The Theme of Family
As I have been writing these past few weeks, I began thinking about what sort of themes are in my work, and how they are represented. I compiled a list with categories and sub-categories as a skeleton for a future essay. I do this so I can delve deeper and explore the meanings and significance of these different ideas in my work, and so that I can better understand them to better express them. One thing in particular stood out to me as I worked.
The theme of family.
Fantasy is a genre that seems to focus heavily on friendship, bonds struck from love, from mutual understanding, from desperation and from a shared common goal. It is a strong thread woven through the heart of nearly every great epic, from The Lord of the Rings to The Chronicles of Narnia. The characters are thrown into various perilous quests and must rely on the kindness of others to help them on their journey, whether it's saving the world, or reclaiming a lost throne. Most heroes have a circle of friends to back them up.
And of course I love that. Friendship is one of the greatest and most beautiful of bonds. A love that blossoms between two people of any background, a love that is not based on selfish motivations, but on a genuine affection for one another. The friendship of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee is, in my opinion, the finest example of this, but there are many others. Relationships that touch our hearts and make us long for the same loyalty and strength and love in our own lives.
But often, I feel that fantasy overlooks another important relationship, perhaps more important.
Family bonds are some of the strongest in the world. And they are inescapable. You can pick and choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family. Your blood, your kin. There are powerful emotions and powerful circumstances that stem from that. Blood bonds can lead to beautiful teamwork or terrible enmity, deep affection or black hatred, tenderness or bitterness, sacrifice or betrayal, in a more profound way than I believe friendships can.
Seeing this, I vowed that the bonds of family were to be a main theme of my fantasy series. I want to portray the various family groups vividly and diversely, to encompass both the bright and the dark, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad of these intensely fascinating relationships.
Family is a very important part of any society, even a fantastical one, and to see it so often overlooked in media and entertainment is disturbing. I find that too much focus is placed on friendships, in both fiction and reality, thus, I decided to write in such a way that the spotlight would be put back on the family unit. Wishing to show that, for all it's heartache and frustration, "there is light and beauty out there, that no shadow can touch."
Hopefully, I will succeed in painting this picture for my audiences. Only time will tell. But for now, I do wish to encourage my fellow writers, whether you write in the fantasy genre or not, to take a step back and assess your novel. What kind of themes are you portraying? What messages are you sending to readers? What message do you want to send?
For me, family is an important and worthy theme to explore and pursue, and I will continue to do so in my novel. It has been very rewarding so far, thinking about and focusing on the "blood bond" and what kinds of things it drives people to do. The human heart is both a marvelous and dark thing to exploit and it has been revealing to do so these long months of writing.
Just another milestone in the long road of writing a series that I thought I'd share.