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September 6th, 2005, 08:41 AM
... at least in fantasy novels.

Many of my favourite books are first-person narratives, but none of them are fantasy novels. All of my favourite fantasy novels are third person.


Perhaps it is necessary to completely identify with a narrator, which is less likely to happen when the narrator is, for example, an elf prince in a world populated by flying anteaters?

Do you feel the same? Or can you suggest a first-person narrative fantasy novel that might change my mind?

Hereford Eye
September 6th, 2005, 08:47 AM
Recommend Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. Hughart has two more novels in this series, each first person narrative. If you like Bridge of Birds, you will enjoy The Story of the Stone and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

September 6th, 2005, 08:58 AM
Mary Gentle's "1610, Robin Hobbs Farseer series,Steph Swainson (sp) Year of our war are all in first and all worth a read.....

September 6th, 2005, 12:12 PM
Also, check Kushiel's Dart by Jaqueline Carey, The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, and Amber by Roger Zelazny. (Amber, of course, is weird, but a great book nonetheless. :) )

Oops! Just saw that Holbrook has already mentioned Hobb. Anyway, I'll second that. :D

September 7th, 2005, 09:02 AM
Perhaps it is necessary to completely identify with a narrator, which is less likely to happen when the narrator is, for example, an elf prince in a world populated by flying anteaters?

I donít think that POV should be an issue when helping your audience identify with your protag. Sure, there may be flying anteaters swooping about gleefully, but that doesnít mean the audience canít understand and Ďconnectí with the eleven princeís heartache, thirst for revenge, outrage or any other of a host of familiar emotions and motivations. Once this common ground is established and maintained, you could send your prince off on a merry romp with unicorns in the sixth dimension, and your readers will follow along.

September 7th, 2005, 09:59 AM
I agree with the Amber and Bridge of Birds recomendation.

And add, the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. Not only is it first person, the protagonist is often mistaken / confused / lying in his memoirs.

Its the best book i've ever read, and takes first person to the opposite extreme from the all knowing third person narrator.

September 7th, 2005, 04:14 PM
I also don't like first person. It is used way to much in amature writing and that ruined it for me. :mad:

September 8th, 2005, 05:25 AM
Thanks for the suggestions guys. Perhaps I should read a bit more widely before posting half baked theories....

I had actually read the first of the Farseer books, but had *forgotten* how good it was. Though I still think it would have been better if it was written third person.


September 8th, 2005, 02:47 PM
Why 1st person?

1. To limit what can be told (3rd limited does that just as well)
2. To facilitate close identification
3. To have a reason to write in a particular "voice"

Missed anything? Probably.

The best stories integrate the PoV into the story, though.

Example: Mike Resnick's story "Barnaby in Exile" is the story of Barnaby the bonobo in one of those "can we teach primates to speak?"-projects. It's written from Barnaby's perspective. The PoV is the ideal one for those:

1. There are concepts in the story, such as funding of projects, that the narrator doesn't understand. On the other hand, the extent to which Barnaby has mastered language is hidden from the people who run the project. Because the researcher's PoV is closer to that of the reader, it is easy for the reader to work out what's going on with the project, while - at the same time - s/he gets the inner workings of the Bonobo's mind. So, basically, the reader knows more than all involved (either the researchers or the Bonobo) without ever being told explicitly.

Also, the simple persperctive also creates an impression of naivety, which has two results. (1) It gains Barnaby immediate sympathy and (2) it re-casts concepts we take for granted (fame, for example) in a new light (you'll possibly re-think them from another perspective). The effect of the simple language will be less likely one of identification; more likely you'll feel like you're reading your child's diary.

Telling the story in 3rd person would result in a far less effective story, I think.

There's a lot more to 1st person than just identification. Heck, if you want identification, sometimes 2nd person can be more effective than 1st. There's no superior or inferior PoV, IMO; not in the mainstream and not in genre fiction. The narrative technique should always depend on the story.

September 9th, 2005, 01:03 AM
It is used way to much in amature writing and that ruined it for me.

I disagree. It all depends on the person, but most people write in 3rd until they figure out that they need to consider voice and perspective. I too once hated 1st person. So many short stories that win awards and get published are written in 1st person. It's probably for a reason.

Not that there aren't any drawbacks; the teller's survival is guaranteed and he/she/it has to be there for much of the story. But I think every story needs a storyteller.

Also, to=too and amature=amateur. If someone called me an amateur just because I liked to write, I'd probably smack them.