Essays

The following essays deal with various topics relating to fantasy and some of the issues raised in our reviews. Basically, the essays are an opportunity for us to share our thoughts and ideas with you, and for you to get to know us a bit better, as well as being occasions to start some dialogue. Please e-mail us with comments, responses, or agreements/disagreements sparked by these essays -- we would love to hear from you! Two issues need to be mentioned. Firstly, be aware that we are not claiming infallibility. This is probably fairly obvious, but we will likely disagree with you about some issues. We even disagree with each other sometimes (although fairly rarely!). Please don't discount everything on our site if you find one item in our essays with which you disagree. We're taking a bit of a risk in putting our opinions out there -- please bear with us (and e-mail us for clarification) if you take issue with our views. Secondly, and not nearly as significantly, some of these essays pertain exclusively to J.R.R. Tolkien's work. Obviously from our other pages, we consider Tolkien's work to be the epitome of Christian fantasy. We also assume that a large number of visitors to our site will find these essays interesting. Enjoy!


A Critique of A Landscape With Dragons by Rose

If you’re a reader of Refracted Light, you’ve probably heard about Michael O’Brien and his book A Landscape with Dragons. For those of you who haven’t, he’s a Catholic artist and novelist who has become very popular among conservative Christians, especially homeschoolers. In A Landscape with Dragons, O’Brien attempts to define the purpose of fantasy […]

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Recommended Books by Rose

Rose’s Top Ten Most-Recommended Fantasy Novels (that aren’t by Tolkien) Note: The contents of this list will probably change like the wind, because I’m not only always reading new things, but also changing my mind. Also, though this list has numbers, they’re not really meant to be rankings; most of the books are so different […]

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The Cultural Value of Fantasy by Sasha

Thank the Lord of the Rings films for it. Or thank the Harry Potter books, if you feel so inclined. Whatever reason behind its rise, fantasy is going mainstream for the first time. No longer is it relegated to the realm of geekiness; no longer are fantasy novels only for those needing a break between […]

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Aesthetic Symbology in The Lord of the Rings by Sasha

(written for “J.R.R. Tolkien: Middle Earth, Middle Ages”, a grad-school class on the work and inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien) Tolkien’s fiction has legions of fans, but there are also many people who disapprove of it for various reasons. In these detractors’ opinion, Tolkien’s work has serious flaws, either in concept or in execution, which seriously […]

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The Morality of Magic in Fantasy by Sasha

Magic is central to fantasy. Fantasy is, after all, defined (loosely) as the element of story which breaks the rules of our world, and much of this rule-breaking involves ‘magic’ of some kind. For us as Christian readers, though, this definitional issue poses a significant problem. The Bible forbids witchcraft, which is often considered synonymous […]

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In Defense of Peter Jackson’s LotR by Sasha

If there is one discussion topic to which I most often return, it is the endless debate concerning the Lord of the Rings movies. Are they good movies, from the perspective of fans of Tolkien’s original work? When I respond in the affirmative, I invariably receive the question (often accompanied by a look of shock […]

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The Good, the Bad, and the Pagan by Rose

“He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. . . . –I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old.” –A. E. Houseman “Test everything; […]

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