Friday, November 16, 2018

Tricksters Afoot in Fiction

Image by Maroczna Postac

Fantasy fiction is rich with archetypal figures, characters that appear in all cultures, in all places, in all times. Think of them as the wise old man, the hero, the mentor, the villain, the innocent, the witch/shaman, the enchanter, the messenger, the ally, the ghost, the bad place... So many. But the figure I want to focus on today is the wily, enigmatic Trickster.

No matter how storytelling changes over time, through centuries and millennia, the Trickster remains one of the most beguiling and disturbing characters of them all. She, or he, goes by many names, the fool, the clown, the jester the disrupter, the rebel, but all describe a single entity with a powerful purpose.

Spike may be the most honest of all the BTVS characters.

What is the Trickster energy?

At the core of the Trickster is disruption, the intention to pull on the threads of order so the old rule will unravel, allowing for insight, growth and change. The Trickster presents the hero with a new perspective, one that might both excite and terrify. It certainly provides the opportunity for contrasting views.

“The Trickster’s function is to break taboos, create mischief, stir things up. In the end, the Trickster gives people what they really want: some sort of freedom.” — Tom Robbins

Take Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As a villain, he never hides his intentions to do as much harm as possible. But he loves his evilness so much, his joy in it becomes contagious, an act only a Trickster can accomplish. He laughs at the rules and invites the reader/viewer, and Buffy herself, to consider an alternative perspective.

Why we Need the Trickster
Bob the Skull in the Dresden Files

Tricksters come along when the hero, or the story, is stuck. They tip the apple cart, tell the truth, blow the roof off the house and crack open the windows, setting everything upside down. The dust stirred up by the Trickster restores the hero's vitality, returning to flow of the creative life force. Where once there were walls, gates and thick forests, a pathway opens.

Tricksters in Fiction

Some Tricksters are obvious, Mr Nancy in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Fitz in Robin Hobb's the fool, Bob the Skull in the Dresden Files.... but one example that strikes me as more enigmatic than most is Tom Bombadil in LOTH. 

He's a Trickster from the start and knows the way's of nature, has command over Old Man Willow and his entire forest, yet  Frodo's ring has no power over him. He speaks in riddles and rhymes and seems to exist outside the rest of the story. So far outside that Peter Jackson deleted his scenes to make room for more vital characters. Fortunately, Tom Bombadil remains in the books.

As Trickster, Bombadil allows the reader to wonder, giving a breathing space to see the larger picture in the history of the Ring. In him, we meet a character who exists beyond the constructs of the story, which shows us, and Frodo, that even for a moment, we can stand in that space too. 

“‘…even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are.  Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).'” (Tolkien, Letter 144, p 174)

Salia concept art by Anna Campbell
A favourite Trickster character in my own writing, found in The Blood in the Beginning, Blood and Water and in the upcoming The Bone Throwers, is Salila. She's much like Spike in her disregard for the natural order of things, for rules and morals and codes. She blasts into scenes with the irreverence and evil of a demon, all while capturing the readers' hearts.

How about your favourite Tricksters? I'd love to hear about them.


Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Catch her here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Summer Is A Comin' In...

Now doesn't it seem odd to write (and read!) that title on the day after Halloween, which is not only all about "ghosties and ghoulies, long-leggetie beasties, And things that go bump in the night" (and also books that do the same!) but also about autumn and the year closing in.

That's because the origins of Halloween are strongly centered in the cultures and traditions of the Northern Hemisphere, but here in the Southern Hemisphere (as I explained in last month's post, Halloween Is Coming) 31 October is the cusp between spring and summer.

Hence the title of this post, because right now summer "is" a coming in — and to prove it, here are a few photos from my garden:

Poppy splendor
First artichokes of the season
Wisteria in bloom...

But there's still a place for 'books that go bump' in the lengthening summer twilights, so north or south, we have that goodness to share...


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is Helen's most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we