FROM TOLKIEN TO TARGARYEN: THE LURE OF EPIC FICTION

My primary school teacher’s name was Mrs Boyne. She once told my mother, ‘Your son is a complete dreamer.’ 

Hard to argue. I spent most of my schooldays looking out of the window thinking about all the places I’d go as soon as I was old enough. 

I blame my Aunt Ivy.  Every Sunday she took the train down from London to visit, bringing with her a collection of Classics Illustrated comics she’d picked up cheap at the local markets.  

I was eight years old when I first read Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff. By the end of that first afternoon, I was hooked on broad canvas adventure. 

And I’d discovered a gateway to another world. 

epic adventure fiction

I read all of Verne and most of H. Rider Haggard in an afternoon. I also read Homer’s Odyssey, but I never found out how it ended because the last page had been ripped out. In my mind, he’s still out there somewhere, desperately searching the horizon.

As soon as I left school, I wanted some adventures of my own, so I hitch-hiked around Europe and Asia.

But I realised there are some adventures you can only experience through the pages of a book. 

It’s the only way you can go north of The Wall or visit the fabled city of Xanadu; fight with Moroccan warlords and Templar knights, or climb the ancient Aztec temples with Montezuma.

It’s also the only way to meet Tyrion Lannister or Alexander the Great; to glimpse Julius Caesar in the sweat and press of the Roman Forum, or to follow Suleiman the Magnificent into the forbidden palace of his harem.

For a long time, the world was largely ruled by vampires, serial killers and boy wizards, and epic adventure was shunted to the sidelines.

But thanks to HBO and Netflix, Game of Thrones and The Last Kingdom, epic action is sexy again.

There is something in many of us that hears the siren call of the impossible and the exotic. 

Where will you go in 2022?

One thought on “FROM TOLKIEN TO TARGARYEN: THE LURE OF EPIC FICTION”

  1. So true, dear Colin. Me math teacher said the same about me, and he was right.
    I am now watching GoT again, and much to my surprise, its impact is even deeper than the first time.
    I’m still a dreamer, and I believe that’s what has pulled me through when times were rough. Art kept me going, and art is impossible without fantasy.
    Where would we be without it? Life would be dull and colourless.
    I’m thankful for all the stories that have triggered our imagination all these years since ancient times. We need them, they are part of our human history.
    And we need storytellers like yourself to contribute to that history, so it may continue to be colourful, keeping our fantasy flying!

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