When Kale mac Tadhg is betrayed by his lord’s men, he is sent on an impossible quest: to slay a witch in a tower, and end a people’s curse. Both Kale’s best friend Aaron Smithson and former betrothed Aoife of Westgate set out to rescue him, but their journey takes them into the uncharted waters and Nordic colonies, to a land cursed and all but forgotten as they begin to realize that there is some truth to old legends. Kale’s rescue comes at a price – for by the time Aaron and Aoife know where to search, like so many before him, Kale becomes bound to the ancient tower’s fate.
You know how the tale is supposed to go. The maiden is seized, captured by some foul villain. The hero gives chase, defeats the villain, and rescues her. The maid and hero wed and live happily ever after.
But suppose it doesn’t go like that. No doubt there have been countless stories of maidens taken by villains. Some are rescued, others are killed, and however tragic their stories, they are ended.
What if one of these maidens lingered in darkness, with puzzles unsolved, her dragons unslain?
She was stolen, like so many before her and many who came after. Was she a goddess, a nymph, or a common girl of great beauty? It matters little. He seized her and forced her into a dark tower, which even the gods could not destroy. Oh how they tried, sending their sons to battle him. All failed.
The wicked sorcerer enticed her, tried to trick and confuse her, but she would never submit. In rage, or perhaps when it seemed the tide was turning, and perhaps her true love finally came, the
sorcerer, rather than lose her, cursed her. He locked her in a prison, and she and the tower became one.
At last, the sorcerer was destroyed, but not sent forth to the land of the dead, or chance his evil would survive the grave.
Undying, he remained a fragmented wraith, a wicked creature, the villain in countless stories. Perhaps, that was why his defeat did not undo her curse, for she remained a prisoner in the dark spire.
Her would-be hero, defeated at the end, died of a broken heart. The lands around the tower grew dark, as if the world itself knew the tale was too sad. Surely, she was worth rescuing? Surely, there was another who could save her?
Imagine then, if you were she: your beauty, your curse, and your true love stolen from you. Imagine your father playing one suitor off another. All the while, the other women despise you.
Imagine being changed—much like how a god would turn a nymph into a cow, a goddess into the body of a mortal. Confined to a prison, and even if it were the finest castle in all the lands, heaven, earth, or the underworld, still a cage. All the while, you wait for a rescue which never comes. The spell will not allow you to die nor to grow old. You are stagnant in a world where stories of old become legends, and legends forgotten—dismissed as childish fancy.
No, child, surely you do not wish to know that story.
Maidens must be rescued, the good endure, and evil smote. Even though you know what is true or fair is not so in your life, you expect nothing else in your story. It is how the story is supposed to go. You
will accept nothing but a proper ending. Content yourself then with stories of long hair and spinning wheels.
L.T. Getty obtained her degree in English from the University of Winnipeg , and has studied creative writing both there and at the Canadian Mennonite University.. She is an open-water scuba diver, has studied kendo, and currently works as a paramedic.
Guest post (by the author)
5 Reasons to Write Fantasy
5) You’re in Great Company – Two stories written by a little someone called Homer, The Illiad and The Oddysey, have set the bar for many of our great stories – they were so influential in their time, there were rip-offs (you probably haven’t heard of but should consider reading The Aneid). Still not convinced? How about the one of the oldest known poems, The Epic of Gilgamesh? Tales of fantastic adventure and wonder are found in every culture – from The Voyages of Sinbad, the tradition of Wuxia, the poetry of Beowulf to traditional Native Canadian story telling of creatures such as The Windigo, fantasy has a history it should take pride in.
4) You’re Only Limited by Your Imagination – Don’t like the traditional J.R.R. Tolkien or the Robert E. Howard settings? Fine – we can set your fantasy in any era you like, including the future – in fact, fantasy and science-fiction usually get along swimmingly. Want something a little closer to home? Not to worry – Urban Fantasy is one of the hottest genres right now, placing mythic characters in today’s society, either in the world behind the curtains or wrecking havoc on the streets in plain sight.
3) It’s Not Just For Kids – While fantasy, especially fairy tales, are popular among children, adult-orientated fantasy has its popular market as. If you want brutal worlds, go for George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson, or Glen Cook. How about a little bit of classic Carribean Culture with Nalo Hopkinson? Want historical fiction – check out Guy Gavriel Kay, or try N.K. Jemisin.
2) Even Shakespeare Wrote Fantasy – I don’t know what else you’d call A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream or The Tempest (or the ghost of Hamlet and the witches of Macbeth, for that matter). Fantasy can cross-borders and by definition, will accept a variety of stories in the following forms: Slipstream, magic realism, – and often times, you can have fantastical elements that are explained away as all part of a character’s psyche.
1) It talks about something bigger then the plot – this is pure opinion, but while I think that while we can agree that science-fiction is for the most part about humanity’s struggle, I’d argue that fantasy is about our moral state. So even though your character might be battling huge odds and wondering if the world is as black and white as it seems while riding a magic shark-dog, it’s really about the character overcoming strife in a world where there are no easy answers.
Verdict’s out on what that shark-dog is about; I’d have to read it.
So there you have it – what are your reasons for writing fantasy?
The author will be awarding 2 $25 gift cards to Indigo Stores (a large chain of bookstores in Canada that also ship internationally). She will award to two random comments!