Thursday, August 29, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Narnia and Middle Earth

My friend Kendra has invited other bloggers to participate in her Memorable Worlds post series to celebrate the release of her upcoming book The Ankulen.

My introduction to the worlds:
Like most or all of the other people who have taken part, including Kendra herself, the fantasy worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth have been a huge influence on my own writing.

I came to both rather late.  My mom isn't particularly fond of fantasy so the books weren't around when I was growing up.  But, I adore fantasy so much that a few years ago, I did some research on Narnia online (to be sure it was something I would not regret reading) and bought a seven-in-one volume of all of the books.  I put it up on my shelf for three weeks while we packed and arranged matters for the cross-country trip we were about to make for a wedding.  The book went into my already-crammed-full book bag and once we were fairly on our way, I pulled it out.  For a moment, I savored the feel of a new book, smelled the pages, ran my hands over the covers, admired the lion painting on the front... and finally couldn't wait any longer and began reading.  I started with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I wasn't very far into it when I knew I would never regret reading it.  Ever.

I read the books through The Silver Chair on the trip.  The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle I read sometime after I arrived home.  I have seen all three of the new movies (and while I liked most of them, have some bones to pick with the scriptwriters for some of the liberties they took.)

Then, a few months after I had read Narnia, I looked up Lord of the Rings (again as a precaution, though I was pretty sure I would like it, it never hurts to do a little research).  A friend loaned me the books, and I cracked open the covers of the Hobbit the evening after I brought them home.  From the first paragraph, I was hooked.   As soon as I was done reading them, my grandpa loaned me Peter Jackson's movie trilogy and I watched it.  And loved it.  (Well, mostly.  But that is a subject for another post.)

My favorite things about each world:
Lewis created a delightful, enchanting world.  An added delight for me was that he included all sorts of creatures from mythology.  The rules about these creatures were somewhat different in Lewis' world than their mythological counterparts, which just made it all the more fascinating.  Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy and the other heroes and heroines of the books are real human children with faults that cause them problems, just like in real life.  And yet, they learned from their mistakes and overcame the difficulties to become the heroes Narnia needed them to be.  In the process, they grew and matured and learned life lessons.

My favorite race is the centaurs.

Favorite characters:
Susan (though I don't like what Lewis did to her character in the Last Battle.)

Middle Earth:
Tolkien's world of Middle Earth is magnificent.  It is, without question, the standard for all other writers of epic fantasy.  The years and years he put into the creating of it, working out the smallest details and adding layer upon layer... it is incredible.

Details of Middle Earth that I particularly love are the languages, horses, jewelry and maps.  I would love to be able to read, write and speak Elvish someday.  (Yes, I know it has no practical purpose, but it would be fun!)

The world of Middle Earth is my personal favorite of all the fantasy worlds I've read about or seen in movies.  It has SO many layers.  Each race has a rich, well detailed heritage, history and customs.  The interactions, or lack thereof (elves and dwarves :D), between the different peoples are so real, you feel as if they themselves were real people once upon a time.  True, Tolkien's writing is a bit heavy, but I loved it.

My favorite race in Middle Earth is unquestionably the elves.  They are just fantastic.  Wise, learned, superb fighters, but with a fun sense of humor.

The hobbits, Rohirrim and Gondorians all tie for second place.  The hobbits are just plain fun, the Rohirrim are horse people (I think most of you know by now how much I love horses) and the Gondorians are fascinating.
I don't dare start listing my favorite characters from Middle Earth.  The list would go on for forever.  In fact, it would be easier to list those I don't like.  Basically, all the villains.  :D

How Narnia and Middle Earth have influenced my own writing:
Lewis taught me that you can have a multi layered fantasy world without it having to be extremely complicated, serious or full of grim happenings.  It can be light in tone, but still have many layers and opportunities for adventures.  It can be fun, but still have a moral and teach something.

And Lewis's humor is delightful.  Consider this part from the end of The Horse and His Boy: 'Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I am afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.'  Isn't that fun?!

Narnia has been an especial inspiration for my world of Quara.

Tolkien taught me that even if it takes years to build and write, a well detailed, meticulous fantasy world is possible, and well worth the effort.

He also taught me much about characters, relationships and using scenery to set the stage.

Middle Earth has particularly influenced my world of Brythonia- the world of the Three Kyngdoms series, and the world of Quivira, which I don't think I've posted about before.

 Narnia and Middle Earth, two worlds I couldn't do without.

You have until September 3rd to join in on the worldbuilding posts!  Visit Kendra's blog HERE to find out more about The Ankulen, her other books or to add a link to your own worldbuilding post.

Happy Worldbuilding!!

Miss Melody Muffin


  1. I've always loved Lewis' sense of humor. The line about Cor and Arivis has always been one of my favourites and when I read it I half wished for a fellow I could argue and make up with to marry.
    I also LOVE how he did Puddle Glum. He is one of my favourites. Always thinking of the worse and then when the kids do so telling them they must not loose hope. I love him to pieces.

    I also adore Middle Earth. I never get tired of those stories. I love going on the quest over and over again with all of them, fighting in the battles, and visiting the cities as if for the first time - because it never looses its wonder no matter how many times I visit.

  2. I'm glad you like Tolkien and Lewis. I know a lot of people who disapprove of them just because they write fantasy. I don't think fantasy is wrong. (well... the right kind. If you know what I mean.) I think fantasy is a really good way to sneak in some catechism, you know? I know most people have problems with CS Lewis because he portrays God as a lion.

    But my first reaction to that is, "Christ spoke in parables! Why shouldn't we?"

    But anyway, yeah. I hated what he did to Susan.

    I LOVE Tolkien. I mean. LOOOOOOVE. DID you know, that on his and his wife's tombstones, under their names, they have the names Beren and Luthien? I just thought that was cool. lol.

    Anyway I go now. :D Cheers

  3. Jack,
    Yes, Puddle Glum is pretty funny.

    Oh, I totally agree!!! LOTR never loses its wonder, charm and enchantment.

    I agree, the right kind of fantasy isn't wrong. And yes, fantasy is a great medium for our Lord's truths, because lots of people will read fantasy who wouldn't pick up a Christian novel. (And, to be honest, I don't think many so called 'Christian' novels do a very good job of sharing God's Word these days.) It's sad.

    To the people who take issue with Lewis portraying God as a lion, I say, "Well, Christ is called 'the Lion of the tribe of Judah', isn't he?"

    YES!!!!!! I love that detail about Beren and Luthien's names on their gravestones.

  4. Thanks for participating in these worldbuilding posts, Miss Melody!

    I love both Narnia and Middle Earth. I was introduced into ME first, and had to be drug kicking and screaming to Narnia ... but Narnia is my favorite by a small degree. The allegory is richer, humor is a bit better, and the prose is not as heavy.

    But I love ME, too, don't get me wrong.

  5. Kendra,
    It was a pleasure to participate!

    Yeah, Tolkien's prose can get pretty heavy.


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