Why write an epic fantasy novel? Because of the challenge, of course!
As I've previously written - the key to writing a real epic fantasy novel lies in the word epic. But this doesn’t just mean big in scale, scope, and size. It is a vehicle for understanding what life is about. And even though the story may have strange creatures, or perhaps takes place on an unbelievable world that doesn’t exist it needs to be applicable to the human condition.
For The Harrow series we explore some common themes of the human condition: the examination of the nature of good and evil, the many definitions of love and compassion, the ultimate meaning of life, the struggle one has with their faith, the quest to understand oneself, and the challenge of making the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Yet, the exploration of the human condition does not always take place with a human character. This is what is truly extraordinary about the epic fantasy novel. Insights are gained in unusual and wondrous ways! The reader is forced to make linkages as themes are revealed in a slow manner. The reader’s discovery is more rewarding.
In The Harrow: Shadow in the Flame, we learn more about the divine felines, the Ra Cath. In particular we learn of their faith, and of their struggles in understanding their reality. Here is an excerpt:
The great muscular cat sat alone. Here was the Utine Heru, Lead of the Balor warriors, and a direct descendant of Ra Carathor, the Prime Heru and first Guild Lord. As he looked upon the vast army of the Balor he thought of his younger days, of the great statue of the I' Ra Heru, the mighty feline creator of the Ra Cath. The statue depicted the I’ Ra Heru as a large and powerful feline, with long golden fur, streaks of white and blue, and blackish horns protruding from his massive shoulders. The I’ Ra Heru was a spirit and great stories were written about him. He thought of the stories and of the I’ Ra Heru’s teachings as written by the many Ra Cath clerics. Theirs was a complex faith, one which embodied an understanding of the trials of survival. It was said that the essence of the I’ Ra Heru embodied all Heru felines. But this was something the Utine Heru struggled with.
I look to thee I’ Ra Heru for guidance during these troubled times. I look to you with abundant faith, for the sustenance to help me prevail. I am but your servant during times of war and peace. Your teachings talk of noise and of quiet; of the right choices and of the wrong choices; of the many paths each brings. But I am but your servant.
The Utine Heru looked upon the vast army. A tear came to his eye.
I do not understand why you present such challenges, such noise, the kind that will only bring death and destruction. I do not understand why it must be this way.
An epic fantasy novel is an exploration of the big questions in life. Any writer must produce a work that will enrich other peoples lives by shedding light on the human condition.