Posts Tagged: Mythology

Lou AndersCrown Books is described by Publishers Weekly as having a ‘somewhat checkered history,’ but recently hired Phoebe Yeh hopes to establish its presence as a Young Adult imprint. The first round of acquired books has been announced, and among them is a name that should be well known to Science Fiction and Fantasy fans: Lou Anders.

Anders is best known as the Hugo Award-winning editorial director of Pyr Books, an imprint of Prometheus Books known for beautiful covers, and publishing some of the industries most exciting young authors. Anders has also won acclaim as a short fiction editor, having worked on a few high profile anthologies, such as Swords & Dark Magic and With Great Power.

Frostborn, the first volume in a Norse-inspired young adult fantsy series called Thrones and Bones, is described as ” involving a dead Viking sea captain, wyverns, and a 1,200-year-old dragon.” Anders further describes the plot of the novel as being about, “[a] brave frost giant’s daughter who befriends a cunning boy in a land inspired by Norse folklore as they become embroiled against warriors, wyverns, and the past.” It is Anders’ first novel.

Yeh discusses Anders’ novel and his jump from adult fiction (he’s written and published adult short fiction) to young adult:

Due in August 2014, the novel, Yeh explained, “is a very commercial fantasy adventure. The author is a terrific author and editor of adult science fiction, but hasn’t written for children before. He brings a brand new voice to children’s literature.”

Frostborn is due for release in North America on August 2014 and will be followed by two books, Frostforged and an unnamed sequel.

Mahabharata: A Dangerous Game by Max Gladstone

Art by Nisachar

Mahabharata: A Dangerous Game

My enthusiasm and love for these characters and this story will serve for the purpose at hand: encouraging you, dear reader, to immerse yourself in the Mahabharata.

The last two iterations of this column have played it safe. I’ve read Journey to the West in two languages and studied it from a variety of angles, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, too though to a lesser extent. I could continue in this vein—the next logical essay would be on Outlaws of the Marsh / The Water Margin, China’s great Robin Hood novel and one of Mao Zedong’s favorite books, followed probably by Dream of the Red Chamber for more domestic source material. (Or Jin Ping Mei, if we want to get the sexy-fun-times element in play…)

But while all these stories are great, I’m not as passionate about them as I am about the story I want to discuss now. The problem is, I’m nowhere near as cut out to write this essay as I was the first two—I don’t know the source language, Sanskrit, and I haven’t spent as much time studying the work’s cultural context. (I’m not ignorant, I just don’t have a four year degree, six years of language study, and three years in-country.) There’s also much more chance I’ll do inadvertent harm writing this essay, since the text I’m about to discuss is a live, and lived, religious document in addition to one of the greatest adventure stories, romances, war stories, and apocalyptic tales of all time.

That said, maybe my enthusiasm and love for these characters and this story will serve for the purpose at hand: encouraging you, dear reader, to immerse yourself in the Mahabharata. And I hope that will be worth whatever unintentional harm I do. Read More »

Romance of the Three Kingdoms, article by Max Gladstone

Art by Evan Lee

The great old stories break and bend rules modern audiences take for granted. For example: Journey to the West, which I talked about last month, is a story of high-flying magic, transformation, kung fu, divine war, and so on—that, for all its epic scope, reads more like Sword and Sorcery.

That is, to borrow Liz Bourke’s definition of S&S: Journey to the West is a story of encounter, in which central characters going about their daily business keep running into strange, fascinating, terrifying things—and befriending them, or beating them about the head and shoulders, or both.

By contrast, let’s talk about one of the best war-and-intrigue novels of all time, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. At first glance, Three Kingdoms seems an epic fantasy, in that it describes the fall of a massive empire through the lens of central characters with dynastic ambition. But, though set in a time of miracles, Three Kingdoms relies on the traditional Sword & Sorcery mix of cleverness, combat, and betrayal rather than prophecy or magic. Read More »

A Journey From the West by Max Gladstone

Fantasy should be the broadest genre in existence. Fantasy writers get to create and transform to our hearts’ content. Not even the laws of thermodynamics bind us. Our imaginations are our only limits.

The problem is, the imagination’s limits are often harder than physical law. Writers are formed by experience, and interpret that experience into story using instincts developed reading, and hearing, stories, from early childhood. So, when a lot of Western folks turn to writing fantasy, Arthurian and Greek and Norse myths are the seeds they use to people and structure their imaginative worlds.

Which is fine! Each generation needs to remake the myths received from the previous generation. But sometimes writers and readers feel the limits of their traditions, and wonder, what else is out there, other than kings and earls?

In this three-part series I’m going to be writing about stories I think all fantasy writers and fans should know, other than the standard Celtic, Greek, and Norse sources. If you know these stories already, then good! I hope there’ll be something cool for you here anyway. If these stories are new to you, maybe these few posts will expose you to some amazing worlds. Read More »