Saturday, April 13, 2013

L Is For Legen (Wait-For-It) dary...

Ha! Had to get that reference in there for the show, "How I Met Your Mother" just because I can.

But I have to correct my title. L isn't for Legendary, but it is for Legends.

In fantasy world building, you have your gods and goddesses, your heroes and your sinister beings hell bent on ruling the world. Magicians and dragons, Elves and Dwarves, Knights, Lords and Ladies... (Ooh, more 'L's'!)

But you also have legends.

These can be stories passed down from generation to generation.

"History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge." ~ Lord of the Rings opening narration.

Stories become history. History becomes legend. This is absolutely true. This can be events that shaped the world at the time they happened. They can be events that shaped the world later, after they happened. They can be people.

Think about some of the fantasy worlds out there that you know of. I'll give you a couple examples of books that stand out in my mind.

In "The Dragon Prince" series by Melanie Rawn, stories and history turned into traditions as well. Every few years there was a dragon hunt. Rohan was told by his father to hunt the dragons to keep the population down to protect his people.

Rohan, however, discovered the truth of why the dragons were hunted and killed. When the dragons hatched from their eggs, they spewed fire to dry out their leathery wings. But when the dragon-fire hit the eggs, they turned into gold. They weren't killing the dragons for population control, they waited until the dragons hatched to take the gold. And so dragon's gold became a legend.

In "The Belgariad" series by David Eddings, Belgarath the Sorcerer and his daughter, Polgara were legends. Stories were told of their deeds and influences on the world. Polgara herself even admitted to involving herself in politics and wars. Even when she wasn't supposed to. But things they had done were in the history scrolls and became legendary.

So what do you have in your world that helps shape and reshape your world? Who or what in your world is considered legendary? You have the foundations of how to build legends, now go forth and be epic!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My first book had a character that after being retired for twenty years was seen a legendary by others.
Legends are on of the coolest aspects of speculative fiction. I'm mulling over an idea right now for a story involving a legend.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I like how George R.R. Martin breaks loose with all the Valyrian stuff in his books. You know if it's Valyrian, then it's super powerful and will just crush everything else.

Tony Laplume said...

This was de - wait for it - lightful. Delightful!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Legends often become embellished over time. The actual event may have been small, but over the years it grows into something epic.

Mel Chesley said...

@ Alex ~ I agree. Legends can be fun!

@ Michael ~ I like that aspect of the Valyrian stuff too.

@ Tony ~ Thanks. ;)

@ Diane ~ This is true, too. Sometimes all it takes is something small to begin something epic.

klahanie said...

Hi Mel,

The legend behind the tale always intrigues me. An air of mystery.

In my world, I have 'wee folks' who enchant my magical garden. Legend has it that the wee folks tried to teach lessons of peace to the big folks. A lesson the big folks have yet to learn.

I thank you for commenting on my site, Mel. Have a peaceful weekend ahead.

Gary :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

This post is legen (wait-for-it) dary... ;)
I'm with you on the couldn't-resist department.

Unknown said...

I love looking at legends and how many other stories they've inspired (and how many stories spawn from the same origin). It's part of why I love mythology so much :)

Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom