[DWJ] Re: humor in fantasy

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk
Thu Feb 16 06:01:31 EST 2006

Lili wrote: 
> Dryads. Ce'Nedra was a dryad, and she could talk to trees. It 
> was entsy, but without the touching, slow humour of the Ents.

Ce'Nedra is distinctly my least favourite character. Imagine my delight
to find there was a whole species of dryads. (Though at least none of
the others were as much of a spoilt child as her. I know she's
*supposed* to be a spoilt child, but really, she should grow out of it
at some point. Instead I think it's supposed to be "charming". Hmf.)

I haven't got rid of the Eddings books I bought as a teenager. A bit of
candyfloss rereading every couple of years is quite nice. As DWJ says,
of the generic quest books, the Belgariad isn't bad, and after all, you
need to have a grounding in the cliches of the genre to truly appreciate
the Tough Guide... But I haven't bothered to read any of the new ones
for some years.
> Oh, and Polgara is (I think) ripped off Galadriel, in LOTR. 
> But more mumsy.

Gosh, I hadn't noticed, but she is, isn't she? All-wise, ancient
sorceress with tragic past who just looooves babies. I slightly wish
we'd seen Galadriel get irritated with Gandalf at some point now,
> Then there are those guys who live in swamps and talk to 
> snakes and are all eunuchs - not necessarily BAD guys, but 
> really, a bit NQR. So, Asia. (are they on our side? don't 
> know. they eat spicy food: can we REALLY trust them?)

And they're all out of their heads on drugs. 
Really, what with the country being one big swamp and being totally off
with the fairies all the time, where does their food come from? Maybe
they have to import everything, which would mean having to be nice to
their supplier countries all the time, of course; it isn't their fault
they're untrustworthy, it's their stupid snake god for putting them at
the mercy of every other nation! Honestly, what sort of flipping deity
doesn't even notice that his priestess *who he's totally in love with*
has got old and died and been replaced with a lookalike about 50 times?
What a meaningful relationship that must have been. It's like a kid with
hamsters. Twit. 
And there's the other one who managed to let his entire race of
worshippers get massacred while he was on holiday or something... And
the evil one, and the gormless berserker one... And the way the
whatsits, Durnik's country, who don't have a particular god but are just
polite to all of them, are the only sensible and efficient nation... Ha,
the Belgariad as a coded plug for godlessness.

Dark Lord of Derkholm isn't my favourite DWJ, but I do like how she
handles the gods and demons. It's the same as the general point of the
book, taking fantasyland and looking behind the set-dressing, but they
really come across well as genuinely scary or impressive, and moving in
mysterious ways. I love the Undying in Dalemark, too.
Who else does gods well? Bujold, I think- I love the vision scenes in
the Chalion books. Martha Wells. I hope we don't get any more
explanation of the gods in the last Wizard Hunters book than we've
already had, I like them. (I'm waiting for the paperback.) Catherine
Fisher. Um, more, I'm sure, just can't think of them immediately. I like
the concept of the Lady in Diane Duane's Door Into... series, but for me
the actual times when you see her don't quite have the beyond-ness that
some of the others manage. (Maybe if Duane would stop doing other things
she enjoys and gets paid for, and dratted well finish Door Into
Starlight, we could see if it's any different now. Me bitter? Goodness
no.) I love Pratchett's gods, but that's different, of course. Are there
any books with gods that can be funny without being comic? Do gods have
senses of humour?

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