Fighting for Equal Opportunities in a Fantasy World

Cornelia Funke: Tintentod (English title: Ink Death) ISBN 978-3-7915-0476-6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The third and last volume of Cornelia Funke’s fantasy trilogy is no less thrilling than the first two. A page-turner that should delight any voracious reader of fantasy novels. We return of course to the four main characters: Meggie, a young girl, Mo aka “Silver Tongue”, a bookbinder and Meggie’s father, Resa, Meggie’s mother and an enigmatic man of the name of “Dust Finger”. All four have different magic talents and all four are waging a battle against evil in a fantasy world, the “Ink World” which for us readers obviously exists only in a book. For the characters however, lifted by the power ofvthecworld from the real world to the fantasy world, “Ink World” is a matter of life and death, as we have seen in the first two volumes.

And then there are two young boys courting Meggie, who is experiencing her first heart-breaking love adventure. There is no lack of evil characters, triggering quite a number of unfair fights, betrayal being always an option, and ample occasion to show rafinesse and galantry. But I will say no more as I don’t want to spoil anybody’s reading pleasure. Funke’s power of imagination knows no limits, the plot is admirable, there’s a plethora of magic effects – Harry Potter and his friend Ron would be delighted! But what about the end? Well, the end may be satisfying for the majority of the readers I guess, but unfortunately not for me. It frustrated me and made me furious.

Funke has given away the chance to portray a combative mother fighting successfully for her rights as an individual: Resa, Meggie’s mother. She is such a strong and courageous person in the novel, but her strength and her courage are not well used. She deserved a major part in the shaping of events, but Funke does not go beyond the common stereotype: She has ideas, feelings and wishes of her own, but she has no opportunity and no right to fulfill them. She is compliant with the wishes of Mo and Meggie, who get their way in leading a heroic life, while she is relegated to a secondary role, a hero’s assistant, but not a hero in her own right. That’s shameful.

This omission made me quite angry since, from a pedagogical point of view, this is opposite to what young girls should be taught: They should not stand back and they should fight for equal opportunities – in the real world as well ad in a fantasy world. For discrimination is a daily experience for women, young and old, and a novel written for young readers, female and male, should be encouraged to think beyond existing stereotypes.

So no, I am not happy with the end and I am not happy with the role given to Resa. A missed opportunity, as I said, and to compound for this deficiency, let’s hear about a combative, clever woman who got what she wanted: Sheherazade. A few years ago, the composer John Adams wrote an orchestral piece called “Sheherazade.2” for the violinist Leila Josefowicz:

Sheherazade – Only Smart Women Survive