A Trip Down Memory Lane

The past few weeks, my head has been stuck in the past (high school reunions are supposed to cause such nostalgia, right?), and this has been reflected in my reading habits. I’ve been going through and re-reading some of my favorite books from my school years, and thought I’d share some of the realizations I’ve come to.

Observation One: I definitely had a type. I started my journey through the past with Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic, and moved from there to Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen. Both can be summed up as “a seemingly normal girl is discovered to be special, has a magical connection to an equine partner, and embarks on a journey to accomplish something only she can do.” Yes, I was definitely an insecure, horse-crazy teenaged girl. My copies of these books are both well-worn, the bindings almost broken; the pages are yellowing from age and use. These books, among others, secured my love of fantasy – not least because when I read them, I could escape into the worlds they portray. I could live that fantasy and not have to deal with the real world for a while.

Observation Two: I typically (though not always) preferred female main characters to male. I went from Lackey’s Arrows to her Oathbound and Oathbreakers duology. Two women kicking butt and taking names (again with a magical animal companion!), but geared towards a more adult audience… What’s not to love? I moved from Lackey to Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy (though I only read the first two books: Dragonsong and Dragonsinger). More on the same vein – normal girl, discovered to be special, animal companions… And the main character discovers an inner strength and accomplishes things she’d never dreamed of.

Though I wonder now, is it so much the female main characters I was drawn to, or the female authors? Hmm… thoughts for another post, perhaps…

TaggerungAnyway, Observation Three: I’m somewhat traditional – I like clearly delineated good vs evil. (And I use present tense because this observation, at least, is still accurate.) And I appreciate really wicked villains. After McCaffrey, I shifted to Brian Jacques’ Taggerung. The villain here kidnaps the main character as a baby in order to brainwash him and raise him to follow in the villain’s footsteps.Light of Eidon The good guys live in a church. Not a whole lot of grayscale there, and if the ending is predictable? Well, I still enjoy the narrative journey. After Taggerung, I picked up Karen Hancock’s Light of Eidon (first in her Legends of the Guardian King series). The villains in this series are literally possessed by a demonic power, with accompanying shrewdness and evil. And if the main character is sometimes a jerk, at least he is firmly on the side of against-the-evil… it’s not until close to the end of the book that he actually admits to himself he’s actually “good.”

This blast from the past has been revelatory – I’d known that there was definitely a preference for female-centric sword-and-sorcery books, but I hadn’t realized it was so strong or marked a partiality. My reading habits have matured since then (thankfully!), and I’m a lot more willing to try new things. Going through some old favorites was like briefly meeting with old friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile, but I’m definitely ready for something a bit more complex and, dare I say it?, realistic…

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