fantasy monarchies

Charles Butler hannibal at
Sun Feb 2 17:35:06 EST 2003

Kathryn wrote:
I actually do think monarchy (whether constitutional or not)
> has got something going for it -- if you get a good person on the
> throne.

That's a pretty big if, isn't it? Most systems will work okay if the best
possible people are available to work them. Normally they aren't. (I'm no
particular fan of democracy either, except in Churchill's sense that it's
the least bad system anyone's devised so far. But I do think that's the
sense that matters.)

anyone who starts talking about "blue blood" is deluded,
> but it doesn't threaten *me*.

But it might if they demand you fight in their army, or work on their land,
or if they take droit de seigneur with your children. Such are the
historical privileges of blue blood are they not?

> A monarchy is just one way of saying "hey, this person is your leader,
> let him get on with leading".

Hmm, what was that Jon said about fascism?

> When you've got a *good* story about a True Heir, the True Heir is
> someone who rescues the country from political turmoil, like Aragorn
> did.  Someone who is a True Heir *and* a good leader, not just a True
> Heir.  That's my opinion, anyway.

But that's exactly the trouble with these Aragorn/Taran types. They're
always fortuitously both blue-blooded AND wonderfully noble at a personal
level. Bit of a coincidence, that, and very convenient for an author who
doesn't want to come clean and say which really matters most, birth or
worth. I'm still waiting to find a fantasy where we are expected to applaud
a fight (costing tankerloads of peasant blood, no doubt) to put some
Trueborn Twerp on a throne he's quite incompetent to occupy. That would
certainly clarify matters, and be a good deal more like life. I still think
most fantasy writers show a good deal of timidity in this matter.

Sorry if that's all rather pugnacious - but I'm on one of my vast stable of
hobbyhorses here.


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