What are the best taverns in fantasy? Where do you imagine yourself sipping a pint in rather unusual company? The genre is full of these joints, though most, sadly, go nameless. Of course, some of these you’d probably just as soon avoid, like a den of merriment in Arenjun’s Maul, in Zamora.
Let me tell you tales of labor of high adventure. Or, maybe not. I mean, you’ve got your Labors of Hercules. But let’s face it, those weren’t so much lunch pail jobs as they were quests. And Hercules was hardly a blue collar fellow.
There is Sam. Samwise Gamgee, that is. He provides, probably, the quintessential exemplar of the working class hero. A gardener on a heroic quest. A participant at least. The only of the Fellowship with a job. The rest of the Fellowship consisted of aristocrats or demigods. Good work, if you can get it.
Garrett, P.I. is self-employed. In fact, he’s employed as little as possible, preferring to loaf rather than labor. And now that he’s got people on his payroll, he is management, not labor. The boss.
Neither Conan, Fafhrd, or the Gray Mouser ever worked a steady job if they could help it. Why would we want them to? Those of us bringing home a paycheck who also read heroic fiction do so to forget about the job for awhile. We don’t want to read about Conan’s day at the office, or the Gray Mouser’s panel van breaking down along his route. We want to read about them breaking heads in a tavern brawl.
Look, there is nobility in work, in doing your job well and taking care of your family financially. But it isn’t the stuff of legend. I understand there is a market for business novels in Japan. Good for them, but I can’t say it sparks my interest. No, when I get home from work I’d rather open a book to swashbuckling adventure, not to salary negotiation and the copier malfunctioning again.
So happy Labor Day, all. Have a cold one, toss a dog on the grill, and read a tale of high adventure.
Romance and marriage are atypical subjects of speculative fiction, usually either consigned to the B-plot or give short-shrift if included at all. That’s fine: not every book must contain every possible element. Absence of a wooing, dalliance, or long-term relationship should not be grounds for legitimate criticism of a work.
Tolkien wrote a romance without a great deal of romance. What romance did reach the page was chaste, the courtly romance of the troubadours. This is perhaps better exemplified by Gimli’s love for Galadriel than the decades long trials and courtship of Aragorn and Arwen. That is the story the Good Professor was writing and it worked.
Today was brewing day. I plan to have a five gallon keg of beer ready for my guests when I host a party next month celebrating the publication of my novel, “Reunion.” So as I type this the kitchen smells terrific. I brewed inside today for two reasons: one it is raining; two the propane tank for the grill is empty and I’ve been too lazy to replace it.
A friend of mine grows hops. The vines run up the side of his house, providing shade, visual appeal, and – most importantly – wonderfully fragrant hop cones. Today’s brew, therefore, is an India Pale Ale.