• Rachel Sherlock

Lessons from the Great Tales: 10 ProfoundQuotes from Fantasy Literature

Updated: Sep 26, 2018


The best of fantasy literature allows us not only to explore new worlds but also our own. In strapping on our literary walking shoes and heading out to explore the landscape of a fantastical world, we somehow end up right where we started: in our own landscapes, in our own personal battles and in our own hearts. Freshly armed with ideals of bravery we can learn to do battle, maybe not with dragons but with daily drudgery. Or, having stood in awe at the wondrous cities or secret wooded paths of a magical world, our eyes can be opened to the beauty already around us. Below is a glimpse at the great lessons that can be found in these great tales.


On Endurance:

“Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die. True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right.”

— Robin Hobb, The Mad Ship


On Grief:

“Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.”

― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls


On Forgiveness:

“For there are two kinds of forgiveness in the world: the one you practice because everything really is all right, and what went before is mended. The other kind of forgiveness you practice because someone needs desperately to be forgiven, or because you need just as badly to forgive them, for a heart can grab hold of old wounds and go sour as milk over them.”

― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There


On Hope:

"There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


On Self­-perception:

"It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry 'Monster!' and looked behind him."

— Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone


On Nature:

“But when the fairy sang the whole world listened to him. Stephen felt clouds pause in their passing; he felt sleeping hills shift and murmur; he felt cold mists dance. He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands. In the fairy’s song the earth recognized the names by which it called itself.”

― Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell


On Society:

“Who are the lunatics? The ones who see horror in the heart of their fellow humans and search for peace at any price? Or the ones who pretend they don't see what's going on around them? The world belongs either to lunatics or hypocrites. There are no other races on this earth. You must choose which one to belong to.”

― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Midnight Palace


On Bravery:

“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?' 'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


On Savouring Life:

"I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy."

— Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane



On the Future:

“Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


This article was originally written for Bookwitty.com and published on August 29th, 2016.

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