Magical Realism plus Medieval Fantasy equals what? Historical Fiction with Magic or something totally new?

It’s common for people to confuse magical realism with fantasy, but what, I ask, after understanding their differences, would they look like combined? Combined, would it simply be medieval historical fiction with some magic thrown in or would we be dealing with a whole new genre? You may find my conclusion very interesting.

First let me briefly describe what I find to be the extreme difference between the two genres.

Magical realism uses magic to bring the reader closer to reality, while fantasy uses the same to help the reader escape from it. Magical realism, in other words, brings us closer to truth. Fantasy, by its design, takes us away from truth. This is exactly why much magical realism is considered literature and why much fantasy is not. Literature, for reasons of academic growth, urges us to think in order to understand the meanings behind things in our own real world. Fantasy, though it may provoke thoughts now and then, wants us to escape from reality for reasons of pleasure.

fantasy vs magical realism - creating a new genre

I believe that in a “magical realism-esque fantasy story” there should be little or no explanation of the laws governing magic and spells because all the laws here are already governed by all the natural laws of reality.

Now, some may wonder, is something like this no different than historical fiction with some magic thrown in? The answer is no because we’re still stealing from fantasy here in the sense that the world our characters live in may be a different world than our own, so therefore all the nitpicking of names, locations and dates you find in historical fiction is unnecessary here. In historical fiction a reader would scoff if she saw a knight with a 16th century bascinet wearing a 12th century harness. The said technology is separated by 400 years! In fantasy, however, a combination like this is acceptable because it’s fantasy. Considering this, we also can’t forget that we are stealing from magical realism as well, and what that means is, though we may be able to invent our own locations and dates, we can’t, however, change the laws of reality. The fantastic elements we’re applying are all here to make the reader learn more about the very world she lives in and this would be difficult, but not impossible, if the world in the story was too different than our own real world.

the difference between magical realism and fantasy

Traditional fantasy, full of myths and misconceptions about history, can very well teach us a few things about our own world but that still doesn’t make it magical realism. Magical realism would be no different than fantasy if it didn’t pride itself in being an academic source for truth. So if they were to be combined would we get something very similar to alternate history or low-fantasy? Yea, medieval alternate history, with made up dates, a few fake locations, yet still holding true to the laws of our own universe, suggesting what might have happened if a bit of magic existed here and there for the purpose of learning more about our own world, is very close to “magical realism and medieval fantasy combined,” but we’re still not quite there.

What would the Battle of Crécy have looked like with dragons involved? What would be the most realistic outcome? What could this outcome teach us about our own world? These are questions an alternate history author might ask. And these questions also underline the one limitation alternate history has, the one limitation “magical realism and medieval fantasy combined” does not have–historical setting!

what is magical realism compared to fantasy

Fantasy worlds have very different historical settings than our own. For example you might call a fantasy author rather unimaginative if she named the two warring kingdoms in her story England and France because fantasy kingdoms should have their own fantastic names. And, indeed, the kingdoms in “magical realism and medieval fantasy combined” might very well have their own fantastic names as well. In fact, the whole planet the story occurs on may be different, BUT although the planet might be different, it still, in order to be “magical realism-esque,” has to exist in the same universe as our own planet and therefore must obey the laws of our own universe!

Do you know what this means? Do you understand how impactful this is? Knowing that my “medieval fantasy” is taking place on a planet very similar to Earth, in the same universe as Earth, I’m free to make up my own locations, dates and events while still being “ultra realistic,” and, unlike in alternate history or historical fiction, I can even invent a completely new historical setting as well. And although my world is “ultra realistic” no one can bash me if my characters are wearing morions with hourglass gauntlets (two pieces of armor which, when considering Earth’s historical accuracy, would never be seen together) because, lo and behold, technology here has transpired differently than on Earth because my whole historical setting is different… EUREKA!

This in an essence, having a medieval setting (which happens to have magic) on a different planet than Earth while still being in the same universe as Earth and so therefore still adhering to the same laws of reality as our own universe, is “magical realism and medieval fantasy combined” because, like fantasy, our story is taking place in a different world than our own, but, like magical realism, our story is also obliged to follow the rules of reality and bring us closer to truth. The only thing we must do now is create a name for this exciting new genre. What do you think?

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A Different Way to Study History: Do Dates and Names even Matter?

Here I am going to recommend a unique way of studying history and ask the question, why, in schools, do we put so much importance on having students of history remember the names of people, places and things, the dates of events?

Firstly, ask yourself, “Knowing that time focused on one thing takes away from time focused on another, why do we tell ourselves not to repeat the tragedies of history, to learn from history’s mistakes, before we then force our students to take tests emphasizing the importance of names and dates?” Keep that frame of thought to contain this: we should be testing our students on the lessons history has to teach us, as well as the significance behind events. Why waste time remembering boring trivia when instead you could be delving into the awesomeness of history? And by the word awesome I don’t mean the synonyms amazing and spectacular. I mean the dissected version of the word.


Awe-some.


history for fantasy writers

Many things from history can make a man awe. For instance when mariners from the Old World would sail toward the New, they would awe at the amount of birds that could live many leagues from the shore. The birds would take advantage of the midocean ships, rooking in the rigging, resting on the crosstrees, as if the ships were mere floating rocks, until scurvy dogs with innovated traps would find ways to snag them from the sails. Today, occurrences like this, like many other occurrences in history, while considering culture, can only be replicated by reenactment. Isn’t that awesome?

It’s nearly time to begin the Great Crusade to bring Truth to the Medieval Fantasy Genre

I chose the title for this paper very carefully. A few months ago I might have said “time to begin the Great Crusade against Misconceptions in the Medieval Fantasy Genre,” but I’ve learned, through comical experience on Reddit, that in order to win this holy war we must not fight against what we hate–lies and misconceptions–but rather save what we love–truth!

When first becoming a self-published fantasy writer I did all kinds of research into “how to sell e-books” and even joined forums like Kboards to ask for help and advice. In my search I came across a popular strategy called “write to market” which has helped many authors on Amazon sell thousands of books. I would have tried this strategy for myself if it did not work against my ethics and against my vision for the Medieverse. You see, in order to implement this write to market strategy I must learn all the popular fantasy tropes that fantasy readers love and, yea, copy them, copy all the tropes which are essentially misconceptions (like the hero wearing a sword on his back, or medieval cities having no surrounding suburbs or farmland because it looks pretty). In other words I must be a “John Doe” and write what the majority wants to read. I call that a short-term strategy. Now I, after dear and sincere studying, have instead decided to make a grand, public long-term strategy very similar to the Crusades.

the crusade against medieval misconceptions

Like the great Latin barons of the first military Crusade, not the People’s Crusade, I’m not warring for myself or for any material gains; I’m warring because I truly believe it’s wrong to pump misconceptions into young people’s minds so that they then go on to take it all as truth! Like Peter the Hermit, I’m appealing to a subconscious need, one inherent in many of us, that may take several decades to ripen into material life, and as things like HEMA and Lindybeige become more popular my quest will become easier. I see Lindybeige as one of the great Crusader barons bringing truth to the Holy Land, and each and every HEMA practitioner, every Matt Easton fan, as one of the many knights, footmen, auxiliaries and camp-followers who are making this Crusade possible. And I don’t mind if other authors see my ideas and steal them. In fact I want as many authors as possible to follow this much-needed calling and join me.

How many people do you know believe that knights in plate armor were walking tin cans that could barely run and jump? How many people do you know believe that you can hold back the drawstring of a war bow at full draw for as long as you want in order to threaten someone with dialogue? How many people do you know believe that cannons weren’t around in the Middle Ages? These people have been lied to, arguably unintentionally, and they don’t even know it yet. It’s our duty to “wake them up” so to speak.

Now I could go on for hours and hours about all the things that every fantasy author is doing wrong but in the long-run that would only damage myself. In order to truly see a change I must talk about all the awesome things the medieval fantasy genre should be showing and why they’re so important. I say that it’s “nearly time” to begin our Crusade because frankly I still have much, much learning to do before I can become the man I need to be in order to lead our crusading armies to victory, and perhaps you yourself are already ready and can lead your army past the emperor at Constantinople (traditional publishers) without me. Yea, I see a bright future with movies that show HEMA techniques and picture books that make children want to learn more about the real truth of the Middle Ages rather than about orcs and goblins. Welcome to the early days of the Western world’s second Renaissance where instead of gaining inspiration from our Roman and Greek predecessors we are doing so from our true national histories (Americans falling in love with their ancestors’ Franco-German traditions for example). I highly thank you for reading, for reading this and just reading in general. I promise we will be victorious. Truth will, metaphorically, thrive within the holy places, within each and every one of us.

PS, if you live in Victoria BC, Canada and are interested in custom leather book binding or collecting rare vintage books I highly recommend Period Fine Bindings in Oak Bay. There I recently got my hands on a A New Dictionary of Heraldry printed in 1739 and will soon be using it to design the coats of arms for many characters in the Medieverse.

 

What is medieval fantasy for adults?

When we were children it was easy for us to become enchanted by stories and films that were riddled with unrealistic scenarios and outcomes because stories designed for children and the wider audience are for the most part unrealistic on purpose. After all, fairy tales intentionally contain absolutes and one-dimensional characters because they’re important for the growth of our children’s moralities and identities. And many traditional fantasy novels, inspired by medieval fairy tales, continue this pattern of writing for children and the wider audience. If you’ve chosen the path of a medievalist or simply are passionate about medieval living you probably already know how easy it is to be dissatisfied with most medieval fantasy. There are of course gems like The Traitor Son Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire which are intentionally inspired by actual history rather than fairy tales and these tend to grab a different audience.

I dream for medieval fantasy stories that even the most scholared of academics can not only enjoy but lose themselves in just like they do when they read manuscripts in their preferred niche. Not yet to this day is there a medieval fantasy movie deserving the description ‘realistic’ (of course excluding non-fantasy historical epics from the 1920s to 1980s like A Man for All Seasons).

Once you’ve truly delved into medieval history you too will realize how unrealistic even the newest of medieval films and TV shows really are. For instance the movie Ironclad has thatch that’s only as thick as my thumb; The Last Kingdom shows everyone, even the rich, wearing drab-colored clothing; Game of Thrones, perhaps worst of all despite its reputation, shows swords stabbing through breastplates!

Realistic fantasy will never be better or worse than unrealistic fantasy because at the end of the day everyone needs something to read.

For further reading consider the volume Misconceptions About the Middle Ages edited by Stephen Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby

Once again I make a shout out to http://manuscriptminiatures.com/ for the amazing image!

 

 

 

A List of Interesting Interjections and Archaic Exclamations! Te Deum!

Somewhere in the Caribbean…

Adieu: “Goodbye!”

Example: Adieu, poltroon! Fall on my spadroon!

Viva: “Long live!”

Example: Adieu to you, craven! Viva Captain Flint!

Voila: “There you go!”

Example: Have it your way, macho. Voila! Take that!

En garde: “On guard!”

Example: Ha! Your spadroon is no match for my cutlass! En garde, dead man!

Egad: “Oh!” “Wow!” “Yes!”

Example: Egad, how did you hit me? You will pay for that, old man!”

Gad: “Oh my god!”

Example: Ha! You really think?–Gad, my wrist! You cheat! You are the one who will pay!”

Faugh: “Disgusting!”

Example: Faugh, you may have a superior sword but I have superior skill, pendejo.

Huzzah: “Yay!” “Oh yeah!”

Example: Oh yeah? I don’t think so! Huzzah! Take this! What? How did you block that?

Quotha: “Really it is so” “Indeed!” “Forsooth”

Example: I blocked your attack because, like I said, pendejo, your skills are lacking, quotha.

Fie: “Damn!” “Disgusting!”

Example: Fie, that snake in your mouth makes me sick.”

Oyez: “Hear ye!” “Attention!” “Hearken!”

Example: If my tongue makes you so sick–oyez! Oyez! Oyez, my friend. My tongue will hiss you off to your grave and–egad, my heart! You bastard! You stabbed me in the heart!

Tut-tut: “What a shame” “Tsk tsk”

Example: You had skill but, tut-tut, you talked too much.

 

 

 

A List of Rare Archaic Adverbs – How To Sound Medieval/Renaissance

Want to add a historical touch to your words without sounding like Shakespeare? Experiment with some of the adverbs below to find the historical touch you were looking for.

I understand that in Britain many of these words are far from rare but in places like Canada where many old words have been neglected these words come far less often to human lips.

Cap-a-pie (16th century) – “from head to foot” – Example: The wolf was covered cap-a-pie in mud.

Tête-à-tête (17th century) – “face to face in private” – Example: I slowed my horse to chat tête-à-tête with the captain.

Well-nigh (11th century) – “almost” “nearly” – Example: The siege was well-nigh lifted.

Widdershins (16th century) – “counterclockwise” “in a left hand” “against the sun’s course” – Example: I rolled the dice widdershins across the floor.

Alfresco (18th century) – “out in the open air” – Example: With our tour of Florence complete, we stopped at the loggia for a refreshment alfresco.

Aloft (13th century) – “overhead” “at a great height” – Example: The knights waved their weapons aloft.

Certes (13th century) – “assuredly” “I assure you” – Example: Certes, Your Magnifico, I meant no harm!

Forsooth (12th century) – “indeed” – Example: It was a sad day forsooth.

Shillyshally (18th century) – “in a hesitating manner” – Example: The pardoned boy bowed shillyshally to his frowning mother.

Whilom (12th century) is synonymous with Erstwhile (16th century) – “in the past” “formerly” – Example: The cardinal, who was whilom a mere priest, said the evening prayer.

Yon (11th century) – “that” – Example: I wouldn’t go near yon graveyard if I were you.

Anywise (13th century) – “in any manner or way” – Example: The queen gets what she wants anywise.

Singly (14th century) – “individually” “one by one” – Example:  Come singly to see His Magnificence!

Anon (11th century) –  “soon” “shortly” – Example: Indeed, my dear brother, the world shall anon be ours!

Lief (13th century) – “readily” “willingly” “gladly” – Example: His Majesty lief accepted the proposition.

Thanks for visiting and I hope this list helps you anon.

 

 

 

Brigandine vs. Brigantine vs. Barkentine vs. Barquentine vs. Barque (Brain Bubblegum)


BRIGAN’d’INE

realistic fantasy art

Inspired by the 11th century coat of plates, a brigandine is a 12th to 16th century vest or jacket of armor. It consists of many metal plates held together by a sturdy textile. Many times in history the plates were small, overlapping and hidden under fabric. In movies and videogames today, however, the most popular version of a brigandine is a long coat of canvas covered with visible rectangular plates (somewhat similar to the Japanese kikko in appearance).


BriganTine

boat-2022434_1280

In the early 17th century, a brigantine (the most talked about version of it today) was a two-masted sailing vessel with a square-rigged foresail and a fore-and-aft mainsail (like in the picture above). Much earlier in the 13th century, a brigantine was a sexy lateen rigged ship, popular among Mediterranean pirates for its nimbleness in action. Later in the 17th century, when ‘brigantine’ was being used throughout the New World, the word meant a ship that was slightly different than the early 17th century version: it’s foresail was still square-rigged, but the mainmast was gaff-rigged and had a few extra square-rigged sails on the top of it. Other unique ways of rigging a ship became associated with the word brigantine during the 18th century and onwards. Overall, though, a brigantine was simply naught more than a quick way to board ya for some pieces of eight, ya scallywag! I hope ya captain’s ready for a good keelhauling! Shoulda handed da booty while ya had da chance. Yar!


Barkentine aka Barquentine

(also called schooner bark or schooner barque)

A barkentine is a 17th to 21st century sailing ship similar to an early 17th century brigantine, though instead of only having one fore-and-aft sail behind the square-rigged foresail, a barkentine can have two or more fore-and-aft sails (like in the picture below). Therefore, a barkentine was longer than a brigantine, too. The extra triangular staysails corded to the nose are called jibs.

brigandine vs barkentine vs brigantine


Barque, Barke, Bark, Barc, Barca (no it doesn’t mean ‘dog’)

Barque is an ancient word which has sailed throughout many cultures, hence the many ways to spell it. It’s hard to say if every culture used the same rigging on their barques because in many places the word simply meant “boat.” Today, however, people of the world have come to agree that a barque is a 15th to 21st century three-masted ship. The front two sails are square-rigged, but the mizzenmast has fore-and-aft rigging. It’s naught more than an early 17th century brigantine with an extra square-rigged mast plunked in amidships. So grab ya spyglass, matie! Brace yourself and spot the barque in the picture below. Yar! And don’t forget to surrender ya booty next time or we’ll keelhaul ya captain thrice over!

best pirate boats