Apples and Oranges in Fantasy Fiction

As you may recall from earlier posts, I recently read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and I committed to reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle before the March premiere of the movie.


I’ve now started reading A Wrinkle in Time, and I’m stunned by the sharp contrasts between the two. While both are fantasy fiction, they are virtual opposites on the major dimensions. Here are a few I’ve noticed so far.


Age in WITMeg is approximately 13, Calvin (her love interest) is 14, and Charles Wallace is 5 years old. Meg and Calvin are typical teens in a realistic school when the story opens.


Age in TOG: Celaena/Aelin is approaching her 18th birthday when the series begins and ages to 20 over the series; her early love interests Sam, Cael, and Prince Dorian are approximately her age; her later love, Rowan, is hundreds of years old. Celaena excels as a trained assassin. Her love interests are assassins, warriors, and magic wielders.


Affection in WIT: Meg and Calvin hold hands, Calvin puts his arm around her (so far).


Affection in TOG: Lots of sensuality, moderately explicit, including nudity, sharing beds, and sexual union.


Commonality: In both books, the heroines feel safe and protected by their loves.


Assistants in WIT: Gentle, helpful assistants in the form of supernatural beings with names such as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, The Happy Medium, and Aunt Beast.


Assistants in TOG: Fae Warriors, a shape-shifter, Ironteeth witches, assassins from the desert, armadas from other kingdoms


Evil in WIT: IT, a bodiless telepathic brain who controls people, making them do the same things together in the manner of robots—absolute conformity; and The Black Thing, who is the source of all evil in the universe, and that’s about all the specificity about him.


Evil in TOG: The ultimate evil is Erawan, who enslaves others to be his minions (e.g., the King of Adarlan) in conquering everyone, everywhere using death and destruction, torture, beings who can take over another’s skin, and a magic “key” that allows him to gather beasts from the realm beyond the portals and create animal/human hybrids.


Why these stark differences? I can only speculate. It may be partly that the target audience of WIT is younger than the target audience of TOG. Then again, WIT was published in 1962 and TOG was published in 2012. Maybe young adults now are older than they were fifty years ago.
Stay tuned: I’ll blog again when I finish A Wrinkle in Time.