The Avoidance of Diet Tolkien

Sword_of_shannara_hardcover

This week I’m moving back into college. Considering I’ll be busy with that adjustment, I’ve left some articles to keep my readers busy in the interim.

Today I wanted to delve into the idea of expectations, and how it pertains to writing a good story. Considering I’ve written mostly fantasy in the past four years, I thought I’d write an on-the-spot breaking down of six tropes from the fantasy genre and a suggested inversion. The inversions of these tropes are demonstrations and I have no plans on making them into a story. If you like them, feel free to steal them. The tropes are listed as an exercise in worldbuilding via cliché inversion.

1.The Chosen One—Yeah, we all know this one. A young farm boy with aspirations of greatness is greeted by a wise old mentor who keeps important plot points from him because Terry Brooks can’t think of a better way to make his Wizard –ahem– Druid mysterious. He tells him he’s destined to save the world from the all powerful ruler of nothing-in-particular-but-still wants to conquer the world despite this gigantic setback. The hero goes off, instantly within the timespan of 50 pages he becomes so friggin’ amazing that he’s able to beat characters who have trained for forty years or more. Even Elves who, mathematically, should be better than everyone else on the planet. Enter, The Visitor.. They have no age, gender, ethnicity or anything, because people see the Visitor how they imagine the messiah to look like. Some may see a man, some a woman. They could be rich in one person’s eyes, and poor in another. They see themself as a figure in a faded black cloak, and they can never see their face. They’re called the Visitor because they’re constantly being reborn every time someone wants to destroy the world. This one killed the evil Dark Lord—Lord Vile (because fuck subtlety, am I right?), by sucking his essence into him. The ritual also placed a curse on the land—The Dead Shall Rise as All Light Dies. The Visitor travels the world looking for their former teacher, Thavian Qorik, disputably immortal wizard, to help him. He goes to Eldeglast, Thavian’s home city and the place the Visitor goes to in welcome every time they’re reborn. The Visitor has a problem—they now have Lord Vile living inside them. Lord Vile keeps trying to taint his mind and taunts him in the form of an apparition. The Visitor must either live his days with evil incarnate inside him or let him loose upon the world to end the curse. They’re traumatized. They came from nothing, found out they had powers beyond even Elven imagination, and was forced to fight in a war that they didn’t want to be in. People flocked to them just because they’re the Visitor. And now, because of him, all but a handful of the world is dead. What does that do to a person? Well such ideas will be explored in his short story, to be written in the days to come.

Now there’s a problem with our friend, Thavian.

2.THE WISE OLD WIZARD—Stop me if you’ve heard this one before—he’s a wise old man who has magical powers—the limits of which are quite ambiguous and may or may not change depending on the needs of the plot. He’s got a flowing beard and robes that hide his figure. Maybe he has a pointy hat, a staff and gray robes? Everyone looks to him for guidance? Most of what I just said is Thavian Qorik. Or at least, was. Enter the inversion of expectations: the man who claims to be Thavian Qorik is a fake. He has no magic, no power, but he’s convinced the world he’s a powerful, immortal wizard. This is an elaborate hoax that has been going on for years. In truth, there was once a wise old wizard named Thavian Qorik, who welcomed The Visitor into Eldeglast each time he was reborn. That was thousands of years ago, when the first War of Light and Dark (Because again,fuck subtlety) was fought with makeshift spears and tomahawks. Nobody knows what became of the real Thavian Qorik—some say he was an angel that returned to heaven—others say he died in the final battle. To the current Qorik, it doesn’t matter. This man was chosen from an early age to replace the former Thavian when that one grew too old. The former Thavian would be given a pension and shipped off to an island where no one would believe his story of pretending to be a legendary magician. (Though this secret order has had to kill a few Thavians over the years). This Thavian Qorik has spent years building, meeting, and earning connections all around the world. He’s more of a scientist than he is a wizard. He’s learned in the ways of magic and did teach The Visitor, but he cannot perform magic on his own. During one battle, he had a few of his connections plant fireworks beneath the battlefield. He stood on a hilltop and shouted some hocus pocus he made up on the spot. The fireworks went off and BOOM! FEAR MY POWER! Presently, in this post-apocalyptic fantasy society, he’s taken refuge in Eldeglast. His connections are slowly disappearing, dying off, or he can’t reach them because of the curse, which he has coined the DEAD NIGHT. His job is to keep up the act he’s been putting on for decades—that he’s an all powerful wizard, while his illusions are slowly fading. And it’s getting harder and harder when people are asking him why he doesn’t just conjure up some magical bullshit to keep the dead stay in their graves…

3.THE BADASS WARRIOR CHICK—This chick is the one who picks her teeth with Orc bones—she’s so much more powerful than you pathetic men and she’s not afraid to show it. You can practically hear her calling every man she meets a “Wool headed idiot.” You see her all the time getting in fights with people twice her size. She gets the sexy wounds. She’s spouting out one liners like, “You fight like a girl!” Get it? Cause she’s a girl? She has the sexy, form fitting armor complete with boob holes and nipples on the breastplate. Every attack she does is performed for male titillation. When this resident badass chick gets hurt, she doesn’t cry out in pain, she moans. She moans sexily. (Which is apparently a legitimate adverb). She’s probably had sex with, like, every guy in her platoon/infantry/whatever term it is because apparently that makes her better than women that don’t fight. She’s a strong, independent woman who don’t take no shit from no man–Okay, that part’s true. Especially because despite all the soldiers telling each other this shit about her, she doesn’t give a damn. She just keeps on going because reflecting on it will only lead to failure. Her name is Evangeline Hallow. In this Fellowship, she had disguised herself as a man on several occasions. Joining the Visitor’s Fellowship was the first time she could be a woman openly. Every time she’s been discovered she lost something. It’s implied that she killed her brother in order to serve in her army. She was caught three times before. She’s missing half her hand—thanks to a “benevolent” King who thought it would be a kindness to spare her. The time before that, she lost an eye—a man found out she was a woman and as a result he gouged out her eye. Her captain thought that was punishment enough, given her performance. The first time she lost half her foot—. In this post-world war landscape where the dead arise, she is accompanied by—

4.THE RESIDENT BADASS—This is the guy who can take three arrows to the chest and still keep fighting. He’s a tank in human form, and he won’t rest until he’s killed every motherfucker he’s laid eyes on. This guy can carry a sword that’s three times his own already-massive size. He’s got women dying for him (in more ways than one). If he’s got angst it’s male angst and manly tears. Don’t you dare think this guy has any capacity to be sensitive. This is the guy who will kill you if you look at him funny. He files his nails with a giant dirk every time he sits down for a keg of ale He’s probably the greatest warrior in his entire kingdom–which means he’ll die later on in the story–probably very soon after it’s established how much of a complete badass he is. You will not be shocked. The only tears you will cry will be out of wasted potential. His death only serves to show the main characters that shit just got real–because this dude is the best warrior on the planet and he will personally travel the world to disembowel anyone who says otherwise….at least that’s his reputation. The guy’s name is Berrik Aggraylia. He was raised in the Mountain City of Barad Yuen. His father was one of his Lord’s chief of knights, and he raised his son to fight. The problem is, his son is more like Fezzik from Princess Bride than Conan the Barbarian. He never wanted to fight—and he still doesn’t. He’s got a few daddy issues because of this. He has broad shoulders and arms the size of tree trunks. He’s bald with skin as black as ink. He carries a broadsword and a wooden shield because he’s just that cool. But he doesn’t want to fight. He’s a pacifist, for the most part, and he plays the generic role of stupid barbarian to throw people off. He’s actually quite clever. He usually uses his/his father’s reputation to force people to back down without a fight. He’s also unusually tall, which he uses to intimidate people. He’s a kind caring teddy bear who will warn anyone against joining their country’s army.

5.      THE ELF ARCHER—Oh, boy, if you hear those words and don’t picture Orlando Bloom, then I’m not sure why you’re reading this. This guy is perfect—he can shoot a bow with the accuracy of a sniper rifle. He can pick off Wargs and Orcs from a distance that defies all laws of physics—pretty much everything he does in a battle defies the laws of physics, for that matter. But who cares? He’s badass! He can surfboard a shield into an Orc’s neck, kill dozens of cannon fodder without breaking a sweat. He’ll climb an elephant and take it down single handedly just because he’s bored. He’ll be a total badass and won’t even ruin his hair in the process. Seriously? Does that guy ever get a scratch on him? He just came out of a week long siege of a fortress and his cheeks are still soft as a baby’s bottom! Yeah. This guy’s perfect at everything. But where’s the fun in that? Please remember, Elves are immortal, they’ve had a long time to think and plan for any eventual outcome. Hell, the Dark Lord should be using these fuckers to take over the land! Okay, I’ve rambled about the cliche enough. Onto my rebuttal-character. He’s an elf archer by the name of Azoc Dulu. The Elvish name their children after how they will train them. Bardag’s name translated to Battle Follower. (Yes, I’ve made up my own Elvish language. Don’t praise me for coming up with it, and don’t get angry with me for “copying Tolkien. Deal with it.) He’s been trained for centuries in using all kinds of bows and crossbows. So much so that without it, he’s pretty much inept. He’s adequate with other weapons, but his father made the mistake of focusing too much effort on one weapon. He put all the eggs in one basket. Azoc thoroughly disfigured from centuries of on and off battle. So much so that he wears an Elvish cloak that is designed to bring shadows close, so no one can see his face. During the Dead Night, he’s trying to get to Eldeglast for protection, like the rest of the Fellowship, they agreed to meet up there should anything go awry. Though he has to make a pit stop along the way–to return the body of his dwarf friend to his family. Azoc, like most Elves, are awkward among other races. He’s accustomed to long periods of silence. He takes his time with everything because of his lifespan. No time is time wasted. He sometimes forgets that humans or dwarves or other races have weaknesses that he doesn’t. The most disturbing thing is probably when he goes for extended periods of time forgetting to blink.

6. DOUR DWARF–This guy has been in everything. You know the guy I’m talking about. He might as well go through the lands of Generica wearing a T Shirt that reads SHORT AND PROUD OF IT! You’ll never see him without his axe–and sometimes one or five trusty extras. Don’t be confused by his size, though. This guy’s a tough fighter. He’s a brawler. And he hates Elves. As a matter of fact, his whole race hates Elves. Why? who knows? Probably because of some dispute that happened three thousand years ago that nobody seems to be able to get over or find peace–they won’t break into all out war, though. No, they’re too civilized for that. He’s also kinda funny. He’s the comic relief. He tells the puns. He keeps everyone’s spirits up.Next to the Chosen One, he’s tied with the wise old wizard for most overused. And nobody will shut up about this shit in front of him–and that really fucking pisses him off. His name was Averon Bael. He doesn’t carry an axe, but he’s the best dwarf to ever wield a spear. His race split half a century ago between stone masons and hunters. He’s a hunter.. They’re nearly the world monopoly on meat. Because of this, they live in the forest and since they’re not built for stealth, rely on mass attacks. Averon was a master planner, though you don’t always have much time to make plans when the dead close in around you every night. Azoc had been distracted with his own dead to keep at bay that he didn’t have time to save Averon. Currently deceased, Azoc is presently taking him to his people to give him a proper burial. As Averon was a close friend of Azoc, this is his first real encounter with mortality. Sure he saw people die all the wars of this-and-that over the years, but never a friend. And any of the other friends that have died in wars he’s probably long since forgotten over the centuries. So now, as a reminder, he’s carrying his friend’s body across the countryside to deliver it back to the Dwarves.

Author: Connor M. Perry

From an early age, Connor learned how to divide by four. Imagine, for a moment: Connor being born. Two minutes later, he discovers there are three other newborns hot on his heels. He was, as it turns out, a quadruplet. And from that moment on, he needed to learn to share. Everything. At an early age, Connor took to writing so that he could have something that was his. He began writing small stories online for his own enjoyment, and gradually moved to more ambitious ideas. He's published Hush Little Baby on an e-zine called Microhorror (a site that's now defunct, so you'll have to take him at his word) as well as Stragglers in the Cold and Rivenrock in Sword and Sorcery Magazine. He's enjoyed creating the different worlds, characters and relationships you'll find in his stories. He currently lives in Worcester, MA with his girlfriend, two cats, and a collection of swords.

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