I always loved Lord of the Rings but I worried – can an orc change? Even Bilbo had his moment of savagery, after all. But could an orc go country dancing? Grow roses, maybe?
Just a year ago I was writing a 5 star review on Amazon for The Last Gatekeeper, a debut Young Adult novel by Katy Haye. It kept me up until the small hours wanting to know what happened. Now The Last Dreamseer, the second in her Chronicles of Fane series, is out today.
The arrival of this novel started me thinking about why I so enjoy fantasy fiction and what is special about the Young Adult end of the genre in particular. And I suppose the first, the universal element is the opportunity it gives us to marvel.
In our rationalist world we are taught to deconstruct, analyze, assess, evaluate. All excellent tools to inform judgment. But wonder is another part of ship. You don’t have to suspend judgment to experience amazement, that sense of something immense and powerful.
Who ever said the Niagara Falls were a bit chocolate boxy? Who judges the forest? Wind? Water?
Desire for Knowledge
A sense of wonder is followed by the desire for knowledge. And this is where we get into territory that Young Adult fiction is so good at. Consider Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, a particular favourite of mine. Or the wonderful Diana Wynne Jones’s Witch Week. (Pretty much anything by Diana Wynne Jones actually.) Or the strange and scary Chime by Franny Billingsley – tag line ‘The story of a wicked girl has no true beginning.’ Knowledge is good and necessary but it is never enough.
Knowledge on its own cannot find solutions. You also have to overcome fear, understand consequences, have some idea of what drives other people and know yourself. And then Choose.
Do you go through hidden doors to who knows where?
And this is where much Young Adult fiction is so interesting. It seems to me that Tolkien said there were temptations to overcome and times of trial but your identity was set and the moral path was laid out. An orc was an orc.
Writers like the ones I’ve named, including Katy Haye, seem to say that you have to find both for yourself. For someone like me, ineradicably committed to a happy ending, that is irresistible. Maybe someday, somewhere, someone will write the book where an orc finds he’s a gardener.
The Last Dreamseer
Deena endured her first dreamseer vision at the age of six. Now sixteen and having seen how her mother’s abilities were abused by Fane’s rulers, she would do anything to avoid the future that lies ahead when her mother dies and Deena inherits her role.
When she meets Zan, Fane’s last gatekeeper, Deena sees a chance to gain her freedom. But Zan is accompanied by Cal, rebel thorn in the old queen’s side. Deena can’t risk Cal discovering that she was once forced to betray him – but she needs him if she’s ever to escape.
for launch week only November 27th – December 4th
The Last Dreamseer is on sale for 99c/99p,
after which it will return to a permanent price of $2.99/£2.49
Kindle – http://authl.it/48a
All other formats – http://bit.ly/1I3Agqf