A recurrent theme in modern Fantasy literature is that of the Quest. First introduced into this context by Tolkien, it has been picked up and expanded upon by almost every Fantasy author, including Tad Williams, in one form or another. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodos quest lasts almost exactly a year. He leaves in the autumn, on the twenty-second of September and returns to the Shire just over a year later, on the sixth of October. In this single year he has managed to complete his quest i.e. the destruction of the Ring and to save Middle-Earth. Whilst this theme of a quest is also present in the mediaeval epics, there is generally no set time period for the quests. However, the motivating force of a year and a day is present in all European mythology.
Before Tolkien there was myth and legend and a few tame beasts.(24)
This is a claim that has been made by many critics and authors alike. It is said that Tolkien revived the art of Fantasy from the origins it had in Gothic novels and epics, like Idylls of the King, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, during the late nineteenth century. It is true that Tolkien pioneered an art-form of creating worlds and histories that has been often copied but not equalled. Indeed, some authors may find it blasphemous to outstrip Tolkiens achievements in this field, especially since he took most of his lifetime in seriously building his secondary world.
For literary critics the world over, Tolkien is the yardstick by which aspiring Fantasy authors are measured. It is the highest honour for a fantasy author, it is said, to be compared or claimed to be on a par with Tolkien. In that sense, it can truthfully be said that Tolkien is indeed the Father of modern Fantasy.
Return to my Home