July 12, 2012 by Beldrac
I should be working…but I can’t help myself…
There was a time in my life when I used to read a lot of fantasy novels: Feist, Eddings, Brooks etc. etc. I also read a lot of Tolkien, repeatedly, but I don’t think he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as those modern day writers of pulp fantasy fiction – not that I’m taking anything away from them, but they’re not Tolkien.
Anyway, Raymond E. Feist’s most famous novel surely is The Magician, a story of a poor orphan boy who gets caught up in strange events through which he discovers he has magical powers. Despite being named Pug, he then goes on to become one of the most powerful wizards of all, traveling through space between Midkemia and Kelewan and breaking space-time on the back of a dragon, obviously saving the world from sure destruction while doing so. Awesome, no? Well, while I was reading this book I’d just discovered Rage’s album XIII, which has a serious orchestral backbone. To this day and without fail, whenever I listen to this album it conjures up the images of that book, the excitement that goes hand in hand with magic, and all the thrills, fears, and emotions experienced by the characters. I remember the boy’s encounter with trolls and their journey through the caverns where Tomas met the dragon and Jimmy the Hand: thief and pickpocket responsible for all the rogue-like RPG characters that I’ve ever made.
Characters is the one thing Feist is really, really good at, which is somewhat suprising because I’ve often heard the stereotype that women write good characters but suck at stories, while male authors can tell a tale but suck at characters. David Eddings being i.m.o. a good example – he tells a good tale but his characters are quite bland and forgettable, Sparhawk was okay (although there was another character in that series that was more fun) and Belgarath was badass, but Garion was a whimp and his other characters long forgotten. Anne Rice, the author of the only series of vampire novels that qualify, was also good at writing characters – I remember Lestat very well, Marius, Gabrielle, and Louis of course, but I can hardly recall what any of those four novels I read were about (beyond there being REAL blood sucking mother fucking VAMPIRES of course, and not whiny uni-brow bitches.)
It’s not altogether uncommon to associate sounds or even smells with specific events, images, or memories. I’ve heard that some people remember specific smells from moments they suffered trauma, similar to the way reading a certain book can remind you of someone from your past or present. I did some reading up about this and found a quote:
“And before Swann had had time to understand what was happening, to think: “It is the little phrase from Vinteuil’s sonata. I mustn’t listen!”, all his memories of the days when Odette had been in love with him, which he had succeeded, up till that evening, in keeping invisible in the depths of his being, deceived by this sudden reflection of a season of love, whose sun, they supposed, had dawned again, had awakened from their slumber, had taken wing and risen to sing maddeningly in his ears, without pity for his present desolation, the forgotten strains of happiness.”
Marcel Proust (1913/1956), Swann’s Way, p. 496
The article quoted above is actually quite interesting, and sums up a study done by Hans Baumgartner “REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: MUSIC, AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY, AND EMOTION.”
I now present to you the song that triggered this ramble, From the Cradle to the Grave. The video is well worth watching, the live performance was professionally filmed and you’ll get a chance to see the Lingua Mortis orchestra in action.