Oftentimes when prophecy plays a role in a story, it is static and unbending in nature. Fate proves to be merely what is fated, a concrete idea of a predetermined purpose, and there is little to be done about it once set in motion, try as one might, and even less to explain why such a purpose is necessary, except that without it there would be no story. An author may employ metaphors or plays on words in order to make prophecies appear to have multiple meanings, so that it is only in the end that one can see the symbolism interwoven throughout the tale all along, hinting at deeper truths, if only the protagonist could have seen. More commonly, stories involve self-fulfilling prophecies, in which belief in a prophecy is required for it to come to fruition, a character’s own attempts to avoid the certain outcome proving to be the very cause. And of course, prophecies are generally vague, leaving plenty of room for doubt, and providing a decent excuse when an interpretation turns out to be completely wrong–just ask Nostradamus.
In The Eleventh Age, things aren’t so simple. Early on in my writing, I began to explore the idea that in order for there to be any sort of prophecy in the first place, Fate actually had to have a purpose in mind, which meant Fate was at least quasi-sentient. This realization marked the birth of Fate as a living, ever-changing character, a character that interacts with the other characters in the story on a continuous basis, rather than being relegated to a stagnant existence as just another fortuneteller spouting pretty prose. But as such, Fate’s role and the nature of prophecy could not just be to provide convenient plot twists that keep the “real” characters on their toes. Fate in The Eleventh Age requires goals, desires, intentions, and otherwise serious character flaws, and trust me when I say that thinking about Fate this way has not been easy.
While Elli Foote, the hero of the story, is told at the beginning of book one that her predestined worst enemy is Roviello Tofal, the evil wizard who has survived more than ten thousand years for the sole purpose of being her arch nemesis, by the end of the book, it is fairly clear that what she has been told and what is reality can be very different things, especially where prophecies are concerned, and she begins to understand that Fate is her enemy as well, a decidedly worse enemy than Roviello Tofal in many ways. This is not to say that Tofal is not particularly evil, or that he will not prove himself to be a spectacular adversary (oh,he is, and he will), but Fate’s role as progenitor of tragedy for Elli throughout the series is certain, as is Elli’s role of seeing Fate as her personal universal foe, even though most people would think the idea of Fate having it out for one person in particular is pretty silly–but what teenager hasn’t thought that the world is out to get them? In this case, she might just happen to be right.
Discover why Fate has a dark side… Read The Eleventh Age.