Species in Fantasy and Urban Fantasy (pt. 1)

Classic species becoming clichés is a common issue in the fantasy and urban fantasy genres, even to a limited degree in science fiction.  But, is it valid to consider most of these species clichés?  Most of the species that we encounter in the genres are common, but have a variety of uses, appearances, and varieties in modern and classical, mythological, and legendary forms.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll focus on the fantasy and urban fantasy species because they are more easily recognizable as “standard” species.  Sci-fi has its versions—reptilian warrior people, cyborgs, BEMs, androids—but not in the same way.  Saying Gorn, Narn, or Trandoshan isn’t the same as saying Elf because not all reptilian warrior species in sci-fi are referred to as Gorn. Each setting has its own name for the type.

Demons

Demons have become nearly a cliché in many branches of urban fantasy.  They are often depicted as monstrous beings originating off-Earth, in some other dimensional space.  Beyond that basic element, demons have been used in various ways, typically as a source of magic or to introduce issues of morality.  Whether they are used for religious or secular purposes, the common thread is that they are extraplanar beings and are strong, magically powerful, and often tied to mages.  There are a host of possibilities for use and appearances, in fact an almost infinite number of descriptions in myth, legend, and stories around the world.  Likewise, demons have an almost equally wide range of powers and weaknesses, including vulnerability to iron and religious symbols.

In the Christian tradition, demons are evil entities that reside in Hell and serve Lucifer.  They are often sent to Earth to tempt mortals, seduce and mentor witches, and possess people.  In this tradition, demons are effectively pure evil and lead mortals to evil.  This tradition tends to heavily influence Western use of demons in the secular realm as well, especially in the RPG and video game industries.

Robert Asprin takes the term and puts his own spin on it.  For his MYTH series, demon is a slang term for dimensional travelers, regardless of their species or home dimension.  Thus, demon refers to a host of species and moralities in his multiverse.

Jaye Wells treats demons as residents of Irkalla, the Babylonian underworld, in her Sabina Kane series.  For her world, there is a wide variety of appearances and types including vengeance, vanity, and mischief demons as well as levels of strength and status.  Most demons in her world can only arrive on Earth when summoned to serve mages, usually for one job per summoning.

In Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, demons are the source of magic.  Magicians summon the demon to perform acts for them, binding the demon to an item or to service until they are released to return home.  These demons seem to have different ranks and strengths, but their social order is rather nebulous, as it is not particularly important to the plot.

Dragons

Dragons are possibly the most common and varied of species around the world after vampires and werebeasts.  They appear in myths, legends, and folklore virtually everywhere, so there are variations from almost every culture on Earth.  Despite many forms, the three most well-known categories are the Asian bearded, the European winged, and the Mesoamerican feathered serpent.

Among the Norse, dragons appeared in both leg-less and legged varieties.  They were noted for their greed, hoards of gold, and impenetrable scales.  They often displayed an ability to charm humans and speak the languages of the birds and beasts.  Perhaps the most well-known is Fafnir of the Volsunga Saga.

The Anglo-Saxon dragon was a four legged, winged creature capable of breathing fire.  They were known by the kenning “sky-plague”.  Like their Norse cousins, they were noted for their greed and hoards, as well as being powerful and territorial.  They were apparently intelligent, but possibly incapable of human speech and appeared as the opponent of heroes, the most famous of which is probably Beowulf’s dragon.

Chinese dragons, like virtually all Asian dragons, were wingless reptilians that boasted beards and flew.  They were often tied to rivers and seas and were associated with wisdom, learning, and leadership.  They were also known to fly into destructive rages when insulted, leading to floods and tsunamis.  In China, they were connected to the Imperial family and nobles, with the number of claws indicating the status of the dragon.  Unlike Western dragons, Asian varieties were standardized in art fairly early in the continent’s cultural development.

Tolkien built out of the Norse & Saxon tradition to produce strong, huge, intelligent reptilians of evil.  His dragons embody the evils of Men, Elves, and Dwarves.  They possess enhanced senses, an ability to charm, and the power to evoke fear.  They seek out darkness and fire, because they were created of fire and sorcery by Morgoth.

Harry Turtledove (Darkness series) and Naomi Novik (Temeraire series) show readers giant beasts bred for war.  Turtledove’s are non-intelligent warbeasts while Novik’s are cat-like, talking creatures.  Both are used as aerial bombers and assault forces, in Novik’s case much like 19th century naval ships.  Turtledove’s are relatively simplistic, used like any vehicle of war.  Novik’s are deployed to raise issues of slavery and societal differences across cultures.

Robert Asprin’s Dragons series presents dragons that look human.  They have a diluted draconic lineage that leaves the current generations mostly human, genetically.  However, most have access to draconic strength and display a dragon’s greed.  Those with a purer bloodline are able to manifest physical draconic characteristics.  They are inherently drawn to power and strength, leaving many involved in professional sports or organized crime.

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Magic Items Revisited, Part 2

Durability

A related topic to availability is how long the magic in magic items persists. Generally speaking, the less an item can be used, the easier it is to create tends to make sense. If Great Weapons or Rings were common, everyone would have one and Dragaera and Middle-Earth would be very different places. On the other hand, easy availability of limited use Skele-Gro isn’t so bad. On the whole, there are three broad categories of magic item durability:

One-Shot

These are single use items, such as potions, that expend all their magic in one use. Often such items are consumed when used, or disposed of in some other way (ex. the single use Portkeys used for the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Cheap, single use, disposable items makes for a strong market for creators and sellers, if they are common. If usage is widespread, then people will be looking for replacements frequently.

Limited Use

These items retain their magic for months or years but eventually the magic wears off. This is the magical equivalent of the home appliance or car and shares a similar place in a magical economy. They are items that might be moderately expensive initially, but can be used for a significant amount of time. Most of the items in Rowling’s world and Pratchett’s Discworld fall into this category.

Permanent

These devices never lose their magic regardless of how old they are or how often they are used. Obviously, this would not be a good level to build an economy around, as they’d be bad for business. Once they’re sold, there’s no more income to be made off them. But, this level is excellent for rare and exceptionally powerful items such as Excalibur, Glamdring, Spellbreaker, and the One Ring.

In short, how long magic items will continue to work has a profound effect on society and its relation to such devices both economically and socially.

Production

How magical devices are made, and how quickly they can be produced, also has a notable effect on the world. Unique items that take considerable time to make won’t be widespread. Mass produced items can be produced quickly and will be found everywhere, usually.

Examples:

Rick Riordan’s Camp Half-Blood is home to many, mostly unique, items created by the Hephaestus kids or the gods (and their cyclops minions).

J.K. Rowling’s Magical England has items that are presumably both easy to make and mass produced (those sold in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes) alongside handcrafted, labor intensive items (wands & brooms) and unique, powerful object (horcruxes & the Potter family invisibility cloak).

Pratchett’s Discworld also includes both mass produced objects (iconographs, disorganizers) and unique items of great power (Hex).

Unique items that are slow to make become the goals of quests and carry great value. This is true even if their powers are weak—ex. the Staff of Magius in Dragonlance’s Krynn is a rather weak item, but its history and reputation make it desirable. On the other end, mass produced items become common household items that everyone in the setting is likely to have access to—ex. Floo Powder in Rowling.

There is a lot of room in between the ends of the spectrum. If the creator desires a world with widespread items and an item making industry, then mass produced and fast are effectively necessities. A full scale industry cannot be built and produce widespread devices if it takes a month to create one saleable item—they can create a specialty industry catering to select clients, though.

The choice really depends on the desired level of magic use in the setting. The above categories can be used as a way to limit the effects of magic on societies—either the magic system is limited in, or unable to, creation of items or national laws restrict creation (ex. mages need licensing to make items and/or must only do so in certain places to avoid blowing up the neighbors).

Magic Items Revisited (pt. 1)

I thought I’d expand on and spin off some earlier discussions of magical devices.  This turned into five sections that were all too short for individual posts, so here are the first three:

General

Magic items are a big topic in the fantasy and urban fantasy genres. As readers, we often want to see them appear in a story. As writers and worldbuilders, the urge to play with the Golden Fleece, Excalibur, the Philosopher’s Stone, flying broomsticks, magic staves, and cloaks and rings of invisibility can be difficult to ignore or resist.

But, magic items raise some important questions about the fictional world. Should such items exist? Can they exist, based on how the magic system works? How are they made? How strong should they be? How common are they? How long can they be used? Are they unique, mass produced, or a mix of both?

The answer to each question depends heavily on the intended use of the items, their effects on society, the feel of the setting, the feel of magic, and the world creator’s own sense of wonder. The last is, perhaps, the most subjective and variable. For instance, Tolkien’s magic items are rare and often powerful but they can evoke the same sense of wonder as Rowling’s magic items are everywhere world, just in different ways.

Assuming that magic items exist in the world, continue. If not, then the rest is irrelevant.

Strength

The power of magic items is of immense importance when we consider adding them to a setting. Generally speaking, the more powerful the magic items, the greater effect they can or will have on the world. They will probably also be less common or harder to make. Weaker items typically have less effect on the world, unless they are available and used in quantity. Careful thought into the strength of such objects is important, especially if anyone can acquire and activate them, as opposed to only being useful to a limited range of people (say, virgin Aztec males over the age of 40).

Sometimes the natural limits of magic restrict the strength of magic devices. Or the processes necessary to create magic items restrict their power level. In other cases, cultural laws can be used in-world to artificially limit the strength of magic items—ex. Steven Brust and Morganti weapons, J.K. Rowling and time turners.

A good example of varied strength comes from a comparison of Tolkien and Robert Asprin. Tolkien’s rings are world changing devices (literally), held by some of the most powerful beings in Middle-Earth (Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, the Ringwraiths, and Sauron). On the other end of the spectrum, Asprin’s d-hoppers are commonly available devices and a cornerstone of the multiversal economy.

Availability

Closely associated with the power level of magic devices is their availability. Are they rare and treasured (regardless of strength) or a dime a dozen? It is also entirely possible for a world to have both, some rare and powerful artifacts alongside hundreds of cheap and weak common items.

 Availability can influence and affect both how the items change or shape society and the wonder or utility of magic items in the setting. In Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Naomi Novik’s Polnya, items are rare and expensive, hoarded and doled out sparingly. In Rowling’s London, they’re household items. In Rick Riordan’s Camp Half-Blood, nearly everyone has at least one or two unique magic devices of at least moderate strength, whether this is Percy’s Riptide (sword-pen), Chiron’s concealing wheelchair, or Leo Valdez’s magic tool belt and Festus the Bronze Dragon.

If magic items are common, they can be used to create an entire economy in the world and affect daily life. These can include cleaning potions, magical light sources, and flying broomsticks. On the other end, if magic devices are rare, they become the stuff of legends and the goal of quests.

Phaser, Disruptor, Windmill: Technology in F/SF

The question of technology is a familiar one for the science fiction genre, but it is almost equally important in the fantasy and urban fantasy genres. In the last, the relationship between technology and magic, or technology and paranormals, is very important.

With that in mind, let’s break the issue down by genre:

Most fantasy worlds are stuck in a medieval to early modern level of technology with occasional forays into ancient and Victorian levels. In part, this trend is likely due to the tradition of medieval romances and legends that serve as the foundation of the modern genre. The medieval era also tends to be romanticized to some extent in Western society, functioning as a source of and setting for dreams and flights of fancy, the home of the proverbial knight in shining armor.

The tendency toward the medieval could also be tied to the same reasons that Renaissance faires and HMB are popular. Frankly, swords and armor are, in the popular imagination, cool. The era before gunpowder and WWI-type horrific warfare—mass destruction, mass chemical/biological weapons, nuclear devices, carpet bombing—and even the printing press is often seen as “simpler” somehow.

That said, there is no real reason that fantasy has to be stuck in the medieval or Renaissance technology level. It could easily be set in a secondary world with modern technology (Max Gladstone gets close to this), or Victorian, or steam (China Mieville), or others.

Urban fantasy, in the majority of cases, is based in modern technology, which brings in other issues and potential tweaks to the subject.

The interaction between magic and technology is, perhaps, the most important issue. Some hold that magic and modern technology are incompatible and affect each other negatively. They decide that magic and tech contradict each other and cancel each other out. Others argue that there is no reason the two should be inimical, but rather that they can work well together. And, of course, there are those who fall somewhere in between. Jim Butcher and Ilona Andrews provide good examples here, with technology and magic continually vying with each other.

Even if magic and technology can be co-mingled, that does not necessarily speak to every species. Sometimes, to play with ideas, authors limit technology problems to certain species. For instance, the classic fae and iron issue, which causes trouble for fae trying to travel in the modern world, in cars made of steel.

The question does provide fertile ground for unusual effect, though. For instance, high concentrations of magic may affect electronics (Rowling). Cell phone signals may interact with certain paranormal lineages to attract monsters (Riordan, Percy Jackson). Magic may only disrupt technology if it is directly applied to the piece of technology (Riordan, Kane Chronicles).

Technological development is an issue of obvious importance to the science fiction genre, from cyberpunk’s chrome to space opera’s blasters to the entire genre’s starships. Whether the technology involves travel ,communications, medicine, protection, combat, lifespans, cloning, genetic engineering, robotics, or AI, it can all profoundly affect the cultures and societies of the world. The choice of technology can also affect what stories can be told in the setting—if interstellar travel or communications are difficult or slow, then the setting is unlikely to have a galaxy spanning civil war with epic space battles.

Choosing the level of technology, or levels if each area is considered independently, should be done carefully so the technology doesn’t bury the story or other world elements. With that in mind, the technology will both define societies and be defined by them. Take, as an example, smartphone technology. The introduction of relatively cheap, and thus widespread, smartphone usage has brought about significant changes in all of Earth’s societies in terms of communication, connectivity to others, cross-cultural dissemination, information gathering, traffic safety, and a host of other areas. On the other hand, society has defined the smartphone in terms of usage as well. The evolution of the smartphone has been guided just as much, if not moreso, by average users and their desires as it has been by programmers and engineers. Regardless, technology will always affect the social growth and evolution of societies, whether that tech be cloning, cybernetics, regular space travel, or cold fusion.

Additionally, technology can be widely different based on species or nation, and not just in level of development. Example 1: Star Trek’s Romulans have cloaking technology that other species lack, Klingons use disrupters while the Federation uses phasers. Example 2: Babylon 5’s humans use rotational methods for artificial gravity, Vorlons have living bio-tech ships, Shadows have cloaking tech.

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Re-History: Revisiting History in Worldbuilding

History is an important element of every worldbuild, regardless of genre. In Clancy-style thrillers, the history of nations and the history of organizations are important. David Morrell built entire action thrillers out of small pieces of history, and built secret organizations and societies with their own histories. On a larger scale, Tolkien and George Martin constructed huge continental or global histories going back several millennia.

Facing this daunting task, one thing writers and worldbuilders find themselves facing the question of what to include. Limiting history to rulers, battles, and wars gets boring and dull fast. Histories can include foundations of nations, cities, other sites, and organizations; reigns of rulers and dynasties; conflicts between nations, leaders, religions, and groups; treaties, good & bad times (ex. the Great Depression); inventions of note; first contacts between civilizations and species; the rise and fall of nations, families, and organizations.

In fantasy, urban fantasy, and sci-fi, history forms the foundation of current events and national or species relations. It affects current organizational relations as well, ex. the mages and clergy are at odds because the priests tried to purge magic from the country 100 years ago.

The depth and detail of histories varies widely, for a host of reasons. We know that Tolkien’s history is very complex and detailed thanks to the Silmarillion and Lost Tales. Frank Herbert’s was probably equally detailed, based on what Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert have been able to reconstruct from his notes. Rowling and George Lucas’s histories seem to have started rather sketchy and been filled in when needed. Michael Moorcock seems to be somewhere in between. The depth of detail also depends on the length of the piece. Neil Gaiman didn’t need to be excessively detailed in putting together a history for Neverwhere, a relatively short standalone novel. Herbert needed a detailed history for his extended epic. The role of history in the piece can also determine detail. For Neverwhere, detail and depth were not particularly necessary, just a general knowledge of London history and the Atlantis legend even though that history forms the plot. On the other hand, the history of Middle-Earth drove the plot of a wide ranging epic.

Once the history is outlined or fleshed out, how does it get incorporated?

The methods are almost as varied as the elements of history itself, sometimes they aren’t even necessary.

History can be introduced through the laws and cultural traditions of the setting. J.K. Rowling’s wand usage laws derive from the wizarding world’s history with non-human species. Frank Herbert’s imperial edicts against artificial intelligence have their roots in the Butlerian Jihad, 10,000 years before the events of Dune.

Tolkien utilizes the songs and stories of the elves, dwarves, hobbits, and Rangers to convey elements of Middle-Earth’s history.

In certain settings and types of stories, courses and books can relate parts of history. A good example of Rowling’s use of the school setting to convey her fictional history.

The very landscape can be tapped to tell the reader about the world’s history. For example, Tolkien’s use of the Argonath, the Barrows, and Weathertop or George Lucas’s shots of the temple of Yavin IV.

Family and national relations are another good way to bring in the world’s history. George R.R. Martin does this well, if in a somewhat heavy handed way, with the Starks (former Kings of the North) and the relationship between Dorn and King’s Landing.

Species relationships build out of the family and national ones. Rowling’s discussion of the various Goblin Rebellions and the plots present in many vampire-werewolf movies—in which ancient relationships lead to species conflict—are good examples.

The appearance of organizations or groups can be used as a moment to narrate or describe some history. For example, Martin’s use of the return of the Faith Militant under Cersei Lannister-Baratheon.

Other times, the entire plot of the story can reveal world history or the real world antecedents of the fictional world. The entire plot of A Song of Ice and Fire (Martin) is based on the English War of the Roses. Harry Turtledove builds most of his secondary worlds out of history, including Videssos and the setting of the Fox novels which are treated almost like alternate histories.

Turning to real world history is often an excellent option for finding inspiration for fictitious histories. There are many interesting elements, moments, and odd things in our own history that spawn plots, cultures, or even entire worlds. For instance, the appearance of the Plague in Europe, which yielded significant socio-economic and religious change. Or the sumptuary laws that were instituted throughout most of Europe to differentiate the impoverished noble class from the wealthy mercantile classes. Perhaps even the family relations of the European heads of state leading up to and throughout WWI (almost all of whom were cousins).

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Myths & Legends in Worldbuilding

Genre fiction, particularly the fantastic and speculative genres, is a fertile ground for myths and legends. In fact, the genres seem to be intrinsically tied to myth and legend. Tolkien, for one, built his primary work of fiction around the myths and legends of the Valar, once he developed the languages. So, what should we consider with these topics?

There is a huge variety of myths and legends out there, but first it may prove helpful to define the two terms:

Mythology—Fictitious tales that explain something (an event, phenomenon, cultural practice), involve divine agency, and are part of religious belief. Ex. Ovid’s tale of Lycaon explains why human sacrifice is not practiced (it angers the gods).

Legend—Fictitious tales that explain cultural practices, cultural history, or origins but are apart from religious beliefs and practices. Ex. the Arthurian legends explain a cultural Golden Age but are not religious in nature.

Myths tend to cover creation of the world, explanations of natural phenomena, cultural traditions, and origins of natural elements or places. Ovid’s Metamorphoses covers a wide range of origin stories and cultural traditions including the origin of the seasons (Persephone) and hospitality traditions (Baucis and Philemon).

Legends tend to focus more on culture heroes, a previous Golden Age, family history, and cultural foundations. The Arthurian legends are a good example of culture heroes. Shakespeare’s Richard III can, arguably, be seen as a legend about the founding of the Tudor dynasty (family history). The Brut Manuscript presents a foundation story of England that connects it to Troy via a manufactured Trojan named Brutus.

Inclusion of myth and legend in secondary worlds can add a layer of reality to a fantasy setting. However, they often seem to be limited in their usage. We commonly see creation myths, whether Tolkien’s Valar or Martin’s legends of Bran the Builder, but other types of myth seem to be less commonly included. Legends about places crop up regularly as do some regarding culture heroes. Only rarely does the tradition of phenomena myths—source of lightning, cause of earthquakes—seem to appear.

In urban fantasy, the use of real myths and legends has been used to connect the paranormal to the real or to inspire the paranormal elements of the world. This takes some research and a significant amount of reading and familiarity, but there are a lot of resources available out there. Including real myths and legends can spawn plots, places, objects, species, and even inspire entire paranormal societies (ex. Rick Riordan). Rowling’s use of Nicholas Flamel, Merlin, and Archimedes as wizards (Chocolate Frog Cards) is a play on this idea. Jaye Wells builds her entire paranormal society around tales of Cain and Lilith. Ilona Andrews mines Mesopotamian lore and Eastern European legends and folk tales on a regular basis.

Even in science fiction’s innumerable sub-genres, the use of myth and legend has its place. Often, they are employed in the same way as the fantasy genre does, for non-Earth based sci-fi or as urban fantasy does, for Earth-based. Legends often come into play in the form of the legendary inventors of technology or products or stories like rumors of rogue AIs on the net. The 2004 Battlestar Galactica (BSG) reboot constructed its entire plot arc on mythology, for example. The Jedi of Star Wars were surrounded by legends, living (Yoda) and otherwise, and myth. Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda often mentioned legends of Tarn Vedra and its disappearance, evoking Atlantis in some ways. Firefly includes many references to “Earth That Was” in almost reverential tones. R.A. Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice is built around Christian mythology. Mike Resnick’s Santiago makes exceptional use of legend as well.

In short, myth and legend are very useful for all sorts of genre fiction as inspiration or flavor for the setting.


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My Brother’s Friend’s Sister’s College Roommate: Family & Genealogy in Worldbuilding

Family and family lineage are a relatively common feature in fantasy and, to a somewhat lesser extent, urban fantasy. They also play some role in science fiction. Some of the major examples include George R.R. Martin, Tolkien, Rowling, George Lucas, and Frank Herbert. Why are these elements widespread? What purpose do they serve? And how do they fulfill their purposes?

In the fantasy tradition, the use of family lines seems to originate in legend, medieval romances, and myths. The tropes of the hidden prince and divine lineage of heroes are easily recognizable throughout the genre. Thus, family line can provide a link to royalty, governance, and status for a character. Following that path, it provides a link to both potential plotlines and resources through family allies and family enemies. Family lines can also yield abilities, talents, and other inheritances. These inheritance can include the ability to use magic, or to use certain kinds of magic. For example, Garth Nix’s Sabriel can use positive necromancy due to her father’s line and the royal line of the country has its own magic. Likewise, Michael Moorcock’s Elric has a special connection to myriad elementals and the quasi-divine Lords of Chaos through contracts made with his ancestors.

Urban fantasy, arguably, continues this tradition. The prevalence of mixed species characters could be seen as an extension of the ancient Greek demigods and the divine kings of Mesopotamia. As with the fantasy genre, family lineage can provide access to powers (Riordan’s demigods and Egyptian mages; Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels). The family genetic inheritance can also be linked to the ability to use magic (Rowling’s wizards and Riordan’s magicians). These associations can also connect a character to politics (Jaye Wells’s Sabina Kane, granddaughter of the leader of Earth’s vampires). Mythological elements can be harnessed by the story and characters through lineage (Riordan’s demigods), as can legends and magic items (Rowling’s invisibility cloak handed down to Harry from his father).

Science fiction often maintains the tradition in space opera or science fantasy, but also has its own unique uses. Family lines are important to sci-fi politics, alliances, and the history of nations. The hidden prince and Chosen One archetype continue in segments of the sci-fi genre, looking at the Jedi (whether Anakin’s “virgin birth” or Luke’s family line, depending on which one sees as the Chosen One) or Dune with its warring houses and genetic mingling. But, sci-fi adds other uses such as family or generation ships for both trade and colonization. C.J. Cherryh presents a perfect example of the family ship with the traders in much of her Earth-based space opera, particularly Merchanter’s Luck.

How can family lines and genealogy be applied in worldbuilding and narrative? There are a variety of methods, some more subtle than others. Harry Potter and the Skywalkers have their family lines incorporated with references to their respective parents throughout, though not appearing too strongly—aside from continued references to Harry’s eyes. George Martin tells his readers the complete lineages and blood relations between all of his characters, their houses, their sub-houses, and the castles they hold. Tolkien does something similar in the Silmarillion and the hobbits’ interest in genealogy and is more subtle in Lord of the Rings. There, he uses genealogy to connect Aragorn to the Ring, Elrond to Aragorn via Arwen and their half-elven bloodline, and Gimli and Frodo serve as family links between The Hobbit and LotR via Gloin and Bilbo. Frank Herbert is more subtle than Martin, but shows an equally complex and important relation of noble houses and family alliances. Herbert adds, though, the importance of family lines in the Bene Gesserit’s manipulation of bloodlines to produce the Kwisatz Haderach and generally guide human evolution.


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