Through the Looking Glass Literary Tag - Day 4 "The Modern Novel and Ink Stains"

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Last night, I shared this on my social media outlets: "officially, my blog party is over, as the giveaway has ended - however, we still have two more tags to complete before we wind off this fun literary affair. . . "The Modern Novel and Ink Stains" and "Children's Stories and Non-Fiction Books" which should be posted, Lord willing, Tuesday and Wednesday each and I hope you all join in with your own posts. Hopefully, we will pick out the winner of the giveaway on Thursday! So, anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the next tag; it should be up tomorrow!"

And, I am in great tears and sorrow, right now. . . *sniff sniff* You see, I wrote out those questions last night, and got a good headway with my answers as well; and then, being past midnight, I closed and chose to come back and finish the post tonight. Half a sleep tonight, I opened up my drafts page and. . .

Blogger hadn't saved it, and I just about lost the whole post! sobbing tearfully in a big Alice-inWonderland-Puddle

But ho ho hum, there is always a way out, even if it isn't exactly how I would have liked it to go. I was able to write down the questions on my notebook earlier, so we are not in total desolation. No, not at all, I should think. Here, see everyone, this is my second-last list of tag-questions for you all to join in, "The Modern Novel and Ink Stains" and hopefully, I shall try to respond to those questions myself later this week. Actually, I had been meaning to to simply make a "general fiction" tag and that was that, but Schuyler from My Lady Bibliophile helped spark the idea that you'd all probably enjoy a writing tag, since at least half of us book bloggers, are also writers in our own right (thanks for the prompt, Schuyler!!). So, folks, please join in the fun of the second last day of Through the Looking Glass Literary Blog Party. . . 
"The Modern Novel" 
(or general fiction questions)
1. Who are your most-well-loved authors of the mid to late twentieth century (. . . 1930s-1980s)?
2. Your favourite authors of the twenty-first century?
3. Which genres do you tend to read the most and enjoy from more modern fiction?
4. Are you more willing to invest yourself in a fictional trilogy/or series or prefer the stand-alone novel better?
5. While it is generally agreed that nothing beats classic fiction, there is much gold in the new too! What are the positive qualities and styles of modern works that you appreciate?
6. What is your greatest hope for modern fiction?
7. List 5 books by modern authors you have read which you either hope or predict will become "classics" in years to come.
8. In reading modern books, do you predominantly read from the secular or Christian market?
9. List three of your favourite novels written in this century.
10. Of various as yet-unpublished books that you know something about, what are 5 that you most wish to read one day?
* * * * * *
"The Ink Stains" Questions. . . 
(the writing tag)
1. For how long have you been seriously novel-writing? What sparked you to move from simply writing in a "dabbling" fashion for fun to pursuing your writing to a higher-level?
2. Do you wish, ultimately, to entertain your readers and make them smile, or rather to inspire, challenge them and move them to tears?
3. What are two of your favourite genres to write in?
4. Will you please tell us a little about your current writing project (novel-in-progress, short story, novella, etc. . . )?
5. How long have you been working on it? What is the backstory of how you started this novel?
6. Have you written other stories/books (or currently writing others)? Do tell us a little about them please!
7. Out of all the characters you've ever written, who is your favourite?
8. When you complete this novel, do you plan on preparing it for publication or rather leave it to "marinate" and start a new work with the hopes of improving your writing first?
9. Isaac Newton was known to have said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Who do you see as having been the literary giants or "Greats" that have inspired and influenced your writing thus far?
10. Can you picture any of your novels being adapted into movies? In the stuff of your dreams, who would you cast for your main characters?
11. As you write, how often do you find yourself learning any of the lessons or going through any of the journeys/struggles of your characters?
12. As a Christian, how does your faith affect your writing generally? Is your current novel overtly Christian or more subtly under-girded with your faith and worldview?
13. In one word each, how would you describe each of the main characters of your novel?
14. Are there any aspects of your novel that have taken you by surprise?
15. How do you think the main characters of your novel would react if he or she were introduced to you?
16. Do you plan, Lord-willing, on pursuing the traditional mainstream route of finding an agent, etc, and waiting it out, or do you consider indi publishing (self-publishing) a healthy alternative?
17. Out of the many themes and messages, what would be the one closest to your heart that you should like to share through your writing?

I will be back soon :)

Through the Looking Glass Literary Tag - Day 3 "Mystery and the Detectives"

Friday, 4 July 2014

I did not really expect this party to extend this long over the past month (we're in July, folks, and it is freezing over here in Australia!), however it has been really something special to interact with everyone, and see all of your participation in your lovely posts - getting to know what you love most in your favourite books, movies within those genres. :) If I seem negligent in commenting on your tag-posts, or even responding to some of the comments left on Fullness of Joy blog itself, please forgive me - running this tag week is a little bit hectic, what with coming up with the questions and then answering them in a post as well, after a long school day and staying up late to write. It has not run quite the way I expected it, but I hope to catch up with you all and respond to the lovely comments and your amazing posts as soon as this party is done - which will hopefully end this weekend *hopefully*; and then we can pick the winners =).

On that note, it is still not too late to join in this tag-party! While we've already covered the "historical classics" and "fantasy" genre, there are still around three more days left to the event, and you can most definitely pick and choose your favourite tags to join in with, if you are too busy to join in every single one =). Here is how you can join in and have fun with this party: copy the tag questions and respond to the questions on your own blog, making it all uniquely your own! Then, to add to the life of things, via the linky pool in each tag post, have fun mingling, visiting each other's blogs and getting to know one another better! Also don't forget to enter the literary giveaway - for more details, check out the first post in the Through the Looking Glass Literary Tag Party.
Today's theme-tag is on the genre of mystery and detective fiction, with a big focus on Sherlock Holmes ('cause he is my favourite, sorry, everyone!). If you have a fancy for this genre in anyway, please join in! 
- Mystery and the Detectives Tag
"Elementary, my dear Watson"
(the questions, and my response)

1. How many Sherlock Holmes "books" have you read? (They are: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes).
 As a little back story - I first read a Sherlock Holmes story round about the time I was 13 or 14 I believe. . . my Dad had grown up as boy very fond of those stories, and once every now and then he'd come up with a quote from the books, or mention the "killing off" of the detective that the Conan Doyle (a doctor who wasn't a great success at his medical practice) wrote because he was jealous of his character's popularity (Imagine that!!) Anyway, I started reading an old copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I found lying dusty in the garage - probably the first stories I read were of "The Five Orange Pips", "The Man with Twisted Lip" and "A Case of Identity" and "The Blue Carbuncle". I read them with interest, and was captivated by the mystery of Sherlock Holmes and all. . . but being at that age where I could think of nothing but "girly" stories like Little Women and Little House on the Prairie, I found Sherlock Holmes simply too boyish for my taste! :D

Well, as it turned out, I found precious little "girly" books that I actually enjoyed, once I started reading them . . . *shakes head at Anne Shirley*, and most of them were simply too mushy for me to like back then, "ew, stop all that kissin' fluttering mushiness". . . So what books did I turn to? You guessed right! Mr. Sherlock Holmes was waiting patiently for me, and when I came back I realized that the books were not lacking in emotion and interest and emotional drama, but really intriguing and full of adventure; they also were a wonderful glimpse into Victorian way of life, and the moral culture of the era; then just about that time Sarah discovered for us the Granada 1980s tv series adaptions of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett, which are so beautifully accurate to the original cannon, and have such a gripping, "period-drama/Victorian" feel to the different episodes. I got hooked! Anyway, long story short. . . I have read all the Sherlock Holmes books, and enjoyed them all to varying degrees very much - my memory of each of the books is a little blurred though, and I should like to revisit them sometime, especially "The Valley of Fear" and "His Last Bow".
2. Let us set the records straight, shall we? How many Sherlock Holmes movie/tv adaptions have you watched, and which are/is your favourite(s)? SHOOT!
Right! Half a minute. . .
Granada 1980s "Sherlock Holmes" tv series with Jeremy Brett
This show is the most accurate Sherlock Holmes film/tv adaption in all cinematic history, with the best actor for Sherlock Holmes - and my personal favourite! If you don't know about this show, you seriously ought to check it out. . . . like now :). Here is a link to some of my favourite episodes on youtube: Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes Episodes)

BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
This show which is a modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective and what would Sherlock Holmes have done in the twenty-first century has some things that I really don't like in the sense of mature themes, a little violence and language (most of that can be skipped without too much drama, also we skip the first episode in season 2, and mute a big chunk from the second episode in season 3). It is also rather "modern" and a dramatic/thriller take on the classic Sherlock Holmes story, so it is not exactly everyone's cup of tea. I took a long time to really enjoy them - the best thing about the show though is the casting of Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Freeman as Watson; they do a phenominal job in their potrayels, and I love how well the writers and producers of this show have worked on the character development and friendship of those two characters, and they are so well acted - it is wonderful to watch. Also, they are exceptionally close to the books in characters, definitely not in plot though; to be honest, the plots are half-the-time extremely crazy, and dramatic, but they are a lot of fun too. So, my sisters and I do enjoy this show, but watch it with care. (This adaption has probably my favourite Watson portrayal!)
Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathborne
Basil Rathborne did capture something of Sherlock Holmes' character (the lighter side), and also the shows are done in the War era, so watching the episodes (as distant from the original books in story-line as possible) is a lot of fun, and as bonus a good way to research for my WW2 novel ;).  (Dr. Watson is a total buffoon in this one though, sadly!)

3. Have you read any of Agatha Christie's novels or watched any of the adaptions of her works? (Hercule Poirot,  Miss Marple, etc . . . ) If so, which of her books/stories is your favourite?
As it stands, I have read but one Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, which was a Hercule Poirot - that was a great mystery, which I read in one sitting and enjoyed thoroughly (though it has a rather grim, almost grotesque climax to be sure). But I have watched quite a few Hercule Poirot episodes from the tv adaption with David Suchet (ahem, that, I am sure is not the right spelling, but hohum) - I can't quite recall which episodes they were, but I remember one with the Christmas pudding, bits with Hercule Poirot and his love of chocolate ;), and his companion (I forgot his name) turning out rather a ridiculous, foolish sort of fellow (I like Watson a thousand times more!); one really interesting episode was the one with an old lady and her cute dog and the ball at the stairs. . . yes, I definitely have enjoyed some of those stories :) However, sometime ago I watched the episode "ABC murder" which creeped me out something awful (what is this thing with the poor weak-minded fellow who thought he was a murderer? *shudders*), and I have not had the courage to revisit the series with another episode for a while now. However, I do plan on reading more of Agatha Christie's novels in the near future; I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express a great deal.

 Monsieur Hercule Poirot exercising his little grey cells!

 David Suchet is perfect in the role, from his immaculately clipped moustache to his starched white spats :)

I don't believe, I have read or watched any of Agatha Christie's other mystery works, such as Miss Marple's.
4. Who is your most beloved detective in the history of mystery/detective fiction? Who would be your least favourite? 
Well, the first question is pretty obvious - Mr. Sherlock Holmes! <3 My least favourite? Hmm. I can't think. Probably. . . Lestrade? (but I like him for different reasons, - like he's the most annoyingly fun character to watch as he rubs salt with Holmes.)
5. What are your general sentiments regarding mystery fiction? Are you an avid reader, do you read it occasionally for fun, or do you try to avoid it? As a Christian, how much do you enjoy and appreciate this genre?
As a general rule, I read or watch mystery/detective stories for when I am in the mood of the occasional fun/relaxing story (because one can get an icky feeling from watching or reading too many murders and unpleasant sort of "criminal" tales. . . ), but Sherlock Holmes would be an exception to that rule I think - because it makes you think, especially where moral guidelines for actions, mercy vs. law and justice, and the administration of justice come to the forefront of your mind. Also this genre has a way of really bringing forth this whole theme and issue of justice, man's corrupt heart, and the possibility of redemption, grace and living a life redeemed from such darkness. . . I don't mind Sherlock Holmes just about any time!
6. What are some other books/movies of this genre which you have read/watched and enjoyed?
I have watched an old 1950s motion-picture movie featuring Father Brown from one of the books loosely based, and I have read at least one or two of G. K. Chesterton's detective stories. I have watched some episodes of Foyle's War, which I found really fascinating and interesting (but I am told not all of the later episodes are that good); there are the Tintin stories, which while fall into the children's adventure genre, is a wonderfully fun mystery series to watch and have fun with along with your family! 
I also like Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" novels - they are so English, and vintage and cozy fun to read! (this tv adaption is good too =).
7. Tell us which Sherlock Holmes story creeped you out/disturbed you the most? 
Uhm, there were a few, though mostly they creeped me out when I watched them (like Devil's Foot or The Hound of the Baskervilles). . . . but the story that totally creeped me out the first time I read it was The Cardboard Box. *shivers* That was one ghastly, disturbing story!
8. Do you generally prefer the mystery stories that brim over with dozens of suspects, and endless possibilities, or do you rather like it to contain an "unknown" suspect--one you would not have suspected? 
While the first can keep me in more suspense, I think I prefer the later :). The original Sherlock Holmes books have a big focus on that.
9. Is it more important for you to know - who "done 'it", or rather why that person did it?
Both are important to me, but I would say why always captivates me the most.
10. What would you do if you had committed a crime and knew Sherlock Holmes was hot on your trail?
I think I would wish to come straight clean, confess my crime and lay myself at his mercy - my chances might be better in his than in the police's hands! . . . but whether I would actually go through with it, in a criminal-guilty sense, I do not know.
11. Favourite clients in a Sherlock Holmes story? Favourite criminals in any mystery book/film you know?
Hmm. I liked the young lady from The Boscombe Valley Mystery, Alice Turner; Julia from The Speckled Band, and Violet Hunter from The Copper Beeches. Also Mary Moreston from A Sign of Four :). For the fellows, I liked the client from The Norwood Builder, The Crooked Man, and the fellow from Devil's Foot. (all coming Sherlock Holmes stories)
Worst favourite criminals . . . ?? I really can't remember them all, so I will say Moriarty and Charles Augustus Milverton are the worst criminals, and therefore my favourite. . . .OOH!!! NOW I REMEMBER! The criminal I hated the most in Sherlock Holmes would be Mr. Culverton Smith from The Dying Detective. . . UGH!

12. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. No contest there.
13. What are your favourite Sherlock Holmes stories?
There are many I really enjoy greatly, but probably: The Priory School, The Speckled Band, The Second Stain, The Norwood Builder, The Final Problem, The Empty House, Boscombe Valley Mystery and The Dying Detective are my favourite. The Sign of Four is my favourite "longer" story.
14. If you are a writer, would you write a mystery/detective story yourself (or maybe you already have; tell us about it!)
While I have never written a mystery or detective novel, I know almost all my stories so far have included major mystery subplots and places where characters have to deal with false charges laid out against them, presumed deaths, family feuds that have lots of mystery about them, etc. . . LOTS OF FUN! But I have a mind to write a proper mystery one day, maybe. Who knows?
15. What are five "mystery/detective" books you should like to read in the near future?
Father Brown Complete Collection - G. K. Chesterton
Hercule Poirot novels - Agatha Christie
The Famous Five (I have only read 1 out of the 12 novels) - Enid Blyton
The Secret Seven - Enid Blyton
Mrs. Meades Mystery Series - Elisabeth Grace Foley
Lord Peter Wimsey stories - Dorothy L. Sayers
Never - J. Grace Pennington
Moonstone - Wilki Collins
Anon, Sir, Anon - Rachel Heffington

That was more than five.
16. What do you think of private detectives who take the law into their own hands, (i.e. like when Sherlock Holmes allows a criminal to go free when he feels justice has been served, or the criminal was in the right?)
I think it really depends on the circumstances. . . sometimes, when Sherlock Holmes did that I have frowned just a little, especially in ones like The Master Blackmailer, etc. . . but at the same time, I think in an era where it was all justice and law to the letter, there was often place for mercy which only protection from the police could offer; and I appreciate very much that while Sherlock Holmes believes strongly in hunting down the criminals, and bringing justice. . . he has also a merciful, compassionate heart (buried deep down somewhere!). I guess I need to give it more thought.
17. Who are two of your favourite "side-kick" companions in detective mystery?
Dr. Watson! Dreadfully underrated, and sometimes made out to be a buffoon in some older tv adaptions, John Hamish Watson is a clever and courageous doctor and soldier; he's as good a friend as any could have, very loyal to Sherlock Holmes, but also very human and liable to irritation and feelings of being "snubbed" and angered by his eccentric friend; he does care for him so deeply though, and is constantly with him on his cases, helping him to solve crimes, (smoothing things out when Holmes is being downright obnoxious and rude) and aims to humanize Sherlock Holmes and make him a better person, while still liking him for who he was and being totally awed by his genius.

I also really liked Sam from Foyle's War :) She is really fun and sweet and I love how helpful she is to Foyle while giving him room to think things through.
18. Out of all the consulting detectives in fiction, who would you go to with the greatest faith that he could solve your problem?
I guess it would be Sherlock Holmes, though I greatly respect Hercule Poirot's powers as well :)
19. Do you think the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "killed off" Sherlock Holmes and brought him back was convincing enough? What is your opinion on the more modern takes on his supposed death?
While I sometimes think Watson jumped a little too quickly to the conclusion that Holmes was dead, and how he died, I believe on the whole the plotting, and emotions of the characters was very believable and realistic; also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle really wrote it in so well, achieving the emotion and shock without coming across as melodramatic. When I first watched the Jeremy Brett episodes "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House" I was totally gripped and moved by the way the story unfolded! While Reichenbach Falls in the new Sherlock tv show was very exciting and emotional, there was a little bit of the feeling that they were hyping up the storyline a bit too much. . . (though it is one of my favourite episodes, nonetheless in the show). The "resolution" of how he did in in the latest season did not quite satisfy me either. Or rather, the way they brought that scene of how he did it did not really make much sense in that episode. Anyways, I am still partial to the original!
20. Who is the definitive Sherlock Holmes portrayal for you, in all of cinematic history? Basil Rathborne, Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downing Jr . . .?
Oh, there is no question about this. Jeremy Brett is the definitive, classic/Victorian Sherlock Holmes, no debate about that please!! He played his role so brilliantly, so effectually - you get so lost in his character that you almost believe as you watch the episodes that Sherlock Holmes really existed once upon a time; also, I love how Brett can even move you to tears upon occasion with the way he masterfully grasped Holmes' character in certain scenes (The Priory School and The Second Stain are two such occasions). He really suffered for his brilliant performance though, poor chap - you can really see how sickly he became in the last episodes, but he still bravely included his "sickness" into Holmes' character and story that before I knew about the actor's illness I imagined the producers were simply portraying the "older" Holmes :).                  
For a "modern", younger, 21st-century Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch is quite brilliant and fun in the famous detective's hat, I believe ;). Every season makes his Holmes more likable, I cannot deny :).    
21. Are you fond of Sherlock Holmes fan-fiction?
In a sense, I believe half the movie and tv adaptions of Sherlock Holmes are essentially fan-fiction, so I guess you can say I actually do enjoy it. It is fun sometimes to imagine what Sherlock Holmes' personal life might have been like, growing up as a genius kid, his relationship with his brother Mycroft and his parents. . . fun stuff! But then, sometimes, I think fan-fiction can go too far, and become really ridiculous.
22. Who are your favourite mystery/detective authors apart from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie?
Well, I have not read many mystery authors yet, so I will rather say I am looking forward to reading more of G. K. Chesterton's mysteries, as well as Dorothy L. Sayers', Rachel Heffington's and Elisabeth Grace Foley's :). Ooh, and I always enjoy Enid Blyton's mystery stories.
23. Do you think Sherlock Holmes could have become as successful as he did without Dr. Watson? A lot is mentioned about how Dr. Watson tried to "temper" Holmes in his manners and eccentric habits, but how much do you think Holmes influenced Watson's life and character?
No, I actually do not think Sherlock Holmes could have become really successful or so famous without Dr. Watson; I doubt he even could have survived as long as he did without him, if only to save him from the wrath of clients insulted by his psychopathic incivility ;).
As to what Sherlock Holmes does to affect Watson, I suppose you could say watching the new Sherlock show really brought out that element in Watson's character and made me appreciate him all the more (in fact, for a full season and a-half I doggedly liked John and disliked Sherlock). But I really believe that Watson is a very brave, courageous man, used to war, and danger on the battlefield - when he comes home, I think he suffers from the dullness of normal London-life, and is almost craving for the blood-pounding sense of adventure that Sherlock Holmes constantly lives in; also because he is such a good doctor, he his mystified and amazed by the sheer talent of Holmes - he honestly sees a great man before him and wishes to be a part of his work; chronicling the cases they worked on together is an important part of his role, and he takes it seriously! While Holmes so often puts Watson in danger, I think he generally affects him all for the better :)
24. Which do you enjoy best: Eccentric/Psychopathic detectives, or "methodical/normal" detectives? 
I don't know if this tells anything about my tastes (I hope not!), but I like eccentric/Psychopathic detectives best, in the way Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot are - just because they are plain entertaining and unique and a lot of fun to read about and watch on the screen =).
25. Share a myth you once believed about Sherlock Holmes that you "disproved" when you actually read the books?
After searching with no result in the books as I read them, and after watching a documentary about Sherlock Holmes to prove it, I found out that that the famous "Elementary, my dear Watson" does not actually exist as a line from any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels - probably its origin springs from an early movie adaption; also, another myth I was rather baffled to disprove was that Sherlock Holmes never existed, and was actually the figment of an author's imagination. (Hello, did you all know that ?? *grins cheekily*

"Great minds think alike"
Now it is your turn to join in the tag! :)

1. How many Sherlock Holmes "books" have you read? (They are: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes)?
2. Let us set the records straight, shall we? How many Sherlock Holmes movie/tv adaptions have you watched, and which are/is your favourite(s)? SHOOT!
3. Have you read any of Agatha Christie's novels or watched any of the adaptions of her works? (Hercule Poirot,  Miss Marple, etc . . . ) If so, which of her books/stories is your favourite?
4. Who is your most beloved detective in the history of mystery/detective fiction? Who would be your least favourite? 
5. What are your general sentiments regarding mystery fiction? Are you an avid reader, do you read it occasionally for fun, or do you try to avoid it? As a Christian, how much do you enjoy and appreciate this genre?
6. What are some other books/movies of this genre which you have read/watched and enjoyed?
7. Tell us which Sherlock Holmes story creeped you out/disturbed you the most? 
8. Do you generally prefer the mystery stories that brim over with dozens of suspects, and endless possibilities, or do you rather like it to contain an "unknown" suspect--one you would not have suspected? 
9. Is it more important for you to know - who "done 'it", or rather why that person did it?
10. What would you do if you had committed a crime and knew Sherlock Holmes was hot on your trail?
11. Favourite "clients" in a Sherlock Holmes story? Favourite "criminals" in any mystery book/film you know?
12. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie?
13. What are your favourite Sherlock Holmes stories?
14. If you are a writer, would you write a mystery/detective story yourself (or maybe you already have; tell us about it!)
15. What are five "mystery/detective" books you should like to read in the near future?
16. What do you think of private detectives who take the law into their own hands, (i.e. like when Sherlock Holmes allows a criminal to go free when he feels justice has been served, or the criminal was in the right?)
17. Who are two of your favourite "side-kick" companions in detective mystery?
18. Out of all the consulting detectives in fiction, who would you go to with the greatest faith that he could solve your problem?
19. Do you think the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "killed off" Sherlock Holmes and brought him back was convincing enough? What is your opinion on the more modern takes on his supposed death?
20. Who is the definitive Sherlock Holmes portrayal for you, in all of cinematic history? Basil Rathborne, Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downing Jr . . .?
21. Are you fond of Sherlock Holmes fan-fiction?
22. Who are your favourite mystery/detective authors apart from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie?
23. Do you think Sherlock Holmes could have become as successful as he did without Dr. Watson? A lot is mentioned about how Dr. Watson tried to "temper" Holmes in his manners and eccentric habits, but how much do you think Holmes influenced Watson's life and character?
24. Which do you enjoy best: Eccentric/Psychopathic detectives, or "methodical/normal" detectives? 
25. Share a myth you once believed about Sherlock Holmes that you "disproved" when you actually read the books?

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'Like in the Great Stories, Mr. Frodo' - My Answers to Day 2 "Faith and Fantasy"

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Well, here I am at last, responding to the "Faith and Fantasy" tag myself. Please, don't be shy, and join in! You can view the party-details/rules/giveaway, all through this link: Through the Looking Glass Literary Blog-Birthday Party. 

1. Taken from a Christian perspective, what are your thoughts and feelings on the fantasy genre in general? Do you hold to any convictions or guidelines on things like magic, sorcery, fantastical elements or allegory in fantasy books?
My thoughts have changed and grown over the years regarding this issue, but I think a few constants have remained that I really strongly believe in regarding fantasy - like all works of fiction, I need to know the worldview of the author and how his beliefs/philosophy/faith/personal life affected the work itself, and from there evaluate whether he was able to adequately present what he believed in, and see then if I agree with that message or theme. Basically, I generally like to read fantasy written by authors who were Christians - the work itself doesn't need to be overtly Christian, but I am really wary of reading books on fantasy in particular written by authors of very different worldviews. Then there is the element of magic/sorcery. . . sorcery is very evil, though a dark reality and I would not abide reading that in fiction or anywhere else; and yet also I do believe there is a great difference when there is "magical elements" in a fantastical setting, versus occult in our real world . . . sometimes the "magical" elements fit respectfully within the fantasy world as the element of the non-human, and supernatural where religion is not a factor in the story. So, for instance in Narnia, magical beauty, goodness, purity and glory happens by Aslan's power (displaying a Christ figure who is creator of the world), while the White Witch uses her powers for evil and witchcraft (a corollary of the devil), bending things to her will. Such points of the battle between good and evil, the battle between darkness and light, cannot sometimes be fully expressed in a fantasy world in any other way than through the relative term of the "magical". However, I do not like vivid details and descriptions of sorcery and magic within a story, good or evil, and definitely, definitely nothing that would show how evil is done. . . (that is one reason why I don't approve of Harry Potter.)

I don't mind allegory and corollary-themes of application in fantasy works! In fact, that is what makes me love a work of fantasy the most. However, I do believe it is important to read and watch fantasy stories at a more mature age, when the lines between reality and imagination would not be easily blurred. At an older age though, fantasy can help bring a message and theme across and touch the heart that might not be easily entertained in the mind through other means - concepts of loyalty and courage, resisting temptation/sin and the devil, and the final victory of good over evil, and the great battle going on in the spiritual realm all around us. One of the best guidelines for me in choosing to read or watch a work of fantasy would be - does this book exemplify the virtues of faithfulness, chastity, courage, perseverance, diligence, chivalry, faith and hope and love? Does it show how evil and sin corrupt a person - even the "good" side unless they resist temptation through God's grace? Does it show that the heart is deceitful above all things, and that we are in need of Divine grace, redemption and the work of Providence in our life to change us and perfect us? Does it show evil for evil, and goodness for goodness? Does it follow the guideline of Philippians 4: 8 about ". . . whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--mediate on these things."

That is my guideline! :)

2. Who are some of your favourite fantasy/fairy-tale authors? (you can name up to three.)

They would be J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Anne Elisabeth Stengl, in that order :).

3. Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia books, or watched any of the movies? Which, if so, are your three favourite books?

Yes, I have read all 7 books, I believe, and watched the Disney/Fox movie-adaptions for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader! I love the whole Chronicles of Narnia series, but if I had to do a desperate choice, I would pick out The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle (especially The Last Battle!). However, movie-wise, I don't believe I can quite make up my mind which is my favourite. . . possibly The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is my favourite because it is closest to the book and I love the story of Aslan's sacrifice, the redemption of Edmund and Lucy finding wonderful Narnia, so much! But Prince Caspian is probably my favourite movie in the sense of epicness and themes, and the ending of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the most tear-jerking and inspiring of all of them for the ending :') *Reepicheep sailing to Aslan's Country*

4. How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read and enjoyed so far? Can you choose a favourite book (The Lord of the Rings can be considered one book ;)?

Well, I have read The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, (I have heard the audio book dozens of times :), but I have only read the full books through once each). (I plan on changing that!!) I have also read The Hobbit, The Children of Hurin, The Silmarillion, and Tales of the Perilous Realm which included the stories Roverandom, Leaf by Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Smith of Wootton Major. It also included Tolkien's famous essay "On Fairy-Stories". I have read most of Tolkien's letters, from "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" - these are great by the way! 

But The Lord of the Rings books are my favourite, no question about that, with The Return of the King being my most well-loved of the three books what with its epic/bittersweet ending :') - it never fails to bring me to tears! I also love The Silmarillion and The Hobbit exceedingly well :).

5. Uhm. . . since, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends, I will not risk causing further estrangement to the history of their friendship by pitting them against each other! However, being the mastermind of mischief that I am, I will toss this question your way: which of the two are you most fond of in sense of storytelling, characters, themes and what personally touches/inspires you the most: The Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia?

It is a close draw, since I love Narnia so much; but I believe it must be The Lord of the Rings. There is no way of saying just how much this tale has influenced and inspired and moved me !!

6. Are there other books and movies of the fantasy/fairy-tale/legend genre that have you read and loved, especially from modern authors? Please tell us a little bit about them.

If you've followed this blog, you must know I am exceedingly fond of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Tales of Goldstone Wood series, which is an ungoing series of "fairy-tale" novels that have Christian parallels, themes and allegories, and the most epic/magical tales, and gripping characters ever. Stengl has much in common with both Lewis and Tolkien, but maintains unique originality and inspiration - I think she also draws from classic fairy-tales, ancient legends and myths, and romantic poetry . . . as well as themes/stories from the Bible to create the most compelling tales :). It took me a bit to "fall in love" with her writing, and her first two books (especially Heartless) are not my favourite. So far, Moonblood and Dragonwitch have been the books I have loved best in her series as has been her novella Goddess Tithe :). To everyone who loves fantasy and either Tolkien or Lewis, you should check out her novels because I think they're amazing!

I also really enjoyed The Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black, which is a fantasy, Christian allegory series about the "knights of the prince" - or followers of Christ spreading the Gospel and overcoming evil strongholds of the the Dark Knight (Satan). Each of the six books deals with different struggles and vices we encounter in our hearts and society; the sin of rebellion, greed and covetousness, the seeds of doubt and lack of faith, the snare of escapism, falling into apathy, or having the pride of life - they are really good! I wasn't awful fond of The Kingdom Series by the same author, as I found the romance not exactly to my liking in that series, and also Mr. Black did force down some of his own theological interpretations into the story that really irritated me. But Knights of Arrethtrae has very little of that and is in fact very inspiring. I especially appreciated that Chuck Black does not use any magic or sorcery in his works. . . :)

7. Have you read any Christian allegories, such as Pilgrim's Progress, Holy War or Hinds Feet on High Places? 

Oh yes, I have read Bunyan's allegories, and they are very good. One of the things that I think many Christians miss out on are the classic Christian allegories! They are really challenging and and great encouragement to one's daily Christian life - I know Pilgrim's Progress has influenced me a lot growing up, reading it more than once for school and private enjoyment. If you haven't read John Bunyan's immortal Pilgrim's Progress and its sequel Christiana, I highly recommend that you do. Also The Holy War is a great allegory, and I love how Bunyan must have used his experience of fighting in the Civil War in this particular book to deal with the issue of resisting the devil, the spiritual battle, and taking down the strongholds of Satan and loving Prince Emmanuel! 

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is another beautiful allegory. . . this one is far more devotional and really brought to light many things in my spiritual life and in my heart that I knew the Lord wanted to show me. I am not as fond though of its sequel, Mountains of Spices, though. . . 

8. Share some of your most well-loved heroines from fantasy tales in literature (books, movies, modern and classics), and why you love them so much! What virtues/traits in them would you like to have yourself?
- Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite heroines in fantasy literature, and there are so many reasons why I like her so much! I love how brave and fearless she is in battle, daring to fight an evil that the very great and wise dreaded to face, to defend her beloved uncle and king. And yet I really can sympathize with her because her heroism was born out of grief and long-waiting, enduring loneliness and fear - she wished to strike out of her cage of cloisters and halls, to do great heroic deeds of renown and look up to the great and mighty; but it takes her time, and she learns that often courage comes without renown or glory - that the heart, healing, life, gardens, flowers and stewards are just as honourable as the sword, waging-of-wars, courageous-deeds and kings.  Despite her strength in battle and her great courage, she is  tender of heart, beautifully human and fragile, and loves deeply.
Another Lord of the Rings lady-character whom I really love is Arwen, lord Elrond's beautiful elven-daughter. While in the PJ movies, they did romanticize her character a bit too much (mostly it was overdone  in the Two Towers), she nonetheless is such an amazing character because of her deep, abiding love for Aragorn, waiting so long for him and what she sacrifices for that love - for him, she willingly gives up her immortal life, subjects herself to the world of mortals and suffers the aching pain of separation from her father who travels into the West, and the eventual death of Aragorn who is himself a mortal. She herself dies in Middle-earth, and does not take the last ship to leave to the Undying Lands. . . another moving thing she does is give her elf-jewel to suffering Frodo who returns to the Shire weary and injured, and offers him her place on the last ship to leave Middle-Earth :'). She also has a beautiful relationship with her father, which I liked :).
I know, I know - she is not even in the cannon of Tolkien's Middle-Earth books (Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit), but why do I then like her so much? Because in a way, she is very much a Tolkien character; she is such a beautiful but powerful blend of the elven maidens one reads about in The Silmarillion and Tolkien's other works. She's an elven fighter, a captain of the guard in Thranduil's realm; she is not a fluffy character. . . she is brave, and knows how to capably defend herself. But at the same time, she is not a "feminist" sort of character. . . she has a tender and compassionate heart, and is one who deeply cares about others and the sufferings of others, not just her own people. She believes it is right not to hide behind walls and live in fear, but to courageously fight for the freedom of Middle-Earth. . . she is young and impassioned, but also wise and perceptive about the growing evil in the world and the elves' calling to fight that evil. Yes, I generally like her very much :).
- Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my absolute favourite characters in fantasy, and probably my favourite in Narnia! She is so sweet and brave, but best of all I love her steadfast simple faith in Aslan, in his reality and goodness and in his promise to help them and be with them. I love how, when everyone else doubts, she keeps believing with such child-like strong faith! Also, she's valiant and a sweet/clever little girl who makes you fall in love with her sweet smile and friendly, caring heart.
- Rose Red from The Tales of Goldstone Wood
I believe she is my favourite heroine in The Tales of Goldstone Wood as of yet. . . she had me tears, reading her story in Veiled Rose and Moonblood. Rose Red is a very brave girl, a person who keeps loving, forgiving those who treat her wickedly and despise her, and continues giving of herself even when it hurts (and oh boy! it hurts badly, and she gets angry and frustrated and stubborn, all right!) but she holds on, and believes. . . she loves. I can't really say more for fear of spoilers if you'd like to read the books, but she is definitely a favourite.
- Starflower from The Tales of Goldstone Wood - also known as the Silent Lady, or Dame Imraldera, she is another favourite in The Tales of Goldstone Wood series, and also in the fantasy books I have read. Her story really spans the whole series, but her character is a noble and faithful one all through - her deep love for her little sister, her father, Sun Eagle, and the sacrifice she does. . . and then finding redemption and hope and a purpose to live for in service to the Prince - a brave and wise knight! <3
- Leta from The Tales of Goldstone Wood; if you get into the Goldstone Wood series, you'll discover how many loveable heroines this series has! (*cough* all except Una, who is not. *cough*) Leta is a quiet sort of girl, very ladylike and mature. . . she knows what is expected of her and does what she is told. But deep down she is also longs for something more, greater, and struggles to stay calm in a world of plotting and scheming, full of intrigue and fear. I loved her character very much, and sympathized with how she wanted to be an obedient child, even in an oppressive setting, and yet felt deeply and had a thirst for knowledge and faith. Despite her small, weaker personality, she finds great courage to help change the course of her kingdom. . .

Some other favourite heroines of fantasy-books would be Carliss from The Knights of Arrethtrae: Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue, Mercy from The Pilgrim's Progress, and Avaris from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy
9. Which land would you rather go, dwell in, or be a part of: Middle-Earth, or Narnia? (or maybe some other fantasy-land, you share!)
Oh, no, why did I ask this question? I guess. . . Middle-Earth because, well, Tolkien basically wrote Middle-Earth as though it were some very ancient, ancient European land or something like that. . . and that is just mind-blowingly epic I think - and there are elvs, and hobbits!! At the same, who doesn't want to go to Narnia? It is so magical and lovely, and beautiful . . . you know what? I think I would choose to go and be a part of Narnia, but would probably prefer to dwell in Middle-Earth.

10. What kind of fantasy are you most fond of? Fantastical and "fairy-tale-ish" like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella, or rather the mythological, high-epic-fantasies such as Tolkien's?
I am not sure, but I think I much prefer the more mythology-stories, high-epic fantasies and legends best because there are so much deeper, full of history and can move you so much more. But the fun fairy-tales can be much fun and light and heartening too! Legends can be very tragic sometimes ;).
11. Which is your favourite fairy-tale? 
I know this is a general favourite, but it would probably be Beauty and the Beast! 

12. List some of your most well-loved movie adaptions of fantasy tales (this does not include Disney fairy-tale animations). 
For some reason, many of those who read this question assumed I DID mean Disney animations. Oh well. . . so maybe I should include those too?

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (extended edition) 
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (extended edition)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (extended edition)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (extended edition)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (waiting for extended edition :)).
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, 
- I don't know, 'but I know that though it isn't out yet, 'twill be EPIC and I will love it!
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Beauty and the Beast



13. Who are your favourite heroes from fantasy books? (you may list as many as you like!) Tell us a little bit about why you love them so much :).
- Frodo Baggins
Would it sound strange if I said that Frodo Baggins is my favourite character in fiction? He is a quietly cheerful small hobbit, full of courage, and little strength, - he thinks deeply, is loyal to his friends, and has a merciful, compassionate heart, seeing his own weakness and fraility and forgiving others. . .  he is a "long-suffering" sort of character; he learns wisdom through his experiences and from the council of Gandalf, and keeps things quietly in his heart. Frodo, perhaps out of all the other characters in The Lord of the Rings endured and suffered the most, bravely bore a heavy burden, suffered the attacks of the enemy again and again, and took upon himself the burden of destroying the Ring, though he knew it would cost him his life - for the sake that the beloved Shire, his home, could be saved. He valiantly persevered, struggled and toiled on in his sufferings and trials, pressed on against hope, and resisted the terrible temptation of the Ring the longest, after so many had failed - in that, he portrays the Suffering Servant we see in our Saviour in His passions in Gethsemane, bearing our sins on His own body on the Cross. But Frodo Baggins is a human, fallen character, like the rest of us, and that is why he failed in his own strength. . . he succumbed and stumbled; but that is where the grace of God comes in, - because of the mercy Frodo showed, he himself received mercy -  victory was accomplished through grace, the grace and power of God, so it would not be in man's strength but in God's! And, in the end Frodo himself finds redemption and healing and joy in the end too. 
- Samwise Gamgee
"Frodo would not have gone far without Sam", Frodo Baggins told Sam half way through the journey, and that summons up something of what is so special in Samwise. Samwise, a brave and simple son of a hobbit-gardener, was the steadfast servant, faithful companion and loyal friend of his master Frodo, and aided him on his quest to destroy the Ring; he wouldn't let Frodo go to Mordor on his own, and quite nearly drowned trying to catch up with him. When Frodo was weary, oppressed or tempted by the swaying power of the Ring and dark forces, Sam was always by his side to aid him, cheer him and help him up - he both rescued him, and even carried him on his back in the final leg of their journey, when Frodo had quite nearly collapsed. When temptation came his way, his humility, his undying hope and faith and his love for his master helped him stand firm, and though he was the cheerfullest of hobbits, when hope did waver in his heart, he persevered nonetheless in what he was called to do. He, in essence, is the real hero of LotR! 
And because I have no more time, here is a list of some other of my favourite heroes (sorry that I was not able to describe them though. . . ) 
- Aragorn son of Arathorn
Faramir of Gondor
Bilbo Baggins
Gandalf the Grey
 Peter Pevensie
 Edmund Pevensie
 Eustace Scrubb
 . . . and King Tirian, Eanrin, the Bard and Poet Cat, Lord Alister, Lionheart, Foxbrush, Sir Bentley, Sir Quinlain, Faithful, Fingolfin the High King of the Noldor.

14. Saddest moment in any fantasy tale you've either watched or read?
The battle of Unnumbered Tears in The Silmarillion is one of the most sad battles in all of fantasy, I think! I am always deeply moved by the death of Theodin and as well as Boromir who both died such noble deaths at the end. Perhaps the saddest bit in The Lord of the Rings, is when Frodo succumbs to Shelob's sting and Sam weeps for him - you really cry there - but then, there are so many more "bittersweet" sad moments! The most tragic would be Beleg's death in The Children of Hurin *sobs*. THAT was painful.

15. How did you get into The Lord of the Rings and Middle-Earth books/movies? (If you're not into LOTR than you can talk about how you got into Narnia instead).
My feelings as to fantasy used to be rather reserved, growing up; I did know a good deal about Narnia, but I had not attempted reading the books or watching any of the movies till I was in my teens along with the rest of my family. And then, around three years back, I started getting more into The Chronicles of Narnia, enjoying the stories and films and getting amazingly inspired by the Christian-themes and heart of C.S. Lewis' works. . . for a long time we often heard Christian-friends mention The Lord of the Rings as a great fantasy tale that has many inspiring themes, that represents a powerful, God-honouring image of what the great battle between good-and-evil truly is; also that the author was a Catholic was an important point for us, as worldviews make a difference! But we were also very cautious, growing up, about magic, fairy-tales, anything "fantastical" that can blur the lines between truth and fantasy, reality and imagination. We loved The Chronicles of Narnia because it was so full of Christian-depth and the inspiring, magical world that exemplified and praised godly virtues of faithfulness, chivalry, courage, faith, etc. . .   Did Tolkien's writings own the same praise-worthy qualities? So, it took a great deal of looking into before my eldest sister borrowed the Lord of the Rings movies and started to watch them by herself, telling us all her thoughts on them and sort of "critiquing" them. Well, she loved them! She was inspired, touched, (a little scared), and really hooked by the stories - and around that time, my sisters and I discovered a YouTube guy who recorded his own audio-dramatization, with full effects, music, and one-man voice cast reading from the original novels and uploaded them for viewers to hear; just as my sisters and I started listening to them, we also watched The Lord of the Rings films (extended edition) for the first time. . . I LOVED IT! By the time we had finished The Fellowship of the Ring, I and my sisters were deeply moved and captured by Tolkien's Middle-Earth :). . . I quite literally sobbed big-heart-wrenching sobs after watching The Return of the King (I still do!)From then on, we got our parents to love the films to an extent, they are the biggest fans ;), and I think it has become our family's biggest favourite movie-wise. Soon afterwards, I finished Philstuffofdoom's audio drama and read the books too. . .

16. Give a list (preferably with pictures!) of your favourite fantasy/medieval costumes/armour/gowns and from which movie/character they come from.
Basically, any costumes found in The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia! :) I am especially fond of these:

Arwen in LOTR
Eyown in LOTR
Gimli in LOTR
Lucy in Prince Caspian
Susan from Narnia
17. Which fantasy/fairy-tale has inspired and influenced you the most?

The Lord of the Rings, definitely. 

18. Favourite character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings/Hobbit universe? Favourite character in The Chronicles of Narnia? (Choose 1 each)

Frodo Baggins in LOTR, and Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia

19. Favourite friendship in a fantasy book/movie/series?
Frodo and Sam's! After that, I would say Legolas and Gimli's friendship is my favourite, then Merry and Pippen. Also I love the relationship between Reepicheep and Eustace <3 :')

20. Which villain of fantasy strikes the most dread and loathing in you? Which foe strikes the most pity?

The villain I dread the most - it would be a tie between the Witch King of Angmar, the Dark Lord himself and Morgoth; also I have no pity for Sauruman. He is dreadful! The foe I pity the most would definitely be Smeagol/Gollum.

21. Share some of your most well-loved quotes from fantasy books/movies :). 

Wrong will be right, When Aslan comes in sight, At the sounds of his roar, Sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, Winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, We shall have spring again. ~C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
~Frodo: "I wish none of this had happened." ~Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." ~The Fellowship of the Ring

'Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That's because I am afraid and it gives me courage.' - Gandalf 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
"I do not believe this darkness will endure." - Faramir | The Return of the King |
~Mr. Tumnus: [of Aslan] "He's not a tame lion." ~Lucy: No... but he is good." (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.... there is some good in this world, and it is worth fighting for!" ~Sam |The Two Towers|
"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." ~Galadrial (The Fellowship of the Ring)
"Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!" ~Aragorn |Return of the King
22. Favourite battle in a fantasy book or movie?
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields!

23. Tell us which romance couple you love best in any of the fantasy stories you know about.
Eyown and Faramir <3

24. Elves or dwarves? Gondor or Rohan? Aragorn or King Tirian?
I can't really choose between elves and dwarves - I would probably say elves, because they are so graceful and beautiful and angelic, but then I love the dwarves too, and The Hobbit has given me a whole new appreciation for that folk! In Narnia, Trumpkin the dwarf is an absolute brick, and Gimli in LOTR is one of my favourite characters; and then there is Thorin in The Hobbit, who is also one of my favourite Middle-Earth heroes, -and there are also Balin and Fili and Kili and Bofur/Bombur :D. And I would definitely pick Rohan over Gondor any day. . . <3 and hmm, I guess it is a tie between Aragorn and King Tirian, because both characters are so noble and heroic and both happen to be kings; though I lean slightly towards Aragorn. 

25. Who is your favourite side-kick (secondary character) in books/movies of this genre? (you are welcome to choose more than one ;). 
I am not so sure if they all count as side-kicks, but I would probably pick out three: 
Theoden King
Legolas Greenleaf
 In Narnia, I would pick out Puddleglum!! 

26. List five fantasy novels you are especially looking forward and eager to read in the near future.
Quite a few actually!
Golden Daughter - Anne Elisabeth Stengl (and the subsequent books in the ungoing series!)
Draven's Light - Anne Elisabeth Stengl 
Cloak of the Light - Chuck Black
The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald
A Cast of Stones - Patrick Carr
The Hero's Lot - Patrick Carr
A Draw of Kings - Patrick Carr
Plenilune - by Jennifer Freitag (and the subsequent books in the series!)
The Great Divorce - C. S. Lewis
Unfinished Tales - J.R.R. Tolkien

27. Which fantasy work struck you with the most sense and depth of faith and the author's perception of morality, ethics, the distinction and battle between good and evil, and the Christian walk? Can you share a little bit about it?
While the Narnia-books have a more overt and distinct Christian "allegory", and some beautiful, inspired themes, I have not read any fantasy work to rival Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in his sense of understanding of the human heart, the Christian walk and all its trials, spiritual battles and temptations, the darkness of sin and evil's forces, the understanding of Divine Grace, Providence and the final victory, hope and in that cosmic spiritual battle. . . 
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
28. What was the first fantasy novel you ever read and how did it strike you?
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was probably the first fantasy book I read, and I loved it!

29. What would inspire you to pick up a work of fantasy literature or watch a fantasy film? What do you believe are both the benefits, negatives and overall effects of enjoying this genre?
As it is rather late, I would like to rather refer you to the response of one of my friends who wrote in reply to this question, which really echo my thoughts beautifully: I quote Hannah from The Writer's Window blog:
". . . As a character in fantasy says, "You'll rarely find more truth than in fairy tales." Authors of old and now new ones are bringing forth stories that parallel our own. Oh, we not have special powers or a quest to destroy an evil ring. We may not meet elves or ever have to fight goblins. But there is evil in this world and fantasy reminds us of the more supernatural things at stake when it is easy to get caught up in the material humdrums of life. There is a dark lord, there is a war, temptations ensnare us, and we fight battles of our own. Granted, some fantasy will teach improper truths, as is the case in most genres. People might become more caught up in the fantasy than the real world and might even become attracted to magic, which in this world will get them into darkness, not light. But for those who measure their fantasy by the truth of God, they will see heroes struggle, yet have victory, and they will be reminded that there is a happily ever after."