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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wave Goodbye: Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs

(Formerly a FFQ Article)



Creatures such as Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs have been popular characters and races since the dawn of the modern fantasy movement. When I mention these races, I mean Tolkien Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs. Tolkien began the era of these magnificent and sometimes terrible races. However, like any trope in any genre, they often enough become overused and begin to flood the genre. It is in times like these when they begin to fade and make their epic journey to Valinor or wherever they soon call home. It is becoming more and more visible that the races in the Tolkien tradition are making this journey.

Authors such as R.A. Salvatore have done an excellent job in reinventing the elves. The dark elves were a great addition to the fantasy genre, and characters like Drizz’t Do’Urden and Bruenor Battlehammer won’t soon be forgotten. However, other auhors like Patrick Rothfuss are using supernatural or other worldly creatures like those of the Fae that seem to be replacing the commonly seen races of the fantasy genre. Robert Jordan skipped the tradition altogether when he created Trollocs and Ogier. Steven Erikson did the same thing, creating many new races with their own complicated politics, histories, and strange and powerful species-wide natures.

With all of these new races and elements in fantasy, it is no wonder that these more traditional fantasy races are no longer being used in such great numbers.  Their reign in the genre was a long and glorious one, but now it seems, that they must pass the torch on to their descendants, to the newcomers to the genre, much like those that came before them in the Pre-Tolkien era.