This week I’m taking a different approach to Matter Of Perspective, where instead of analysing the themes and motivations of a whole game I instead look at one quest line – the House Of Ballads story in the rather good Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning – and its wider implications on the Fae.
The Fae in Amalur are immortal but with immortality comes quite the price of freedom. The Fae have no real free will in how their lives play out, and are instead trapped in a cycle, which is even worse for those who become heroes or villains within the Fae ballads, and the House Of Ballads quest line showed a society at breaking point.
The Summer Fae are prisoners of their own lives.
When the Fateless One, the protagonist of the game, arrives on the scene, the Summer Fae and villains are no longer bound by the set event paths, instead being able to change the way the Ballads play out, leading to two sides in a new conflict between these factions, and one that makes you question if there really are any villains in this conflict.
The Fae want to restore the Ballads so they follow the their pre-determined paths, while the antagonists of the Ballads want to stop order being restored so they are free to pursue their own ideals. The Summer Fae aren’t evil for wanting to restore the order, instead they seem to be victims of a timeless abuse, which sees them not being able to do exactly what they want in life.
It’s as if the Summer Fae are collectively suffering from stockholm syndrome, which is defined as relating to or having positive feelings to those that trap you. Fate is the Warden in this situation, and the Fae are the eternal prisoners falling for the idea that their lives need to be rigidly structured to be right. It’s never truly explained as to how or why this cycle came to be, with the Summer Fae just accepting the fact that it has always been that way.
There would have been a time when the Ballads were new, when these events occurred for the first time. Fate deemed that these events would be replayed throughout all of time until the end of Fae civilisation, but why? The Summer Fae go along with it, but the antagonists have had enough and wish to break the chains the Summer Fae seemed to have placed on them.
When the opportunity presents itself these antagonists fight back for freedom, and to determine their own paths instead of stories that are thousands of years old, with the Maid Of Windermere leading the charge against the restoration of the Ballads. She is the main ‘villain’ but everything she has done over the ages has been forced upon her. She has no free will, instead having to fight, kill and die over and over again.
Hero or villain? The Maid fights for her freedom.
When she is finally free of the shackles she leads an army to fight the Summer Fae and stop the cycle from continuing. This has never happened before, because for the first time the Maid is able to decide she wants to do that so she does. In fact you could say the Maid is a hero in her own Ballad, fighting against oppression and leading a charge to save her people from a pre-determined fate.
It’s left to the player on how this plays out, and challenges you to think about free will, and who is actually in the right. The Summer Fae who have become so used to the cycle that they need the stability to be happy, or the Maid of Windermere and her army who want to secure their freedom and live how they wish too without the threat of being killed due to a story.
This quest line ties into the main story as the Winter Fae are the antagonists of the main quest line as they wage a war against all mortal races. It’s logical to assume that they too would have been trapped in the cycle, but finding a way to break out of it leads to a lot of aggression spilling over, eventually leading to the war.
After all, the mortal races have much more free will and are not bound to living the same lives over and over again. The ‘corrupted’ Winter Fae fight against everything that represents a life denied to them for so long. They’re evil in the sense they want to wipe out the mortal races, but it’s a race lashing out for being trapped for so long.
Though the main game may be about a war between the mortals and immortals, the real war is against Fate and the chains it holds over the world.