In an environment of surreal creatures, tremendous beasts, castles in the sky and the shimmering dance of magic, the presence of something as mundane as humanity must give us pause. We know ourselves well in the real world but how well do we know our strange cousins, the humans of heroic fantasy? What traits of ours do they share? Would they recognise us, or we them? How exactly did they come to exist alongside elves, dwarves and the other races, with whom they are oddly similar on the surface yet fundamentally different in essence? What can they teach us about a fundamental question common to both the real world and that of imagination, namely that of what it truly means to be human?
In this volume, we will be looking at the rich diversity of human life in the fantasy world, drawing upon examples found both in the history of the real world and in our folklore and legends. Humans are not bland templates but a people of extraordinary resource, inventiveness and adaptability. Mortality is their curse and yet a peculiar blessing, as the finiteness of their lives frees them of the ennui and a lack of motivational energy to which longer-lived races are prone. As a result, humans can truly appreciate the value of a sensory pleasure, the love of a mate or the thrill of adventure. Everything is the sweeter for them, because they know they might never live to see another morning.