Sunday, July 1, 2012

The elven paradox

In popular fantasy culture, you'll find elves or an elf-like race in almost any setting.
Most of the time, they're peacefully inclined, live one with nature, have long or infinite lifespans and behave pretty mysterious.

One of their common traits baffles me though and that is that in some stories/settings, they dislike iron.
Combine this with their love of nature and, while at first sight nothing might be wrong or contradictory, we reach what I call the elven iron-versus-wood paradox.

Here's how I build up the problem:


  1. Elves love trees, they wish to not harm them and might attack anyone trying to do so.
  2. Elves despise iron and usually anything that's made from it.
  3. Elves build wooden houses, use wooden armor and make wooden weapons
  4. Why would any logical thinking creature not see the benefits iron creates as a replacement for the wood they get from cutting their own trees?

Some might argue that to meld the iron into its desired shape, you need fire, which uses wood to be burned.
Except there's:
  1. natural fire resources from volcanoes,...
  2. other flammable materials that can be used as fuel: oil, gas even droppings work
  3. magic, as elves are highly magical, there has to be a way they can sing to the iron to shape itself or something.
While number 2 might seem bad for the pollution, it doesn't count for the many elves that use fire for other sources, such as cooking, jewelry (read: rings of power), glass,...

This means that any elf denying alternate solutions to this problem are hypocrites and selfish. They neglect their people the advantages of scientific advancements because it is *cough* evil. No explanation given.


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