Imagine my joy when my library informed me that Inheritance, the final book in The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, was available for me to check out. I quickly downloaded and transferred the audio book to my mp3 player and put in the earbuds.
Man, was I disappointed.
The book begins immediately with a battle with detailed descriptions of graphic blood and gore. So what, you say, Eragon, Saphira, and the forces of good are engaged in a war to overthrow the evil Galbatorix. That's what happens.
I beg to differ.
Paolini is an excellent author, but he, like most, if not all, fantasy authors still subscribes to the Myth of Redemptive Violence, namely that good triumphs over evil through violence.
I have not finished the book (and I will do so), but let me go out on a limb and predict how the book will end.
Eragon will continue to train, there will be some questions how how bad violence is, but alas, the characters will have no choice. There will be several more battles, culminating in a major fight between Eragon/Saphira versus Galbatorix/Shruikan. It will be a tough struggle, but wonder of wonders, Eragon will kill Galbatorix, probably with his sword Brisingr.
Tada! Another happy, bloody ending.
I have no problem with the triumph of good over evil. My faith leads me to believe that this is what ultimately will happen. Even in the present, "all things work out for the good . . ." But I serve a Divinity who chose to suffer, to receive violence rather than call upon legions of angels to fight, and transformed death into life and restored lives. What a powerful concept!
So where are the stories that reflect this Third Way?
I am disappointed by the continuing proliferation of stories that perpetuate the myth that violence solves problems. The only difference between the good guys and the bad guys is not their war mongering methods, it is who comes out on top.
I am disappointed by the continuing equation of evil with darkness or blackness and goodness with white or light in much of fantasy literature, which quite frankly is racist and is a disservice to my black sisters and brothers.
I am disappointed by the lack of true wisdom, not about ancient weapon-wielding tactics, but about the Third Way, that narrow space that exists between all conflict and brings all into the realm of peace.
I am disappointed that we continue to demonize some and place others beyond redemption as a way to continue to bring war and rumors of war to the world without and to the world within our minds, wherein such ideas germinate and become policy.
You see, I too created a fantasy trilogy when I was 15. And while I do not claim to be a good author, as I have matured and continued to write, I have seen the stories shaped to address the disappointments I list above. I hope someday for them to be published and perhaps even be successful.
But in the meantime, I will continue to call modern day fantasy authors to move beyond what has become a rather tired and worn out plot outline.
So writer, I don't care how crafty a wordsmith you are, how complex your plot, how exciting your climax, or how beautiful your prose, it is past time for you to evolve beyond the Myth of Redemptive Violence.
Are you up to the challenge?
Reprinted from <http://peacegrooves.wordpress.com/>