Storyland

by kipress

Well, I didn’t get as much writing done this summer as I would have liked, though I did finish a shitty first draft of a novel, which is something. I’m just about finished re-reading it, and boy, does it have holes (though I knew this as I was writing!). Now I just need to find the time to transcribe my notes into a legible form before I forget what I was talking about.

I did, however, get some reading done this summer, which is energizing. After, eventually, finishing Book 3 of the Knausgaard oeuvre, I decided to wait on Book 4 and move on to some other reading projects in the meantime. Among other things, I read two Canadian fantasy trilogies I’d long meant to read – Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry and Thomas Wharton’s The Perilous Realm. I didn’t know much about the storylines of either of these series, but knew that Kay’s work was a classic, the thing that made him famous. One of Wharton’s novels for adults, Salamander, is a personal favourite, so I was interested in his YA fantasy trilogy–YA fantasy being a subject of interest to me right now—and a recommendation this spring reminded me to pick it up.

I enjoyed both series tremendously, though I was blown away by Kay’s masterwork. Its classic status is deserved, not to mention that, intended for adults, it spoke to me more directly than Wharton’s book for young readers. (This isn’t always a true distinction, though – I’ve also been re-reading Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy with my daughter, and although those books are ostensibly for young readers, their ambition, scope, complexity and artistry put much of writing, for adults or children, to shame.)

The weird thing about reading these two trilogies in succession: both feature a world where stories come from. Or, as my daughter has said: “Storyland… the place where all the characters in my books are real.” Fionavar is the place myths originate, and The Perilous Realm has much more of a fairy-tale flavour, but both lands are basically that: Storyland.

So, did Wharton use Kay as a source here? Well, who knows and who cares, really—dude’s an incredible writer and has a Ph.D., so I’d be surprised if he hadn’t read everything remotely related to the story he was working on. My daughter and I have been telling tales of our own Storyland to each other for years, ever since I needed something to keep her attention focused while walking to daycare. The idea is public domain (not to mention the myths and fairy tales—not so much my daughter’s fan fiction material), and even a quick glance in Coles revealed another book with the same premise.

There are only so many stories. The question is: why is your version the version only you can tell?

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