Posted tagged ‘English Fantasy’

The English Fantasy: Freya Pickard

23 September, 2022

Today I would like to share with you an article recently published by Claudia Messelodi, an Italian poet, whom I have a high regard for.

The original article is in Italian at Il giornale letterario but I have included an English translation below.

Introduction to genre and themes

The works belonging to the fantasy narrative genre commonly present stories and events set in an imaginary universe, albeit with situations, places and characters often belonging to the real world. Mostly, however, these are invented worlds, populated by magical creatures, permeated with supernatural elements and atmospheres and magic. It is not always easy to distinguish the fantasy genre from science fiction or horror: the three tend to overlap in some respects. The main difference consists in the absence, as far as fantasy is concerned, of scientific or macabre themes. Fantasy fiction, originally designed for children and young adults, soon begins to attract and fascinate an adult audience. Since the beginning of the history of literature there are examples of fantasy writings, although they were cataloged as fairy tales. Instead, we start talking about strictly fantasy literature starting from the 60s of the last century, mainly following the publication of Tolkien’s great works. Among the greatest masterpieces in literature are Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia from 1950-56, Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, respectively from 1937 and 1954, Harry Rowling Potter from 1997. (1)

The fantasy authors, unhooked from scientific and social conventions, explore critical and thematic nodes creating completely unusual and personal worlds, populated by dragons, aliens and strange races and creatures that cohabit with humans. These are universes supported by their own physical and logical laws.

This literary genre, belonging to speculative fiction, is divided into various subgenres, such as high fantasy (traditional fantasy), epic fantasy, magical realism, fable, fairy tale and witchcraft. Tolkien’s works, classified as high or epic fantasy, led the literary genre to success, influencing many future writers and making Tolkien himself the father of modern fantasy. Starting from the 1960s and 1970s, the genre evolved and grew enormously in terms of popularity: many narrative works were also transposed and adapted into cinematography.

What most characterizes the themes of fantasy is the presence of conflict, which can be between good and evil, tradition and change, the individual and society, man and nature, man and other creatures. or superior external forces, man and his own interiority. The theme of the search for knowledge or power is also very recurrent, as are love and betrayal, the epic journey, change and growth. (2)

We are faced with the construction of a world in the round, detailed and profound, in which there is a magical dimension, or a system of magic, with its own laws, without a real logic, which governs it: spells, witchcraft, supernatural powers, fantastic elements. A world governed by a precise system of government, made up of a hierarchy and those who hold power. The main characters, alongside numerous auxiliary characters, especially in the series, can be multiple and present alternating points of view and angles in the description and interpretation of the events. They are complete and imperfect, realistic characters, similar to people in flesh and blood. (3) The dangerous quest, represented by a long journey to be made, obstacles to overcome and mysteries to be solved, mythological creatures such as dragons and unicorns, magical forces and fantastic characters therefore contribute to creating a parallel and alternative world made up of unique and highly credible settings. (4) A world absolutely far from technology and modern culture and which stylistically could rather appear medieval. Moreover, incorporating elements of Germanic, Nordic mythology, legends and ancient myths, this narrative genre offers unlimited possibilities, not putting any brakes or barriers to creativity, giving the green light to the immense use of fantasy, to the license to experiment, to dream. (5)

Freya Pickard and the epic fantasy series “The Kaerling”

The original and imaginative British writer Freya Pickard, author of numerous fantasy novels and short stories, as well as blogger, editor and prolific poet and candidate for the Pushcart Prize, has been working for several years on the drafting of her fantasy series entitled The Kaerling, a long and intriguing epic story, already in the ninth volume, set in the bizarre and wonderful world of Nirunen. (6) A cancer survivor, she loves to spend her days immersed in the peace of her home among the enchanting landscapes of the English ocean and moors from which she always draws inspiration, devoting herself, in addition to writing, to gardening, reading and listening to rock and heavy metal music. She is also involved in water color painting, depicting landscapes and worlds populated by mythical creatures.

Freya, defined as a fresh voice of the fantasy genre, writes about imaginative, powerful and creative worlds, as she likes to call them, and not simply imaginary or invented: places that could really exist in a parallel universe or in a different temporal dimension: “I don’t write about imaginary worlds; I write about imaginative ones”. It does not propose an escape from reality in terms of escapism, but traces a possible route towards a regenerating oasis, where the reader arrives and, enchanted and captured by the magic of her words, can fully enjoy intense and satisfying moments, and then return to their life, feeling stronger and renewed. (7)

Her series, which bears the title The Kaerling, whose name refers to a threatening and much feared lineage, tells the story of four characters and travel companions, Otta, Erl, Tari and Lored, united in the desperate search for two children, Derri and Lally, stolen from their families and mysteriously disappeared at the hands of the feared Kaerlings. Freya Pickard’s work is still in progress, nine volumes have now been released, all to be savoured and experienced either as part of a series, and therefore of a larger project, or even as single works unrelated to the other volumes.

Silver Fire tells of the adventures of the twins Otta and Erl on the trail of the unicorn, an innocent search that will soon turn into a nightmare, where Erl will lose his memory and will no longer be able to recognize his twin Otta. Ambassador continues with the story of the two trapped in the city of Aura Vere, where they must try to secretly survive without being discovered by the enemy race, the Kaerlings. In the third volume, An Ancient Song, Otta, while escaping from the Kaerlings, discovers the dark side of her personality and realizes that she has many physical traits that unite her to her enemies. While searching for the unicorn, she is telepathically threatened by one of the Kaerlings. The other two protagonists are introduced in Olin Heon: Lored, a sort of priest with special powers, and Tari, an altar assistant at the temple of Aura Vere. In the next volume, Hidden Lands, Lored leaves his home and the place he loves so much to undertake a search for a meaning and purpose in his life. In Aura Vere the four characters meet and their stories begin to intertwine. In the mountain town of Aura Vere, Erl and Otta search for Derri as Lored searches for his unknown sister (they have never met in the past as she must be protected from the Kaerlings). Tari flees the temple in search of Lally, also kidnapped by their terrible enemies. Uneasy Allies reveals how the four companions, despite their common intent, discover they cannot trust each other. Fair Wind and Elkadanu narrate respectively their long and difficult journey by sea and some events they have to face on the island of Kiros, where they have landed and remain trapped.

Freya Pickard’s style is absolutely fresh and lively, rhythmic and cadenced, in step with the development of the story, with the dialogues and the peculiar traits of the characters. The descriptions of the landscapes that the author offers us appear highly lyrical and intense, as if we were faced with poetic verses that are powerful and full of expressive charge and meaning. Her imagery is decidedly rich and vivid, capable of dragging the reader on a sort of journey away from everyday life, a tangible, real journey.

Primary Literature
Freya Pickard, The Day of Weird: The Kaerling Volumes One-Three, January 2020 Freya Pickard, Fire Daughter: The Kaerling Volumes Four-Six, May 2021
Freya Pickard, Water Sister: The Kaerling Volumes Seven-Nine, September 2022
Secondary Literature
(3)Claire Bradshaw, 5 Essential Elements Every Fantasy Novel Needs, writer’s edit
(4)Skye Butchard, Characteristics of Fantasy Literature for Kids, June 2021, twinkle .it
(5)Ben Galley, Writing Fantasy: A Short Guide To The Genre, June 2013, thecreativepenn .com

(2)What’s the Fantasy Genre? History of Fantasy and Subgenres and Types of Fantasy in Literature, October 2021, masterclass .com
(1)Fantasy Literature, Wikipedia
(7)About Freya Pickard, Author of Dragonscale Leggings, whoisabout .net
(6)Freya Pickard Profile, books .com
Freya Pickard Author, amazon .com

More about The Kaerling can be found on this site – simply click on the dragon scales at the top of the page and scroll down to find the Dark Fantasy link on the right hand side!


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