You find yourself in front of seven identical doors.
A voice from above tells you :
“These seven doors lead to seven places :
Narnia, Neverland, Wonderland, Hogwarts,
Camelot, Middle Earth, and Westeros.”
Which door do you go through?
Why that door? What happens?
I saw the above image on facebook about 6 weeks ago, and have spent a long while thinking about it. Writing last week’s rant on the women of Westeros brought it back to me that, as a very-nearly-28 year old woman, there are many fantasy worlds I simply wouldn’t have a great time visiting. So this week’s review is going to be a look at the above listed fantasy places/lands from the perspective of me; a 28 year old female of the human persuasion. Think of it as a semi-realistic take on the common fanfiction trope, the Mary-Sue.
Narnia’s a vast land with a vast history. I’m going to go with the Narnia from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a point in time, and the lamppost as a location. It just seems right. Ok, so it’s cold, and there aren’t many people about, but as a Mary-Sue I’d probably be found by a friendly fawn, nymph or dryad. Assuming I managed to befriend them I’d fall into the whole Aslan vs Jadis plot. Not being one of four children, two girls and two boys, I wouldn’t fall prey to the whole destined-monarchy system, but I could at least help out in the coming battle. Assuming I entered Narnia at the same time as the Pevensie children, I would be too old to consider any romantic entanglement with one of them. It’s possible I could be drafted into Aslan’s army as a defender of the good, maybe strike up a more-than-friendship with one of the fawns and live there forever with my little half-goat babies… Unless Jadis turned me to stone first, or I fell in battle.
I’d probably fall in battle…
This one’s hard. I don’t even know how I would get to Neverland… Fly of course! Except I have a feeling that would only work for kids – my cynical adult brain would hamper my happy thoughts, and I’d need rather a lot of pixie dust. Once there I couldn’t go to join the Lost Boys – I’m far too old and no amount of Mary-Sueing could make that work, so instead my choices are to join Tiger Lily and her peoples, or to turn Pirate… I could probably make my peace with turning pirate.
I don’t want to go to Wonderland. Simple as that. I’ve just never really been into the Alice stories. I remember watching the films and just being a bit ‘meh’. I think if I ended up in Wonderland somehow I’d probably just sit in a corner (are there corners?) desperate for it all to be over…
It was thinking about my role in Hogwarts which broke my spirit a little bit. I couldn’t be a student. Of course I couldn’t be a student. I’m by far out of that age range. My adventuring years (in terms of child/young-adult fantasy stories) are over. I’m now only fit to be a teacher. I tried to console myself with the thought that I can pick my subject, but the horrible realisation is that 28 year old women probably wouldn’t make good Hogwarts teachers. They sleep in the school. They eat, drink and breathe in the school. It’s a fine place to be if you want to completely devote 10 or 11 months of the year to schooling; only going home at Christmas and the Summer, but that means you only friends are school teachers (and those in canon weren’t particularly youthful.) What do the teachers do with their summer holidays? Return to their almost estranged spouses/empty houses? How can they raise families when they’re off in some remote Scottish castle almost all the time? Because of this I just can’t find a place in Hogwarts – it’s too secluded and cut off from the world. In the Potterverse as a whole I’d have some cool Ministry job and adventures would ensue – it’s as similar to our world as I’m likely to get in this list, so my life wouldn’t be drastically different.
There are far too many versions of the Arthur/Merlin story. I’m going to assume we’re sticking to the recent BBC tv show where it’s all rather civilised. This is made extra easy by the fact that I’m actually around the same age as the main actors. Assuming the characters match the actors’ ages, I’m older than Merlin and younger than Arthur, Gwen and Morgana. The trick is just to figure out where I would fit. I’ve heard the complaint before that the show ‘Merlin’ was a bit of a boys’ club. Can’t really argue with that, as much as I loved watching it and would like to defend it. Gwen rarely went out on the adventures, and Morgana was the twisted, psychotic witch (with some degree of reason – she wasn’t always that way). It was always about Merlin and Arthur, with a varying number of knights thrown in. Ideally I’d like to be some sort of good witch, perhaps who works with Merlin on occasion, or a Laydee of Court, hiding her magics, but that’s assuming I gained magical powers in the journey from this world to theirs… The role of illicit sorceror working for the power of good is taken by Merlin, so isn’t really required. At the very least I’d be able to set up house somewhere; running or working at a shop in Camelot, or a farm outside the city walls. I could do well for myself, perhaps even bag a knight and become a fancy kept woman, yearning for adventure and slowly growing resentful as my good sir husband kept returning from dramatic trips, telling his tales of excitement in far off lands. Sounds wonderful(!)
Oh good lord – I wouldn’t even get a name if I lived in Middle Earth. The male to female ratio of the books (and films) is weighted substantially in the favour of the menfolk. Unless I pulled an Eowyn, I’d be hiding in some caves whilst boys just over half my age went out to battle. There are very few places for womenfolk in Tolkien’s epic saga. The Fellowship are men, the people they meet are predominantly male.
And here we are, back in last Thursday’s rant… In Westeros, if I hadn’t already been married off to whoever would have me, I’d probably be facing a bit of rape and murder. The seven kingdoms are at war and there are armies storming all over the place doing unthinkable things to everyone they meet. Seriously I’d highly likely be dead by now. There are female characters, though, so there’s more likelihood I’d actually get to play a role in plotty things than there is in the Lord of the Rings. I wouldn’t get to be the hero, but then there are so many characters I’m not sure I could tell you who the hero actually is!
Assuming I rocked up in the world at the beginning of book one, before everything fell apart, my badly-written-fanfic mind would throw me into some sort of noble role so as to give me a little protection from the impending awfulness. The problem is there are so many places I’d want to be… and so many I’d want to steer very well clear of. Regardless of where I ended up, I’d see lots of awful things and most likely end up beheaded, even though a Mary Sue version of me would totally save one character from dying and then be the other side of the country helping out another. Gotta love Mary Sue powers of just fixing everything!