Greek demigods roaming the streets of New York City, and the devil running a night club in downtown Los Angeles. I mean what more could you possibly want.

It is no longer good enough just to have good vs evil in fantasy. Readers and watchers want something more. As a reader and watcher of both urban and epic fantasy. I know that I stay more engaged with characters and plot lines, that show a range of different emotions, and not characters that are purely one dimensional. Lets be honest which human or creature in the worlds or environments, that we have been exposed to in both literature and on screen in recent years, would of only shown one personality trait it is simply impossible.

Think of your favourite characters from both literature and on screen, would you really of loved them as much as you do if all they did was saved the girl or kill the heroes family. Of course you wouldn’t you love them because you contact with them on both an emotional and human level.  Take for example Severus Snape in Harry Potter. J.K Rowling had fans in furious debates on forums, blogs,workplaces, and classrooms over whether Snape was bad or good and in the end in my opinion he is neither. For me he is in a word human we all have flaws and demons that we must face, and it the choices that we make that define us.

Some of the most hatred villains in history have shown that they have internal struggles. Torn between wanting to do good, but to entangled within the evil to change. A perfect example being Darth Vader, as shown throughout Star Wars as he fights against his former self but evil is slowly consuming him. This is what draws me back to fantasy and SCI-FI more than any other genre. The complexity of the characters, because in one moment you go from hating someone to feeling sorry for them. This is what has bought on the rise changing our perceptions giving vampires humanity, making the devil care, but also making what we usually perceive as good, a darker side from angels to gods we are seeing them shown in a different light, keeping us as viewers and readers guessing who to trust.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a good crime thriller, romance, and murder mystery as much as the next person. But the reason why I think fantasy, has seen such a resurgence in recent years is because it allows us to escape from the mundane routines of our normal lives. It allows us to become a powerful wizard, fall in love with a mysterious stranger that glows in the sunlight, and feast like kings in castles with the undead.  It helps us look at places where we live in a different way, making us wonder is a vampire around the next corner, or is our next door neighbor a werewolf, but also lets us dream of far away galaxies and worlds that mirror our own. Its is a genre that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing.

That for me is why we have seen a rise of fantasy in the modern age. What do you guys think?

 

 

 

 

Review of Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu Written by Daniel

The Synoposis

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

My Review

Okay so here comes another epic fantasy. I know what your already thinking not another Game of Thrones rip off of dragons, swords, and wizards.  Well let me tell you if you think that, Twelve kings will challenge everything we hold dear within fantasy to a whole new level. From vivid fights scenes to the world in which it is set, the minute  you turn its first page you are transported to a world of multiple possibilities. From ruthless rebellions, to simply describing spices within the desert market you become fully engrossed in the magnitude of what Beaulieu has created.

Written from a number of different viewpoints which there are many, really enhances this book  giving the reader a chance to decide for themselves who they should trust and who they should be afraid of.

I know within Game of Thrones we have multiple viewpoints and surroundings, but this book takes them a step further diving deep into the dark spaces of each character’s mind. Whether that be Ceda’s thirst for revenge, or the complications of each king you always feel that you can’t predict what is coming next.

Our main protagonist  is a young girl called Ceda, who is bent on a path to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of the kings. Twelve powerful and sinister beings who rule  Sharakhai which Ceda calls home. We are given more information on each king their powers, what they can control, and how they came to gain their status as each chapter unfolds. This is what Ceda mother Ahya discovered secrets the kings want to keep buried.

The kings have ruled Sharakhai for centuries after making a deal with desert gods giving them full control over Sharakhai.  Enabling them over time to create a number of dynasties the most deadly of which being the blade maidens,  a group of fierce female warriors each one a daughter of the kings.

An extra lay to the plot which you rarely see within fantasy is a variety of flashbacks from Ceda’s past, giving the reader a vivid picture into how Ceda that is presented to us today was formed. They never seem out-of-place or interrupt the story helping broaden our understanding behind why Ceda is this strong-willed woman. Why she probably my favourite character in all of fantasy, is because she is that girl who goes into a bar walks straight up to the biggest and baddest guy in there smacks him straight in his face, smiles, and walks away. Beaulieu has been able to create such a strong female protagonist that male characters seem to pale in comparison. Now some might say this is a weakness within the plot, but for me it was just superb. I am so sick of reading fantasies where female characters are abused, disrespected, or have to be protected by a male. This was a refreshing change from the norm and quite simply I loved it Ceda is badass.

There are many threads to the story which help built it into a detailed and fast-moving plot, from the resistance of the moonless host a rogue group of outlaws who seek to challenge the kings, which as chapters develop begins to cause problems between Ceda and her best friend Emre who she has lived with since she was a young girl, for as the secrets between them grow their whole friendship is put at risk and could destroy them forever.

A further subplot which I loved was a set of poems left to Ceda by her mother giving clues to what secrets the kings had buried. These poems are beautifully written each one making you want to discover their meaning.

So in conclusion why should you read Twelve kings. Well if you want complex characters with well fleshed out histories, relationships that will make you question everything you thought you knew, and keep you reading till the early hours of the morning. However on the other hand a story with a dark streak running throughout. Then all I can say to you is buckle up because you are about to be taken on one hell of a ride.

Return to the desert on 7th February 2017 in book 2 With Blood Upon the Sand. To continue this epic tale and find out what happens to Ceda and the gang next.

Tell me what you like about Twelve kings? it could be anything from the world, Ceda fighting skills, or the kings themselves let me know in the comments thank you.