A-Z blogging challenge, today's post is about death. No, it's not going to be a morbid post filled with those emo poems that are so trendy these days. I'm talking about why death in fantasy fiction is important, if not vital.
I can't remember any fiction that I've read recently that doesn't have at least one person dying in it. Fantasy fiction, since it usually filled with conflict in order to advance the plot, usually results with someone's life ending sooner or later. Is this necessary? I say yes. It's not the death of the character that is really the critical point, however. It's the way in which the other characters respond to the death of another, and their actions as a consequence. A fantasy story without the presence of death means that the characters are unable to come face to face with their own mortality and the prospect that their efforts may all be for naught.
In a recent episode of Geeks' Guide to the Galaxy, the hosts stated that 'good fantasy, and a good story, ensures that good people die'. This may seem a tad morbid on the outset, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. You naturally assume that the protagonists are going to (eventually) win the day, so for the reader they are more or less immortal. If they come up tops, then from the beginning you know that nothing fatal happens to them during the course of the story. However, if the author ensures that a few righteous characters are killed, it makes both the hero and the reader doubt the chance that the threat will be defeated.
The concept is so important that Terry Pratchett includes Death as a pivotal character in his Discworld series. Death is present in almost every Discworld novel, and though he's meant to be an impartial entity he ends up slowly becoming 'infected' by humanity, and he starts to react to the mortality of humans (note this paragraph is basically a praise of all that is Pratchett. All hail Discworld! Oh, that's another D word!)
Do you think that death is a necessary thing in fantasy and in fiction in general? I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts on this. Tune in tomorrow for post E and shameless plugging!