tisdag 2 november 2010

A story on Faerie, love and magical music

In this essay I aim to discuss what I find to be the major themes in the novel War for the Oaks by author Emma Bull – love, magic and music. My intention is to discuss how the themes of love and music relate to the realm of Faerie and the concept of magic in the book.

To achieve this goal I aim to use both the novel itself, thoughts gathered from the courses forum and the book review by Michael M. Jones that was included in the syllabus.

To gather my thoughts on the subject I’ll start with some descriptions on Eddi and why she was chosen to be connected with Faerie in the first place. In the prologue the Phouka tells the Glaistig that Eddi “makes music, the kind that moves heart and body.” (p. 13) It is mainly this musicality that leads the Phouka to contact Eddi, first in an off-hand way at the club: “The man had met her look with a silent challenge that made her skin prickle.” (p. 19)

This prickling of the skin is of course a warning for us that something is about to happen, and also a way to show that Eddi is in fact chosen by Faerie. The fact that also Stuart notices the Phouka gives us a clue to the fact that Stuart also has a little magic of his own, which is later established.

All of Eddi’s life seems to circle around the topic of music: “The rhythm of her steps reminded her of a dozen different songs at once, and she hummed one softly to herself.” (p. 24) This description of her suggests that she’s almost filled with music to the brim. Music is so alive in Bull’s world that it almost takes physical form. Actually, when the band is complete with all the band members, Eddi’s musicality gives surprising results, when she unconsciously starts to cast illusions when on-stage (p. 226).

This also shows us how well her musicality connects to the Faerie magic (“Deceptions, illusions and tricks of the light”, as the Phouka says on page 187). Either Eddi’s musicality is a way to make her more receptive to Faerie magic, like an entrance or a short cut. Or music is a magic of its own accord, but compatible with the magicks of Faerie. Like Michael M. Jones writes in his books review on War for the Oaks that “the songs are an essential part of the magic of this book”.

The idea of music as a kind of magic is also strengthen by Eddi’s resistance against glamour – both the Glaistig’s and Willy’s – and is confirmed by the Phouka:
She has her own magic, Willy lad. All poets do all the bards and artists, all the musicians who truly take the music into their hearts. They all straddle on the border of Faerie, and they see into both worlds. (p. 174)
Finally, the fact that the Queen of Air and Darkness allows for the duel to be determined by music seems to settle on the concept of music as magic (p. 301).

The quote above also shows us how thin the line is between Faerie and “our” reality. Musicians and poets have through out history apparently crossed the line very naturally. The author’s description of the Nicollet Mall in the prologue of the book also illustrates how the two worlds co-exist and sometimes overlap. The subtle changes in the text give a more otherworldly feel than the banks and department stores in the first paragraph:
The street lamp globes hang like myriad moons, and light glows in the empty bus shelters like nebulae.[---] Near the south end of the mall, in front of the Orchestra Hall, Peavy Plaza beckons: a reflecting pool, and a cascade that descends from towering chrome cylinders to a sunken walk-in maze of stone blocks and pillars for which “fountain” is an inadequate name. In the moonlight, it is black and silver, gray and white, full of an elusive play of shape and contrast. (p.13)
Through carefully chosen adjectives and parables, Bull creates a change in the ordinary city, leading it to the parallel reality of Faerie. Geographically it seems the same, but the worlds are notably different.

The Phouka (or Robin Goode as he jokingly names himself – a wink to the character of Puck, who disguised himself as Robin Goodfellow ), is certainly a creature of Faerie. Jones writes that the “Fey, after all, are capricious, whimsical, mysterious, and operate on a level completely alien to us.” In the book itself the Phouka’s mercurial temperament is often commented. But he is not only that. He is also the character becoming Eddi’s closest and most reliable friend.

The Phouka is described in the beginning of the book as a threatful and quite menacing presence. Along the way, though, his appearance changes. The playful and teasingly flirtatious approach towards Eddi evolves into a real infatuation and the uncomfortable truce between them actually turns into friendship. Jones summarizes him as Eddi’s “bane, her protector, her nemesis, and her confidante.”

In the strict Seelie court, the Phouka’s status isn’t especially high, as seen for instance in the conflicts between the Phouka and the Sidhe Lord, Willy. And in his relationship with Eddi he seems discontent with some of the structures in Faerie and has plans to change these (p. 318). Jones describes the Phouka as “a ‘common’ Fey with some plans of his own”. The Phouka feels more like a powerful being when away from the hierarchies of court.

One aspect of the Phouka’s discontentment is shown when the actions of Willy are discussed and the Phouka describes his kind’s inability to feel true love, something he is not proud of (p. 186). In his strong reaction we clearly see the Phouka’s feelings of love towards Eddi.

It was my intention to look at how the themes of love and music relate to the realm of Faerie and the concept of magic in the book. My conclusion is that music is portrayed as a magic in its own, although it is related to or compatible with the magicks of Faerie.

This is showed through the facts that the fey always been drawn to human bards, poets and musicians and that they have kind of glamour of their own. The fact that two of the musicians in Eddi’s band actually are fey also shows that they are drawn to music. And, as I concluded earlier in the text, that music is an acceptable form for duelling, seems to settle the question of music as a form of magic.

The major love story in the novel is that of Eddi and the Phouka. My conclusion is that they are drawn to each other because they are portrayed as kind of borderline creatures. They are both familiar and otherworldly for each other, since both of them are involved in two different realities – the human world and Faerie.

4 kommentarer:

Karin sa...

Intressant, även om jag inte förstår hälften av det. Jag vill så gärna läsa mer fantasy - förhoppningsvis är livet långt nog för mig att utveckla detta intresse någon gång!

Fian sa...

Tack tack! Jag kan rekommendera fantasy - det är värt att intressera sig för! ; )

Sylvia sa...

Jag tycker du är bäst!

Fian sa...

Hehe, tack kära du!