I am a fairly big fantasy fan, in spite of being brought up in a household with a “no magic” policy until I was thirteen. Then my parents thought I was probably old enough to be discerning and removed the ban, allowing me the luxury of being introduced to tons of Disney movies and the occasional novel (I was more interested in mysteries at that point). But apart from Narnia, Harry Potter and on occasion, The Lord of the Rings, I don’t read much of it and so I knew nothing of the Sword of Truth series that inspired the television series, Legend of the Seeker. In a way, I am glad not to have read the books because it might have tainted my enjoyment of the show. (The books are… um… kinky and violent. Lovely, huh?)
Most fantasy productions have grand religious symbolism in them, and this one introduces it from the start. We are introduced to the back story of the hero, Richard, a young man who has lived in ignorance of his true heritage for many years. Sent across the Midlands and into a foreign land to be raised by strangers, he is in fact meant to fulfill a prophecy and defeat the evil warlord of the territories, the malicious, heartless, shape-shifting half-mage (wizard) known as Darken Rahl. Because Rahl is not too keen on being defeated and winding up, well, dead, when he hears about the prophecy he decides to kill all the newborn males in the town where the child will be born. Fortunately, Richard had been smuggled away at this point, so that he could grow up to be a good old-fashioned Christ figure.
His mentor is a sarcastic old wizard named Zenn, and his protector is an awesome butt-kicking female Confessor, who can pretty much make men do whatever she wants by grasping them by the jugular and looking into their eyes. Fortunately, Kahlan is careful with this extraordinary power of hers and does not abuse it lightly. From that point on there is a lot of longing glances between her and Richard while they defeat all kinds of evil and search for a means of destroying the super-cool bad guy. In a nutshell, this is my kind of television show. Give me one night a week of an amazing feminist figure like Kahlan (I love it that her job is to protect Richard), a smart-alak wizard, a well-meaning but sometimes impetuous hero, and a truly nasty but ingenious bad guy and I am happy.
Symbolism in fantasy has been prevalent for centuries. You could even say that the original symbolism predates Christianity but points toward a coming Savior in the form of gods sent to live among mortals. (Interestingly, every culture in the world has similar legends and myths, from the North American Indian tribes to Ancient Rome. Why would they be so similar if they did not have a common supernatural knowledge of what was to come?
Tolkien relied heavily on his Catholic beliefs and Norse Myth when penning The Lord of the Rings. But it was C.S. Lewis who professed a belief that all myths were pointing toward divine truth, and waiting for “the myth that came true” (Christianity). The very facets of heroism, immortality, magical powers, and even wizardry originate in our deeper consciousness, a remembrance of something we have never experienced except in our collective consciousness. If you believe in Creation, it is easier to explain why there has always been such interest in “magic” and immortality — because in our fallen state, our souls know we were meant for greater things. Our lives, and the “magic” possessed by Adam and Eve have been lost to us, but not forgotten.
What is also interesting is that mythology has not always been centered around men … there are more heroic men, yes, but also some powerful women. Prejudices and chauvinism during ancient times influenced these perspectives and many of the mythical women are “evil” as a result but some of them are not. More modern authors have taken a different view of women and introduced them as heroines and even warriors. Eowyn is one such example and it is she, not the hero, who defeats the King of the Nazgul. Similarly, Galadriel is the most powerful elf in Middle Earth and rules over her husband.
In Seeker, the iconic symbol of feminism and strength comes in the form of Kahlan. She is an extremely powerful Confessor and possesses extraordinary abilities she cannot always control. She is potentially even more powerful than Zedd, and suffers the most in the finale due to a personal sacrifice she is willing to make for the greater good.
Women in the genre of fantasy fiction inspire me, because they represent what women could be capable of if they were wholly devoted to God. In some small corner of my heart, I think these strong, powerful and beautiful creatures are what we are meant to be and will be one day. Our responsibilities in this life are significant — we are meant to be prayer warriors and spiritual leaders to our children, as well as to inspire greatness in our husbands (as they should also do for us) — but God by no means has created a kingdom where women are secondary. Some of us are destined for motherhood, and some of us are meant for other things. Like all heroines, none of us are the same.
There is a reason why women have been oppressed so many times in history, why evil takes after us with such determination and hatred and envy, why it tries to make us victims and to beat every ounce of confidence out of us. Women have a great role in this world, and even greater potential for influence. Imagine if we all became the women we were meant to be, what we could achieve for the Kingdom.