Latest Update: 10/14/2013
My name is Ken, and this blog was originally made to feature a story I’ve had in the works. My favorite authors include men like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I have enjoyed their writing since I was a kid, and have read the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings so many times, I don’t have enough fingers and toes combined to count that high.
When I was in school, history was my absolute favorite subject. I enjoyed learning not just about the events that transpired in the past, but how it affected culture and geography of the land. Of course, history class only focused on European and American culture and history, so I had to delve into other resources, outside of school, to learn more about Asian, African, and other cultures and histories of this world. Language interests me as well, however, there simply isn’t enough time in a single lifetime to learn all I would like to learn. Which brings me back to my interests outside of school. Tolkien, chiefly, is my favorite author because, (I like to think) we share common interests. He went to Oxford and studied in linguistics, to the point of being capable of creating his own language(s). Now, what child does not create things in their wild imaginations? The difference is, most children, when they grow up, forget these things, or at least stops focusing on them, and grows out of these creations. I like to live by a philosophy simply put “Growing Old is Mandatory, Growing Up is Optional.” I like to think that Tolkien lived by this as well. In fact, I know he did. In a copy of The Silmarillion, edited by his son Christopher, there is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien to one Milton Waldmen, back in 1951. From such letter, there is stated…
“Many children make up, or begin to make up, imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write. But I have never stopped, and of course, as a professional philologist (especially interested in linguistic aesthetics), I have changed in taste, improved in theory, and probably in craft. Behind my stories is now a nexus of languages (mostly only structurally sketched). But to those creatures which in English I call misleadingly Elves are assigned two related languages more nearly completed, whose history is written, and whose forms (representing two different sides of my own linguistic taste) are deduced scientifically from a common origin. Out of these languages are made nearly all the names that appear in my legends. This gives a certain character (a cohesion, a consistency of linguistic style, and an illusion of historicity) to the nomenclature, or so I believe, that is markedly lacking in other comparable things. Not all will feel this as important as I do, since I am cursed by acute sensibility in such matters.”
He created, as a child would, and yet did not stop. He delved on imaginary things, using his love of language and, as was stated later in the letter, of history, myth, fairy-story and above all, heroic legend. Not only did he create people, and languages, but he created a whole world. A world filled with history. A world filled with mystery, horror, and yet at the same time, serenity and peace. He has in essence, if I may be so bold as to say, done in the literary sense, what God has done in reality.
And so, with my own writing, I seek to do the same, to the best of my capability. I am no master of language, and I must defer that I use his created Elvish Languages in deciding names and for some minor dialogue (which I will no doubt have to change eventually, lest his son come after me with copyright infringement claims). In the end though, I hope I have found enough inspiration from him, to create some words here and there, to begin the creation of a working language, in the realms of the story’s needs, at least. My story features around a United Nation of Elvish races. However, while they are among the main characters, they are not the only ones for there are included a vast array of other races from real and fictional world basis.
Well that’s all I have to say on my story for now, but before bidding adieu, I will end with one more snippet from Tolkien’s letter…
“I am not ‘learned’ in the matters of myth and fairy-story, however, for in such things (as far as known to me) I have always been seeking material, things of a certain tone and air, and not simple knowledge. Also – and here I hope I shall not sound absurd – I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country : it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. … Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English ; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing its ‘faerie’ is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive. For another and more important thing : it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion. For reasons which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal. … Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing the splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simple to : to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our ‘air’ (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), … I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.”
Yes, that was a snippet, his letter is roughly 13 and a half pages in length. Anyway, good day to all, and see you again later
Now, Terry Brooks I didn’t start reading till much more recently. I had not even heard of him, in fact, till about 3 years ago, or so. I had heard, back in ’03, from my boss at the time, about one of his stories, though at the time I didn’t know the authors name. My boss told me of the series of stories that begun with The Sword of Shannara. He told me how much he liked it, but I have to admit, I completely forgot about them.
While playing World of Warcraft, a friend of mine told me a story about an altercation he had with an enemy character, that led to a decent chat. The next day, that ‘enemy character’ showed up in our ventrilo server, and started talking to us. The name he used to sign into the ventrilo server was “King of the Silver River” and from that, I took a stab. As Gary (my friend who started this story) would say, I have a memory like an iron trap. The Silver River reference triggered my memory, and when he started talking, I recognized instantly, Sword of Shannara. He thought I knew about it, but of course, I knew very little. As per his suggestion, I picked up and read the book First King of Shannara which was a book written after Sword but takes place before it. I was interested, my attention peeked, so I picked up a special, 25th anniversary edition, publication of the Sword of Shannara Trilogy, which is the first three (of course) stories in the saga. Well, in the front of this publication, is a foreword written by Terry Brooks, and I have to quote it as well.
“I was about fourteen when I discovered Sir Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Dumas, and all the other eighteenth- and nineteenth- century European adventure-story writers. I was immediately hooked. What marvelous adventures! “Ivanhoe“, “Quentin Durward”, “The White Company”, “Sir Nigel”, “The Black Arrow”, “Treasure Island”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “The Three Musketeers”, and on and on. Each new tale seemed more exciting than the one before. Now here, I believed, were stories worth reading. Enough, already, of great white whales and repressed women wearing scarlet letters. Here were the kind of stories I wanted to write. And I tried, of course, but somehow they didn’t work for me as they had for Dumas or Stevenson. I didn’t seem to know enough. I wasn’t comfortable with the time or the language or the feel of things. So I floundered about in fits and starts and eventually went away to college without ever completing anything.”
Bravo, I hated reading The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and other such yawn-fest stories back in high school. It makes me very glad that a successful person in life felt the same way.
“So four years of college and a semester of law school later, I decided to go back to them. An adventure story, something wonderfully dangerous, filled with hair-raising escapes, men and women of character and purpose, dangers that threatened from every quarter-that was what I wanted to write and that was how I would escape the mind-numbing predictability of law life. But it had to be something grand. How would D’Artagnan have handled Rupert of Hentzau from “The Prisoner of Zenda”? What if Jim Hawkins had met up with Quentin Durward? I envisioned a story that was panoramic, something vast and sweeping.
That was when I started thinking anew about J.R.R. Tolkien. I had read “The Lord of the Rings” two years earlier. What if Tolkien’s magic and fairy creatures were made a part of the worlds of Walter Scott and Dumas? What if the story took place somewhere timeless and placeless, a somewhere that nevertheless hinted strongly of our own world in the future? What if our present knowledge had been lost, and science had been replaced by magic? But it couldn’t be magic that was dependable or simply good or bad. And the right and wrong things couldn’t be clear-cut because life simply didn’t work that way. And the central figure needed to be someone readers could identify with, a person very much like themselves, caught up in events not of his own making, a person simply trying to muddle through.
And that was how “Sword” began.”
So, Terry Brooks essentially looked at things the same way Tolkien did. He wanted a epic story of his own world. Now, it may not have been the United States that Brooks was thinking of, but it was still the idea that he wished to create a story built within a world recognizable to the public that would be reading this story.
Robert Jordan is an even newer discovery to me. It is startling how I had never heard of this story, considering how bleeding amazing it is! The Wheel of Time embodies the cultural idea I am trying to work into my own story. I haven’t read the whole series yet, but I am working on it, and when I have finished it I will put more here, but for now, Robert Jordan is the newest addition to my inspirations simply for the cultural and societal views he has in the Wheel of Time series, and of course, the fact that it is still religiously inspired while not limiting itself to christian reference.