The King is Dead, Long Live The Queen

John C.

How The Transition From Male to Female Ruler is Approached in Fantasy Fiction:

Most royal lines in fiction and in history have had a presumption in favor of a male heir, and even in the modern world there's still something of a lingering feel in hereditary systems that a woman is called to sit upon the throne only when there is no male heir available. The deeply ingrained process of handing power from one king to another remains slow to change.
One way or another, there's still a lot more male rulers sitting on thrones than female ones, and many fantasy novels feature the same dynamic, with many kings but few queens. If you think about it, it needn't be that way. Thankfully, various inventive and forward-looking works in fantasy are leading the way in showing modern life how the transfer of power from a king to a queen might be something normal, typical and usual.
In short, business as usual! And let's not forget that women make a pretty good job of it when they do get the chance to sit upon the throne. Elizabeth II and Victoria remain England's longest serving monarchs, and Europe has had any number of queens since Medieval times. Queens have historically ruled in countless countries in Asia, the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and the Middle East.
So, how does fantasy help us look forward to a more egalitarian future, and what does it say about what to expect when women wear the crown? Some fantasy universes portray matriarchies which are closely connected with nature, in homage to the pre-Celtic systems where power passed down the female line. The belief systems were closely allied to the natural world and nature spirits. While at first glance this might appear empowering to women by showing them as competent leaders, it runs the risk of excluding them from emerging power structures. This is critically important to the portrayal of female leadership in fantasy because so many fictional universes in the fantasy genre are based upon Medieval or Anglo-Saxon civilizations.
In David Eddings' “Belgaria” series novel “Queen of Sorcery,” the hero Garion and his companions visit Princess Ce'Nedra's relative Xantha, Queen of the Dryads, in her forest home. The book doesn't lack for examples of empowered female leadership, but amid the fatal jostling of position to succeed the Emperor of Tolnedra (Ce'Nedra's father), no one considers the princess a potential candidate for the throne, even though she is an only child. Instead, later books in the series will present Ce'Nedra's move closer to power via her betrothal and marriage to Garion. Whether knowingly or otherwise, the series draws upon a Medieval culture where a woman married to secure influence rather acquiring it than by ruling in her own right.

Read the entire article in the April 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

You can just click on the magazine image on the left hand side of our home page to open and enjoy!


If you would like to receive the magazine every month (for FREE!) , just sign up on our home page. Once you do, an e-mail validation notice will be sent directly to you. Just open and click the link and you're in - forever!  Each month the magazine will be delivered directly to your inbox to downlad and read!