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message 1: by John (new)

John Jr. (john_r_phythyon_jr) | 12 comments So what's everyone's take on religion in a fantasy novel? Do you like seeing it in there? How developed do you want it to be? Do prefer completely new religions or ones based on exisiting real-world ones?

It seems to me a people's religious/spiritual beliefs are a key component of their culture. If you're creating a new culture, you have to also create (at least in general terms) their answers to the big questions of "Why am I here?" and "What does it all mean?".

C.S. Lewis's CHRONICLES OF NARNIA is probably the template for adapting real-world religion to fantasy. Frank Herbert does a fine job with creating something new in DUNE.

So, do you like religion in your fantasy? Why or why not?


message 2: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments I prefer entirely new religions or some kind of spin of real-world ones in my fantasy. Religion or a belief system of any type is really integral to human culture, so for any made up society to be believable to me, there must be some kind of belief system that makes up the background of their world. I particularly like stories where gods interfere directly in the narrative.

Anne Bishop's Tir Alain trilogy had a very obvious christian like religion that persecutes witches. I did enjoy the trilogy, but I was always aware that hers was a thinly veiled reference to a real-world situation which kinda took me out of the narrative sometimes.

Then of course, there's the spin-off religion in Kushiel's Dart which had very clear tenet: "Love as thou wilt". I first read it when I was in high school so as a teenager that was some heady stuff and I had loved the idea of a religion based on sensuality.

The most bizarre one I have come across was in Karen Miller's Empress. It was very a very brutal and exotic kind of religion. The same could be said of pretty much the entire book.

My absolute favourite though, is the god system in Firethorn. It's very complex and weaves in to the narrative often. Gods are responsible for every part of daily life, from their name, family clan and house. The aristocrats in this world have the constellation of their clan's god tattooed on their cheeks. It's these kind of small and meticulous details of a world that I really enjoy.


message 3: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I prefer a completely new religious system as well. I find that we all have particular views on religion - so when the belief system is too close but derivative to my own...my own issues with religion start to crop up. That tends to pull me out of the story.


message 4: by John (new)

John Jr. (john_r_phythyon_jr) | 12 comments MrsJoseph wrote: "I prefer a completely new religious system as well. I find that we all have particular views on religion - so when the belief system is too close but derivative to my own...my own issues with reli..."

Interesting. So what about a fantasy novel with a belief system based on a real-world religion, where it's used so the author can make commentary on the world we live in? Does that kick you out of the story too much, or is that a different situation?


message 5: by S.J. (new)

S.J. Lewis (sjlewis) | 469 comments For me, it would depend heavily on how light a touch the author has in getting points across. If I'm reading a fantasy novel the last thing I want to encounter is a lecture.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) Religion/spirituality/philosophy is a particular interest/hobby of mine, so I don't mind seeing it in fantasy and, depending on how it's done, I really enjoy it.

As far as new religious systems... I'm sort of of the mind that, like original stories, they don't really exist. I mean, there have been so many different belief systems and practices throughout the ages that I think it would hard to come up with something truly unique - but I do think people can put interesting spins on things based on religion, both past and present.

Dune, for instance, I don't see as totally original systems but, rather, syncretisms based on various real-life systems which is based on speculation of what could actually happen based on taking systems we have now and moving them, and humanity, forward several hundreds or thousands of years. (I forget how far in the future Dune is supposed to be.)

Two things I don't like:

1) I don't like things to feel too preachy. If you want to use religions and whatnot to make a point, then fine, but don't go overboard. And this goes even for systems that I agree with. I read for entertainment, not for polemics.

2) If you are going to use names and systems which do exist, then make them have some semblance to the original. For instance, I liked Gaiman's handling of the gods in American Gods. And while I'm not exactly ga-ga over Hounded (of the Iron Druid Chronicles), I did think the gods felt like fairly accurate portrayals from mythology.

But I sort of hated how they were used in the Nicholas Flamel stories. (Well, story - I only ever read the first one.)


message 7: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments John wrote: "Interesting. So what about a fantasy novel with a belief system based on a real-world religion, where it's used so the author can make commentary on the world we live in? Does that kick you out of the story too much, or is that a different situation? "

As Colleen stated, as long as its not preachy. And I expected to find real-world religions based on the blurb. If I expect pure fantasy and get a social/religious commentary instead...DNF.


message 8: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments A "light" touch is exactly it. In the Ann Bishop trilogy I mentioned, there were parts that made me kind of roll my eyes, since it felt a little...pedantic. The villain is very Torquemada-like and there's some very "satanic" imagery in the end.

There's another series that I kind of hated, (which had nothing to do with the religious aspect). Sara Douglass' The Wayfarer Redemption has a main character that is thoroughly brainwashed by some religious order and this keeps him from fulfilling some prophecy or other. Personally, I found this to be handled well and didn't feel as heavy handed as Bishop's work did. Other's disagree.

Colleen said it perfectly, I read mostly for entertainment and the minute I fell like the author is soapboxing I lose the threads of the story and it kind of ruins the reading experience.

For my part, I've only ever seen this kind of thing happen with books that base their religions on Christianity.


message 9: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Oh I hated the Wayfarer Redemption.


message 10: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Yeah, I'm pretty sure I DNF'd it. I honestly can't remember if I bothered to finish it.


message 11: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Sophie wrote: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I DNF'd it. I honestly can't remember if I bothered to finish it."

I know I didn't. I found all of the characters to be insufferable and the preaching to be rather obvious. No redeeming parts at all (except for the cover).


message 12: by ~Thena~ (new)

~Thena~ (athena-nadine) | 48 comments I liked the whole Wayfarer Redemption series, so I'll be the odd one out here. lol

As for the OP, I don't mind religion in the books I read. I prefer religions that are created specifically for the specific worlds of the books because they feel more authentic to me. No matter the religion, though, it absolutely has to feel like a natural part of the workd building/plot and not simply something put into a story because the author couldn't help proselytizing.


message 13: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments yeah, I remember the cover being the entire reason I picked it up.


message 14: by Bryn (last edited Jun 13, 2012 02:45PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) I have an interest in fantasy that explores religions. Created ones - though these are hard to do with depth - real, or most often real elements with invention, that can focus what the author wants to talk about.

An example maybe dodgy is the Duncton series about moles, with religious wars a big part of the plot. I lap them up... Duncton Wood

What I'm reading now, John Cowper Powys, Atlantis, fantasy about Odysseus' last voyage in old age (very much fantasy - flies and Hercules' club have consciousness and are part of the cast) is deeply about pagan religion, by a guy knowledgable but with his own eccentric ideas: he does with Greek paganism things that the historical religion never did or would have - and that's what fantasy can do. Finding it absolutely fascinating. --In fact you can accuse him and quite rightly of having convictions to present to you. This needn't be a bad thing... like an author's other beliefs about the world. Of course if he were heavy-handed or preachy I wouldn't last a page.

I'm just into old relgions (or possible religions - every bit as interesting, written well) and fantasy is a great way to explore them.


message 15: by Donna (new)

Donna Royston | 64 comments As with everything in fiction, everything depends on how well the author does it.

My own peeve is when a fantasy religion is an evil parody of Christianity. No imagination required whatsoever. Done to death.

Personally, I don't care if a fantasy novel has overt religion or not, but if it's there, give it life, give it interest, make it intriguing.

However, I'm sympathetic to how difficult it is.


message 16: by S.J. (new)

S.J. Lewis (sjlewis) | 469 comments Christianity has been mentioned several times, but Christianity actually has a number of sects and offshoots, starting with the Catholic/Protestant divide. Some Christians believe that one can be saved through faith only, while others assert that good works are also required. And then there are some who claim that whether or not on is saved is predetermined and predestined, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The USA is full of variations on the theme, including Amish, Mennonite, Quaker, Shaker, Seventh-Day Adventist and Mormon. There are Baptists, Southern Baptists, and further splinterings not just among the Baptists but among other denominations as well. Some of the old factions have faded away over the centuries. No one is likely to be burned at the stake for being a Monophysite any more, just to cite one example.


message 17: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 572 comments I read for entertainment and I have a pretty low tolerance to 'real life religions' as a part of my fantasy storylines. Too many authors seem to have a heavy hand with it and that is a quick turnoff for me.

I've read many fantasies which managed to incorporate archaic religious beliefs very well ... and several with religions as part of the framework for the storyline that work well.

The best example I can think of for a religious system that is a part of the storyline that works very well as a major part of the story is the "Five Gods" pantheon of Lois Bujold's "Chalion" series. It works well as a major part of the plot itself and it is consistent and rational as a religion also.


message 18: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments I have to bump the Chalion series up on my TBR, it's had too many recommendations in one week not to look into.


message 19: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Robin wrote: "I read this thread with great interest, because I have just published the third book in my own Christian fantasy fiction series, The Guardian Trilogy (Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy). Since I wante..."

HI Robin,

This post seems that it would work best in the "Self-Promotions" folder. Could you re-post this in that location? All comments requesting reviews or giving away copies should be placed in Self-Promotions.


message 20: by Robin (new)

Robin Helm (robinhelm) | 77 comments I just deleted it. No problem.


message 21: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments Yes, CHALION has a superb religious and very creative system, which ties perfectly into plot and character. Another good example might be the Risen Empire duology by Scott Westerfeld, in which two competing religions, each ruling a significant chunk of the galaxy, duke it out for top billing. Neither of them are very pleasant or inspiring -- no gentle Jesus meek and mild here -- but boy howdy, they are *different*.


message 22: by Librarymouse (new)

Librarymouse | 7 comments Sharon wrote: "I read for entertainment and I have a pretty low tolerance to 'real life religions' as a part of my fantasy storylines. Too many authors seem to have a heavy hand with it and that is a quick turnof..."

This is about how I feel too. I don't mind there being religious overtones when the religion is something entirely fictional, or based on something archaic. If it's something based on a popular modern religion I'm more wary of it, because it seems to me that quite often those exist solely for the author to express their opinion of said religion, with only an afterthought given as to whether it makes for good storytelling. When the preaching gets blatant, I get annoyed.

I read fantasy to get away from the real world, gosh darnit! If I want to have a crisis of faith I'll do it on my own time, thank you very much, and in the meantime you don't need to whack me across the head with a metaphorical two-by-four to get your message across.


message 23: by Robin (new)

Robin Helm (robinhelm) | 77 comments Christian fantasy fiction is an actual genre. Do you not think there is a place for it? I like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti.


message 24: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 572 comments Robin wrote: "Christian fantasy fiction is an actual genre. Do you not think there is a place for it? I like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti."

I definitely think there is a place for it and there are readers who look specifically for this genre. It's great for those who prefer it and I appreciate it when it is identified as "Christian fantasy" ... or "Christian mystery" ... or Christian whatever.

I look more carefully at anything that is labelled with a trend to storylines I know I usually don't enjoy. This includes a strong mainstream religion line, strong political "message" plots, very dark, grim mystery plots, quest series that go on and on forever and zombies!

As I said, I read for my personal entertainment and I try to avoid attempting to read things that I'm relatively certain I won't enjoy.


message 25: by ShyNight (last edited Jul 01, 2012 05:23AM) (new)

ShyNight | 8 comments Even thought religon in itself does interest me and so do the various religons, I do agree with Sharon and and some of the previous comments.. not with Robin however :) sorry .. in the fact that fantasy religions should be that.. fantasy religions.. ok they might be inspired or even a mesh of religons but not the actuall religons.. i mean no matter how much you love your religon i cant imagine wanting to read about a christian elf, or a muslim dwarf for that matter. Maybe a jewish Ogre? *Kidding.. not even that..
Wasnt the whole point of fantasy was to be immersed in a world different.. if not completely different with your life.. so sorry but i have been chuckling since I read the words "Christian Fantasy".. really? and you chose to call it that? :-P


message 26: by Sharon (last edited Jul 01, 2012 09:27AM) (new)

Sharon Michael | 572 comments ShyNight wrote: "i have been chuckling since I read the words "Christian Fantasy".. really? and you chose to call it that?"

I don't know that I've actually seen this specific genre designation on anything I've looked at but many authors who write books with a strong Christian point of view label their books as such ... Christian romance, etc.

I have, in fact, read several post-apocalypse books that had a very strong religious/Christian theme, most of which aren't labelled as "Christian" and some worked very well and some ended up annoying me. Pretty much the same as any other type of storyline.


message 27: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments I used an explicitly Christian character in a novel, because he was originally going to be the villain. I loathe a cardboard bad guy, so I began building in depth and character. Unfortunately I wrote him too well. He was so sweet, so charming, and had so many great talents and tastes (a musical scientist with a sports car!) that all his villainy just fell off my radar, and the tragic epic turned into a bromance with a happy ending. He was so smart, I didn't even notice until long after the book was published (it was HOW LIKE A GOD, fyi). I had to write a sequel, create a new character, and load all the villainy onto him before killing him off.


message 28: by Robin (new)

Robin Helm (robinhelm) | 77 comments I didn't make the genre up. It's a category on Amazon. I publish as an indie author, so I have to categorize my own books. For that trilogy, I checked Fiction, and then Christian, and then Fantasy. For the second choice I checked Fiction, and Romance, and then Paranormal. It comes up as Religious Fantasy Fiction or Religious Fantasy Science Fiction. I understand your chuckle, Shy Night, because it appears that I'm calling my religion a fantasy. That's not it. The books have angels, demons, and spiritual warfare. If I don't label them as fantasy, some people will be very angry with me after they buy them.

I hope, since I have not named the books or the series, that this post is not inappropriate. I am genuinely curious. It appears that some of you would like the story and others wouldn't.

I had no trouble with my conscience in killing off my bad guy.


message 29: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments Of course not. The plot demanded it, so naturally he had to go. I created that character, and in me he lives and moves and has his being.


message 30: by Michele (last edited Jul 05, 2012 09:57PM) (new)

Michele | 74 comments In general, I don't mind if the characters have religion in their story: made up, mythological, or traditional. However, I don't like it when religion is too simple--in any story. If the good guys are religious and the bad guys are not--I don't like that. I don't like it when the answer to saving the world is just realizing that you must have faith in the right god. Narnia is like this for me. Yeah, the kids have to fight, but their power comes from belief. They forget about Aslan and everything goes downhill.

I do think some level of faith is important in order to do magic, traditional or otherwise. Harry Dresden's necklace (amulet?) that he wears has power because due in part to his own faith. Harry Potter has to believe in his own ability to fight the dementors. However, neither of those examples of the power of faith is wrapped up too finely in religion or a specific authority. Nor are the center point of their power, like Aslan is for the Narnia kids.

I have not read nearly as much fantasy as many of you, so I cannot say so definitively, but I think that fantasy often uses very traditional society structures -- conservative structures -- in which to set the story. Royalty and religion often seem to have a role. Yes, there a zillion evil kings, but then there is the boy-who-was-meant-to-be-king in hiding somewhere until his true nobility shines through when he sacrifices himself in a typical Christian fashion. His gods show him the true path. I don't really mind this story--I enjoy reading it most of the time. But it can be predictable and I think it is what keeps fantasy as "genre" fiction. It is not radically altering our perceptions. I am not suggesting that all fantasy uses these notions--obviously not--they just seems to show up a lot. Perhaps this is more true in children's fantasy than adult.


message 31: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 572 comments Michele wrote: "In general, I don't mind if the characters have religion in their story: made up, mythological, or traditional. **** I do think some level of faith is important in order to do magic, traditional or otherwise. "

Faith, whether it is faith in the characters or their faith in their 'religion/god/gods' is often an integral part of the storyline. This is understandable and I have no problem with it.

What I do have issues with is when an author uses the book/storyline as a vehicle to proselytize.


message 32: by Robin (new)

Robin Helm (robinhelm) | 77 comments Whether or not the author is proselytizing might depend on your point of view. I have been told by people of no religion or other religions that my stories aren't preachy, but I'm sure that others have thought they were. The trilogy doesn't work without the religious angle. It is a large part of the plot - the "why." People who are Christians have certain world views, and it is unrealistic to write such a story without them.


message 33: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 572 comments I agree with you, what is too much religion for one reader is not excessive to another. And obviously, if an author plans to market to a specific readership, that must be taken into consideration as well.


message 34: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments In the final analysis, you are going to write the book you feel called to write. It is too much work, heaven knows, to write a book you do NOT want to write! Then you can hope to find a market or niche for it where the level of proselytizing or religious activity is acceptable or even desirable. With luck your readers will find you.


message 35: by Traci (new)

Traci Really don't have much to add. I don't mind religion in fantasy, or any other genre. But I also don't like to be preached to. I like different points of views and opinions. It goes with anything I read really. I want to feel something when I read, not to be told what to feel. But there's another side of religion in fiction that I am tired of. And that's making the religious characters the easy villain. The trend seems to be dying down a little but for awhile there it was very popular.


message 36: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments I agree it was tiresome. Showed poverty of imagintion.


message 37: by Robin (new)

Robin Helm (robinhelm) | 77 comments Thanks for your opinions, ladies. Brenda, I feel the same way you do. I wrote what I felt called to write. I told the story I had to tell. Some will like it, and some won't.

Such is life. ;)


message 38: by Karen (new)

Karen Azinger MrsJoseph wrote: "I prefer a completely new religious system as well. I find that we all have particular views on religion - so when the belief system is too close but derivative to my own...my own issues with reli..."

I agree with MrsJ. I like religions in fantasy to be something new, so the reader can be objective about the story. But I do think that religion is a very interesting aspect of fantasy world building that gives an added dimension to the story and the plot. I like rich fantasy worlds, so I like having this extra dimension in the books I write and read.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments I only recently came back and took a walk through new topics....sorry, I'm failing to keep up.

Many of you know that I'm a Christian (as a matter of fact what many of you may not know is I'm an assistant pastor at our church...ordained, a preaching license and everything, LOL).

I've read many fantasy novels from many points of view and I don't usually have a problem with a story just because it may involve a fantasy religious system or be based on a real system that I don't agree with. Mostly it does depend on the writer. If someone sets out to be offensive then I'll usually step back. But just because someone strongly disagrees with Christianity isn't a reason to avoid a book.

I often recommend that people know their mind before they read a book or say something like "don't get your theology from this book" but that being said I like many nonChristian books. Heroes Die is a good case in point as are the Wheel of Time books or The Warded Man. The aforementioned "soft touch" or "light touch" is the thing. Bujold has managed some fairly original systems that work well. It's all on the author.

Many of you know I love the Paksenarrion books. The religious system in those (being very important to the story) could not really be said to be Christian, yet it does make many Christian points and can (by those of us who care to) be seen in those terms. Others who don't wish to can see a polytheistic system. Jim Butcher does an excellent job of showing a favorable view of a Roman Catholic Christian yet he also includes a Holy Knight who sees himself as agnostic. Tolkien is full of Christian symbolism yet it's intentionally buried so deep as to be hard to see. He criticized Lewis for making the allegorical part of Narnia to obvious.

So, my take is if it's not written as an attack and is handled well then it's not only not a problem but can be a plus.


message 40: by CD (new)

CD I've been following this discussion more or less since it started and though it has been touched upon I haven't seen anyone directly ask the question that keeps popping into my head:

Can you have 'fantasy' without some element of religion being inherent to the genre? Magic, beliefs, myths, traditions, even heraldry and royalty are religious systems by other names. Even psychosexual (eroticism, BDSM, etc.) fantasy 'work' because of religious and social taboos being systematically challenged; i.e. another religious system to replace an older less reliable or applicable set of myths.

Just thinking out loud . . .


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments If there's magic there has to be some form of "energy" or "metaphysical" power. I'm not sure it has to be expressed as a religion. In Butcher's Codex Alera the powers are a form of elemental talent but (and it's been a while since I read one) I don't recall an overt religion in them. Weeks The Black Prism hasn't set one up either I don't believe.

Then there are Zelazny's Amber books where the main characters aren't deities but are regarded as such in some shadows. Zelazny plays heavily with religion in many of his books.

But, there are books that have a magic system without dealing with a religious system.


message 42: by CD (new)

CD Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "If there's magic there has to be some form of "energy" or "metaphysical" power. I'm not sure it has to be expressed as a religion. In Butcher's Codex Alera the powers are a form of elemental talent..."

Magic as a system of beliefs and practices falls under that general rubric of religion by definition. I'm positing magic as a religion or religious practice whether or not a deity is named or invoked in fantasy literature.

Stated simply Magic of any form is a religion as an undertaking and in practice. Even a technology that is not understood and is thus 'magic' will function as and be a religion because elements are not understood except by the anointed, chosen, acolyte, or enlightened.

Religion need not have the requirement to attend 'church' or 'chapel' on regular basis and it is certainly not limited to any recognizable monotheistic formulation or even an invisible super being. Spirit worship is a religion if wildly different than anything modern and western. See Shintoism or the Native American Indian practices and rituals. Druidism falls across several boundaries that don't equate with the common idea of 'gods' or a recognizable religious structure.

We even have religions that are built around a living (at one time or currently) human being that supposed to have supernatural powers or uncommon knowledge and wisdom. Brent Weeks writing as I recall from what I've read has at least a structure of a priesthood. Is that not religious in nature or intent?

Zelazny deals deals with everything from resurrection to an Alice-in-Wonderland supernatural environment that has of all people, Merlin finally appear in later entries in the series! Primarily the royal family (a religious element) is dealing with alternative shadow worlds that mimic quite closely religious models in myth. Shadow worlds are very definitely elements of religion, ancient religion admittedly, including primitive examples from Africa, Plains Indians in North America, and not to be left out early Greek constructions of the cosmos/universe/etc. that are most widely exemplified by Hades.

Whether we call it an 'energy'(May the Force be with you) or 'metaphysical' expression, as a literary element and story line it is very hard to separate entirely from some religious premise. To do so means an explanation that starts to quickly push the work in to fiction of another type be it SciFi or purer philosophic writing.

So the question still stands, perhaps modified, is religion a necessary element of fantasy literature?


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments If you take the view that any metaphysical system is a religion then you do bring any magic system into the rubric of religion. However we won't all see it that way. That is even an argument Jim Butcher touches on in his Dresden books. He (the character Harry Dresden) sees it as just he opposite as he doesn't see himself as religious.

So by your argument you point out that we may all see the question differently. I suppose that as you lay it out anything in a book seen as supernatural or metaphysical would also be a religion. I don't really think that's so.

To each.


message 44: by CD (new)

CD Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "If you take the view that any metaphysical system is a religion then you do bring any magic system into the rubric of religion. However we won't all see it that way. That is even an argument Jim Bu..."

Dresden first. Personally I find the series a lot of fun but it has some flaws. The important thing for this discussion is that Harry D. doesn't like all the claptrap and baggage associated with being a proper wizard to put it one way. But he is.

The cultural and literary traditions associated with wizardry is from a religion. Speaking with the dead, a wizard, comes from before written records and was reserved for a group that was a priesthood in some languages and deviant priest or 'black' religious figure in others. See pre-Christian Babylonian religions and most important to us, the view of wizardry from the Pentateuch. The Books of Moses, Leviticus specifically, in laying out the new religion that is the 'first' monotheism refutes the practices of the old gods and their religious activities. Specifically prohibited is not just the practice of wizardry but even association with them.

Metaphysics as a system has components that were partially at least originally about analyzing and dealing with religion. Knowing the unknowable. What was the extent of knowledge that was not physically accessible. Epistemological analysis, a part of the metaphysical toolkit, is about the limits of knowledge or where one has something before them that is unknowable. Kind of like faith isn't it?

There are the other tool-kit pieces of a meta-realm that are not real and how you deal with them in literature often is through a religious imagery or corrupted religious language. See Herman Hesse.

Once you get into a system that is explained enough that it isn't religious or does not use components from religions(or Religion if you prefer), is it Fantasy but perhaps Science Fiction? Or something else entirely? Much of the alternate reality lit that we have that has divorced itself(sorry for that imagery) that propose and different system based in atheism type of system, we frequently get in to Utopian or Dystopian literature. Utopian fantasy works exist, but don't they usually have blatant religious imagery and character behavior?

To rephrase the question slightly once more:

"Without some religious or Religion based component, is a literary work going to be more of the Fantasy genre or will it be more of another, or entirely of another genre?"


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments Frankly CD I don't think you really have a question. I think you have a position and want to argue it. That's cool, but we may not all see it your way, that's all.


message 46: by CD (new)

CD Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "Frankly CD I don't think you really have a question. I think you have a position and want to argue it. That's cool, but we may not all see it your way, that's all."

No need to be snarky.

Is the question about religion being intrinsic to fantasy to some extent not clear? Is this not a 'discussion' or do I have to be a 'me too poster' or just reinforce the opinions of others?

I posed the question because of the nature of the other comments and the examples already mentioned by other posters about sub-types of fantasy.


message 47: by Robert (new)

Robert Wright (rhwright) | 130 comments Swerving back towards the OP ...

The only time I can think of that religion played a major role in a fantasy novel that I stopped and thought to myself, "that was nicely done," was in Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books. The world is very much a medieval/renaissance Europe analog, so the role of a church that was akin (in many ways) to the Catholic Church made sense.

Of course, it also makes sense if the novel is dealing with the accoutrements or archetypical characters of Christian faith: angels, demons, etc.

Another system I found interesting, though it played a less critical role in the series, was in Steven Brust's Taltos books. The "gods," afterlife, etc. are given a fun spin here, without stepping (that I know of) on any faith's real-world toes.


message 48: by Mark (new)

Mark Burns (TheFailedPhilosopher) | 112 comments A few good examples of religious Fantasy books are:
1) The Bible
2) The Quaran
3) The Bhagavad-gita
4) The Dhammapadra
and so on....


message 49: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Brown (matthewjbrown) | 218 comments Re Robert@48, I've often found it jarring when a fictional world is clearly inspired by medieval Europe but has no noticeable religion. Religion was such a critical part of peoples' lives at that time and had such an important role in both day-to-day life and the interactions of kings and nations and everything else that to take it out and leave nothing in its place seems odd.

It strikes me that the medieval world would have been a rather different place without the powerful established religion, and to portray a society largely identical to it but without religion leaves a lot of unanswered questions.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 5387 comments Wasn't being Snarky CD just looking at the situation. No offense intended.

Mark on the other hand...well.

My reaction was real. We will all react or think differently. From your answers and their length it seemed to me you'd already thought the question out and had come to your conclusion, that's all.


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