Saturday, June 16, 2007

Once Upon a Time Challenge Wrap Up

“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.” - Terry Pratchett

The Myth, the Folklore, the Fairytale, and the Fantasy. Carl V. from Stainless Steel Droppings asserts that these four elements are the very foundation of storytelling. In honor of those four elements and of the story itself, Carl V. challenged readers around the world to a simple task: to take on a quest of their choosing which would include a reading journey through one or more of the basic elements mentioned above. I selected Quest Two, which was to read read at least one book from each of the four genres of story-Mythology, Folklore, Fairytale, and Fantasy.

My selections included:

Fairytale - The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
Fantasy - A Wizard of the Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Folklore - Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Mythology - American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I had difficultly getting my mind around the difference between mythology and folklore, and so my chosen book for the folkore category is a weak fit, although I could probably reason my way into making it fall into both folklore and mythology, however much of a stretch it might be.

Although I am not new to fantasy or the variety of types of stories this genre offers, the Once Upon a Time Challenge was a reminder of just how diverse it can be. Fantasy fiction can be set in an entirely different world or right here in our own backyards. The characters can be as human as you and me or as different as an elf or dwarf. Events can take place in the past, present and even the future. For a look at what other participants read, visit the Once Upon a Time Challenge blog.

Three of the authors I read for this challenge are new to me: Ursula LeGuin, Robert Holdstock, and Neil Gaiman. I will be reading more by them in the future. Of the three, I was most impressed by Neil Gaiman's American Gods, although that did not come as a surprise considering the praise he has received from so many fellow fantasy readers.

I enjoyed spending time reading one of Mercedes Lackey's novels as it had been far too long since I cracked open the last one. Her story, The Fire Rose, based on a favorite fairytale of mine, was perhaps my favorite of the four.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carl V. for hosting this great challenge.

And they all lived happily ever after . . .


  1. I kind of hated to miss out on this one, but it wasn't the right time. Hopefully, Carl will do the R.I.P. Challenge, again - I really enjoyed that one.

    Just a couple of days ago, I got a Mercedes Lackey book for my son: The Firebrand. Are you familiar with it?

  2. Yay for finishing your challenge. I think Mythago Wood (the first book I read this year) does fit well with Folklore as it has lots of tales passed down through the land and is locally based if that makes sense.

  3. Looks like you've been busy wrapping up reading challenges huh? I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman, but he does have a blog that I visit from time to time:
    Maybe I'll pick up one of his books next...hmmm...

  4. Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

    The lines between the different categories are not completely clear sometimes. I know that some of my folklore selections were close to mythology too, and the other way around.

    Ursula Le Guin and Neil Gaiman are among my favourite authors, and I'm glad you enjoyed their books. I really need to read Mercedes Lackey sometime.

    Oh, and I love the Terry Pratchett quote at the top of your post! He's another one of my favourites.

  5. I'm using the book I'm reading now for my folklore pick, although it's a little iffy.

    Nice choice of books you made! You've never read Ursula Le Guin before? I like her, but I'm not mad about her writing.

  6. Nancy - I completely understand. I am in way over my head with challenges and I admire your restraint. :-)

    I am familiar with The Firebird by Mercedes Lackey; is that the one you are referring to? It's been years since I read it, if that's the one you mean. I read most of her books during my college years, although most were from her Valdemar and Bard series. I recently lent several of my Mercedes Lackey collection to my dad who has taken an interest in her books.

    Rhinoa - Thanks! Whew! I'm glad I am not the only one who felt that way. I know with a title like Mythago, one might automatically label it as mythology, but I felt there enough folklore there to count it for the folklore category. :-)

    Karina - At least the ones that end this month. :-) If you do decide to try Gaiman, I have heard it's best to start with Neverwhere or even Stardust as opposed to American Gods, which is what I started with. Having never read anything but AG by him, I can't say one way or the other though.

    Nymeth - Thank you so much. Would you believe I still haven't read anything by Terry Pratchett? I have several of his books in my TBR collection, but I haven't gotten to them yet. I really should do that . . .

    Carrie K. - I think that Nymeth is right that the lines between the different categories are very fine.

    I liked A Wizard of Earthsea although I wasn't blown away by it. I hope to get to the rest of the series and maybe try some of her other writing as well.


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