Ever since I got into fantasy, especially with those long weekends in college of 24 hour binge sessions of pizza, beer and Dungeons and Dragons, there seems to be a pattern with adventure groups. You will always find a human travelling with a Dwarf and an Elf (or some combination thereof). We’ve read it in Lord of the Rings and the Shannara Chronicles and seen it in movies and television. I don’t think you can write a fantasy/adventure story without that combination.
I know that many will say this is the trap writers fall into, creating something that has been seen and used over and over again. I can even remember that God awful D&D movie (with Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans and Richard O’Brien from Rocky Horror fame) with the same combination of human, Elf and Dwarf in their midst. It seems to be an endless chain of events in magical fantasy stories.
So the question is, as writers, why do we do it? For one thing, it boils down to diversity. That seems to be the strong sentiment in society today … The need for more diversity in our lives and our media. We’ve struggled with diversity for the past 200 years. It’s hard to bring different cultures and races together and, putting it into stories, is easier for most people to comprehend.
A great example I see is the changing diversity in comic books today. In the past few years, we have seen classic Marvel Comics characters change from male to female, white to black, including Captain America, Thor, Captain Marvel, and Wolverine just to name a few. The same could be said for television and movies. I remember all the trolls complaining when Michael Clark Duncan was cast as Kingpin in the first Daredevil movie or when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in Thor. It never bothered me because I don’t look at the color of their skin but at the skill of the actor, and in both cases, they were very successful.
In fantasy, it’s not about the color of the skin but the race of the character. There has always been an intense dislike and suspicion between humans, Elves and Dwarves. You see it in the characters of J.R.R. Tolkien and others. I too “ran the gambit” when I put together the friends of the Gil-Gamesh in my Forever Avalon series. I wasn’t trying to be similar like Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli from Lord of the Rings. It just seemed natural to me as if I was playing a game of D&D.
To give you an example, here is an excerpt from my latest novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Dark Tides, where the Gil-Gamesh, Bryan MoonDrake meets Dwarf Master Dinius Oddbottom and the Elf Eonis for the first time.
Every man and women wanted to shake the hand of the new Gil-Gamesh, or even just touch him on the arm. Th e talk around the tavern grew louder and louder. Even the bards were already making up songs about the new Gil-Gamesh and how he stood up to Constable Durm.
Bryan sat down as Lily brought him a fresh pint of ale. Th rough all the excitement, he noticed that Dinius never stopped eating and drinking. Bryan was amazed at his ignorance. “Well now, Gil-Gamesh …” Dinius ascertained, “… You sit down and drink with a Dwarf and don’t tell him
who you really are?”
“I apologize Master Dinius,” Bryan retorted, “My deception was necessary to maintain a low profile during my Grand Tour of Avalon, especially now since I’m travelling alone.”
“Alone?” Dinius asked. “I thought Sir Thomas was travelling with you?”
Now Bryan wondered who this Dinius Oddbottom was. How does he know Sir Thomas? “Sir Thomas is heading to Cornish on a personal matter,” Bryan interjected. “He’s meeting me at Strongürd Keep aft er I confer with the Wizard’s Council.”
Dinius nearly choked on his drink when he heard this. “You’re going to Strongürd alone? Are you mad? Th at’s takes you through Blackbriar Forest? Every cutthroat and brigand will be waiting for you in there?”
“Well, I’m going to have to deal with them sooner or later,” Bryan insisted. “It might as well be now. I’m not going to cower like a frightened child.”
Dinius smiled at the brash attitude this young man had. “Well, I am heading back to the Gilded Halls and it just so happens that Strongürd is on the way there. That is, if you don’t mind the company.”
Bryan thought about his proposal. He didn’t know this Dwarf, so it could be a trap for an easy kill to collect the bounty. Before he could answer, an Elf approached their table. He was handsome with long brown hair. His pointed ears stuck out through his hair. He wore a shining chain mail under a green and brown wrap and a long green cloak. A long sword hung at his belt and a bow and quiver were slung across his shoulders.
“Salüs dai Tulafáir Gil-Gamesh, I am Eonis,” he introduced himself, placing his hand over his heart and bowing—a sign of respect in Avalon. “I bring you greetings from the Elves of Alfheimer.”
Bryan stood and extended his hand to Eonis. Th e Elf took it as a sign of human friendship. “Thank you Eonis. I hope to be in Alfheimer sometime soon to pay my respects.”
“I will inform Lord Baldrid of your intent,” Eonis concurred. “We will anticipate your arrival.” Eonis quickly turned his attention to the Gil-Gamesh’s companion, whom he recognized.
“Master Dinius,” he said, bowing again with respect. “What brings the Lord of the Gilded Halls to this corner of Avalon?”
Bryan turned to Dinius with a look of disdain at the Dwarf he’s been buying drinks and food for all night. “Lord of the Gilded Halls, huh?” he inquired. Bryan’s heard about the Gilded Halls, the home of the Dwarves of Avalon. It seemed Dinius Oddbottom wasn’t what he appeared to be. “I guess I wasn’t the only one ‘hiding in plain sight’, eh Master Dinius?” Bryan joked.
Dinius gulped his ale, aware that his own deception had been uncovered. “Yes, well, Sam makes the best ale this old Dwarf has ever tasted,” he tried to explain. “I come here from time to time to satisfy my thirst.”
Dinius got up from the table and walked over to Bryan. “Forgive my deception lad, but the Wizard Browbridge mentioned you may be coming this way and, knowing that I frequent the Weathered Wren, he asked me to keep an eye out for you … Indiscreetly that is.”
Now everything was starting to make sense to Bryan. “I suppose Archie sent you too?” he asked Eonis.
“Sir Charles, actually …” Eonis explained. “He asked me look in on you as well. Th is was a logical stopping point on your journey to Strongürd Keep so I came here and waited.”\
“And is there anything else I should be aware of?”
“Besides an embarrassed Dwarf and Elf, nothing at all,” Eonis bemused, attempting a joke, something Elves were not known for. “But truthfully, Gil-Gamesh, Blackbriar Forest is no place for any man to go alone, including you.”
“He’s right lad, just think of us as close companions on your journey,” Dinius added.
Bryan couldn’t believe it. Since his arrival on Avalon, people who never knew him had gone out of their way to protect and aid him. The devotion to the Gil-Gamesh was overwhelming to him.
“Alright, you can accompany me to Strongürd,” Bryan noted. “We’ll be leaving in the morning. Until then, good-night.” Bryan walked over to Sam to ask about his room. Sam motioned for Lily to escort Bryan upstairs to one of the rooms at the tavern. Eonis and Dinius kept a close eye on him until he disappeared behind the door.
“Well, that didn’t go as well as expected,” Dinius lamented. Eonis looked down at him, visibly upset.
“It may have helped if you didn’t scrounge food and drink off him all night,” he declared. Dinius huff ed and returned to his seat.
“A Dwarf’s got to eat, you know,” Dinius told Eonis, drinking down his ale then belching loudly as he finished his meal.