Saturday, September 20, 2014

Belgarath, from Eddings

The "Elderly Wizard Mentor" character in David Eddings' "Belgariad" is "Belgarath," a millennia-old magic user who is also known as "Mister Wolf." The text suggests that he can turn into a wolf. That's why I've put the stylized purple "wolf" head and tail aura behind the character. I don't know what it is about wolves, but the wolf species is hugely popular in fantasy fiction. Not just werewolves, but men and women who have telepathic wolf companions or who run in packs with the wolves. There are wolven warriors in the "Warhammer 40,000" universe who are hybrids of wolf and enhanced human. And the white Arctic wolf has its own fantasy following, including the identification of albino Elric as the "White Wolf."

Back in the early days of storytelling, wolves were Big and Bad and they were enemies of humanity and civilization. You wanted to keep the wolf from your door. But in 20th century fantasy, wolves were rehabilitated into furry heroes. This is probably because no one in modern urban society worries about their livestock (and livelihood) being destroyed by marauding wolves. Many animals who were harmful in the past, such as lions and tigers and bears, are now fantasy darlings.

"Belgarath" is acrylic on illustration board, 5" x 9", May 1987.

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