P is for prophecy

(Just for the record, I had this post planned before S.L. Hennessy posted about precognition and knowing the future with her N is for Next post.)

Prophecies are always popping up, from the Delphic Oracle to an entire roomful of them at the Ministry of Magic. Wherever there are prophecies, there are people working toward making them come to fruition, and others working just as hard to prevent them (only to bring them about by their efforts, usually). One of the oft-cited problems with prophecy is that they are so vaguely worded that whatever happens, someone will argue that’s what the prophecy said all along.

Still, they can be useful tools: for foreshadowing, for prodding characters into moving, for establishing just how reluctant the hero really is. They can be fun (for the writer as well as the reader) — just because you know something’s coming doesn’t mean that you know what’s going to occur.

Skein of Shadows by Marsheila Rockwell, a book I had the pleasure of being a beta reader for, talks about the problems of prophecy. Although the book isn’t out yet, she graciously agreed to post the quote on her blog for me. (The book is available for pre-order, in case you’re wondering.)

How do you feel about prophecies in a book? Love them, hate them, use them?


This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.

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12 Comments

  1. I definitely enjoy prophecies. Like you mentioned, the prophecy doesn’t always turn out like one might expect, and often times not like the character expects. And as we know, it’s always fun to torture our characters! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oddly enough, I told my son today that I’m working on not being as nice to my characters. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though I’m not sure there’s a prophecy in the offing.

  2. Prophecies can work well in certain types of literature. I’m always amazed by the prophecies of the Bible, especially when things start falling into place and making sense in our modern times.

    Lee
    Places I Remember
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  3. I adore prophecies in stories and my novels are littered with them! I use oracles, seers, tarot cards – you name it. And, yes, they are always confusing and open to wrong interpretations. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Prophecies scare me…
    Shannon

  5. For the ultimate read in prophecy, (both serious and tongue-in-cheek) go to ‘The Belgariad’ and ‘The Mallorean’ by Leigh and David Eddings. The first book in the series being, ‘Pawn of Prophecy’, which for the longest time my brain insisted in reading as the ‘Prawn of Prophecy’!

    • “Prawn of Prophecy” sounds like an excellent title for a humorous short story. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Have to admit I’ve never read the Eddings’ work. I had this boyfriend who loved Eddings and was going to lend me his copies, but then he broke up with me because emotions confused him (or something of the sort — it’s been a long time, and I don’t remember the exact conversation, although I do remember him calling to try to make up three months later), so I never got the books. I’ll have to check them out; I can’t blame the Eddings for my clueless ex.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I love seeing prophecy in use in the books. I love the theme of somethings being driven by Destiny(Not some Ancient Ship looking for Background noise). The hero or tragic figure driven by prophecy is the best.

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