Romantic Relationships in Contemporary Fantasy Literature, L Mičko

Tags: fantasy genre, literature, fantasy novels, The Kingkiller Chronicle, Patrick Rothfuss, Rothfuss, epic fantasy, main characters, elements, fairy tales, young adult literature, Kvothe, fantasy literature, romantic relationships, romantic novel, romantic elements, young adult, Martin, Harry Potter, characters, George R. R. Martin, The Wall Street Journal, erotic scene, Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, adolescent readers, young adult fantasy series, popular fiction genres, P. Rothfuss, Erotic elements, romantic relationship, erotic literature, Denna, romantic novels, G. R R. Martin, G. R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, fantasy novel, modern fantasy, fiction genres, High fantasy
Content: Masaryk University Faculty of Arts Department of English and American Studies English Language and Literature Libor Micko Romantic Relationships in Contemporary Fantasy Literature Bachelor's Diploma Thesis Supervisor: Mgr. Dita Hochmanovб 2014
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography. ..................................................... Author's signature 2
I would like to thank my supervisor Mgr. DitaHochmanovб, for her advice, encouragement, help, and patience. 3
1. Introduction
2. Popularity of the Fantasy Genre
2.1. The Mixing of Elements
2.2. Connection with fairy tales
3. Romantic Elements
3.1. Romantic Elements in The Kingkiller Chronicle
3.2. Romantic Elements inA Game of Thrones
4. Erotic Elements
4.1. Erotic Elements in The Kingkiller Chronicle
4.2. Erotic Elements in A Game of Thrones
5. Conclusion
6. Works Cited
7. English Rйsumй
8. Ceskй resumй
1. Introduction The readers of modern high fantasy books, literature that basically covers all fantasy works set solely in a completely imagined world, can see a gradual emphasis on romantic relationships and inclination of creating realistic settings, which is connected to the popularity of these elements in other popular fiction genres, mainly in the young adult literature, which in the last decade thrives and is, according to The Wall Street Journal, "one of the book industry's healthiest segments" (Beatty). Some of these very popular high fantasy authors, namely Patrick Rothfuss and G. R R. Martin, whose novels are analysed in the thesis, not only give their main youngster characters vast romantic side stories, but advance them towards intimate sexual relationships. High fantasy works, where the themes of romantic or other close inter-personal relationships represent a large portion of the narrative, tend to be more focused on the realistic aspects of life like relationships and self-fulfilment, while diminishing the elements that are typical for the high fantasy genre, like the stress on a fantastical setting, magic, or an overall epic quest set out for its protagonist. This trend can be seen in the high fantasy novels by the bestselling, fore-mentioned writers Patrick Rothfuss and G. R. R. Martin. Due to their approach, the distinction between fantasy targeting young adult and adult audience is becoming unclear. In connection with this trend, the forms of modern fantasy literature, with its elements dominating in other popular genres like contemporary romance literature or erotic literature, cannot be categorised as dedicated particularly to young or adult audience. It can be compared to the incorrect association of fantasy with fairy tales, as Tolkien suggested in his essay On FairyStories. The thesis explores these characteristics to develop the idea that the extensive success of Rothfuss's and Martin's novels is partly due to mixing of the elements from various genres, and thus bringing the audiences together.
Over the last few years, these two writers became famous worldwide for their critically acclaimed fantasy novel series. The winner of the 2002 Writers of the Future award and 2007 Quill Award, Patrick Rothfuss, wrote The Kingkiller Chronicle series of which the first book, The Name of the Wind, climbed up to the eleventh (blog.patrickrothfuss), and its continuation, The Wise Man's Fear, to the first place in New York Times bestselling fiction novel chart (nytimes). George R. R. Martin, the winner of numerous awards, such as Locus Poll Award and World Fantasy Award, became famous for his The Song of Ice and Fire series, which even led to the creation of a famous television series based on these novels. These popular high fantasy novels comprise romantic elements like a courtship between a hero and heroine, or their interpersonal interactions, and the narrative is to a great extent concentrated around them, even though they serve only as a subplot to the larger epic story. Although, the romantic subplots are not entirely new in the fantasy genre, as they can be already seen, for example, in Tolkien's classic fantasy The Lord of the Rings, their modern form is very different. The authors of these fantasy series tend to lean toward more realistic relationships, thus, contrary to the two couples in The Lord of the Rings where both of whom got married at the end, it is not characteristic to see a happy-ending for the romance between the protagonists of Rothfuss's or Martin's stories, as the difficulties they face are not always possible to overcome. This narrative direction goes hand-in-hand with the recent growth of popularity of the young adult literature, such as the J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series which, according to Michael Cart, a former president of the Young Adult Library Services, is "the most extraordinary phenomena in the history of publishing" (96), or the Twilight series, which "followed Harry Potter's success story to no small extent" (Yao). The Kingkiller Chronicle and The Song of Ice and Fire are, similarly to these series, vastly 6
concentrated on the personal issues concerning the main characters. The difference between them is the setting in the high fantasy world with no direct connection to the reality, which is the opposite of the low fantasy Harry Potter and Twilight that are set in our contemporary world. In their novels, Martin and Rothfuss devote such wide attention to relationships that they even include numerous sexually explicit scenes, which are the subject of many debates on their appropriateness for younger readers and the overall target audience. The authors see them as a natural part of every romantic relationship, and thus they include such explicit scenes to create more believable and complete characters and plots. The narrative style in these scenes is different for both authors and the thesis includes their comparison to show how delicate use of indirect expressions in The Wise Man's Fear can soften the obscenity which, due to explicit expressions, is noticeable in A Game of Thrones. These romantic and erotic aspects of Rothfuss's and Martin's novels are the subject of analysis in the latter parts of the thesis. Their analysis is separated from the chapter concerning the romantic elements because they are not a primary part of every romantic novel, even though they might occur in them. As Martin's series is already the next popular fiction phenomenon, and Rothfuss's trilogy is becoming at this time well-known, the thesis proposes that their acquired higher popularity is connected with narrative elements and the employed techniques which are similar to the fore-mentioned former bestselling young adult books and serve as one of the major story advancements. As was already said, these elements are romantic relationships and even sexual experiences of the children protagonists. They are going to be analysed in the thesis to demonstrate Martin's and Rothfuss's modern approaches to writing fantasy novels. The first chapter of the analysis is dedicated to a brief overview of fantasy literature, its acquired popularity, 7
and the way of its development through the years. Also, it aims to highlight that the term fantasy genre is only a term of convenience as fantasy literature developed into many hybrid sub-genres. The second chapter focuses on the analysis of elements of romance novels that are present in both of Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle books and in Martin's A Game of Thrones (the first volume of his A Song of Ice and Fire series) where they serve as a factor which would bring the audience closer to the personalities of main characters, and thus making the story more attractive to readers. Erotic elements are also analysed in a similar fashion to the analysis of romantic aspects, but as they are not a primary part of romance novels, they are addressed in the separate chapter of the thesis. Both of these chapters show how the content of romantic relationships and depictions of sexually explicit scenes can be used to modify the narrative of classic fantasy literature, and offer a view on its different goals between Martin's and Rothfuss' novels. The overall aim is to present fantasy literature in a different light, and offer the readers of this thesis a broader insight into this undervalued literary genre. 8
2. Popularity of the Fantasy Genre There is a popular, yet questionable opinion that J. R. R. Tolkien is a father of the modern fantasy genre (Mitchell), but what is undeniable is that his The Lord of the Rings changed the popular view on this genre. Even though his view on the genre was not critically accepted, his works led to the creation of its unified form and inspired countless number of writers to create their own sub-genres to fantasy, while attracting massive attention. This chapter serves as a brief overview of the fantasy genre and its acquired popularity. It also presents features of young adult literature and their presence in a few chosen, very successful fantasy novel series, like Harry Potter, Undersea, Discworld, and most notably, nowadays bestsellers, The Kingkiller Chronicle, and A Song of Ice and Fire, which are to be analysed it the latter chapters to demonstrate the modern approaches of fantasy writers. And lastly, this chapter also demonstrates a gradual evolvement of the fantasy genre, connected with its fusion with the elements of other popular fiction genres, and describes its difference to fairy tales. When fantasy literature found a larger audience, literary critics gave very harsh opinion on it: "Certain people . . . have a lifelong appetite for juvenile trash, "declared Edmund Wilson in 1956 (Vizzini); A writer for Life in 1967 declared that "What apparently gets kids square in their post-adolescent sensibilities is not the scholarly topdressing but the undemanding, comfortable, child-sized story underneath" (Saler 189). Literary critics may not like fantasy genre and define it as valueless popular fiction, but its tremendous success suggests it does have some special value for its readers, as it is one of the healthiest literary segments on the market. In his essay On Fairy-Stories, Tolkien argued that "Fantasy . . . is . . . not a lower but a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form, and so (when achieved) the most potent" and that it is "virtue, not a vice" that fantasy books depict images which are not present in our world (47). 9
This is a statement which the readers of his novels may agree on and when after a half a century later the film adaptation hit the theatres, it may have convinced even a larger crowd. For example, The Lord of the Rings series released in 1954-5 sold 150 million of copies by the April 2007 (Wagner), but fully one-third of them were purchased solely in 2001, after the release of the first film in the series (Wagner). The film adaptation of his The Lord of the Rings won seventeen out of total thirty Academy Award nominations (awardsdatabase) and the gross revenue for The Return of the King, the last part of the trilogy alone, was about $1.11 billion (boxofficemojo). However, Tolkien's famous story about the One Ring and little Hobbits was only a beginning of the fantasy genre spotlight. His masterpiece maybe introduced the fantasy genre to the readers, but there were other very popular fantasy novels, like C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Undersea, more recently P. Pullman's His Dark Materials, and Sir Terry Pratchett's humorous satirical Discworld series. However, ultimately, it was J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series that caused enormous demand for more fantasy titles due to her distinctive approach to the genre, which gave birth to a phenomenon called `Pottermania.' The listed authors wrote very successful fantasy novels and enriched the fantasy genre with their own unique way of approach to the fantasy. Le Guin's 1968-2001 Undersea series considers themes of sociology, environmentalism, and the main motifs relate to "the overarching concern for the protection and nurturing of human freedom and the need to create a truly human community" (Rochelle 662). Then, there was C. S. Lewis who wrote his pro-Christian The Chronicles of Narnia in 1950-6, even before the publication of the first The Lord of the Rings volume. His series can be put in contrast with Phillip Pullman's 1995-2000 His Dark Materials series, which offers an aesthetic point of view on religions, mainly the Christianity that is greatly criticized in the story 10
and serves as the opposite to Lewis's Narnia. Pullman's story gradually acquires seriousness with each part of the trilogy, where the first book may serve as a good reading for children because it mainly introduces the fantasy setting, the second book may attract teenage audience with its focus on a romantic relationship between adolescent main characters, and the final volume fully concentrates on hard moral, religious, and spiritual questions which simply cannot be fully perceived by children. The last on my list is Sir Terry Pratchett, who used the fantasy environment in a very different way than the fore-mentioned authors. In his forty volumes of Discworld series, Pratchett created comical works full of absurdities, but still managed to maintain a quality of well-thought-out world, the important part of any fantasy. These fantasy series all contributed towards the richness of variety of the genre as each of them questioned some abstract concepts and explored them in their fantasy worlds: Le Guin created a perfect world, with a perfect society; Lewis, with his fairytale-like Narnia created a metaphorical picture of Christian Heaven and God; Pullman at the turn of the millennium offered another perspective on Christianity that was in his story the source of much evil of our world and many other worlds which he introduced; Pratchett used a fantasy setting to create absurd, flat disc world, where he situated all his stories about humorous grotesques characters like Deathё wizards, or epic heroes, ultimately presenting fantasy setting as a playground where authors can have fun. These four authors are just a very small sample of notable fantasy writers, but it is enough to showcase the variety by which authors can contribute to the genre, as it is still very young and shapes into many forms. This brings us to yet another approach to the fantasy that carries the young adult literature features with it, and which can be presented the best by J. K. Rowling's seven-book-long series Harry Potter. 11
Rowling's inclination toward young-adult readers led to an unexpected popularity. In his study, Michael Cart states that the Harry Potter series "broke record after record while dramatically, some might say seismically, changing the world of publishing for young readers" (96). Cart further states that seven Harry Potter novels, together, sold more than 375 million copies (more than twice as much as The Lord of the Rings series) and were translated into sixty-five languages (96). At first, it was just a short novel for children, but it had a great promise of development. Rowling managed to create a story with believable, maturing characters, the same way as its teenage readers got older and shaped their personalities while waiting for another volume to come out. Overall story of the series escalates with more severe plots and darker setting by each released volume. The main difference between Tolkien's and Rowling's fantasies is the setting and personalities of the main characters. As a matter of fact, these two series belong to two different fantasy sub-genres. Tolkien's series is set in a completely made-up world where he created his own races, nation, and even languages. This kind of fantasy is recognised as high fantasy. Rowling's Harry Potter is set in England and the magical world is incorporated to ours. The past contains the same historical events and Rowling only inserted her history of the wizardly society. As opposed to high fantasy, this kind of fantasy story belongs to low fantasy literature due to its only partially made-up setting. Both kinds of fantasy attract a slightly different audience. It is a frequent occurrence that a person who likes The Lord of the Rings dislikes, or even hates, Harry Potter. It is due to several aspects of Potter series that are directly connected to the narrative style of the young adult literature. Tolkien's main storyline's significance about battling the evil is several tiers higher than more personal matters like the 12
romantic story elements or individual needs of the main characters. Moreover, the main characters are all adults and it is mirrored in their mature personalities, seriousness to the problems they face, and overall atmosphere of the story. On the contrary, Rowling's main characters are teenage children who attend a university and the main story arc is on the same level, if not lesser, with minor story elements connected to the personal matters of each main character. It can be compared to a college campus novel as they both explore the life at university and this kind of novel inclines to the young adult literature. The main characters have to deal with hard school lessons, strict teachers, bullies, they even play magical sports. In latter volumes they even form romantic relationships. These elements may attract young readers as it is something they can relate to. Over the past few years, it is very frequent to see teen protagonists in fantasy literature. Holly Koelling, the author of Best Books for young adults (2007) states: "Plain and simple, fantasy is a predominant trend in current teen literature." (64). Also, Cart further supports this by his statement that "not only did Harry's success stimulate an amazing outpouring of new fantasy titles . . . it also spurred readers to discover other long-established fantasists whose work had not previously received its due" (98). The arguments support the idea of the thesis that the fantasy literature nowadays thrives due to its inclination toward teen readers, as it is very common to see the young adult literature elements in today's fantasy books. The arguments also propose that the authors who contributed to fantasy genre created their own sub-genres of fantasy, as it is too vague to divide fantasy works only into a high or low specification. Most recently, with their fantasy series, Patrick Rothfuss and G. R. R. Martin even further defy the genre and sub-genre specifications. 13
2.1. The Mixing of Elements The fantasy genre has developed into many sub-genres and among the most successful ones are young adult fantasy and epic fantasy. The difference between them is mainly in their settings and target audience. The epic fantasy belongs to the category of high fantasy, due to its realistic secondary world. The word epic denotes its large scale in terms of its number of characters, events, vast lands, long durations of time in a story arc, and matters affecting a whole imagined world. This term was invented, because there was a need to distinguish high fantasy novels that tell these large scale stories, from novels that are set in a high fantasy world, but tell a story on a more personal level, with lesser number of characters, events, etc. The Lord of the Rings, with its epic battles, dozens of characters, and the epic quest to save the world from evil, is a perfect example of an epic fantasy. Epic fantasies tend to be more popular among the older audience, due to the harshness of their worlds, and the content that deals with serious issues with great impact on the society, like wars and disasters. As the title suggests, the young adult fantasy genre targets adolescent readers. The perfect examples of young adult fantasy series are Rowling's Harry Potter, or Eion Colfer's Artemis Fowl. The main characters are usually very young, just turning into the puberty age. They live in our world, but with secret magical elements unknown to the ordinary people, or they travel between our primary world and secondary imagined one. They experience the difficulties that come with their age: the first romances, forming of their personalities, finding true friends, etc. Adolescents and young adults sympathize with them as they usually go, or recently did, through similar matters themselves. The novels I will analyze in my thesis are interesting due to their hybrid features. They are both set in high fantasy worlds, but they introduce very young main characters. These characters are likely to be more interesting for younger readers, yet 14
the background story is grim and serious, which may suggest its focus on the adult audience, as the threats and difficulties posed to them can be generally expected from stories that feature mature protagonists. Even though Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire tends to be categorised as an epic fantasy, its use of young adult and adult fiction literature elements defies the original genre's narrative methods. Similarly, while The Kingkiller Chronicle features a young character, around whom is focused the whole narration, it is not a classic heroic story about a coming-of-age boy, but largely just a depiction of his hard life without parents. Moreover, its second volume, The Wise Man's Fear, escapes the young adult genre specifications and touches adult literature, as it contains detailed sexual and murderous portrayals. There are yet other ways by which Martin and Rothfuss immerse readers to their stories; one of them is mixing of narrative perspectives between underage and mature characters. Each chapter of A Song of Ice and Fire novels is told by an omniscient thirdperson narrator from the perspective of one of the main characters. The story of The Kingkiller Chronicle is introduced as the adult main character's retrospective narration of his former adolescent life. This mixing of perspectives between the young and the adult main characters is even underlined by the varied narrative styles which further enrich the individual personalities of young or adult characters, and thus it may attract readers of various age groups because readers tend to look for a character who is similar to them, with whom they would sympathise the most. The need for both underage and mature main characters is related to a large variety of fantasy's readers. Fantasy literature's readers are divided into three types of audiences depending on their age: children, young adult, and adult. This differentiation is recognized mainly by publishers and book-selling companies, but also the writers, as they need to decide on which group of readers their story should address the most. Publishers may use this 15
information to decide whether they want to invest their resources to a new publication, and if so, to be able to decide on the best advertising strategy, for example, the choice of a book cover-art. Some book-selling companies categorize the books they offer in their catalogues or internet databases into sub-categories like young adult fantasy and epic fantasy. However, in books like Martin's A Game of Thrones or Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear, it is a very bold specification, due to a mix of elements from various literary genres and fantasy sub-genres which they contain. The publisher's decision of what is a young adult book or adult book is only based on an assumption that each of them may attract more audience from one or other group, but as Martin's and Rothfuss's novels proved, they are not always right. 16
2.2. Connection to Fairy Tales Readers of fictional works tend to make generalisation statements that the fantasy genre is dedicated mainly for children and teenagers due to its relation to fairy tales. It "may even be argued that fantasy grows out" of it (Nikolajeva 151), and thus it is common to see fantasy genre to be ridiculed. For example, R. A. Salvatore, a famous American novelist, remembers how the face of his old professor of literature turned red with anger when he found out his student was reading The Lord of the Rings in his free time and "bristled at the notion" that Salvatore "was wasting his intellect with such drivel" (Salvatore). Decades earlier, Tolkien already refused such views and presented arguments by which he countered this idea. He did not talk about fantasy specifically, but rather about fairy tales, as the fantasy genre was not yet specified by that time. However, it can be assumed that he had the same view on fantasy literature because, due to his influence, the fantasy genre started forming, and his ideas were pioneering and inspirational for future fantasy writers (Mitchell). In his essay On Fairy-Stories, Tolkien states his opinion that "fairy-stories should not be specially associated with children," (42) and that: They are associated with them: naturally, because children are human and fairy-stories are a natural human taste . . .; accidentally, because fairy-stories are a large part of the literary lumber that in latter-day Europe has been stuffed away in attics; unnaturally, because of erroneous sentiment about children, a sentiment that seems to increase with the decline in children." (42) 17
As was already mentioned, at the time when he wrote this statement, the fantasy genre was still not defined (by which I do not suggest that the current definitions succeeded to grasp all of its aspects), and so it may be only assumed that he had a similar opinion on the fantasy, as his fantasy novels were inspiration for the whole definition of a high fantasy genre. Maria Nikolajeva, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Fairy-Tales, defines the difference between a fairy tale and fantasy as such: "Fairy tales have their roots in archaic society and archaic thought, thus immediately succeeding myths. Fantasy literature is a modern phenomenon." (151). She also further declares that "traditional fairy tales generally strive to preserve a story as close to its original version as possible, "while" fantasy literature is a conscious creation, where authors choose the form which suits them best for their particular purposes," and that" fantasy has distinctly lost the initially sacral purpose of traditional fairy tales" (151). Her argument defies the general low opinion on fantasy literature and finds it a respected place among other literary genres. In conclusion, there are certain features and elements between fairy tales and fantasy that are similar to each other, and as fantasy is a very young still forming genre it may seem it evolved from fairy tales, which is possibly true, but the original purpose of fairy tales, to preserve and tell a myth, is different from the purpose of fantasy - to tell a story in a world that is completely imagined by a writer. Also, as fairy tales are generally associated with literature for children, there is a prominent opinion that fantasy genre is for children too and that it does not carry elements valued by mature, or coming of age readers. Yet, this opinion is not accurate, as fairy tales were never specifically dedicated to children readers. Tolkien's fantasy series inspired the creation and its subsequent definition of the high and low fantasy genre and its sub-genres that 18
are based on specific elements added by new fantasy writers. This mixing of elements contributed to the complicated definition of fantasy genre, as it now branches into many forms. Finally, the lines between audiences considered in past do not fit into nowadays image, as popularity of fantasy novels amongst one group of readers brings the genre into the attention of other groups which previously may not consider it to be entertaining. Now, they start to find it more interesting due to the new approaches of writers who bridge the genre with other popular fiction genres by the use of elements of young adult literature that depict personal issues of the characters, for example, their romantic relationships and, most recently, even erotic depictions that are present in the very successful books by P. Rothfuss and G. R. R. Martin. It is debatable whether their novels are multi-generational or just more suited for adults as they involve the mentioned romantic relationships with detailed portrayals of sexual intercourse of underage characters, but it is undeniable that they attracted a massive audience of wide variety of readers. 19
3. Romantic Elements Rothfuss's and Martin's books are not romantic novels, but it can be said that the storylines of their novels are mixed with elements from romantic novel genre as they contain some of its essential elements. This feature may have attracted a wider audience that reads today's popular fiction novels, as its popularity is much wider than in the past when epic fantasy novels did not contain such extensively written romances. This chapter briefly defines the romantic novel genre and its basic elements. The following subchapters each present these elements in the popular fantasy novels by P. Rothfuss and G. R. R. Martin. The first subchapter is dedicated to the analysis of romantic elements in Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, and the second subchapter to Martin's A Game of Thrones. Its purpose is to depict the distinguishing narrative aspect of contemporary bestselling fantasy novels that was not used in such extent in the classic fantasy works - the emphasis on romantic relationships. This genre's essential narrative method shift from focusing on telling an epic tale to depicting personal matters is one of the major aspects of these books which may make them more popular. The term `romantic novel' is too vague to be defined by simple definition as its meaning during centuries changed, but we understand it today as "a work of prose fiction that tells the story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines" (Regis 22). In case of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, the romantic hero is the main character Kvothe, and his love on a first sight, Denna. In A Game of Thrones, there are four romantic couples of which the most space is given to the relationship between Daenerys, one of the main adolescent characters, and her arranged husband Khal Drogo. There are eight essential narrative elements of romantic literature: "the initial state of society, the meeting, the barrier, the attraction, the declaration of love, the 20
point of ritual death, the recognition of the means to overcome the barrier, and the betrothal" (Regis 30). Many of these elements are often used in popular fiction novels and also in both books of The Kingkiller Chronicle and A Game of Thrones. The element of setting a stage for a heroine and hero is usually defined in any fiction novel, especially in fantasy literature where the detailed description of the structure of society is always required in order to present a believable imagined world. The first presenting of a protagonist's love interest is one of the narrative opportunities which Rothfuss did not let pass and devoted several pages to it, but Martin omitted it completely. The barrier to the union between heroines and heroes in Rothfuss's and Martin's novels is probably the most prominent romantic theme as the courting couples struggle to be happily together, but never reach this point, which is actually the main difference to classic romantic novels where the protagonists overcome the difficulties and betroth to each other. The attraction between the heroine and the hero is especially visible in Rothfuss's series. It is due to the first-person narrative style, in which Kvothe expresses his attraction towards Denna by lyrical expressions and Figurative Language. The omniscient third-person narrator of A Game of Thrones has not a complete insight into characters' minds and causes that the attraction between the romantically involved couples is not as striking, and lyrically expressed, as in the Rothfuss's series; and in this sense, it loses the romantic spirit from the narration. In both series, authors do not go to the extent where their characters would explicitly declare their love to each other, but they do it indirectly, in a less dramatic way. As it was already mentioned, there is no happy ending for the couples as these fantasy series do not present idealistic relationship, but rather a realistic view on life in a fantasy world setting. The couples involved in a romantic relationship present in Rothfuss's and Martin's bestsellers are very different. While Rothfuss depicts an adolescent love and 21
courtship between Kvothe, the musically talented hero, and Denna, mysterious lonely girl with a beautiful voice, Martin shocks the readers and creates extreme couples: two siblings, a high born little person with a prostitute, and a thirteen-year-old princess Daenerys with a barbarous warrior Khal Drogo. The only ordinary couple, Lord and Lady Stark, get only small attention. The difference between the couples of the both series may point to one of the reasons why A Game of Thrones is seemingly directed towards older readers, as adolescents' view on love is at their age affected by lesser experience that comes with age, and thus may incline more to the idealistic depiction of Kvothe's love of Denna. The following subchapters focuses on the analysis of the romance between Kvothe and Denna from both books of Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, and Daenerys's and Khal Drogo's relationship from Martin's A Game of Thrones, the first volume of A Song of Ice and Fire series. It aims to describe the elements of romantic novels that are present in these books, and thus alter the fantasy story's typical aspects in a way which may be attractive for readers who prefer to read stories with common matters of a real life. 3.1. Romantic Elements in The Kingkiller Chronicle Both books of the series are filled with lyrical language that uses many figures of speech. The story is told from the first-person perspective of the main character Kvothe whose poetic personality of a musician is apparent by the way of which the narration is performed. He represents a favourable protagonist whose actions are related to avenging his murdered family, and doing good for people and his love interest Denna, which makes him a classic fantasy hero. Their love is depicted by the author's use of five elements of a romantic novel that creates a believable romantic relationship. 22
This subchapter analyses these elements present in The Kingkiller Chronicle on a set of examples from both books of the series. Also, it aims to point to Rothfuss's narrative methods that proved to be popular among the readers of popular fiction novels. The first element of romance novels, the overview of an oppressing flawed society in which a couple courts, is included in the depiction of the setting where the main storyline takes place. While in romance novels, the setting is only a frame for a romantic story, in fantasy novels, it is its main feature. The first third of The Name of the Wind, the first volume of Kingkiller Chronicle, is depicting a cruel stern world in which Kvothe has to live alone, as his family was taken from him. There is basically no space for any romance as he primarily has to take care of himself. Also, the setting constantly changes as the story depicts hero's journey through the imagined world. When Kvothe's romantic interest is revealed, the romantic element of a barrier between the couple is also obvious. He cannot be with her because he has no means by which he would be able take care of her. She makes her livelihood by receiving gifts from her admirers: ". . . she wore a long dress of green silk. . . . At her throat was an emerald pendant shaped like a smooth teardrop . . . hidden in her hair, a tiny teardrop emerald that matched the pendant at her throat" (Fear 45-6). Later, she sells them for money: "`Young gents court her, buy her presents, dresses, jewellery.' . . . If she sells those things for money to live, there's nothing wrong in that'" (Wind 473). Poor orphan Kvothe does not have enough funds to be able to take care of her: "What could I ask her? What could I offer? Nothing, Anything said would sound foolish, a child's fantasy." (217). This situation makes their relationship special, as he is the only man whom she never stops seeing. While other men who court her give her presents that she can turn for money, Kvothe does not give her anything, just his presence which she enjoys more than the presence of any other man. 23
It can be argued that the main important parts of the narration start in the moment when he leaves the city and gets to meet Denna, what is the third element of romantic novels. Kvothe falls for her right away as soon as he has the opportunity to talk with her. They travel on a caravan and so they have plenty of time to get to know each other. The author depicts their courtship by both, a dialogue in which they flirtatiously play with words, and figurative descriptions of their surroundings and their mutual activities. Their first conversation is filled by courteous questions and playful allures: 'Penny for your thought?' she asked, brushing at an errant strand of hair. I was wondering what you're doing here,' I said half-honestly. Smiling, she held my eyes, `Liar.' I used an old stage trick to keep myself from blushing . . . (Wind 214) Denna is the initiator of their first conversation as fourteen-year-old Kvothe is yet very shy before her. She catches Kvothe by surprise as he is mainly studying "the side of her face, admiring the line of her jaw, the curve of her neck . . ." (214) and immediately recognises his lie which makes him blush and feel awkward. It seems that she is the one who is flirting with him what highlights the fact that Kvothe is yet very inexperienced and only at the beginning of his story, as his heroic romantic acts of stealing "the princesses back from sleeping barrow kings" (53) and spending "the night with Felurian, leaving her with both his sanity and life," (53) will come much later in his life, and at this point Denna has a mild superiority over him. The dialogue between Denna and Kvothe is only one aspect of their meetings. This romantic element is also presented by the images of their surroundings and the 24
things they were doing together. They open readers'minds to imagine it all vividly, helping them to immerse into the moment, and to feel the atmosphere: Denna and Kvothe felt as if they were old friends, they "joked and told stories," they "pointed out the different types of clouds and what they told of the weather to come," she showed him the shapes they held: "a rose, a harp, a waterfall" (215). These three objects represents some very beautiful things: a flower gifted because of love, a noble ancient musical instrument on which are played soft melodies, a force of nature which symbolises the purity and life. This technique is noteworthy as it uses lyrical imagery. It further continues by description of the night sky and a pond they were sitting at: . . . their surfaces silver against the black of the sky, the black of the water. One stood upright, a finger pointing to the sky. The other lay flat, extending into the water like a short stone pier. No breath of wind disturbed the surface of the water. So as we climbed out onto the fallen stone the stars reflected themselves in double fashion; as above, so below. It was as if we were sitting amid a sea of stars. (216) This imagery emphasizes Kvothe's feelings for Denna, and the beauty of the whole narration. He remembers and emphasises contrasts and similes like "silver against the black of the sky, black of the water," "as above, so below," metaphors like "sitting amid a sea of stars," and personifications of the elements of the nature: "no breath of wind. "Kvothe also makes a vivid comprehensive example of how it felt when Denna smiled at him: 25
Go out in the early days of winter, after the first cold snap of the season. Find a pool of water with a sheet of ice across the top, still fresh and new and clear as glass. Near the shore the ice will hold you. Slide out farther. Farther. Eventually you'll find the place where the surface just barely bears your weight. There you will feel what I felt. The ice splinters under your feet. Look down and you can see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spiderwebs. It is perfectly silent, but you can feel the sudden sharp vibrations through the bottoms of your feet. (387) "Early days of winter," "a pool of water with a sheet of ice," the reader standing on it, and the sudden feeling when the ice starts to break - that is how Kvothe felt when he unexpectedly saw Denna after a long time. The author's depiction involves imagining of feeling the chill, seeing the environment, making moves, realizing the silence, and feeling vibrations. Such description helps readers' senses, and thus allows them to imagine it more realistically. The connection between Denna and Kvothe is depicted through complex metaphors made of multiple sentences. Rothfuss depicted the romantic element of their rare meetings through a courting dialogue, but mainly through figurative images of their surroundings and Kvothe's feelings that he arranged into similes and extensive metaphors. Denna seems to represent a type of a `damsel in distress,' as she appears to be lost and helpless, and Kvothe is the one who repeatedly saves her life, and thus assume a role of a romantic hero. During these extreme situations she becomes fonder of him, and it eventually leads to a sort of declaration of love, another element of a romantic novel. Her helplessness is already hinted during their first meeting by her question: 26
"`Have you figured it out yet?' . . . `Why I'm here.' She smiled gently. `I've been wondering the same thing for most my life, you see. I thought if you had any ideas...' she gave me a wry, hopeful look." (214). Kvothe is smitten with her from the first moment and throughout the story he always watches over her. He keeps finding her when she is in a distress. At the end of the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, he unexpectedly finds her right in a moment of mortal danger when she is unable to take a breath. He saves her from certain death by using his magic, the ability to control the wind, to allow her lungs to fill with air: I felt her strain to breathe. I listened. I closed my eyes. I heard the whisper of a name. I spoke it soft, but close enough to brush against her lips. I spoke it quiet, but near enough so that the sound of it went twining through her hair. I spoke it hard and firm and dark and sweet. There was a rush of indrawn air. I opened my eyes. The room was still enough that I could hear the velvet rush of her second desperate breath. I relaxed. She laid her hand over mine, over her heart. `I need you to breathe for me,' she repeated. `That's seven words.' `It is,' I said. `My hero,' Denna said, and drew a slow and smiling breath. (961-2) There, she is saved by him and she calls him her hero. The heroism of Kvothe is, of course, connected to the fantasy genre where heroes are essential figures of a story, but here he is a hero on a personal level: he is her hero. Partially, it is her 27
declaration of love. It is only partial because she does not explicitly states that she is in love with him. Similarly, Kvothe does not declare his affections to her because he is afraid she would run away from him: "So rather than risk saying the wrong thing, I said nothing. . . . I did not clutch at her, try to own her." (Fear 464-5). He only keeps close to her and his feelings are untold. The element of declaring love may not be explicitly told, but the last romantic element that is present in the Rothfuss's series, the element of attraction, points to its presence in the story. The romance is depicted solely from Kvothe's perspective, but there are also lines that show how strong feelings Denna developed for him. One of them is the already mentioned moment when she declared he is her hero. The next one may be noticed in her letter to him which she finished by the phrase: "Expectantly yours" (Fear 233). In another line, she blushes when Kvothe's flirts with her: "`Would you like some company?'" Denna asks, and Kvothe replies: "`You must know the answer for that.'" on which she blushes and embarrassed admits: "`I Suppose I do.'" (Fear 962). Long before that, she even admits that if he is quiet she misses the sound of his voice (Wind 442). The attraction from Kvothe's side is visible right from the beginning of their relationship as he uses lyrical figures to express their romantic moments, for example: ". . . the sight of her yawning to the back of her hand was enough to drive the breath from me." (216). This fifth element of romantic literature encloses the romantic theme that is present in The Kingkiller Chronicle. However, there is an interesting side note for their romance - their play with words. When Denna points out that Kvothe's sentence "I need you to breathe for me," has seven words, it is an allusion to their former meetings. In the first novel, it is hinted by Kvothe's professor, that there are seven words that make a woman love a man (234). When Kvothe confesses to Denna that he would like to know those words, she reassured 28
him, he already knows them: "`You spoke them to me when first we met. You said, I was just wondering why you`re here.' She made a flippant gesture. `From that moment I was yours.'" (Wind 442). There were many occasions on which he accidentally told her a sentence consisting of seven words and she would always let him know. It is not a defined element of romantic novels, but it is their feature of courting, a personal game. In his The Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss uses at least five elements that are necessary for a romantic novel: the overview of a setting and society in which the couple courts is a part of the larger epic fantasy plot; the barrier which prevents the lovers to be together is connected to the setting as the characters' lives are too hard to pursue love; their meetings are depicting the courting conversations and mainly the romantic atmosphere; the declaration of love is not explicitly told, but it is suggested by their actions and conversations; the attraction is from Kvothe's perspective evident in any of the meetings, and from Denna's perspective it is noticeable on rare occasions or subtle things she says. 3.2. Romantic Elements in A Game of Thrones A Game of Thrones does not begin with any romantic aspects, but a few characters reveal or develop romantic interests later in the story. However, the lovers are not typical for a romantic novel. First, it is revealed that siblings, the Queen and her brother are in incest relationship. Later, little teen girl falls in love with a man who is twice of her age, and at the end of the book, a man who is suffering from dwarfism falls in love with a prostitute. These bizarre matches are not common in romances, and in Martin's novels, they intensify the gruesomeness which is reoccurring in many ways like explicit scenes of torturing, decapitation, and other brutalities. All the listed aspects of this novel suggest that it was meant to be read by older audience. Yet, it celebrates 29
world-wide acclaim even among youngsters. For the purpose of this thesis is briefly explored the paedophilic relationship between the young girl Daenerys and her husband Khal Drogo. Their relationship is depicted in each chapter that is written from Daenerys's point of view, and thus it received the largest author's attention. However, his narrative method in which he depicted their relationship is in the contrast with Rothfuss's technique, as in this story, there are very few lyrical depictions of romantic moments and they are often related to erotic scenes, the feature which is further explored in the last chapter of the thesis. This short subchapter aims to represent another way of using the theme of a romantic relationship in a fantasy novel. The element of the setting and type of society is similarly to The Kingkiller Chroncle depicted indirectly in the overall narration of the story. Westeros, the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, has harsh environment and its social structure allows a man to marry a woman after she get her first menstruation. Due to this, it is not strange in Westeros to see thirteen-year-old Daenerys having an arranged marriage with a barbarous warrior Khal Drogo. Daenerys is forced to marry him by her brother Viserys: "`I don't want to be his queen,' she heard herself say in a small, thin voice. `Please, please, Viserys, I don't want to, I want to go home.'" (38). Her Brother urges her to do it and she cannot escape from this situation. The element of their first meeting is described rather deficiently. The story jumps from the moment when Khal Drogo is walking to Daenerys, right to the day of their wedding. The narration that is dedicated to some type of a courtship is seemingly unimportant for Martin because it would be breaking the grim atmosphere that is concealing this series, and the character of Khal Drogo whose severity would not allow him to perform some courtship. 30
The element of a barrier between them is the most visible one. The first problem is that she is forced to marry him even before she could get to know him, which automatically creates her reluctance towards Drogo as was already shown in her discussion with Viserys. Also, they both speak different languages, and so they do not talk at all. Later, Daenerys learns to speak his language to overcome this barrier. This happens only after she develops real romantic feelings and starts to feel attracted to him. This romantic element is directly connected with the scenes depicting their sex, and so it is described in more detail in the chapter dedicated to erotic elements. The declaration of love is presented by the way they start to call each other once they fall in love. She calls him "my sun-and-stars," and he calls her "moon of my life" (492-3). Their bond is intensified when they find out she is pregnant. Lastly, similarly to Denna, at the beginning of the story Daenerys represents a type of `damsel in distress,' too. She is oppressed by her brother who only sees her as a tool of getting back his kingdom. In the end, Drogo becomes her saviour, as he frees her from Viserys. This romance, even though it is the most notable one on the story, is depicted very shallowly. It is due to Martin's primary focus on narrating an epic-scale story. He wants to create a believable fantasy world and so dedicate some parts of the narration the matters that are rather insignificant in the overall plot, but he does not go to an extent when the readers would consider that his series is about romantic relationships. Much bigger goal of his is to always shock the audience and that is the reason why he created such uncommon romantic couples and why he depicts so many sexual scenes as is described in the next chapter. In conclusion, while Rothfuss employs the romantic elements to enrich his fantasy novel with almost a fully developed romance, Martin seems to partially scrap this opportunity in order to keep the dark setting of the book intact, as he degrades 31
romantic features to a device of a minor character's larger priorities and ambitions. However, as is later in the thesis shown, he uses the romantic elements and figurative language in the depiction of sexual scenes to set the atmosphere, which suggests that, in terms of personal matters between the characters, Martin rather dedicates his narration to erotic scenes. Either way, Martin's and Rothfuss's approach to write more intimatelydriven stories may have contributed to today's popularity of the fantasy genre, as it brings the characters closer to the readers. 32
4. Erotic Elements Rothfuss and Martin extended the romantic relationships of their stories even by sexually explicit scenes. They both wrote them in a different pattern, in which Rothfuss carefully injected the emotion of the intimate moment to the scene, and Martin shocked the audience by a depiction of paedophilic sexual intercourse. While Rothfuss's scene is written in a very polite language where he softens it by lyrical expressions, Martin's scene is managing the romantic atmosphere only partially and rather focuses on the shocking factor. Also, Rothfuss's novels contain scenes with sexual innuendos. It suggests his effort to write unrestrictedly by any prejudices or age groups of the readers. According to Encyclopedia of Erotic Literatureё the universal definition of the erotic literature is: "all works in which sexuality and/or sexual desire have a dominant presence" (Brulotte x). This suggests that in order to create an erotic novel, the presence of sexuality would need to be dominant, but it also hints that writers can use the erotic elements to enhance features and qualities of romance novels to create intriguing erotic depictions for the romantic relationships present in their stories. The following subchapters focus on the analysis of erotic elements found in Rothfuss's and Martin's fantasy series. 4.1. Erotic Elements in The Kingkiller Chronicle Even though the elements of the erotic literature in The Kingkiller Chronicle are very widely discussed, they are actually quite rare. The first volume contains only a few sexual innuendos and the second volume has three sexual scenes, where only one of them is significantly detailed and explicit. Rothfuss argues that such scenes should not draw such large attention and sees them to be a natural part of life. He describes them very delicately, by depicting the whole act almost solely by figurative language, as he 33
does not mean to offend anyone by them. This subchapter offers a detailed analysis of Rothfuss's used techniques in his most famous sex scene. At the beginning of the story, when Kvothe is eleven, he already understands sexual innuendos. One time, he is chanting a rhyme he heard in a town that contains such ambiguous phrases, like: "Keeps them underneath her black dress . . . Right beside her husband's candle . . . Lackless keeps her husband's rocks . . . Lackless likes her riddle raveling" (Wind 77). These rhymes clearly points to sexual matters and that this certain Lady Lackless likes to take of her clothes. When Kvothe`s mother hears him chanting this poem, she encourages him to think about the meaning of the poem. When he went through the text again in his mind, he "saw the rather obvious sexual innuendo" (78). This is unusual to see in a story that is evolving around eleven-year-old protagonist. Even the first retrospective chapter with young Kvothe is called "Thieves, Heretics, and Whores," denoting difficulties of Kvothe's family and troupe who is facing problems with prejudices that travelling troupers are all just criminals, enemies of the religion and prostitutes. The vulgar word in this title is also peculiar to see in fantasy, especially in the title of a chapter. As living in a wagon makes difficult to maintain some level of privacy, Kvothe is exposed to some of the intimacies between his parents as they live in the same wagon and when they ask him to go for a walk to find some herbs in forest, he knows what it means: . . . `I think it's nice,' my mother said, walking around from the back of the wagon. `Gives us the chance for something hot,' she gave my father a significant look, `to eat. It gets frustrating making do with whatever you can grab at the end of the day. A body wants more.' 34
My father's mood seemed to temper considerably. `There is that,' he said. `Sweet?' my mother called to me. `Do you think you could find me some wild sage?' `I don't know if it grows around here,' I said with the proper amount of uncertainty in my voice. . . . Typically, whether or not I found what I was looking for didn't matter very much. (Wind 93) Kvothe is clever enough to understand "a significant look" his mother gave to his father, her ambiguous statement that "a body wants more," and his father's change of mood. Kvothe acts like he does not know about their true intentions, but the text clearly shows he is familiar with the concept of what they might do in his absence. Like the improper chapter title and the double-meaning poem, this also is something you do not find in older classic fantasy books, or expect of a novel with an eleven-year-old main character. At the age of sixteen, Kvothe experiences his first sex with Felurian, a mythical woman from the magical realm of Fae, known for her fondness of having sex with mortal men until they die of exhaustion. Rothfuss uses a poetic portrayal of the setting and their actions. The descriptions are vague, metaphorical allusions to what they do. In a way, it creates a romantic atmosphere and softens the fact that it is sex in fantasy novel with a teenage protagonist. This was shocking for some people and Rothfuss received critique from many parents whose children read it. As he stated in an unofficial interview, he thinks that "People get unfairly twitchy about sex," and that "A sixteenyear-old is going to run into worse language, violence and sex like on network television" than in his book. He further compares it to murder scenes, on which account 35
no parents send him critique letters: "Kvothe kills like thirty people in this book. Some of them horrifically. And not one person has ever said `This is really horrible.'" And lastly, he argues, that contrary to murder "sex is perfectly natural," (Lovatt) what supports the idea of the thesis that Rothfuss wants to make the world and story of his The Kingkiller Chronicle a believable reading experience. The phrases he uses in his description consist of many figures of speech, mainly similes and metaphors. He also often omits subjects and predicates, or makes short sentences and lists. When Kvothe gets to see Felurian, he describes her "skin silverwhite under the evening sky," denoting her nakedness and pale skin which reflects the moonshine. Then he continues with another poetic description by comparing her bend "to dip one hand in the pool" to the bend of a dancer which implies that her movement is very graceful and artistic. When he finally decides to come closer to her, he uses simile of her dark long hair and a shadow of which blackness contrasts with her bright skin. She darts towards him "swift as sparrow, graceful as a deer" denoting not only the ease of her movement but this double simile also uses likeness to harmless animals, sparrow and deer, which only further encourages Kvothe not to be afraid of her, and so he fearlessly runs towards her (Fear 630). In the next paragraph, author uses very short sentences and sometimes omits verbs which do not carry the meaning and also describes the action by lists. Sentences: "Felurian ahead of me. Into the scrub," miss the predicative verbs. They are not needed here, because the purpose of these sentences is just to create images in the mind of readers in order to bring the atmosphere to them, and to emphasize that the narrator Kvothe remembers those moments only as a quick slideshow because it all happened so quickly. This assumption is confirmed in the next sentence where the narrator explicitly says he remembers "trees, the smell of earth, the grey of moonlit stone" only dimly, and 36
the list also supplies the imagery with more elements. He continues in this pattern by saying: "She dodges, dances, pulls ahead. She waits till I am almost close enough to touch, then skips away," describing the playfulness of the whole act, like innocent play of children. Then, for the third time, comes the emphasis of her skin glowing under the light of the moon. In the next sentence, the narrator describes their chase by making yet another list: "There are clutching branches, a spray of water, a warm wind . . ." These phrases describe moving objects, but they are arranged in the sentence as a list of static things which is an interesting characteristic of this list. The sentence is finished by ellipsis. At last, he has "hold of her", bringing us to the actual sexual act between them. In another series of their actions, narrator personifies Felurian's mouth, describing it as "eager", and her tongue, as "shy". This description, along with another one that says: "Her breath in my mouth, filling my head," is the euphemism for a passionate `French kiss,' and "The hot tips of her breasts brush my chest" is probably the most erotically explicit sentence in the scene (631). Kvothe continues by describing her scent to be "like clover, like musk, like ripe apples fallen to the ground . . ." Soft scent of clover is in the contrast with pervasive odour of musk and savoury apple. A word "like" is used in an anaphoric construction, making this sentence sound similarly as in a poem or a song. Afterwards, the author uses ellipsis: ". . . to the ground . . . And there is no hesitation," (631) which emphasizes the slight pause in the thoughts of the narrator. This reminds the readers that the story is in retrospective and that the narrator dictates it to the Chronicler. The narrator's personality is recognisable in his dictation. His use of figures of speech, poetic metaphors, parables, and rhymes, are as if he was composing a lyrical text. The next imagery points to the naturalness of the depicted act: "No doubt. I know exactly what to do. My hands are on the back of her neck. Brushing her face. 37
Tangled in her hair. Sliding along the smooth length of her thigh. Grabbing her hard by the flank. Circling her narrow waist. Lifting her. Laying her down . . ." (631). Even though Kvothe is very young and inexperienced, his instincts and lust lead him. The first two quoted sentences help even more to imagine Kvothe's situation and thoughts. In the above-mentioned interview, Rothfuss stated that sex is natural human act, and his opinion is mirrored in these quoted lines. The next paragraph describes the actual sexual intercourse by the direct depiction where the narrator plays with sentences by making them semantically incomplete to emphasize Kvothe's restlessness and quick succession of images: And she writhes beneath me, lithe and languorous. Slow and sighing. Her legs around me. Her back arches. Her hot hands clutch my shoulders, my arms, pressing the small of my back . . . And she is astride me. Her movements wild. Her long hair trails across my skin. She tosses her head, trembling and shaking, crying out in a language I do not know. Her sharp nails digging into the flat muscles of my chest. (631) This depiction exchanges the previously used vague metaphors for literal description of their intercourse. The narrator even needlessly describes their varying positions and their submissive or dominant role during their intercourse by the contrasting phrases which are describing Felurian as "languorous" and later as "wild". Such descriptive and detailed content would readers expect from an erotic novel, but certainly not from a fantasy. However, the author does not stop here and rather finishes his erotic piece with the description of Felurian's "trembling, shaking, crying out," and her "nails digging" 38
into Kvothe's chest, which is euphemistic representation of her sexual climax. This last part is probably the source of most of the discussions and controversy related to this novel. In the last paragraph, the narrator uses simile to music and expressions with double meaning. He says: "And there is music to it. The wordless cries she makes, rising and falling," by which he creates ambiguity of whether he means Felurian's voice or movement of her body. Following phrases denotes contrast in Felurian's relaxed stance and Kvothe's thrilled brisk motions: "Her sigh. My racing heart. Her motion slows. I clutch her hips in frantic counterpoint." Simile between their sex and the music is introduced again in the last lines of the scene: "Our rhythm is like a silent song. Like sudden thunder. Like the half-heard thrumming of a distant drum . . . And everything stops. All of me arches. I am taut as a lute string. Trembling. Aching. I am tuned too tight, and I am breaking. . . ." (631). Kvothe's comparison to a lute is typical for him and it underlines his character which is distinguishing in his love of music and playing a lute. He compares his body to a lute string that is "arching, trembling, aching, toned too tight," and "breaking" which is the metaphor for his orgasm. Each line of the scene is filled with figurative language which creates a poetical feeling from the text and also emphasises the hero's decency and genteelness that is adding the innocence to the obscenity. Its ambiguity serves to lighten the broken taboo of sexual intercourse in this popular fantasy genre novel, making it mostly accepted rather than rejected by the readers. Thus, it bridges the two genres of the sexually explicit romances and epic fantasies, which implies that this book may be interesting for a broader audience. 39
4.2 Erotic Elements in A Game of Thrones Martin incorporated many sexually explicit scenes in his A Game of Thrones. The antagonists of the story are often depicted as sexual deviants. Incest is one of the most prominent sexual themes in the book. In the story it is explained that it is the way of maintaining a pure bloodline. However, some of the sex scenes are not as much distasteful as would one expect from a story written by G. R. R. Martin. He manages to use lyrical expressions in a similar fashion to Patrick Rothfuss, and thus the scenes are decently written and not that much shocking as some other parts of the story. This subchapter focuses on the analysis of the sexual aspects of life of Daenerys, in order to show Martin's approach to obscene taboos like incest and paedophilia. The incest is quite common among the members of a royal family, especially among Targaryens, the family of Daenerys, and she "always assumed that she would wed Viserys when she came of age" (32). It is explained that "For centuries the Targaryens had married brother to sister . . . The line must be kept pure" (32). To maintain their power, they sacrificed their morality and the natural way of life. Viserys reviews Daenerys's body and touches her: He studied her critically. . . .`Let them see that you have a woman's shape now.' His fingers brushed lightly over her budding breasts and tightened on a nipple. `You will not fail me tonight. If you do, it will go hard for you. You don't want to wake the dragon, do you?' His fingers twisted her, the pinch cruelly hard through the rough fabric of her tunic. `Do you?' he repeated. `No,'Dany said meekly. (29) 40
His manic behaviour forces her to be completely subservient to him. It is shocking how he observes her body and touches her. This sublime incest appears to be normal for both of them. His cruelty and heartlessness is depicted the best in his vulgar declaration, that he would let a whole army to rape her, if it gave him the army (38). For hatred and vengeance, he becomes a monster, willing to destroy the life of his own little sister. These shocking exclamations are the biggest contrast between A Game of Thrones and Kingkiller Chronicle. In the later work, there are no such vulgarities and taboos like incest. Daenerys's misery gets even worse after she is wed with Khal Drogo against her will. She, a thirteen-year-old girl, must regularly have sex with him, during which she "cries of pain," and afterwards spends the whole night awake "bruised and sore" (228). Eventually, she gets pregnant. However, her relationship with Drogo has two sides. Her first sexual intercourse during their wedding night she actually enjoyed, as he seduced her to do it. This scene is written in a similar manner as the scene with Kvothe and Felurian. Daenerys, afraid of having sex, cried, while "Khal Drogo stared at her tears, his face strangely empty of expression" (107). Here is shown one the aspects of his personality, which was previously hidden, his tenderness. Then, to become closer to her, he tries to use the only word he knows from her language to break one of the barriers between them: "`No,' he said. . . `You speak the Common Tongue,' Dany said in wonder. `No,' he said again" (107). This little revelation helped her to calm down and "feel a little better" (107). He keeps to talk to her softly in his language and at this point, he may see that she is no longer that much afraid, and so he takes her on his arms, lifting her, and seating her beside a stream. Here Martin creates a romantic atmosphere; exactly like Rothfuss does in the first meeting of Denna and Kvothe who spent their first night of knowing each other by a pond reflecting "a sea of stars" (Wind 216). 41
Afterwards, though it may seem weird for the readers, Drogo starts to seduce her by unbraiding his long hair, his symbol of an undefeated warrior. After a while, he let her finish it: "Slowly, carefully, she began to undo his braid. It took a long time. All the while he sat there silently, watching her. When she was done, he shook his head, and his hair spread out behind him like a river of darkness, oiled and gleaming. She had never seen hair so long, so black, so thick." This obviously impressed her as the narrator uses a metaphoric expression "a river of darkness," and depicts how she admires his "so long, so thick" hair (Game 107-8). The scene continues by Drogo undressing Dany, and "When he bared her small breasts, she could not help herself. She averted her eyes and covered herself with her hands," (108) and so she starts to have doubts again. However, those are quickly gone when he tells her his charming and the only English word he knows: "`No,' he repeated," and she echoed `no' back at him. After that, she allows him to undress her completely. Similarly to Rothfuss, Martin makes descriptions that approach readers' senses by stating that "The night air was chilly on her bare skin. She shivered, and gooseflesh covered her arms and legs." So far, the scene feels awkward and bashful, as they barely say a word to each other, which is emphasizing Dany's inexperience and that Drogo seduces her gently and patiently. He seems to understand that she is still very young and innocent, and so he "sat with his legs crossed, looking at her, drinking in her body with his eyes" (108). But eventually, his urges overcome and he starts to massage her whole body in order to make her relaxed and submitting: He ran a hand gently down her leg. He stroked her face, tracing the curve of her ears, running a finger gently around her mouth. He put both hands 42
in her hair and combed it with his fingers. He turned her around, massaged her shoulders, slid a knuckle down the path of her spine. It seemed as if hours passed before his hands finally went to her breasts. He stroked the soft skin underneath until it tingled. He circled her nipples with his thumbs, pinched them between thumb and forefinger, then began to pull at her, very lightly at first, then more insistently, until her nipples stiffened and began to ache. (108) The readers who read The Wise Man's Fear may notice the differences between this erotic scene and the one with Felurian. Kvothe makes a better job as a narrator, as his depiction of the scene is much more forward-driven, opposite to this scene. It is due to the long, exhausting expressions in which this scene is depicted. Instead of shortening them by leaving out the predicative verbs, the author writes grammatically correct sentences, but dropping the opportunity to depict the scene more interestingly. Eventually, Daenerys starts to enjoy Drogo's presence and agrees to have sex: He stopped then, and drew her down onto his lap. Dany was flushed and breathless, her heart fluttering in her chest. He cupped her face in his huge hands and looked into his eyes. `No?' he said, and she knew it was a question. She took his hand and moved it down to the wetness between her thighs. `Yes,' she whispered as she put his finger inside her. (108) On one page of the book, Martin changes a crying child into a woman ready to have sex. Her desire is connected to her admiration of Drogo's manly body. The author uses 43
very explicit descriptions of where Drogo touches her, even if it is woman's intimate body part. Martin is not afraid of describing how Dany is being aroused, which shows similarity to Rothfuss's approach where he emphasizes naturalness of a sexual act. In the end, Daenerys succumbs to Drogo and embrace their intimacy. Martin depicts it as a natural act, as if there was nothing wrong about writing about it, defying the taboo, the same way as Rothfuss. However, Martin depicted the erotic scene of his A Game of Thrones in a different manner than Rothfuss in his The Wise Man's Fear. Rothfuss depicted the sex scene of Kvothe and Felurian by inclining to the romantic elements that are also evident throughout the whole narration of romance between Kvothe and Denna. This helped him to form the scene of Kvothe's sex with godlike Felurian as realistic as possible. Martin created a believable, yet shocking sex scene, even though his third-person narrative style did not allow him to immerse into Daenerys's thoughts in a greater amount of detail. Contrary to him, Rothfuss used the first-person narrator, which allowed him to describe Kvothe's thoughts very deeply. Overall, Martin's story still shocks the audience and let the discussion and critique flow through the media, and thus it did not go to vain. The use of lyrical expressions for the erotic depictions is much more present in The Wise Man's Fear, where it forms a playful, truly romantic scene, more acceptable by the society, as there is no pressure posed on any of the two characters. 44
5. Conclusion The popularity of the fantasy genre, first acquired by J. R. R. Tolkien classic The Lord of the Rings, was reawakened by the tremendous success of fantasy series like Harry Potter, which narrated a fantasy story with the distinguishing techniques of a young adult literature. These techniques are connected to the immersion of reader's everyday affairs to fantasy worlds in which the protagonists solve massive problems in order to save anything that is in danger. In the last decades, the fantasy literature thrives, and there are many emerging fantasy sub-genres. Two of the recent fantasy series with hybrid narrative elements are especially notable: Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, with its two published volumes The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, and George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, with its five published novels of which the first one, A Game of Thrones, acquired such wide popular acclaim that it fathered a creation of a television's series of the same title. These two novels won numerous awards and sold millions of copies, and thus their stories have to contain narrative elements that attracted wide range of audience, bringing together readers of fantasy, young adult literature, and adult literature, and ultimately changing the face of modern fantasy novels yet to come. The genre shifted from the focus on many and large to few and small, while the epic storyline is put to the background. Both Rothfuss and Martin use topics of romantic relationships and the manifestation of a physical attraction that comes with them. However, they both aim to achieve different goals. Rothfuss approaches the young adult audience and the readers of romantic novels, as he portrays romantically rich relationship between two young peers with similar fates. When he visits erotic content, he does it in a gentle poetic language as he connects it with the happiness and playfulness that comes out of such act. This approach stands as opposite to Martin's 45
depiction of romance between a teenage girl and an adult man. She falls in love with him only after she goes through her brother's tyranny, forced wedding, seduction to having sex, and eventually learning to enjoy it. Martin's works are seemingly more acceptable by mature readers, yet his target audience remains unclear. However, his approach of writing unexpected provocative content guaranteed him to shock the masses and maintain his readership throughout the whole series. The mixing of elements of both young adult and adult literature enriches fantasy in the way which allows it to branch into so many categories of fictional literature that it eventually denies its standardization, and keeps it to be an ever changing term like the name of the wind. 46
6. Works Cited Beatty, Sally. "'You're Reading...What?'" The Wall Street Journal. News Corp, 24 June 2005. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . "Best Sellers." The New York Times. N.p., 20 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Brulotte, Gaлtan, and John Phillips, eds. Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print. Cart, Michael. Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism. Chicago: American Library Association Editions, 2010. Ebrary. Jan. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Interview by Rebecca Lovatt. The Arched Doorway. N.p., 15 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Koelling, Holly, ed. Best Books for Young Adults. 3rd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007. Print. "The Lord of the Rings." The Official Academy Awards® Database. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. . "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." Box Office Mojo., Inc., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 2011. Print. 47
Mitchell, Christopher. "J. R. R. Tolkien: Father of Modern Fantasy Literature." University of California, Santa Barbara. 12 Apr. 2003. The Veritas Forum. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. . Nikolajeva, Maria. "Fantasy Literature and Fairy Tales." The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Ed. Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. 150-54. Print. Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania UP, 2007. Print. Rochelle, Warren G,. "Le Guin, Ursula K." The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction. Ed. Brian W. Shaffer. Chicester: John Wiley and Sons, 2011. 661-62. Print. "New York Times Bestseller: It's Offical." Web log post. Patrick Rothfuss. N.p., 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind. London: Gollancz, 2008. Print. ---. The Wise Man's Fear. London: Gollancz, 2012. Print. Saler, Michael. As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of virtual reality. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print. Salvatore, R. "Stories for the Nights to Come." Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons. Ed. James Lowder. Dallas: BenBella, 2012. n.pag. e-book. Tolkien, John R. R. "On Fairy-Stories." Tree and Leaf. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969. 3-83. Print. 48
Vizzini, Ned. "Beyond the Ghetto." Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons. Ed. James Lowder. Dallas: BenBella, 2012. n. pag. E-book. Wagner, Vit. "Tolkien Proves He's Still the King." Entertainment. N.p., 16 Apr. 2007. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. . Yao, Laura. "Bitten And Smitten." The Washington Post. N.p., 1 Aug. 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. . 49
7. English Rйsumй Fantasy genre is one of the newest additions to popular literature. Its definition has many versions as this genre still evolves into many forms. This thesis describes its place in the world of literature and pinpoints its development from J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy The Lord of the Rings, which is depicting epic struggle with forces of evil, to Rowling's low fantasy world of Harry Potter, portraying young wizard's life at university. The main aim of the thesis is to analyze Patrick Rothfuss's and G. R. R. Martin's newest approach of portraying a high fantasy world with epic elements, but also depiction of personal matters like romantic relationships, to create fully believable and realistic portrait of imagined world. The romantic elements of Rothfuss's and Martin's novels are analyzed in two chapters.The first is describing primary elements of romance literature in both Rothfuss's fantasy books from The Kingkiller Chronicle series and Martin's first book of A Song of Ice and Fire series.The second chapter is focused on the secondary element of romance novels that is present in their series - the erotic aspect, which further deepen the believability and completeness of personalities and lives of the protagonists of their stories. The thesis aims to emphasize this new trend of detailing romantic relationships in fantasy novels, which shifts the genre's former focus on the greatness of the whole story to lesser matters like courtship and love life of a hero. It argues that this approach became popular because it brought the heroes of the novels closer to the audience as it shows their humanity and similarity to people from the real world where magic or an epic quest to save the humanity is not on the daily menus. 50
8. Ceskй resumй Zбnr fantasy je jednнm z nejnovjsнch pнrstk do populбrnн literatury. Jeho definice mб mnoho verzн, a to z toho dvodu, ze se neustбle rozvнjн do mnoha forem. Tato prбce popisuje pozici danйho zбnru ve svt literatury a vyznacuje jeho vэvoj pocнnaje J. R. R. Tolkienovэm ,,high" fantasy Pбn Prsten, kterэ zobrazuje epickэ zбpas se silami zla, a J. K. Rowlingovй ,,low" fantasy sйriн Harry Potter, popisujнcн zivot mladйho carodje na univerzit, nekonce. Hlavnнm zбmrem prбce je vsak rozbor nejnovjsнho pнstupu Patricka Rothfusse a G. R. R. Martina, kteн vyobrazujн ,,high" fantasy svt plnэ epickэch prvk, ale takй intimnнch zбlezitostн, jako jsou milostnй vztahy, aby vytvoili pln uvitelnэ a realistickэ obraz smyslenйho svta. Romantickй elementy z vэse uvedenэch dl jsou analyzovбny ve dvou kapitolбch. Prvnн z nich popisuje primбrnн prvky milostnэch romбn v obou knihбch Rothfusovy sйrie Kronika Krбlovraha a Martinovy prvnн knihy ze sйrie Pнse ledu a ohn. Druhб kapitola je zamenб na druhotnэ prvek milostnэch romбn pнtomnэ v tchto knihбch ­ prvek erotiky, jez jest vнce prohlubuje dvryhodnost a ъplnost osobnostн protagonist danэch pнbh a jejich zivot. Tato prбce usiluje o zdraznnн tohoto novйho trendu, kterэm je podrobnй popisovбnн milostnэch vztah ve svt fantasy. Pvodnн zбmr zбnru - zobrazovбnн velkoleposti celйho pнbhu - se pesouvб k mйn vэznamnэm zбlezitostem, jako je dvoenн a milostnэ zivot hrdin. Prбce dokazuje, ze tento pнstup se stal populбrnнm. Nejen, ze piblнzil hrdiny z romбn blнze ke ctenбi, ale zobrazuje takй jejich lidskost a podobu s osobami z reбlnйho svta, kde magie ci epickб vэprava na zбchranu svta nenн na kazdodennнm poбdku. 51

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