Every Thursday, Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn hosts a weekly party where blogs get to follow along with Diana Wynne Jones’ hilarious book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel listing their favorite books with a particular fantasy trope. So sit back and enjoy the fun.
14th August 2014 – SAVING THE WORLD
SAVING THE WORLD is something many Tours require you to do. You have to defeat the DARK LORD or WIZARDS who are trying to enslave everyone.
This week is upping the stakes. It’s all about imminent destruction! If the world isn’t about to end, or at least going to change in horrible ways for EVERYONE in it, the book will not be on this list. So take a look at my picks for SAVING THE WORLD WEEK!
The series by the master of fantasy, who basically integrated every fantasy trope that I know of into this immensely entertaining and influential series. I mean, is there a more epic “Saving the World” fantasy than the story of Frodo Baggins and his friends setting off to destroy the One Ring to save Middle-earth from the vile overlordship of Sauron?
I can’t think of any. So, just as it should be, the master of fantasy is number one on the list.
Written by Robert Jordan and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time is simply put the story of a man destined to face the Evil One and save the world — or destroy it. Definitely “Saving the World” trope at its best.
As Wikipedia describes it:
“The Wheel of Time takes place in a land where the people live in fear of a prophecy that the Dark One will break from his prison and the Dragon will be reborn to face him. . . [I]n the Two Rivers, a near-forgotten district of the country of Andor . . . [a]n Aes Sedai, Moiraine, and her Warder Lan, arrive in the village of Emond’s Field, secretly aware that servants of the Dark One are searching for a young man living in the area. Moiraine is unable to determine which of three youths (Rand al’Thor, Matrim Cauthon, or Perrin Aybara) is the Dragon Reborn, and leads all three of them from the Two Rivers, along with their friend Egwene al’Vere. Nynaeve al’Meara, the village wise-woman, later joins them. Gleeman Thom Merrilin also travels with the group. The first novel depicts their flight from various agents of the Shadow and their attempts to reach the Aes Sedai city of Tar Valon. Thereafter the protagonists are frequently split into different groups and pursue different missions toward the cause of the Dragon Reborn, sometimes thousands of miles apart . . . [a]s they struggle to unite the various kingdoms against the Dark One’s forces . . .”
Sure, this series by Mr. Kay has a lot of similarities to Tolkien’s classic, but then again, Mr. Kay was Christopher Tolkien’s assistant when he was putting together The Simarillion from his father’s unfinished writings, so he has somewhat of an excuse if the grand master’s ideas integrated them into his writing. Be that as it may, The Fionavar Tapestry definitely has the fantasy trope of “Saving the World” as its main theme, but instead of trying to explain it, I think the Goodreads description does an excellent job.
“Five University of Toronto students find themselves transported to a magical land to do battle with the forces of evil. At a Celtic conference, Kimberley, Kevin, Jennifer, Dave, and Paul meet wizard Loren Silvercloak. Returning with him to the magical kingdom of Fionavar to attend a festival, they soon discover that they are being drawn into the conflict between the dark and the light as Unraveller Rakoth Maugrim breaks free of his mountain prison and threatens the continued existence of Fionavar. They join mages, elves, dwarves, and the forces of the High King of Brennin to do battle with Maugrim.”
You either love it or hate it, I’ve found. But, you know what? It still is a classic fantasy that uses the trope of “Saving the World” to send a whiny Thomas Covenant on an epic quest to save The Land from destruction at the hands of Lord Foul. A more in depth description might be like this:
Three times in all, Thomas Covenant is summoned to the strange other-world called The Land, where magic works. Each time, the Unbeliever finds people attaching themselves to him, leading him toward a fate that he desperately does not desire. For Covenant is a leper, and he has no time for idle fantasies or dreams where he feels like a real man again. No, he has to take care of himself, or the disease will come back. And this time, it might take more than half his hand.
But the people of the Land and especially the Lords of Revelstone will not accept no from Covenant no matter how horribly he treats them or what crimes he commits. Inexplicably, they forgive him, embrace him even, and inevitable, he finds himself embroiled in the Land’s war against Lord Foul, an ancient enemy bent on its complete destruction. But each time he helps, the plight of the Land grows worse until finally Covenant finds himself as the final hope for this place that he has grown to love in spite of himself. His only choices to defeat Lord Foul and save everything or fail and see the beauty of the Land diseased like himself, destroyed by a taint as foul as leprosy.
Mr. King’s magnum opus which mixes themes from multiple genres, including fantasy, science fantasy, horror, and Western. At the core of the series, however, is the idea that the Crimson King is somehow helping to topple the Dark Tower which serves as the lynchpin of time and space, destroying the multitude of universes which revolve around it. Definitely “Saving the World” trope if I’ve heard one.
Wikipedia further describes Mr. King’s saga as follows:
“The Dark Tower series describes a “gunslinger” and his quest toward a tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical. . . In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. Many of the magical aspects have vanished from Mid-World, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Sometimes, even the sun rises in the north and sets in the east. . . [Soon] Roland’s quest becomes stopping this toppling of the Dark Tower.”
Yeah, this series made an appearance on my fantasy trope list last week, but hey, it uses more than one trope. Plus, you can’t get much more “Saving the World” than having to discover the secret to keep humanity from being eaten by the Dark, right?
Three thousand years ago, the monstrous Dark sprung from loathsome underground lairs to destroy most of humanity. Somehow, the ancients drove back the black tide and slowly rebuilt the world. But now, the Dark have arisen again! Their ravenous hunger for human flesh having brought civilization around the world to its knees, turning the pitiful handful of survivors into embittered refugees hiding in age old fortresses during the night.
The only hope for the world lies in the once mighty Kingdom of Renweth, where Ingold Inglorion and a few thousand people have managed to find refuge in the ancient fortress Keep of Renweth. There, the mightiest wizard of this embattled world desperately tries to rediscover the knowledge of the ancients. For if he does not, there is no hope for humanity to survive this rising of the Dark!
Corum Jhaelen Irsei (“the Prince in the Scarlet Robe”) is the last survivor of the Vadhagh race and an incarnation aspect of the Eternal Champion, a being that exists in all worlds to ensure there is “Cosmic Balance”. The second trilogy of his adventures is Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand or Corum: The Coming of Chaos. In this trilogy, Moorcock definitely uses the trope “Saving the World.”
As Wikipedia summarizes:
“Set eighty years after the . . . the Sword [Trilogy], Corum has become despondent and alone since the death of his Mabden bride Rhalina. Plagued by voices at night, Corum believes he has gone insane until old friend Jhary-a-Conel advises Corum it is in fact a summons from another world. Listening to the voices allows Corum to pass to the other world, which is in fact the distant future. Rhalina’s descendants, the Tuha-na-Cremm Croich (who call Corum “Corum Llew Ereint”) face extinction from the Fhoi Myore: seven giants who with their allies conquered the land and plunged it into eternal winter. . . And so Corum sets out to save their world from total destruction.”
This unfinished epic fantasy series definitely uses the “Saving the World” trop to good effect.
In the land of the Morigu, a horrendous war was fought a generation ago against the most evil god of them all. In this struggle to the death, all creatures were involved on one side or the other, including elves, dwarves, and the known gods. Mother earth herself even took sides, raising up her own champions, the morigu, to fight against the evil one. Yet triumph was only assured after one young man was raised to godhood. Thereafter, this man-god struggled with the evil one and chained him for eternity, because even in defeat he was too powerful to actually be destroyed.
Time passes. The world has moved on from this devastating war. Heroes dying or growing old or peculiar as time drifts by. Now, the only memory of the great struggle is the annual meeting of the surviving heroes, as they come together to celebrate their victory. But on this particular occasion, the revelry is interrupted by something horrid, as the long vanquished creatures of the dark one arise from their holes to sweep over everything!
The atrocities on the people of the light in these first few weeks of fighting are staggering; vampires, goblins, and even less savory things destroying mindlessly. Naturally, the old heroes attempt to step into the breach and hold things together, but something has changed, made their enemies stronger and them weaker. All looks lost. Destruction of the very world seems possible. But mother earth had foreseen the world’s danger and in her desperation, she has created a lone Morigu to help save her. The last one she will ever spawn, and he is gifted with the most potent wild magic imaginable.
But even as the forces of light rally to hold back the dark tide, the question that keeps echoing in the minds of the wise is whether the insanity laying in the Morigu’s eyes will bring the world salvation or total annihilation.
A great grimdark fantasy before there was such a thing as grimdark. Definitely worthy of being on a list of “Saving the World” fantasy tropes.
BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON
Morigu: The Desecration
“A black sun is rising …
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.
The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.
High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.”
Can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see how our heroes are going to save the world from the Black Sun.
See my reviews of the first novel in the series.
10. THE ASCENDANT KINGDOMS by GAIL Z. MARTIN
A genre blending fantasy that focuses on a world where everything revolves around magic. From growing crops to fighting wars, this world integrates magic into even the simplest tasks. But what would happen to this society if the magic suddenly was destroyed? How could humanity survive? And how could a single man try to restore the magic and save his world from falling into utter anarchy?
Great concept, fun books.
The Goodreads description tells a bit more about the beginning of the series.
“Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.
Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…”
Those are my top ten picks, what are yours? 🙂
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