The art of having a tight mythology

One particular thing I like about Those Who Hunt The Night and its sequels is its vampire mythology. I like that it is a tight, well-defined mythology and that the novels’ characters are smart people who want to understand how vampirism works, who think about it, ask questions and try to figure things out as best they can. This is something I also like about Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter X Hunter: There are specific rules to the special abilities that the characters acquire, and the characters us these skills intelligently.

This is surprisingly rare. Both to have well-defined mythologies (magic systems in fantasy stories, pseudo science, supernatural creatures or superpowers …) and to have characters who actually act intelligently instead of just being described as “intelligent” without managing to do anything smart.

Those Who Hunt The Night has protagonists who are academics, after all. A philologist and a medical doctor. They actually approach their situation using … research and logical thought. It’s refreshing, because so often you have these kinds of characters written by writers who have no fucking clue what science is, what scientists actually do … what their skills are and how they can be applied to solve a problem. (I would almost have appreciated more scenes of James comparing different versions of a 15th century book in The Kindred of Darkness! It is his wont to be interrupted by threats and kidnappings, of course, but I could happily have read an in-depth description of the differences in content and language and and and … Yeeeaaaaah I’m a nerd.)

Then again, when I think about it, there are obviously aspects of vampire mythology that are either introduced or explored in detail only in the novels where they become crucial by the end. Blood Maidens elaborates on the immense power that vampires hold over their fledglings, and in the end this is exactly what dooms the villain. (Which is kind of funny if schadenfreude is your thing! It is mine.) The Kindred of Darkness brings up new, obscure aspects of the mythology that (if I remember correctly) were not mentioned before, and which indeed are what the main antagonist’s plan is all about. But it is not as clumsily – transparently – done as could have been the case. (I’m thinking of just about any Harry Potter novel here …) I guess it’s kind of like rhyming. Anybody can write stuff that rhymes, but the art of it is to make it so that people cannot see the rhyme coming, cannot guess the next line based on the set-up alone. It has to feel natural.

Now I am too tired to remember if there was anything more that I wanted to say. But I’ll still post this post, because how else am I ever going to keep up this blogging thing?


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