Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Legends of Old

One of the reasons I like the Mercy Thompson series is because as it goes on it becomes more and more clear that Mercy is starting to become a modern day legend of old. When I say legend of old I mean your Heracles, Cuchulain. Beowulf, Arthur, Robin Hood, Gilgamesh and Simple Ivan. (If you haven't figured it out through my hero and antihero's post I'm obsessed with hero archetypes and folklore.) Here is why I think that.

5. The Fae
The books well establish that Mercy is living in a world filled with "other". And some of that other is old enough to have interacted with the heros of legend. Heck Zee who is a fairly prominent supporting character, also known as the Dark Smith of Drontheim already has his legends and in the books Mercy has already met Baba Yaga.



Now days folks don't like other in their stories but back in the day the sure fire way to show something epic was going on was to throw in a wee bit of the fair folk.

Uncle Mike, aka The Greenman, (though the series hasn't said it, he shows up quite a bit in lore) also said this in Blood Bound

"My apologies... I was amused as much at myself as at your use of language. Even after all this time, I keep forgetting that heroes can be found in unlikely places and persons - like mechanics who can turn into coyotes."

Coming from a dude who has probably known his fair share of legends personally, that means something.

4. Genre Savy
Mercy has access to a hell of a lot more of the stories or at least fragments of the stories than her heroic predecessors ever did, and she knows to do her research before tanglin' with the baddies or even the more vague other. The thing about other is that you never really know its plans or even motives but most of the time it operates by rules. But even then a lot of the people in the old stories also were aware of the rules of their stories too. Never ever turn away an old woman for any type of favor. If you're living in a world of other it will bite you in the ass.


Don't cut deals with beings of evil. Again it will bite you in the patute.

Note The Disney retellings mostly lose the genre savvy but the protagonists in the old stories were smarter and more genre savvy. And also they were way more twisted. Grimm is an appropriate name.
.

Mercy definitely fits the pattern of a hero who knows when she's not exactly dealing with the mundane. Heck it's even one of the few abilities she has, that makes here slightly other herself. She can smell magic.

3.Magic Artifacts and Weapons.
No real explanation needed here. If a magical weapon lets you use it to slay a being of evil. You're in the hero club.

2. Episodic Nature of the Books.
Now days with TV and movies we get this thing called narrative structure. A lot of the old tales though were just told night to night. One night you might get the Nemean Lion next night you might get the Hippolyta's Girdle. Up until the advent of the printing press nobody really cared if there was a flow from one story to the other. In a lot of ways the Mercy Thompson series is like that. To be a hero of old you can't just have one story you need about a dozen all of equal badassatude.

The next one has huge spoilers. So I'm writing it in white. Highlight it to read it.

1. She's now a freakin' demigod.
The reveal of River Marked is that Mercy is more or less literally the daughter of Coyote. With a capital C and a "the". In the old tales if you were a god's kid you had two choices. Monster or hero. Fate a'int giving you a third option on that one. The powers that be will find a way to put you in the shit. Ask our good buddy Heracles. He tried to settle down, have a wife and kids, next thing you know he's got furies. I've said it before, and I'll say it again the Greek gods were dicks.

I'm telling you she's ruthless.

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