Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Let's Talk About The Fae



Let's talk about the fae. Anyone who reads urban fantasy or YA fantasy may have encountered the fae - sometimes they're called the Sidhe- and often the story involves a trip to Faerie, or a portal from Faerie to Earth, or a riff on that. But what is Faerie? Well that depends on the story, and there are lots of examples. I've read descriptions of it as a dangerous place where the faerie courts hold sway, a place of pure nature where the sun is brighter and every sense is enhanced, where people go and have a hard time escaping, the list goes on and on.



To me Faerie is a plane of existence where nature rules supreme. The faeries and other creatures have their own customs, and there is honor but also duplicity and mischievousness. There are meadows where twinkling lights and great bonfires illumine the night, elven courts and great dragonflies and gnomes who live in trees. Is there evil as well? Sure in some areas. It could be like Mirkwood in Lord of the Rings- part of the forest is ruled by the Elvenking but there are also darker areas... perhaps great marshes where will-o-wisps feed on the life energies of those foolish enough to enter. Dragons would be here too I would think, their appearance striking fear into all, and the great crack of their wings announcing their presence. One might look up in the night and see a great winged form in the moonlight, obscured briefly by scudding clouds.



I've always been fascinated too by the concept of Gates- portals through time and space to other worlds, of which Faerie might be just one. Perhaps there is a shimmering in the woods, and if you pass beneath the interlacing branches of an ancient oak you find yourself- elsewhere. Or a volcano or lava flow opens up a rift to elemental fire. Could there be a passage to a plane of water, where there is no surface? Or a plane of elemental air, where there is no down. No ground to fall too- do you float or do you just sort of fall forever? Maybe there are floating islands with settlements, with airships and waterfalls that spray into the air.

I'm curious to know what Faerie is to you- how would you imagine it? Do you have a favorite read dealing with the fae folk or a favorite creature?

21 comments:

  1. You know... I know I said fairies are not my favorite creature but I should rephrase that. Fairies books are not my favorites. I actually DO like to read about fairies so I'm enjoying your posts this week A LOT Greg.
    I'm going to link my Fairies section in my Otherworld page to this post! :) I love it!
    I can't get over the fact there are fairies magazines! that is so cool

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    1. Thank you!

      And yes I think it's cool there are faeries magazines. Who knew??

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  2. I've always been fascinated with the Fae and their realm! I know their kind and their realm is dangerous but there's a magnetic quality to everything they embody. I think you pretty much nailed the way I imagine Faerie: nature would rule, magical creatures a plenty, unique plant life. Magical woods sound like a perfect fit. The gates or portal aspect is a favorite of mine because I adore that concept. I'd love it to be within a great magical tree or even a waterfall or something of the sort. LOVE this post Greg^^

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    1. Me too. I'm glad you see them the same way- I like a mix of the pastoral and the dangerous. :) I think nature would be so supreme that even that alone would be dangerous! And gates are just cool- I agree a great tree or waterfall- awesome!

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  3. I haven't read many fae books yet, but I love this post it gives me a really good idea of what to expect with fae books! Great post!

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    1. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy some if you get to them. Everyone's conception is different but I like that there's so much variety.

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  4. I've always found Fae to be so interesting. I tend to like books that portray them as more "evil" or at least morally ambiguous. Interesting post!

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    1. I do too often. Even though I like the natural part I like stories with more of an edge

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  5. I think the fae are interesting, but they're not my favorite. I just love fae if it's well done, but it can also go really wrong too. I like to think of the fae (and the faerie lands) as really bright and colorful, but I also like a darker tone to fae as well. Just depends on my mood I guess.

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    1. I'm with ya on that one, I like a mix of the good and the dangerous. Maybe both at the same time. And they should not be trifled with, one would need to be careful! Two sides of the same coin perhaps. :)

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  6. I imagine Faerie to be a place where good and evil exist in much the same balance as here (there's also some lore about the Seelie and Unseelie courts, like the light and the dark Fae), but without the industrial stuff and with magic. :)

    I find portals and Faerie in general REALLY fascinating, but also scary: those stories where a person steps through, spends like 2 days partying with the Fae, and gets out again, only to realize 80 years have passed and everyone he ever loved was dead? *shudder* Their power is unpredictable and I don't think they hold to the same moral standards as humans, nor do they particularly care what happens to mere mortals.

    I've read both lots and lots of fairy tales (the Irish and the Scottish ones can get *really* cruel) and urban/paranormal fantasy featuring the Fae or entering Faerie.

    The most recent one I loved (LOVED!) was The Daughter of the Forest, which is set in a land that is basically a mythical Ireland. So. Good.

    I love this post, Greg, it gave me lots to think about! :)

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    1. I think them not being held to the same moral standards is a good point. I mean a fae creature may not be "evil" per se but they might be almost amoral- they really have no conception of what is good or bad for us, they just do whatever. That's why I think journeying in Faerie is so dangerous. Unpredictable like you say. :)

      And yes the fairy tales can be cruel. I'd like to read more urban fantasy dealing with incursions from fae realms or stuff like that. Weaving the fae creatures into modern life. :) And I've always been a fan of the portals or gates too, like I mentioned- such a cool idea.

      Glad you liked the post!

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  7. I have read a couple of things with the Fae. Unfortunately for me I always think of True Blood (the TV show) and their portal and their use of them. I wish I could stop thinking of that every time I read now! Great post!

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    1. I've never seen True Blood (is that about vamps) but yeah I haven't read a ton, mostly fantasy stuff. I did just start a book with a ton of fae creatures in it and I'm really enjoying it. Taking the plunge into urban fantasy. :)

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  8. I've read not a TON but a fairly good amount of books with fae, I suppose. I've never given a whole lot of thought to the realm though. I guess I usually just go with what each author describes. But now that you've got me thinking about it... I imagine it would have different areas, much like the human world, some better, some worse, etc. I mean, you do usually have the Seelie and the Unseelie, or some version of that. And different types of creatures might live in different areas since fae does encompass quite a lot. But I still imagine all of it is pretty nature-y and beautiful. I feel like that's the trademark fae thing, you know? Oh, and what Kaja mentioned, time passes differently there, so that's interesting and definitely freaky. I kind of can't even wrap my mind around how horrifying that would be to go somewhere for a few days or something and then find out even two years have passed in your normal life.

    I do like faeries as a paranormal creature, but I've never really been able to pinpoint exactly what makes a faerie a faerie. I know some other fae have more specific definitions, but specifically faeries... they look like humans but more beautiful and with magic and are immortal or long-lived? Lol that's the best I can figure out from what I've read.

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    1. Yeah there's so much variation- I think of fae creatures as encompassing more than just sprites flying around. I mean you could have earth spirits and faerie dragons and centaurs and stuff- all living in different area like you say. I didn't talk about the light and dark fae much, you do see that distinction a lot and I'm not a huge fan of it, even though I know it's based in folklore. I like that certain races might have their courts but I think overall I like the idea of it kinda being a chaotic place, with no one really in charge.

      Kaja's point is a good one too - about time. I didn't touch on that but you hear that a lot. I agree it's freaky and makes travel there even more dangerous. And it should be dangerous- I think that's the main thing. :)

      Maybe I should do another post on faerie creatures, as opposed to the realm. I didn't get to touch on the actual inhabitants much - I know some of the variations from folklore or whatever but there's so much... I think your definition is pretty good. Whether it's pixies or elves that seems to be the "typical" faerie, and then the weirder creatures might be "fae" as well but they're not faeries per se. Would dryads or sirens qualify? I don't know. :)

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    2. Technically the word faerie does encompass everything, but that gets so confusing that I just use fae as the general term and faerie as the term for the like humans with magic creature. I feel like faeries are different from elves, but I really don't know what the actual difference is... lol. Elves have pointy ears and faeries don't? Haha see, I really don't know the specific definitions. But I definitely don't consider faeries and pixies to be the same since I see faeries as passing for human, but pixies are tiny with wings, though everyone may have their own definitions. Vampires are so much simpler---drink blood to survive. Boom. Or shifters, change into an animal. Nice and simple lol.

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    3. LOL "Drink blood to survive. Boom." Yeah simple is good! You might be right I had not considered the passing for human bit. Then you get into the whole changeling thing lol. Maybe as I get into more urban fantasy I'll see more of the passing for human/ shapeshifter side.

      I think the problem with pixies and elves and all that is they seem all cutesy and I kinda like edgier nasty version where they can be pretty terrifying or at least amoral. I do think fae is a great overall term, and I may even be guilty of lumping mythological creatures into that category. It's pretty fluid... :)

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  9. It's so true that there are so many different perceptions of the fae - so many different sides to them that are focused on in different books. I love faeries in books - in pretty much all their forms - but the mischievous ones are often my favorites!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  10. I do not like the Tinkerbell type fairies, but I do like The Fae. I do not like the Unseeley Fae because the "nice" Seeley are bad enough. Heh heh. The best Faerie story I have ever read is The Glittering World. It is Adult Fiction and is very much psychologically driven. The Fae are different, too. They are these strange earth magic psychedelic beings. It think you would like it. :)

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  11. I've actually in the middle of a "market research" project of fantasy novels with fairy characters. Most of them seem to focus on the Seelie & Unseelie / Winter & Summer Courts, and they're usually in a separate realm that's accessible to humans (though not all humans) through a portal of some kind. But there are other portrayals, too - Tinkerbell-ish type faeries, or fairies from different mythologies (particularly Scottish or Celtic). It's really fascinating to see how different authors portray their fairies / Fey, the realm they live in, and their interactions with humans, nature, and so on.

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