Sunday, 10 February 2013

Who are you?

A Question Of Race.

In today's world, questions of race are still brought up, usually in a negative manner and I'd like to shine a light on it, but with my own spin on it. When it comes to race in fiction, fantasy and sci-fi who is the tops? Who rules the roost? If you could choose to be reborn as any race which would it be? I mean, fantasy and sci-fi have given us some absolutely outstanding offshoots of humanity, as well as aliens and just mythical beings. Would you be a crazy klingon with their ever changing forehead ridges? Would the prospect of eternal youth lure you to the enigmatic elves? Would you prefer to be the deadly dothraki with their ever so slightly odd relationship with their horses that almost verges on bestiality? Then there some of the really odd ones, the trolls, the halfings and the ever creepy, ever devastating draghkar. They're nt all pretty, they're not all immortal but they all are unique and funky.

My Race.
This brings me to my point and on to my favourite race. They are from Robert Jordan's fantastic fantasy series 'The Wheel Of Time'. They started a war over a tree and and speak of battles like a dance, which they totally rule. The are the aiel, the people of the dragon, 'the black veiled savages from the waste'.What makes them so great? Do they possess any special abilities? Have they any superhuman characteristics?

Apparently they started this war, for a tree. 
The Water
They are perfection simplified, while other people of the fictitious world of 'Wheel of Time' have gold adorned armour and fight with specially crafted swords, the aiel go for a far more simplified approach. They use only their hands or spears, their reasoning is fantastic, they never use swords because swords have one use, to kill, there are no practical applications to a sword other than death.

With the aiel there is no pussy footing around, you speak straight with them or you will get hurt, seriously hurt. Their views on life are unique and at times a bit absurd and bonkers but that's why I love them. I'll give you some examples, such as jie'toh. Where one person owes another person toh, which is in laymen terms a debt. This means that the person has a certain level of debt to the other person depending on what happened. It can range from saving a life to dishonouring yourself in front of people.
It is an intricate system which is just superb in execution , especially when certain characters are being bitches to one of your favourite characters and they find out they owe him toh and are all like,uh oh. They also have their 'kissing games' which are some of the most ridiculous courting rituals ever seen in a fantasy series. Now there is of course the cliched aspect of this warrior race, they accept death, which would be annoying and cliched because obviously all warrior races through history and in fiction usually accept death in some shape or form. However the aiels understanding of death i just that. Every other race accepts death, they understand it, and they have a wonderful phrase to accompany it,”Wake from the dream”.

When it comes to unique and spectacular attributes, the aiel are no different from any of the other races in 'Wheel of Time', except what they choose to do to ensure they are the greatest warrior race ever, that includes Spartans, Klingons, Dwarves, Dothraki, Amazon, and especially the slightly tacked on military regime of the Kryptonians. I mean come on up until maybe a decade or two ago the Kryptonians were pure scientists(with terrible foresight) and a tiny military contingent. Now they have been re-designed as a war race that were a hybrid science/military species. Okay, two decades, that seems a long time ago but in comic terms it's actually not that long.

The Waste.
Now this is a big problem, on the surface the aiel seem absolutely perfect and for the most part they are, except for a section of their culture. You see the aiel race are sectioned into clans and when a particular event happens to them they shatter and one clan in particular become absolute dicks. They break all codes of honour and their sense of purpose and identity becomes warped. Another aspect of the aiel which is kind of suspect is that they are a bit racist. When I say a bit I really mean a lot, they believe that their way is superior to every other way of living and look down on every other race of man in the world, what doesn't help it is the fact that from a readers point of view they are not wrong. You see how all these civilizations are doing and the aiel are tops, every time.

Brothers and Sisters.
There are notable aiel that I would like to point out as guys and girls who are just complete and utter badasses. They are fun and friendly and even though aiel humour is hard at times to get your head around you always have fun with lovely lads and lasses.

Gaul is one of the first aiel we meet and I would also say one of the most important aiel in the series and if you ever read the series you'll understand see how big a compliment that is. He has wonderful moments of humour and this is anchored with a fantastic love story.

Aviendha is a fantastic maiden of the spear, which in terms better understood by non-fans of the series is an amazonian like warrior. She is one of the few women in the series which I have consistently loved since unlike most of the other women in the series at times she can hold her own with the boys without resorting to bickering. She is a fierce and proud warrior and has interesting talents and secrets which are explored and uncovered as we learn about her.

Rhuarc is the chief of one of the many clans of the aiel, the 'Taardad' aiel. He is the first chief we meet and he is very much a father figure to a lot of the younger characters in the series. His relationship with the main character is really genuine.

Suilin is without a doubt my favourite aiel, she is a frightening maiden of the spear but at the same the most tender. She is fierce and loving like a lioness when it comes to the ones she cares about. She will thrust herself into the fore front of battles for her family, and with aiel family is not defined by blood.

Aviendha during her soft period.
This has been a really fun topic to talk about, I hope that you've enjoyed this and I want to hear all your views. Who is your favourite? Who tickles your fancy? Are they fact, fiction, fantasy or sci-fi? Please comment and let's all have a good chat. In the end I offer you this aiel saying of farewell.

May you always find water and shade”.