Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dark and Fancy Free

Some things in literature are to use the cyber term positively viral. Look at fantasy novels. Now, for the most part they have either accepted the Middle Earth template of J. R. R. Tolkein or have to fight against it. Mention elves to a reader of fantasy novels and there will be for the most part the same elves as envisioned by J. R. R. Tolkein.

Now sometimes these "viral" templates, memes, what have you, can go through a strange mutation. Many decades after J. R. R. Tolkein released (or unleashed) his "Lord of the Rings," something new was created in the dungeons around the Great Lakes. Here Gary Gygax and his merry crew invented "Dungeons & Dragons," and therefore role playing games giving parents of the world one more thing to worry about. Gygax and gang embraced the J. R. R. Tolkein theme whole heartedly to the point of lawsuit (Short form: "Hobbits" are "Halflings" and "Orcs" are still "Orc.") Then something strange happened.

Role playing games was never made big money, but it certainly was a money maker. It's small fan base was both willing to spend money and wanted more. More rules, more adventures. In race to keep up with demand someone in Gygax's crew decided to create the "anti-elf."

Thus the Drow were born.

The Drow lived under ground, not in some beautiful woodland glade. The Drow have skin that is jet black because fantasy readers know that is an evil colour (Note: Most fantasy readers are white males, why do you ask?) The Drow are evil, evil, evil. They worship spider demons and other icky stuff. Well everybody LOVED the Drow. They had oodles more class than some lowly Ork, and they had better toys to loot. So as demand for more on Drow arose from the masses, folks were willing to oblige for just a little money. So, we then found out that the Drow are a race of Matriarchs, that they are cultured and refined with numorous clans and spent at least half of their time fighting each other. Soon there were Drow novels, and things spun out of the control of Gygax and his crew.

Now we ave "Drowtales: Moonless age," a manga featuring a cute Drow. The idea of a cute Drow sort of goes against the original idea of "anti-elf," but you can see how things like this get a life of their own. To be fair, after reading one chapter, I have to say it's not bad.

Drowtales so far concentrates on Ariel who is only ten years old. Being that Drow are EVIL (don't forget that) her mom has no time to raise her, so gives her to older sister and says bring her back to me in ten years and we'll see what you've done. This is much worse than having to baby sit your little sister for the afternoon, and the sister being both EVIL and selfish acts accordingly. So poor little Ariel is in a tiny, soul less cell and forced to read and remember by heart big books that don't mean anything to her. And her sister will come in and yell at her and beat her senseless. Luckily, Ariel is a plucky little girl so sometimes she sneaks out of her cell and spends time with her big brother. One month before her tenth birthday, big brother gives her the best gift of all. A cute kitten!

Her sister kills it.

So, on her tenth birthday she is presented to her mom. Her mom just sees a half starved, beaten little girl who seems fearful and weak. She asks her, "What does your heart most want you to do." And ariel says "Kill my sister!" Mom says, "Do it."

Of course Ariel doesn't, which proves to her mother that Ariel is weak and not worth being her daughter (remember she's EVIL). Big Brother intervenes and promises to hide and teach Ariel to be a proper Drow. Big Sister is taken away, but I'm sure we'll see more of her later.

All and all Drowtales does well, and I'll read more of it.

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