I’ve been reading a series of books called the Death Gate Cycle to Colleen. This is fantasy series (by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman) from the late 80’s and early 90’s that I read once before when I was much younger. It’s one of those series that really proves what I always say about fantasy being the perfect way to take a closer look at human nature.
This series takes place in a universe where the world has been split into four separate elemental worlds – plus a couple extras, but the details aren’t important for this blog. This happened because of two races of people so magical that they and the “lesser” races believed them to be gods – but the ideals of these two peoples opposed each other, so they were at war.
The orderly and “goodly” of these two races, afraid of losing the way, cast a spell that tore the world to pieces and reformed it, dumping the chaotic and “evil” race into a magical prison while they were at it. Many of the “lesser” races died in the process, but the “goodly” race saved as many as they could. Unfortunately, the elemental worlds were not self-sustaining, and before the “goodly” race could link them together to work as a team (as they had intended), something went wrong and they began to vanish.
The story follows a member of the “evil” race, who is one of many to have escaped the magical prison after generations of torment. Under the command of his lord, the first of his people to escape, he is scouting out the worlds in preparation for launching a war against the “goodly” race.
As he is exploring these worlds, he finds them in chaos – with the three “lesser” races fighting endless wars against each other while the “goodly” race is absent. Then, on the fourth world he visits, he discovers dragon-like monsters who profess to serve him, but he eventually determines that they are pure evil and that they gain power from fear and hatred.
These creatures get released into the other worlds, where they insinuate their way into the ranks of the “lesser” races (they are shape-changers) and spread chaos, fear, and hatred. They always present themselves as wanting to serve, and whenever confronted by someone who knows what they are, they say “You made us.”
Then, at last, someone learns how to fight them by pinning down what they actually are. They explain it simply as “they are us.” The monsters are the embodiment of all the hatred and fear the races have of each other, and the more hatred and fear there is, the more powerful these monsters became.
As I was reading this, I thought, wow... that looks a lot like the issues we’re facing in the world today.
And, as with today, the way to fight these monsters was for people to put aside their hatred and fear and work together.
To me, it is an obvious message. But then, this is woven into a series of books that was written over twenty years ago and we’re still dealing with the same issues. Perhaps the time has come to say it louder.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.