What lessons have I learned from fantasy stories? To some, fantasy is just fantasy, but to those of us who know better, fantasy is a way of showing real life lessons through an entertaining setting and in an easy-to-understand way. You escape your world, and yet at the same time you learn how to deal with it when you return to reality. Here are the lessons I’ve found in some of my favorite fantasy tales:
The Fellowship of the Ring: This was the movie (and later the book series) that got me into fantasy. It showed me what fantasy was, and how, even though fictional, it could relate to me and my situation in life. This in turn inspired me to begin reading other books in the genre, and inspired me to write my own fantasy series (Strayborn, GT). I learned that fantasy can be a valuable tool in portraying life lessons.
The Lord of the Rings: It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant you may think you are, because you have the power to make a difference. Nothing shows this more than Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, and their journey to put an end to the greatest evil and save all of Middle Earth. I tend to think of myself as somebody who could never make a difference, but every time that thought raises its ugly head, I have to think of these characters—these nobodies who rose up and made a difference.
The Hobbit: The mind is a valuable weapon. Bilbo didn’t have strength, or know how to use a sword well, but he did have a clever mind that could solve riddles and find ways out of bad situations. We can’t always count on strength. At times we need to use our wits, instead.
Avatar: Nothing showed me how to combine two huge genres—Science Fiction and Fantasy—into one, like this movie did! The high tech, the beauty of another planet, a tribe of humanoids like something from a fairy tale, and a whole world system so very different from ours. I tend to combine Sci-fi and Fantasy a lot in my writing, so this movie was inspiring to watch. If you plan on writing a story that crosses genres, consider what other books/movies out there have done the same thing, and learn a few things from them.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Eustace’s story is one of my favorite from the Chronicles of Narnia (alongside that of Edward’s, of course). Eustace was a downright brat in the beginning, and I knew from his character that it would take drastic measures to change him for the better—and boy, did it! I won’t go into detail, in case some of you haven’t read the book yet. 😉 But Eustace’s character growth showed me that even the worst of people can change, if they genuinely repent of their wrong-doings. It may take something drastic for that to happen, but it can happen. It’s a theme I use in many stories now.
The Voyage of the Basset: Islands in the Sky (by Tanith Lee): The main character Hope in this gem of a book is a great example of forgiveness and endurance. She had to put up with being a servant to the cruelest people, and getting bullied by the rich son, until a magical ship, The Basset, arrives and her fantasy journey begins. It’s one of those stories that stays with you. The character’s forgiving heart towards those who’d been cruel to her is a lesson to remember.
The Lost Years, Merlin (by T.A. Barron): Finding one’s identity, and surviving the turmoil that is called “growing up.” There are so many lessons in this series. It’s a very different take on the Merlin story, one of the most unique that I’ve come across. And while I don’t agree with the world-building “beliefs” in the series, watching Merlin grow as a young boy in an enchanted island was truly a special one. He learns failure and success, the importance of keeping your responsibilities (and what can happen when you don’t), and a change of attitude, to become the hero he is destined to be. Growing up is tough, and it’s during those years of turmoil that we learn the lessons that will build and make us into who we will become.
Redwall (by Brian Jacques): Anyone can be a hero. All it takes is a strong will and a spirit of endurance. Various characters in this series are called upon to be the hero, and it isn’t strength that defines them: It’s their unshakable spirit.
Stories teach us who we are, and who we can become if we put our minds to it. Fantasy is one of those special genres that is filled with such teachings, and is why it has become one of my favorite.
1. Link back to Jenelle’s blog
2. Use the image above
3. Tell us 5-10 lessons you’ve learned from reading a fantasy book (or watching a fantasy movie) – lessons can come from multiple sources, as well, of course
4. Tag 2-4 other bloggers to keep the game going
If you are reading this, then consider yourself TAGGED! 🙂 What lessons have you learned from fantasy stories, and how have they impacted you?
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