Religion's Neverending Story
Although I love my fantastic fiction as well as the next geek, I'm not that well-versed in the swords-and-sorcery fantasy genre. Other than Tolkien, my experience with fantasy series consists of all 13 (to date) books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and, just recently, the first book of George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.
As the latter gains huge exposure through its jump to TV, PZ Myers reports that he's read all of the series published to date, and – minor spoiler here – found them ultimately frustrating in that by the end of the fourth book, nothing much has happened in the big picture. Martin's major plot lines stay where they are, treading water.
Anyone who's read Jordan's mega-series knows exactly how that feels. I count myself a Wheel fan and am glad to have gone through the whole series, even during its long slow stretches... but that said, here's my nutshell summary of Wheel of Time:
Book 1: "OMG! The Last Battle (tm) is coming any day now!"
(...many books follow...)
Book 13: "OMG! The Last Battle (tm) is coming any day now!"
It's truly sad that Jordan himself didn't live long enough to find out exactly how his series ends (the final books are in the hands of cleanup writer Brandon Sanderson, armed with Jordan's notes). Let's hope that Martin has a plan that'll let both him and his readers enjoy a wrap-up to A Song of Ice and Fire while the author is hale and hearty.
Anyway, what's all that got to do with religion? Just this: My Wheel of Time summary above reminded me an awful lot of something else. Whatever could it be? Oh yes, my Jehovah's Witness upbringing. By way of comparison, here's how the JWs' series runs:
1914: "OMG! Armageddon is coming any day now!"
(...many, many years follow...)
2011: "OMG! Armageddon is coming any day now!"
Eerily similar to Wheel of Time – except there's no end-of-series capper drawn up, by anybody. This one plans to go on forever, with several million "readers" still buying its Neverending Story about a Return of the King to vanquish the Lord of Chaos and leave a Feast for Crows at the site of The Last Battle.
Now that's what I call high fantasy!