Article written by author Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
- Fantasy: The Minstrel’s Song Series
- Picture Book: ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem
- Short Story: Destined for Greatness
- Short Story in the Five Enchanted Roses Collection: Stone Curse
- Family Life Fiction: He Whistles for the Cricket; Written by Gwen Walker, Edited and Published by Jenelle
Finding Spiritual Truth Through Fantasy
“I don’t like anything here at all.” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”
“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam, “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo, adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on, and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same; like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”
“I wonder,” said Frodo, “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
I grew up on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Fantasy fiction books read out loud with my family before bed each night shaped the person I am, as well as my understanding both of what is seen and what is unseen.
When I came home for the summer after my freshman year of college, my dad asked me to write a new story he could read out loud to my siblings. I didn’t sit down to write that story with any intention of teaching deep spiritual truths or inserting any kind of allegory into the book. However, I also knew my worldview as a Christian would seep into the pages, and I did not have any desire to prevent that, either.
I shared the J.R.R. Tolkien quote because I feel it captures the essence of why I particularly love the fantasy genre.
The characters in fantasy fiction have so much to teach us that can be applied to our everyday lives. These books often revolve around themes such as courage, forgiveness, loyalty, perseverance, and self-sacrifice.Tweet
In my Minstrel’s Song series, many of these themes are readily apparent. The characters form friendships that make them stronger than they would be alone. They learn about trust, and they learn what it means to put the lives and interests of others above their own. They learn (and in turn, teach us) what it looks like to stick by someone no matter what. Sacrifice, like the one modeled for us by Christ on the cross, also plays an important role throughout the story and the development of the various character arcs.
Forgiveness is another theme that runs heavily through the story. Throughout the series, we see characters struggling to forgive others for hurts and insults both real and perceived. Some of them succeed, while others fail, which brings its own set of consequences. We also see several characters struggle with the burden of guilt as they wrestle with things they have done that they regret, or things they believe happened because of their actions that they wish they could undo. Forgiveness of others and of ourselves is something I believe many people wrestle with, both Christians and non-Christians alike. Forgiveness is such a beautiful gift from God, so I wanted to write a story that highlighted its importance.
The Minstrel’s Song deals with several other spiritual elements. There is a Creator figure in the story that several of the characters believe in and follow. While he does not play an active role in the story, he is not some distant Creator who does not care about his creation. In the final book we see that he has been at work all along, caring for his followers throughout the story.
Creatures known as “cearaphiym,” who serve the Creator, show up in the story, which I modeled after the “seraphim” of Isaiah 6:2 with their six wings. I looked up the word “seraphim” in the original Hebrew and discovered that it meant “fiery serpent.” Well, that captivated my imagination and I thought it would be interesting to write a world in which “angels” were a creature that looked something more like dragons than humans.
There is also just a tiny thread of allegory that runs through the series, but I can’t say a lot about it because it’s sort of a large spoiler. It is nowhere near as obvious an allegory as the one in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” but it is more obvious than the parallels of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”
The Minstrel’s Song is first and foremost an adventure. But my great hope is that those who embark upon it find more than just a fun story. I hope they find truth in the pages.Tweet
I hope it makes them ask questions and seek answers along the way. I hope it builds their character and teaches them about how to find courage when trials come. Like beautiful stones carefully removed from the rocky walls of a dark cave and polished until they shine, I hope this story sticks with my readers long after they finish the final page. I hope it ultimately points them to the true Author of our faith and makes them long for a world and a home beyond this temporal one.
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The hope of their world rests on the steel at his side…
Threat of invasion looms. Oraeyn dreams of glory on the battlefield. Instead, he must engage in a battle of wills with a headstrong princess while ushering her to safety (and boredom) in a small village. But they must put aside their differences to save their homeland and complete the second part of their mission: seek out the legendary King’s Warrior to persuade him to take up arms once more.
When their journey leads them to the lost realm of the dragons they get more adventure than either of them bargained for!
In an attempt to manipulate the future, a family and a nation are forced to decide between two brothers. Guided by a prophecy spoken hundreds of years before, the King and Queen of Llycaelon have set their course. Their goal: to fulfill the prophecy and save their nation from a dire fate. Rhoyan has always understood and accepted his own role as second born and perpetual prince. He looks forward to the day when he will be a warrior in his older brother’s guard. When Rhoyan is sent on a quest filled with unimaginable danger, nobody anticipates the greater repercussions. As Rhoyan journeys far across the seas on his appointed trial, he will battle creatures of legend, suffer shipwreck, endure captivity, and lay claim to a fallen star. When tragedy strikes, Rhoyan must struggle to return home believing his quest has failed. However, the home he left no longer awaits him and the true test of his strength and character has only just begun. Long before Aom-igh needed a champion, Llycaelon had a Second Son.
The years of Oraeyn’s short rule have been peaceful, but now ominous nightmares plague his sleep and cling to him during his waking hours. When two of his most trusted advisors disappear without a trace and not even the power of dragons can locate them, the fell promise of the king’s nightmares becomes reality. From the furthest reaches of the world, an ancient enemy stirs. Stretching beyond his crumbling prison walls, this foe seeks to bring life to the darkest of shadows. His army marches towards Aom-igh with deadly intent, threatening all Oraeyn holds dear.Aided by dragons, and with the warrior Brant and Princess Kamarie at his side, Oraeyn must journey into the wilds of a forgotten realm. Trusting in the wisdom and skill of the enigmatic minstrel, Kiernan Kane, the companions race against time in search of Yorien’s Hand, a relic that may hold the power to save them all.
War threatens. The game board is set. But the Minstrel is missing…
Advancing his growing power, the Dread Prince breaks free of his prison and brings a faction of dragons under his control, stirring unrest and hatred in the newly united kingdoms of Tellurae Aquaous.
When the dragon wards of Kallayohm are targeted in a ruthless attack, the High King travels there to administer justice. But the trial results in a crippling blow that leaves him reeling.
On the heels of defeat, an unexpected message from the erstwhile Minstrel arrives, pleading with his friends for rescue. Together, the High King and his companions must follow the fragile trail, braving peril and darkness that will test the measure of them all…