DLOD, YOTG -- Families

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue Jan 23 16:12:52 EST 2001


>I've just finished rereading Dark Lord and Gryphon and there's a
>couple of things I wanted to comment on. Firstly as several people
>have mentioned DL seems to have been written, at least in part,
>with the aim of looking at how life could be for the real inhabitants
>of fantasyland".   And YOTG has a strong subtext to do with
>education and specifically the usefulness of going back to the
>basics if one is to innovate. It struck me that there is a definite link.
>As DWJ is well aware the best fantasies are those which go back
>to classic texts, folklore and mythology -- rather than imitating last
>years best seller (or an overused classic text like LOTR), which is
>an approach that eventually strands the book in one of the most
>trampled corners of fantasyland. So, if DLOD is the problem, YOG
>provides a solution. Its reminiscent of Polly's attempts to write like
>the author's she admires in F+H.

What an interesting - and attractive - idea!  During the Great Debate 
(which has gone mighty silent, btw), I finally came around to 
thinking that most of my problems with DL/YotG do seem to stem from 
the way they are based on fantasyland.  I _think_ this is like 
Tanaqui's misgivings, but am not sure.

First off, my qualms about the whole Derk GM/breeding programme bit 
seem to arise because Derk is an intensely real character, based on a 
cardboard Dark Lord image.  (Or rather, I should say, that's how he 
feels to me.)  The griffins talking the same language didn't bother 
me at all, but that's very Tough Guide as well, as there is something 
about a language spell being cast, though I can't remember exactly 
what.  The instant friendships and romantic pairings - well, couldn't 
those be described the same way?  A lot of the more cliched High 
Fantasy has similar elements, doesn't it?  And the jinx-lifting even: 
couldn't you view it as a parallel to all the missing heir kind of 
thing?    Everything gets resolved on the tour, and here, everything 
gets resolved on the attempted moon trip.  This may be stretching it, 
but it is a crude representation of the way I feel about these books 
- that DWJ made very sympathetic characters that we care about, but 
the basis was still the easy options of fantasyland, and for me at 
least, the wonderful parts of these books sit rather uneasily on the 
boggy foundation.

And for others, it's a wonderful example of DWJ doing fantastic 
things with what others haven't done much with! :)  (Is this going to 
be a new "half-empty/half-full glass test"?  I hope not.)

Anyway, I haven't sorted out how Ven's idea fits in with the above, 
and the brain's not up to much now, but it's nice to have another way 
to view everything.


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