Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Animals in Fantasy

For me, animals in a fantasy story root me in the real world. There are animals in fantasy and fantastical animals. I tend to like real animals. Oh, I don't mind the odd talking or magical animal but for me the best kind of animal in a fantasy is a horse.

Fantasies come in all kind. Some genres don't use horses at all. Urban fantasy, for instance, generally doesn't need horses. But those of us who learned to love fantasy by reading the old fashioned sword and sorcery tales understand the joy that rises to the spirit when a horse enters the page.

The horse alone -- sans its rider-- is a symbol of strength, nobility, loyalty, restraint, war and the old days. Its strength, its speed, and its nobility is given to the warrior. For me, a horse is a warrior's equipment -- like a sword, like a mantle thrown casually over his shoulder and blown in the wind. A fantasy story without a horse lacks nobility and lacks the Sensawunda Once-upon-a-time age-old quality. Horses are the cavalry: Sword and sorcery is essentially about someone on a great mission who will -- in the long run-- save someone, some great land, some oppressed people. Saviors and avengers as well as villains ride on horses. Even if the horse has no magic power, when the protagonist sits upon it, the reader has confidence that something wonderful is afoot, that the Savior and the True Prince has arrived.

In many western and eastern myths, heroes ride on horses.  

In Christianity, when Jesus returns as king, he is depicted as being on a horse.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Revelations 19:11
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 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.


Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.

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