We’ve read ’em, we love ’em, we want more of ’em. Those books where a rag-tag group of people journey with each other towards a destination, a quest, a mission – an adventure. These are my favourite kind because we are treated to – not only an epic adventure – but a view of relationships, evolution of mind, heart and spirit and sacrifices made when we enter into these types of stories. I call these Fellowship stories because they always contain a group of three or more people travelling together towards a goal. We all are familiar with the Lord of the Rings – probably the most well-known Fellowship story of all. As I’ve read these types of books over the years, I’ve come to notice 5 unspoken rules about Fellowship stories. But before we get into them, what do I mean by fellowship?
Fellowship is defined as:
|1.||the state of sharing mutual interests, experiences, activities, etc|
So in the case of these stories, the mutual interest is a focused goal, usually to save the world, destroy the one ring, defeat evil, fight zombies, find a cure, and so on. The mutual experiences and activities are the challenges the group faces on their journey. I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t love the Fellowship type stories, whether they be a movie or a book. It is compelling to witness how a group stays strong or dissolves due to circumstances outside of their control. We see the true nature of character in group dynamics; who is lacking courage, who has malice in their heart, who is loyal, loving and brave. I am drawn to these types of stories (as I am sure we all are) because let’s face it, we are drawn to each other – we humans need each other. As an introvert I revel in solitude – but only for so long. Eventually I will seek human companionship. We create fellowships for ourselves without our even knowing it – our group of friends/family who we spend the most time with. We recognize ourselves in these stories, relating to one or two characters within. Who we cheer for, who we mistrust, who we miss when they are gone from the story can reveal something of our inner selves.
Let’s dive in to the five rules shall we?
The Five Rules of Fellowship:
- There must always be a group of three or more people
- It can start out as one or two but eventually, a group of three or more is formed along the way
- There must be a journey with a mission involved
- the journey has to be a physical one towards a destination (with the added bonus of an emotional and spiritual journey developing along the way)
- the mission usually involves saving the world, kingdom, city, country, another being or soul
- The group gets separated along the way
- either by choice or by force
- it can be the entire group splitting or it might just be one or two people who leave the group
- Someone in the group eventually (*usually) betrays another
- betrays the whole group or an individual
- this betrayal might be forced (blackmailed or seduced by power)
- betrayal might also by by choice (they put themselves before the group to save their own ass)
- * I say usually because not every Fellowship story has a betrayal – though most do
- Someone in the group will eventually sacrifice themselves for the group
- it could be the betrayer who redeems themselves in the end with an unselfish act
- the sacrifice is usually made so the rest of the group can be saved to finish their journey
These are the 5 rules I’ve observed that are standard throughout each story. Is there a rule you have observed that I haven’t listed? If so, I would love to know. Write it down in the comment section below.
To end this post I want to list the books of an author who writes a lot of Fellowship stories. Stephen King. He loves them and I love him for loving them. His Fellowship stories are:
- The Cell
- The Stand
- Stand by Me
- The Mist
Other Fellowship stories I’ve read that follow the above rules?
- The Passage Trilogy – Justin Cronin
- Dies the Fire – S.M. Stirling
- Swan Song – Robert McCammon
- The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
- The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
- The Walking Dead (graphic novels) – Robert Kirkman
- The Braided Path – Chris Wooding
- A Song of Ice and Fire series – George R.R. Martin
- Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay
- The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
- Fire of Heaven Trilogy – Russell Kirkpatrick
I know I’ve read many throughout the years and can’t remember them all – but these are the ones that stick out in my head. What Fellowship stories have you read? I would love to know so I can add them to my To Read list.
This post brought to you by the letter F and the A to Z Challenge.
Let’s take another walk through the hallways of book cover art shall we? It’s been awhile and there are some covers I’ve very keen on talking about. (Does anyone say keen anymore other than me?)
BOOK COVER GALLERY
Wool by Hugh Howey – Again, red naturally catches my eye. It’s a power colour and so when I see it as the majority colour of a book cover my instinct is that it is going to be one awesome story. (My instinct isn’t always correct.) When I looked closer I admit the title really got me intrigued. I couldn’t tell if the cover was messy, if there was a fire that was pixelated…but as the title suggests, it looks like something is being covered. A cover up! Wool is a suspenseful story of a post-apocalyptic future where all that is left of humanity is living together in a silo buried into the ground miles and miles deep. So now the cover makes more sense – is that blood and soil mixed together? So many questions, which is exactly what this story raises as you read throughout.
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio – Where is that little girl heading? It certainly is the question I had in my head when I saw this cover. The road forward into the unknown definitely signifies a journey, and if there is one thing I love in stories, it’s a journey of growth and evolution. Icy Sparks is a fantastic character, a young girl who is ostracized for being different due to her illness. You look at that cover of that wee, little girl and can’t help but get overwhelmed for her – look ahead, a huge path lays before her and beyond that? Who knows? That is what is compelling about this cover. This little girl seems undaunted by the unknown and moves ever onward. When I looked at this cover I knew this little girl was going to have a spirit and the author doesn’t disappoint. I also love the icy hues of the colour of this book. Obviously, a great match for the name.
Headhunter by Timothy Findley – I recently came across Headhunter again and remember why I picked it up in the first place. It has been years since I last read this and forgot about it until I saw it again in a bookstore. This cover affects me as much now as it did then. It just kind of looks – crazy. When I first saw it appealed to me because of the hint of imagination that comes across. There is a sense of distortion and disconnect when you look at this cover and the story delivers on that in every aspect, from its dystopian environment to the character of Lilah who thinks she might have released doom upon they world through the freeing of the character of Kurtz from the novel, Heart of Darkness. Crazy? Maybe, and that’s what I love about this cover. It gives you that sense of crazy and something….unsettling.
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent – I saw this cover and had two simultaneous reactions; getting the chills and feeling sad. The girl looks haunted. Or am I feeling haunted by the look of her? She also looks aged, like she has been through trauma and tragedy. The Heretic’s Daughter is about the Salem Witch Trials. Combine that topic with the sad, tired face of this little girl and I’m sold. I have not read this yet having just bought it but I can already tell, tears and anguish are straight ahead.
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon – One of my favourite books of all time. This book has seen many covers but this one is my favourite as it captures the spirit of the story perfectly. We are allowed a glimpse, it seems, into the life of this boy we see riding away from us on a bicycle. It is hard to tell if he is riding at sunset or at dawn, but it doesn’t matter as both are times when the veil between this world and another is at its thinnest, it is a time when young girls and boys can dream up worlds and adventure beyond their wildest dreams. It is a time when secrets are revealed to those who have the bravest hearts.