Five places I do not want to go for a destination wedding

5. Mordor from Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien


Since the bestselling travelogue and memoir Lord of the Rings came out, Mordor’s reputation has quickly skyrocketed from obscure natural orc reserve known only to the truly dedicated, to a must-go travel destination found on nearly every bucket list.

Well known for its stable weather patterns, battle reenactments, nightly light shows, and bubbling volcano-heated hot springs, Mordor provides a dramatic backdrop to a couple looking for a picturesque setting for their wedding.  Barad-dûr, known as the Dark Tower to the locals, boasts the area’s highest vantage point and is a natural go-to spot for a photo-op. For an even better view, charter an eagle flight for the afternoon.

Couples looking for the adventure of travel with the trappings of civilization will enjoy the comfort of big-name hotels and wealth of direct flights to Mordor. Applying for a marriage license is easy; present proof of citizenship, your length of stay, and marital status. A local goblin clerk can process your request overnight.


4. Shayol Ghul from The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan


Credit: The Last Battle / Aradani Studios

For those looking for the scenic drama of Mordor without the lines, Shayol Ghul is an excellent choice. Located at the core of the Blasted Lands and inaccessible by land due to the vast expanse of the Great Blight, Shayol Ghul has remained accessible only through a small airline, specialized to take on the local weather. That said, the layer of fog and constant lightning across the Blasted Lands is perfect for couples looking to enjoy a night club atmosphere. Continue reading

[Guest Chirp] Top 5 Banned Fantasy Worlds in Books

It’s Banned Books Week. No, this doesn’t mean you get to go and ban any book you want or highlight all the pages of your least favorite classic. Hey! Put the highlighter down. Nobody needs to get Sharpie’d here–and I will totally Sharpie you.


Instead, Banned Books Week is a celebration of the right to read. The American Library Association annually compiles a list all books that have been banned or challenged in the US. There are some amazing stories on these lists, filled with emotional points, famous classic scenes, and sometimes bondage. (Is anyone surprised Fifty Shades got challenged somewhere? Didn’t think so).

But what about the worlds these stories inhabit? The fantastic ones, I mean. What unique and enthralling settings got the axe because something was considered Satanic?

These are my top 5 fantasy worlds. Feel free to comment with your top 5 below! Now then…

5. Carrie by Stephen King

This one barely counts as fantasy, but I added it because Carrie’s world had telekinesis. What does a world where people have telekinetic powers (among others maybe?) even look like? It’s a bit like Harry Potter, magical realism but without the wands. And with a lot more death–wait, no. Not really. (I’m looking at you, Book 7.)

Sure, telekinesis might make most think “science fiction,” but there are no other science-y explanations about Carrie’s powers. She just has them. Science isn’t really mentioned much until the end so IT COUNTS. And I just think telekinesis is cool, okay?

Not surprisingly, this book is one of the most frequently banned books in the US. I couldn’t find out specifically why, but there are more than a few scenes in that book that could make parents want to ban it. But then there’s…

File:The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 006.png4. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Who wouldn’t love a world with yellow brick roads, good witches, and flying monkeys? What is there to challenge?

Oh. Right. Witches.

And magic.

Speaking of magic…

3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I remember this controversy as a kid (which might show my age). My mom debated for a long time whether or not to let me read the books because of the witches and wizards, the magic and everything. I took the decision out of her hands, though, when I read Harry Potter in school–which might explain why some parents and activists have persistently wanted to get the book out of schools.

The world of Harry Potter is fun, entertaining, and memorable. Flying around on brooms, talking and moving pictures, I mean, seriously, the world is amazing. It is fantastic in a way that Tolkien’s works don’t quite reach(more on that later). The universe of Harry Potter is both familiar, in that it parallels our own, and yet so abstract and different to our Muggle reality that kids and adults around the world are still being captivated by it.

File:Harry Potter Books 1-7 without dust jackets, 1st American eds. 2.JPG

In fact it’s one of the most influential series in the world, ever. But it wasn’t as important to me as…

2. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

This world has influenced most of modern fantasy. It’s beautiful – described at length, page after page. Even though I wasn’t fond of the Lord of the Rings books growing up, The Hobbit shaped me as a writer.

But what’s so bad about the Lord of the Rings? It’s been challenged for satanic themes. What other fantasy series could possibly be worse–oh…

1. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

I wanted to be Lyra so badly as a kid. And I read the books at around that time I was becoming more aware of myself as a girl, so I could relate to her a lot. The fact that she had a daemon – a shape-shifting constant companion that  represented a part of her – was the coolest thing ever. Plus armored polar bears. I mean, seriously.

Lyra’s world was unique. And I encountered it when I was asking all sorts of questions about life and stuff. The setting and concept of this trilogy, with the parallel universes and universe-defying quests, was just too fascinating. It spawned all sorts of ideas, and man, some of them are still visible in some of my works.

It was banned because, well, as Pullman puts it, they literally kill “The Authority.” Enough said.

Of course, there are a ton of classic books that I could’ve mentioned, but these are my top fantasy worlds – the captivating, influential, and awesome. I didn’t want to use mesmerizing. Or riveting. BUT THEY ARE.

What are your top 5 banned books, fantasy or otherwise?