Behind The Monk’s Curse: Chapter Eight

Behind the Scenes, The Monk's Curse - Prologue

Finally. Finally a chapter that plunges the protagonist into his intended plot. Chapter Eight is where it really gets exciting. Unlike the previous chapters (except the Prologue and Chapter One), this is not a chapter filled with people having conversations – on this note, I am reminded of Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones that history is entirely composed of powerful men and women having conversations in grand rooms (of course I paraphrase). But the previous chapters were exactly that; people having conversations that somehow managed to keep the plot going.

But this chapter is the impetus for the whirlwind of events that are to come. This comes with a shocking discovery – almost the whole truth of the protagonist’s past (the search of which is the novel’s main plot point). This shocking discovery leads to a shocking act.

But on the nature of the discovery, it is not solely of historical nature like previous ones. It is entirely fictional, but revealing crucial bits of information pertaining to the practices of secret societies that are deeply set in history. As such, this novel was the conception of clearly defined roles and locations of clearly defined groups.

It was a fun chapter to write. It felt as if the plot was finally progressing. But for whatever its merits, I still cannot say much here. That is where The Historical Companion to The Monk’s Curse comes in. It is a book that I have been excited for for a while. A complete guide to the history of The Monk’s Curse. But until its release, and until next week’s post, happy reading (whatever and wherever that may be).

Behind The Monk’s Curse: Chapter Seven

Behind the Scenes, The Monk's Curse - Prologue

I am afraid that there is not much for this week. Almost no planning or research went into this chapter. Still, I had difficult decisions to make while writing this chapter. How much to reveal to the reader?

This is a classic dilemma. On one hand, it is ideal to have the reader know everything. This is why omniscient narrators are so popular. On the other hand, it is beneficial to the suspense of the story to keep some information hidden. But, in works like this, with complex machinations, it is hard to strike a balance. But balance I did. Or at least I hope so. Thus, this chapter is nothing more than a device to reveal key information while introducing an aspect of mystery to the story. It was certainly a fun chapter to write, and hopefully one you will enjoy.

No onward – to the publishing of my latest book. One more proofread!

Problematic Fantasy – and reality – Tropes

In my previous post on the problematic villains of fantasy, I promised another rant. Well, actually a few. But here is the first one. As anyone familiar with fantasy, or specifically epic or high fantasy, knows, there are classic tropes which make the plot lines of fantasies so unoriginal. My post on villains only confirms this.

But the problem goes more deeper than that. Unfortunately, fantasy worlds often reflect the real world. This in itself is a problem. How can fantasy have any claim to being fantasy if it is not – for most fantasies are effectively allegories? Now I am not criticising the masters of fantasy – nor the master of masters: J.R.R. Tolkien. No, I love them. I love Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and the blatant copy of those – David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean.

I love immersing myself in these fantastical worlds. But the problem comes in when one is so immersed that the line between reality and fantasy is blurred. And this is too often the case. In fact, most readers don’t even realise it.

To unpack this, let me elaborate on the tropes of fantasy. This is simple to do. Fair skinned and beautiful good versus darker skinned and ugly evil. Good west versus evil east. Highly civilised west versus barbaric east. I could go and on. But the fact remains that the maps of worlds like Middle Earth and David Eddings’ sagas too often reflect the problems of the real world – civilised west and barbaric east. The other tropes fit this almost perfectly.

Let us not forget Game of Thrones. It also reflects the above, all the while making it abundantly clear that the east is a place of mystery and barbarity. Slavery is abundant in the east? Reality check! Europeans invented slavery!!! The hordes of Dothraki?? That is a blatant misappropriation of the Golden Horde of the descendants of Genghis Khan. And in portraying them as savage people only skilled in horsemanship plays on the classic belief that Genghis Khan was only effective in savagery and not in his actual civilisation. Oh, and the treatment of characters of colour on the TV show is pathetic. I could see the racial hatred on the faces of the Westerosi in Winterfell as the foreign queen marched in with her coloured warriors. Don’t even get me started on the painting of Arya Stark as the Columbus of the world of Game of Thrones. What is west of Westeros? Well, who knows? It is probably a place that has never deserved the attention of the advanced races of Westeros who were too focussed on the barbaric east. It is in the name. Nothing is deemed worthy of being considered west of Westeros because it simply doesn’t matter. Well, let us leave it to Columbus to ‘discover’ the new world.

I could go on and on. Even Rick Riordan makes it plain that the location of Mount Olympus is wherever Western Civilisation is. What about Eastern Civilisation? What about the fact that some of the most sophisticated cultures, ancient civilisations, and advanced scientific discoveries like the number zero and the system of numbers all sprung from the East?

As I said, I could go on and on. And I can tell you this, my views are inflammatory. No one likes to read these kind of things. But it is a topic which needs discussion. Why are most fantasy worlds based on medieval Europe? Medieval Asia and Africa were far more civilised places. Why are most fantasy worlds predominantly featuring white characters?? Many people say that people of colour do not belong in these fantasies because the fantasies are based on medieval Europe. Well, news flash, the Europeans have traded with people of colour for eons. People were not isolated in their worlds that is depicted in fantasy and period dramas. Well, perhaps only the natives of America were. But even they could not keep their identity. Because Columbus was too stupid to know where he was, he called them Indians. Also why do you think their (European) food is so bland? Because the only Eastern spice that they could handle was salt and pepper. Oh, and for those who say colonisation brought civilisation, let me remind you that colonisation was the expansion of slavery and religion. The Europeans had no care for the natives. If they had, well, Africa would not be where it is today. The Europeans did not share their civilisation. They took new lands and practised civilisation while only allowing the natives to watch. Oh, and before I forget, the means that Europeans used to conquer lands was acquired from the East. Gun powder and ammunition.

For too long people of colour have been inferior to white people in real life and in fiction. I have even been told that my culture has contributed nothing to science. You would think that these civilised people would at least have scruples. Well, they don’t. For all their civilisation, they lack humanity. So, who should the villains in fantasy be? The ones who have humanity or the ones who lack it? That question needs no answer. At least not for anyone who has the attribute of rationality.