I’m a history nerd. Growing up, some of my favorite memories are of digging into my dad’s Civil War magazines or of watching hours of recorded documentaries. Being a missionary kid, and seeing so many different cultures, influenced my love of Anthropology too. This is probably why I have fallen in love so completely with fantasy. Fantasy gives us a chance to see things could never exist in this world but that are inspired by it. Through them, we are able to experience the “what ifs” that are so hard to answer in reality.
The crown jewel of fantasy is the world building. If you want adventure, politics, characters, there are a million genres that will fit your needs. Science Fiction and Fantasy provide something above and beyond when they fit all those things into a new world. In the Teeth of the God’s the crown jewel is brightly shining.
One of the first things that I was impressed with when I started reading Teeth of the Gods was the atmosphere. I’ve read many books that have a well-written character and a well-written world, but the two hardly interact. In the Teeth of the Gods, the Main character’s thoughts are infused with the culture of the world she lives in. Her actions and motivations are naturally grown out of the life she has lived. She is flawed, even hard to connect to at times, but in a way that feels utterly human and carries the character arch beautifully through to the end. As a result, the book sucks you right in, plunging you so fully into the fantasy realm that even when you aren’t reading you will be thinking about it.
I am reminded of a conversation I had the other day with some close friends. We were talking about the country that I grew up in and contrasting the cultures and how we were affected differently by our upbringings and the expectations set on us. Even in the ten years since I returned to the United States, I’ve found myself slipping into the mindset that my culture is the default culture for humanity or that my mindset is unique but everyone else is influenced by their cultures. I think it is natural for every human to get complacent in their understanding of the world. After all, other cultures, whether is a different country altogether or the family down the street from you, are uncomfortable and awkward. Trying to relate somewhere that you don’t fit in is hard. Perhaps that is a service that books, fantasy books in particular, have to give to us. By getting out of our own closed in orld, it can be easier to understand our own cultures and how they affect us. By reading we can take that a step further and step into another person’s mind.
What books have you read that have made you view your own culture through new eyes?