Crows and Ravens in Fantasy

Dragons are strongly associated with fantasy fiction, so much so that they have become a symbol for the genre. Given that these imaginary beasts only inhabit the realms of fantasy, fairy tale and legend, and thrill many a reader, this makes sense. However, I’d argue the humble crow or raven pops up in fantasy books and films just as often, even if it is sometimes in a more symbolic or background role.

Since I love crows, and recently changed the look of my blog to feature a crow rather prominently, I thought this might be a good excuse to take a closer look at these sometimes under-appreciated birds and their prevalence in speculative fiction. Continue reading

When Evil Characters Switch Sides

I like a plain old dastardly villain I can hate, but a seemingly evil character who gradually discovers their soft, gooey core, and crosses over to join the good guys? No matter how many times I see it, if it’s done well it still gives me the warm and fuzzies.

I was thinking of this because I’ve recently been reading the Throne of Glass series, which is full of villains that change their colours and show their softer sides, as well as morally questionable heroes and heroines in general. I’ve also finished the Red Rising trilogy, which has so many characters crossing back and forth it’s hard to tell who’ll be left standing on the “good” side in the end. Clearly, it’s something many readers, myself included, enjoy.

So what is it that’s so compelling about this ‘crossing over’ from evil to good? Here is my attempt at breaking it down: Continue reading

Accepting the Existence of Magic

If you’re a paranormal fantasy reader you might find this scenario familiar:

The main character, Mary Sue, has finally cottoned on to the fact that things around her aren’t quite what they seem. In fact, things are getting downright weird. The various laws that govern time and space and normality in her world are breaking to pieces around her. In short, she’s encountering the supernatural… either that or she’s just mad. This is a fantasy novel, however, so you can be 99% sure it’s not madness.

The trouble is, Mary Sue continues to insist that she is mad. Continue reading

Talking Trees… and Other Sentient Vegetation

I have a friend who cannot stand talking trees in fiction.

Talking animals are fine, and she’s happy to accept a whole range of other incongruous fantasy logic (for example, werewolves that turn back into humans and still have their clothes on). But trees that talk, or walk, or are in any way sentient? She finds them stupid. And a bit creepy.  Continue reading