I’ve been a fan of Tamora Pierce’s Emelan series for what seems like most of my life—I started reading the first quartet in elementary school after zooming through Pierce’s Tortall series, and I’ve always loved how Pierce is able to weave political and social allegories into her fantastical worldbuilding with enough subtlety that it doesn’t seem like it’s beating you over the head. The one thing I don’t like about the series? The next book is taking ages to come out. Seriously, Tris has supposedly been “on her way to Lightsbridge” for years now. But sometimes writing takes longer than you’d expect it to, and I don’t want Ms. Pierce to rush what’s sure to be a good story just because I’m impatient. So in the meantime, there’s fanfic.
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 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.
A couple months ago I finished rereading Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series (again, not counting the Provost’s Dog trilogy starring Beka Cooper, because I still do not have those books), and I found that some of my opinions on the books had changed significantly. I still liked the Song of the Lioness quartet, but felt that it rushed through its worldbuilding; the Immortals quartet was still my beautiful delicate flower child; and whereas I had hated the Protector of the Small quartet when I first read it, I loved it upon rereading. (I guess I’ve learned some things about intersectionality in the last couple years.) However, I hadn’t liked the Trickster duology when I first read it, and apparently, I still didn’t like it when I reread it. After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the story itself I disliked—it was the way in which it was told.
Spoilers for the series and minor spoilers for the rest of the Tortall universe after the jump!
I’m a master procrastinator, so when I had to pack for a trip recently, I instead spent the entire week before I was to go rereading Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series. (Well, almost; I didn’t have the Beka Cooper books on hand.) The Tortall universe is a book series made up of intersecting quartets about amazing female protagonists, set in the fictional kingdom of Tortall. Each quartet spans several years and there are long chronological gaps between each quartet; thus, the series has a chance to discuss some social trends in great depth. And it does just that with sexism.
Mild spoilers for the Tortall books through Protector of the Small after the jump.
Everybody wants to be a cat—but do they really? Animal transformations are a staple of our pop culture, from mega hits like Harry Potter to lesser-known but still awesome books like Holly Black’s The Curse Workers. We love seeing stories where the protagonists can turn into animals and hide from or attack their enemies. However, some of these properties gloss over the actual “transformation” part of an animal transformation, and I think the way the animal transformation is handled can add a lot to a story.
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.
Hello, readers, we here at LGG&F have an announcement to make. Starting off 2015, we are taking a short break and will be on a hiatus for a couple days. We will return with new content January 6th, but until then, we’re reblogging some of our favorite posts for your enjoyment. Happy New Year, and we’ll be back soon! And also, if you like what we do here and are interested in joining the LGG&F team, don’t forget to check out our Careers page and drop us a line!
Theatre Thursdays: How I Learned Representation Matters. Fiyero discovers the importance of representation through musicals.
In the Heights tells the stories of multiple people living in the NYC barrio of Washington Heights. The music, composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is known for being one of the first hip-hop scores to find some success on Broadway. The production is also known for having a predominantly Latino cast and this is what really spoke to me.
Theatre Thursdays: Sex Work as Portrayed in Musicals. Saika takes a look at stigmatized sex workers through the lens of musicals.
As with many other forms of media, prostitution is shown as pretty much the lowest possible rung a woman can reach. Sometimes it’s used as a code word that means ‘she has a tragic backstory’; sometimes it’s used to show just how low she has been brought. Either way, if you’re a sex worker in a musical, odds are you’re gonna have a bad time.
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.