There's nothing new under the sun.
You've all heard that old adage, and you all know how true it is, especially in regard to fictional narrative. Since Harry Potter redefined the 'Young Adult' genre, each year has seen countless novels on teenagers with extraordinary powers living in secret worlds just next door to ours, or finding their place in a world with extraordinary dangers, or standing strong as the only defense against an overwhelming evil. Fantasy literature in general, it seems, has not changed since the days of Conan the barbarian and Bilbo the hobbit and only seen a few nuances in the definition of heroism, and whether it's even possible, as Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone reminds us. And as I write these lines, it looks as though the biggest hit in cinemas this year is going to be Star Wars. Part seven.
There's nothing new under the sun, really.
Except that's not true.
While heroic fantasy in itself is a genre that thrives on cliche and stereotype, it still offers the opportunity for a writer to go beyond its boundaries, simply for the fact that it does thrive on cliche and stereotype, and that nothing in the world is easier than to surprise readers by playing with their expectations, and then breaking them. This is how Game of Thrones revolutionized the genre: by setting up a fantasy world, and then allowing real-world medieval politics to kick its butt. What makes it so enthralling is the simple fact we all know the things happening in the war between Wolf, Stag, Lion and Dragon could be real, because that's how people are, that's how war is, that's what politics often mean.
The Gate of Twilight series, the very beginning of which lies before your eyes at this very moment, is going to surprise you. It's going to be something new standing on the shoulders of something very old. It's classic heroic fantasy, the kind of plot you've grown to like if you're a fan of the genre, but at the same time, it's something very different. It's set around a central conflict that, unlike Sauron's search for the One Ring, only a handful of people all throughout the world know it even exists. It's about young people with extraordinary abilities destined to be heroes – with most others around them aware that they are – yet the journeys they undertake may not have the outcome they, or anybody else, expected.
If the Gate of Twilight series has a theme, it's Don't Be Afraid Of The Danger You Can See, Be Afraid Of What You Cannot See.
You'll see what I mean with that once you're done reading.
by Götz Heinrich, Ludwigshafen, December 21st, 2015