If you read a bunch of fantasy literature back-t0-back your mind gets so filled with exotic names and imaginary places that eventually you don’t know where you are or what’s real anymore. That’s good fantasy literature, the kind of fantasy that sucks you into the writer’s world and makes you believe. It’s one thing to make a believable character in fiction, but when you write fantasy you also have to create a convincing setting. So far my bar is set by George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. I measure success by how quickly I’m immersed in the world and caring about what happens. In Martin’s books it happens within a few pages. Until I’d read Game of Thrones my fantasy standard was Tolkein, but I absolutely love the real world Martin creates, with its immense cast of characters. It’s so realistic, which is funny when you remember that it’s fantasy and involves magic and dragons and whatnot. But Martin’s books also involve realpolitik, and characters with a myriad of motivations that include religion, money, ego, love, hatred, revenge, family honour, friendship…the list goes on. Not just “I want to make everything shitty and dominate over it” like Voldemort and Sauron. I have already posted about this before, so let’s move on before I start ranting about bad-guy motivation.
I recently picked up The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, and in the spirit of embracing fantasy literature I took it home and read it. Number of pages to total absorption: 3. Nutshell? Heir to the throne has been raised in secrecy, and when she reaches her age of majority she is collected by an armed guard and escorted to her kingdom. Mayhem along the way. Heir arrives at her citadel and immediately starts stirring things up by kiboshing a human lottery tribute to a dominant neighbour nation. Shades of Danaerys! The setting is a post-technological world, so no modern medicine or science, just a bit of magic as per fantasy lit protocol. Johansen has created a wonderful main character, with strengths and foibles like anyone else, but also endowed her with special powers and a strong sense of justice…fun fun fun. The down side is that this looks to be a series and this is the first, just published, which means I’m going to have to wait to see What Happens. That’s annoying, because I love to rip through a long series. I came to Game of Thrones late and it was an endless hot bath of fantasy lit joy for me as I immersed myself in book after book of Martin’s world.
I also picked up Rogues, which is a compilation of short stories edited by – George R. R. Martin! This guy knows his fantasy literature, although why he’s spending time editing these compilations rather than finishing Game of Thrones I don’t know!!! Anyway, I still have to thank Martin because he’s introduced me to some new fantasy writers, with whose worlds I have been bewildering myself lately.
A standout in this regard is Joe Abercrombie, whose book Half a King, although it took a few more pages to grab me than Johansen’s book, is still very absorbing. Again, a flawed hero, heir to the throne, but physically handicapped and with no magical abilities at all. Poor dude, but his story promises to be a real bildungsroman as he goes through much tribulation and gains wisdom, strength, and character along the way. I assume this character growth will continue. Of course, the sequels will not be released until February 2015 and July 2015 so we’ll have to wait to find out. However, Abercrombie has another trilogy out and I’ll bide my time with that. On my list also are Matthew Hughes and Phyllis Eisenstein, whose short stories stood out of the Rogues compilation. Can’t wait!
Wow, you read all the way through that? You get a cookie (recipe):
Banana Breakfast Cookies
Oven: 375F. Cookie sheets lined with Silpats or parchment paper.
Very large bowl, dry ingredients:
- 2 1/2 c. quick oats
- 1 c. wheat germ
- 1 c. wheat bran
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1 t. baking soda (sift or at least break up any knobs)
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
Medium bowl, wet ingredients:
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. white sugar
- 1/2 c. oil
- 1/2 c. yogurt or buttermilk
- 1 t. vanilla
Add wet to dry, mix well. Add:
- 1 c. chocolate chips
- 3/4 c. raisins
- 3/4 c. chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans all good)
Use two tablespoons to shape cookies (on half-sheet pan I fit 12). Bake 10 minutes, swap and turn pans and bake another 10. This timing is for largish cookies of which this recipe makes four dozen. If your oven/pans are smaller you’ll be at this a while. I freeze the majority of these and restock the cookie jar for a week, easy. That is, unless Justin comes home after hockey and scarfs down half a jar while the rest of us are sleeping. (Yeah, bear, I know it was you!)
These are good cookies to grab for a quick breakfast or an after school snack. Energy, fibre, nutrients, chocolate. Done!