Islenorian Romantic fiction Tradition / Ritual in Melyria | World Anvil

Islenorian Romantic fiction

In literature & other artistic depictions

No matter which culture you observe, they usually have their own interpretation of the romantic literature. Love stories can be very universal, enjoyed by anyone no matter where one comes from. But the culture also dictates what kind of thropes people are most likely right about. And some particularly strange traditions of romantic tropes in the eyes of the larger world are most definitely from the Empire of Islenor.

Being the largest and most influential elven society in the world, literature of the Empire of Islenor is fairly easy to come by. Long lifespans of the elves and the unique culture of the Islenorians together with elven sensibilities about relationships make up some very specific and strange story types specific to this region. The thropes vary from strange and harmless to down right twisted and toxic on the eyes of the outsiders, but still in a form which is digestable for larger audience.

About the readership & authors

It is good to know, that islenorians have no particular need to label "romance" as a gender specific genre, though both authors and readers of romantic fiction tend to be mostly female. There is no social taboos around it, which also effects how the stories are written. Islenorian writers do not tend to try and cater to audience through gender-based metrics, but look at their audience based on interests alone.

Works are varied from saucy smut to heartwarming sob stories, and everything between. Romance as a genre isn't also limited to depicting erotic relationship, but also deep platonic ones. Deep friendships that last for centuries are just as valid topics for romantic fiction as star crossed lovers, as far as islenorians are considered.

It is also good to understand, that most islenorian fiction is written by islenorian high elves to other islenorian high elves; and as most islenorian high elves only interact with each other, some islenorian wood elves and possibly a human, gnome or a dwarf, their world views tend to be quite insular and simplistic when it comes to outsiders. Though, it is something they themselves wouldn't like to admit.

Romantic tropes

Added to more universal romantic literary traditions, Islenorian romantic fiction dapples on some tropes that are rather unique to elven experience or the islenorian identity.

Patriotic devotion

Patriotism is not an unusual thing to show in fiction - people have several reasons for pushing ideas of appreciating one's culture and land of origin. Was it out of love to one's country or a cynical attempt of political manoeuvring, patriotic fiction that displays the ideals of a culture and/or area exist everywhere. What makes the Islenorian patriotic romance is the values it promotes and the way it displays it's events.

Islenorian patriotic romance often comes in a form of historical fiction, though some writers have chosen to write their pieces on their current time. These stories often include artistic re-tellings of historical events or use political movements as backdrop of their stories. These love stories are varied in their execution, but send a message of greatness of Islenor and its values.

In their most mundane form, these pieces use the threaths, events and people as a backdrop to tell a love story between two characters. In this category, would be most of the creative retellings of the story of king Luzeiros & queen Aleria Venramoir, as the then kindom of Islenor had a revolution and Luzeiros was made king as the resistance overthrew King Leolar Ralonsalor. However, in their worst, these stories seem like a weapons of brainwashing. These pieces tend to promote tend to promote (either overtly, covertly or simply as a coincidental subtext) at least handful of these values:

  • Moral superiority of Islenor
  • Elven superiority compared to lesser races
  • Showing that magic, people or practices banned or frowned upon by government are terrifying (despite the actual severity of the actions)
  • Drow are evil, blood thirsty and violent, and should be killed on sight
  • Women, even in power, should show proper humility, so they won't be tempted by Lloth
  • Men and women should do their best to ensure the progress of the state, and it is always rewarded
  • Gods and goddesses of The Seldarine approved by regime (specially Shevarash) are valuable to islenor's people, as well as evil and treachery of the deities the regime despises. Other deities can be shown neutrally or in positive light, as long as thy do not overshine the Seldarine
  • Glorifying especially soldiers but also mages and others who serve their communities, and through that the empire/kingdom
  • Promoting good, justice and morality in the way that as acceptable by the regime
  • A non-patriotic person is a bad person, and inherently evil. They can function as a key character, but they will always be proven wrong and either turned or they are destroyed by their hubris

While there are speculation that some of these pieces are purely propaganda, most of them are considered as earnest works by islenorian writers who simply believe or do not disagree with establishment. Or simply those who know that sometimes traditions sell.

Love from the past life

Elves are unique not only because of their long life span, but do to their knowledge of their past lives. According the legends about Battle of Corellon and Gruumsh, elves started their existence as spirits that came from the blood of Corellon Larethian, but due to their weakness, they fell under the sway of Lloth and got themselves mortal forms, forgetting all they knew as the spirit. When a elven child is born, in their trance they see memories of that primal spirit before they fell, and they gaze upon the elven heaven Arvandor that they left behind.

After 100 years or so, these memories stop coming for them until they become old. Earliest around age 250, but usually well after their 300 birthday, elves enter a phase in their life they call Remembrance. After this period until they die, elves get glimpses of their past lives as visions, lives they have had after the primal spirit fell from Corellon's favour. It is believed that when elf dies they become part of the primal spirit again, until they are born a new and the cycle repeats itself.

While in reality, these glimpses are short and often hard to follow, occasionally they give the elf a blurry picture of a face, name, place or an event. Unsurprisingly, through use of some creative freedoms, ability to see these glimpses have been used as plotpoints in several literary works.

Most used in detective stories, horror or just as deus ex machina, glimpses of past lives have also been used as a interesting plot device to some romantic fiction. Typical Past life-stories include stories like:

  • two elves feel drawn to one another and share a romantic memory in past lives, trying to figure out who they are in this life. Shenanigans ensue.
  • protagonist that died young in their past life was born close to people they knew in past life, and as they start to see events of past life, they search for them and try to help them in their struggles
  • Star-crossed lovers keep getting separated on each of their lives, but keep getting back together through the power of love

the bitter general & the young maiden

In islenorian culture, it is quite common that especially among the nobility and old families that have long traditions of mastery over a certain skill, that the men of the family are expected to master that skill to be considered worthy of the family name. This is most common in families of long military traditions or which are deeply connected to magical arts. In these families, sons often devote their first centuries solely on achieving the required status in their family, was it by joining the army or drowning themselves in study, untils somewhere after 200 to 400 years they regocnise that family needs a heir.

To ensure there will be a heir, these men are often arranged to marry a girl of same social class, who is of legal age, but sometimes more than 3 times younger than their husband to be. Husband becomes like a mentor to their young wife, making sure they become the perfect lady of the house and the couple gets children, and if father will pass away in middle of their training, young mother will see that the young will grow to be perfect addition to family line.

The practice is highly criticized for several reasons, but seen as necessary by the islenorian elite, some young ladies even preferring the men as old as their grandfathers with prestige to younger, less experienced ones. And naturally, there is a whole section to this type of stories in romantic fiction.

"The bitter general and the young maiden"-trope got its name from the most prominent plot in this form of literature. Basic plot goes something like this:

An old General needs to get married. His family arranges him a bride from a good family, young and beautiful Maiden. One or both are reluctant about the marriage but agree to it due to the family honour. But in some versions both Maiden and General are willing for marriage, but are not good at conveing that to one another, and the story turns into romantic comedy with heartwarming misunderstandings.

First they seem too different: General has seen too much and he has lost his spark, where young Maiden is inexperienced and childish. But as they spend time together, the Maiden gets a protector from the General, as well as gifts, stability and wisdom, were the Maiden gives their husband love, affection, opens their eyes to beauty of life again and gives them children.

The couple fall in love, and live happily ever after. If the story ends with the death of the husband, story tells how the wife makes his son in to something the child's father would be proud of.

While most stories follow the basic plot, simply changing some details and giving it its own flare and different obstacles to overcome, there are also many stories that take the story elsewhere. Some stories are critical of this, showing the maiden-character as opportunistic fraud there to hurt the general-character, in some the general-character is violent and cruel. In those cases, the love is found elsewhere, and the story becomes about getting away from the circumstance.

Sometimes, specially in the more erotic literature, the old bitter male character remains and instead decides not to love anyone due to just being cynical or maybe after losing their true love, until a younger character, usually a commoner, male or female, comes and cures them from their loveless, bitter existence.

While older man - younger woman pairing is most prominent one, sometimes the roles are reversed, or both parties of the couple are same sex.

Multiple lovers

With potential to live several decades, relationships are bound to become complicated. Consept of romantic relationship with multiple people involved is not unheard of in romantic fiction around the world, but the dynamics of elven relationships often bring out unique scenarios.

Among islenorians, polygamy is not unheard of. It isn't every day thing, but there are family units that include several partners in different types of relationships. Instead of being mainly stories about harems or people in bad relationships, these stories are more often about conflicts in multiple parent house holds, how to get your partners accept new person as part of the family, what to do when your partners want different things or scenarios where there are multiple people in relationship and two decide to break up and now others are trying to figure out how to handle the situation.

While these stories can tell about new love, more often than not they are about already existing relationships, and how to treat them and when to abandon them - and when give it another chance.

Same-sex couples

Similarly to multiple lovers, islenorians do not object to same-sex romantic relationships. Couples in romantic fiction can be just as well gay as they can be straight couples, though this doesn't mean that there is no unique conflicts in these relationships.

Stories of same-sex couples can be pretty much identical to hetero ones, but most common obstacle that same-sex couples face more than their counterparts is starting the family. Is it due to the duties to marry for alliance or from pressure to get offspring, these stories are morelikely get in to scenarios where the partner isn't accepted, or simply that the couple struggles as they wish for a child but they are not sure how to get one, was it through adoption or help by a donor.

Actual homophobia is rare among Islenorian population, but sadly some cases occur and those are sometimes depicted in the literature. Though in those stories, homophobia is usually depicted by members of non-islenorians.

Interracial relationships

Islenorians have a bad track record on showing interracial romance with complexity and sensitivity it often requires. Islenor has sizable wood elf population, which is mostly shown either as completely integrated to main culture with simply few quirks that make them charming, or over-exotic other that is savage and needs to be tamed from their druidic ways. Later type, when shown in romantic fiction, is often wild until they get civilised by the high elven or high elven-like wood elf and become charmingly rustic instead.

As endearing as this is to some Islenorian readers, most drui wood elves find these depictions insulting and racist.

While Wood Elf-High Elf pairings are acceptable, Islenorians tend to have great discomfort with half-blooded elves. Gnomes, dwarfs and humans in romantic literature are often shown more as targets of platonic love and comradery, and with erotic relationships, same-sex couples are more-likely to get depicted than hetero-pairings. These stories often, even when sympathetic, end up enforcing a trope that non-elves are bad company for elves; even if the individuals are lovely, their shorter lifespan is made to be a detriment and cause of eternal heartbreak.

While still new pheunomena, youngsters have started to write about half-elves, and critic the societal taboo of race mixing. Many critice the society's double standard; why is it taboo for someone to have relationship with an adult human, if the nobility have 400 year-olds marry 75-year olds?

Sisters of Golden Lyra

Often appearing among other thropes, members of the Sisters of Golden Lyra are common sight in romantic literature. They can play several roles from main character to love interest from supporting character to main antagonist.

Sisters of Golden Lyra is an old sisterhood, that trains women in art of espionage, diplomacy and entertainment, an they often come from the families that are rich and/or powerful, many sent to sisters because of their wild nature to go and get it managed to a form that serves the common good. This makes Sisters and their girl power energy perfect for romantic stories.

Sisters of Golden Lyra are many times part of the erotic fiction. This seems to be mostly amusing for the organisation, and some claim that the sisters might have promoted of even written some of these works to promote their image and makethemselves look less intimidating. The organization hasn't commented on these speculations.

Primary Related Location
Related Ethnicities
Related Organizations
Empire of Islenor

About Elves, Sexuality, Reproduction & Marriage

Elves have the longest estimated lifespan, up to 400-750 years without any magical enhancements. Also, elves reach sexual maturity between 16 to 20 years of age and remain fertile even their entire life span - the fertility rate can start to decline after 300 years or so, but slower than with other species. This sounds like a great advantage at first, but it comes with the cost of their overall low fertility rate. Elven pregnancy takes about 1 year, and elven woman is in theory ready to become pregnant just some months after, but this barely ever happens. Most elven siblings have at least 5 year age cab, often closer to 18 to 65 years.

Due to this low fertility rate, particularly long and dangerous pregnancy period, and the fact that elves don't truly consider those among them as a "fully matured" before 100-years-of-age, elves are likely to put extra effort into raising their children, further enforcing the age cabs between children. While the possibility of having tens if not hundreds of kids in their life span, most elven women have between 1-6 children in their lifetime. This also means that especially in smaller communities elven children have very few if any other kids of their age range to play with, and getting a partner of your own age range can be hard or even impossible.

In most elven cultures, children under 15 years of age are considered too young to date, and youngsters between 16-30 years old are allowed to mingle and train dating among themselves but are not considered appropriate to date by an elf above the age range. Elves between 31-50 years of age can mingle with elves ~ 25 years older than them, and 50 to 74-year-olds with elves about 50 years older than them. As long as both elves are above the age of 75, there is no common consensus of appropriate age cab between partners, even though especially on younger elves large age cab is still undesirable, but not openly frown upon (though often gossiped about).

Many elven cultures are also alright with different forms of polygamy as well as same-sex couples, though sensitivities vary wildly. Long lifespans mean longer and more complex relationships, making some of them quite bizarre and foreign for many other humanoids. This also means complicated forms of marriage, and other relationship-forms other humanoids do not necessarily even have a word for.



Comments

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Dec 30, 2020 20:03 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This was such a fun read - I loved reading about all the tropes and the discussion around them, and even how some people are beginning to write about half-elves as a critique of society. Definitely in my area of academic interest. :D I now want to write and read about tropes for all the genres of all the societies! :D

Dec 30, 2020 20:22 by Tiirikka

Do it! It is so much fun! x3 I think stories the culture tells can tell so much about the people, their values and shortcomings - it definitely a good way to explore a culture!


Can I have a cookie? | Come and snoop around Melyria
Dec 31, 2020 01:27 by Morgan Biscup

I love the idea of this topic and article! And you did a beautiful job conveying culture througj your explanations, this was a beautiful read. What a cool idea.

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