I don’t know about you, but one of the main reasons I read fantasy is to escape reality. I want to be transported into worlds that are full of magic and excitement. I want to know that I can be an elf with perfect aim or a magician with the power to control the weather. Unfortunately, as a queer person I often run into a problem—I apparently don’t exist in most of the worlds I want to visit. There is enough bigotry and ignorance in the real world. The point of a fantasy world is that it’s different from the real one. But how different is it, really, if there is no place for LGBTQ+ people in it? (Same goes for many other minorities, but that’s a topic for another post, perhaps.) And I’m so tired of it.
I just want to find myself in there (art by liang91)
I am also particularly tired of people trying to justify the lack of LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy. Setting aside arguments about “the gay agenda” and queer characters being “distracting”, which you see in any kind of fiction, one of the most common and frustrating lines that comes up when discussing fantasy is “labels such as gay, lesbian, etc. wouldn’t make sense in a fantasy world”. All this argument does, in my opinion, is betray a lack of creativity and abundance of bigotry in both the readers and the authors. Not only do these labels make sense, they’re extremely easy to add in.
Spoilers for the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce and Pantomime by Laura Lam below the jump.
I’m almost done with my reread of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series, and as has been the case with all her books, I’m discovering that while each book is a marvel of fast-paced plots and fantastic character development, they often have deeper issues and implications that weren’t at once clear to a younger me. Such is the case with one of the later books in the series, The Will of the Empress. In it, the mage foursome have grown up and gone on individual adventures, and when Briar, Daja, and Tris return to Sandry and Emelan, each of them find that their childhood foster siblings have changed significantly. But they don’t have time to iron out all their differences: Sandry’s great-uncle, Duke Vedris of Emelan, asks Briar, Daja, and Tris to accompany Sandry to far-off Namorn, where Sandry still holds Landreg lands and titles through her deceased mother. Though they complain about it, they each agree to go with Sandry. Once in Namorn, they quickly find that Namorn has a kidnap custom that reads like a pretty clear rape allegory.
Trigger warning for rape and rape culture after the jump. Also, spoilers for the whole of The Will of the Empress.
Ever since Saika wrote her Throwback Thursday on Tamora Pierce’s The Circle of Magic series, I’ve been excited about going back and revisiting them. As a person who loves YA, The Circle of Magic books are some of my favorites, and now that I’ve reread them, I can say that it is not only the diversity of the worldbuilding that makes this series unique; Pierce also does an excellent job building the magic of her world.
This last summer I’ve been trying to revisit my favorite books from years past. I recently reread the first four Circle of Magic books, which were my first introduction as a younger reader into the prolific fantasy worlds of their author Tamora Pierce. Having just finished the last of the quartet, I feel like I can say with confidence: Tamora Pierce is better than your faves.