One of my favorite literary devices is prophecy. A good prophecy, sufficiently vague and mysterious, riddle-like and maybe rhyming, to keep you thinking back, keep you wondering. It can easily drive a plot. It usually points to a chosen one. Indeed, a recent favorite of mine hits all the important aspects:
“One day, a talented lass or fellow, a special one with face of yellow, will make the Piece of Resistance found from it’s hiding refuge underground, and with a noble army at the helm, this Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm, and be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times. All this is true because it rhymes.”
-Vitruvius, The Lego Movie
See? It rhymes. Must be true.
Prophecy, and indeed prophecy pointing towards a chosen one, is grounded in religion. Okay, so for our science fiction and religion series, this post is halfway there. But what about science fiction? One of the fundamental aspects of science fiction I have seen since the series started is that science fiction tends to stay away from religion. Meaning similarly, it stays away from prophecy in large part.
So I’m calling this post part one because I want to talk about prophecy, and the better way to do that is to talk about Fantasy. Then in part two, I’ll go into a couple of good science fiction examples and see how they differ. So onward for Fantasy prophecies, and an open thread!
Great Fantasy Prophecies
There are a lot of great prophecies in Fantasy. The one that I’ve written about before was Game of Thrones, where the major prophecy is about Azor Ahai – the chosen one of one of the religions. It’s still not clear who the prophecy is about, and fan speculation is all over. There are some other interesting prophecies – also from Red Priests – that are told to Daenerys, and which she mulls over and tries to make decisions based upon.
Of course, when it comes to prophecies and decision-making, it’s usually a prophecy of a chosen one who will defeat the Big Bad – and the Big Bad finds out, and acts upon it. It’s like Macbeth, and none of mother born… it’s like the Witch King, and the same…
It’s like Harry Potter.
Everything that ends up happening in the Harry Potter series happens because of the prophecy – He Who Shall Not Be Named kills Harry’s parents, Harry is orphaned, and marked to be the one to defeat him… A prophecy made true because it is known, and because it is believed. There’s a whole hall of prophecies, some of which happen, some which don’t – would they happen if known?
Some other great prophecies I can think of include in the Dark Tower series, the Eragon series, and the Kingkiller Chronicles. And heck, since I consider Star Wars to be Fantasy, the prophecy in Star Wars of the one who would bring balance to the Force… we’ll see how well that’s working in the new movies, I guess!
I feel like delving too deeply into prophecies is to head into extreme spoiler territory… so let’s open up the comments for that! What are your favorite Fantasy prophecies? And do you like prophecy as a story element? Let’s discuss in the comments below!