Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Hanging the Moon


Waiting on a Bright Moon by Neon Yang - Art by Ann VanderMeer

With the Eclipse just a few days off (sign-by-sign scopes for you here) I thought it would be fun to explore lunar cycles in Fantasy Fiction. I've used these cycles of the moon in all of my novels, as markers of time, signals for powerful events, prophesy, worldbuilding, enhancements of magic... and, I'm not alone.

As we explore other Fantasy, you'll quickly see how authors utilize these luminary events, going back to Bram Stocker's Dracula

There was a bright full moon, with heavy black, driving clouds, which threw the whole scene into a fleeting diorama of light and shade as they sailed across. ... Whatever my expectation was, it was not disappointed, for there, on our favourite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half-reclining figure, snowy white. - Dracula Chapter 8, page 78

Diaries of an Urban Panther

Carrying on the tradition, we this these 'bright full moons' in our very own Amanda Arista's Diaries of an Urban Panther, and a plethora of other Urban Fantasies like Patricia Briggs' Moon Called.

The Wise Man's Fear

And then, there's The Man Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, particularly the story within the story about a boy who falls in love with the moon. You'll find that gem in book #2 of the Kingkiller Chronicles.

From Goodreads:

There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.


The Left Hand of Darkness

Of Course, I must mention Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. It's a different paced story, compared with a lot of contemporary Fantasy/SF, but the moon in her world holds sway over shifting gender, and not just identity but physicality too. 

I can't imagine what puberty in Gethen would be like.

Avatar the Last Airbender

Day of the Black Sun

In the genre of graphic novels and shows, Avatar - the Last Airbender offers up an entire mythos around Eclipses. These powerhouse lunations, which occur in cycles of two-four a year, can affect a bender depending on their element. 

For example, solar eclipses have no enhancing effect on waterbending but the full moon, lunar eclipses do. Those solar eclipses that are neutral for waters render the firebender powerless... but only for the eight-minute pass of exact conjunction. Interessting!

The Gathering of the Lost

The Wall of Night Series

And last but very special to me, an all-time favorite, our own Helen Lowe's Wall of Night series. As a writer, she pays attention to the moon, using its cycles to mark time, support the worldbuilding and add cooling colors and texture to the scenes. 

For example, I love the way this passage situates the reader, and Malian, in time.

... above her head a full moon was rising, white and luminous over the tower’s crown. Malian frowned, remembering the quarter moon over Jaransor. “Where am I?” she whispered.The Heir Of Night: (p. 398). 

And from The Gathering of the Lost, this example highlights the festivals and ritual celebrations in the storyworld, adding credibility, and stunning visuals to the culture.

“Don’t you celebrate Summer’s Eve on the River? The festival honors Imuln in her aspect of Maiden and is always held on the first new moon of summer..." - The Gathering Of The Lost (p. 168). 

Finally, we see the moon in one of her most ancient roles, as a prophetic symbol instilling hope, for some, fear for others. 

“Imuln! Great Imuln!” The rest of the fort’s defenders were pointing at the sky. “Imuln’s moon rises to our aid!” Carick steadied himself—and saw the horned sliver, pale and new, lifting above the black rim of the hills. The crescent on Jehane Mor’s brow blazed in answer and a cry of dismay ran through the horde. But the beast-men forged on, their jaws stretched wide to rip... the fort apart. The moon overhead floated higher, casting a pale silver track to Carick’s feet. - The Gathering Of The Lost (p. 258). 



Now it's your turn. What Fantasy novel do you cherish that hangs the moon? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


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Kim Falconer, writing YA Fantasy as A K Wilder, is the author of Crown of Bonesbook #1 in the Amassia Series. The sequel, Curse of Shadowsis due for release in June 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

You can Throw the Bones, read your monthly horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the AKWilder.com site or just drop a comment to chat. See you there!

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