Stuck between Game of Thrones and True Blood? Delve into the origin of fairies and find out why they might not be such a weak match for vampires and witches after all.
“I’m a fairy? How fucking lame!”
Doesn’t sound real bad-ass, does it? Especially when you’re coping with vampires. Well, those fairies seem pretty and disappointingly delicate until you see one die. Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it. And while a vampire can polish off a fairy in one go, they are fairly durable otherwise.
How close does Sookie’s realm of Faery resemble the original Celtic myths on fairies? For this we asked Lisa Llamrei, author of Reflection of the Gods, about the true nature of Fairy.
Q: In True Blood, fairies appear to Sookie as “beautiful creatures with pointed ears and glossy thin skin,” but she eventually realizes that it is an illusion designed to disguise their ugliness. Are Irish fairies ugly? Are there any pretty ones at all?
A: A great many Irish fairies are ugly, but not all. The Sidhe, the nobility of the fairy realm, are tall, blond, and beautiful. The Dearg-Due, as well, is known for her beauty. But don’t mistake beauty for benevolence. The Side are known to be, at best capricious, and at worst brutal. The Dearg-Due is a vampire who seduces men and then feeds on their blood.
Q: You say fairy folk tales are found all over the world. Why do you think Irish fairies are the most well known?
A: The fairies of the British Isles in general are the best known in North America. I believe that’s simply a function of demographics. Most of the early colonists were English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, and they brought their tales of the fair folk with them across the ocean. Accessibility may also be a factor – stories from the British Isles were either told in English or were translated into English long ago.
Q: Sookie hears other people’s thoughts until she learns to shut them out. Do fairies have telepathy in any of the legends you looked up?
A: They certainly have telepathy of a sort in the old stories. Fairies always seem to know who is pure of heart and who isn’t. They may even possess true telepathy as they are often seen acting in large groups without speaking.
Q: The one thing Sookie has to guard herself against vampires is her blasts of light. Any fairies with laser-beams coming out of their fingers in your research? What other offensive magic do they have?
A: I’ve not come across a single Irish fairy with laser fingers. Fairies rely heavily on glamour – appearing to be something they are not. This is often used as defensive magic, but fairies also use it to appear beautiful themselves, or to make a place appear particularly attractive in order to lure humans in and kill them. They can do anything from sending mist to obscure coastlines in order to wreck ships, to causing temporary madness, to hurling buckets of blood, to causing swollen joints or other physical ailments. Many fairies also possess tremendous strength. Adding to the danger is their capriciousness – fairies may kill or maim just because you happened upon them, or even just for sport.
The confrontation between Irish fairies and Eastern European vampires never happened in the old stories. If it had, I suspect the vampires wouldn’t have stood a chance. They have too many vulnerabilities (sunlight, fire, wooden stakes, needing to sleep during the day), whereas fairies have none. On the other hand, those crafty vampires might have found some where humans couldn’t. Hmm … there could be a novel in there.
Q: How long do fairies live?
A: In the old stories, fairies are generally thought to be immortal. A few humans claim to have witnessed fairy funerals; however, it isn’t certain whether there really was a death, or the fairies were simply imitating humans, as they have been known to do.
Q: Aislinn can travel through dimensions. Is this a common fairy power or something you decided to give her?
A: Fairies do travel easily between their world and ours, which is how humans have happened upon them at times.
Lisa Llamrei is the author of Reflection of the Gods, winner of the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards, Bronze for Canada-East – Best Regional Fiction. For more of Llamrei’s research on fairies, go to her blog post The Truth about Fairies.