Gather my thoughts, what should I include when I consider this subject, what books?
Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time, Elric of Melnibone, Chronicles of Narnia, Dragonriders of Pern, le morte de arthur, the last unicorn, Tigana, Harry Potter, Mistborn the final empire, Malazan book of the fallen, Conan the Barbarian, Sword of Shanara, Wizard's First Rule, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever,
Things I love
1. Black and White Morality
I love fantasy where there is a neat clean line between who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, so there is no real question of ethics, morality, and the like in the confrontation. The best example is Lord of the Rings, there is no question that the orcs and Sauron are evil and that Aragorn and company are good.
2. A Kingly King
Arthur Pendragon, Aragorn, men who unite kingdoms, fight terrible wars, and inspire loyalty from those around them and instill fear and terror in their evil foes.
3. Tragic Flawed Characters
Eddard Stark is a powerful man of character, conviction, and stoicism. He is also dangerously flawed by his honor and unwillingness to compromise. He could have bent the knee and survived longer than he did.
4. The Rich and Variegated Lives of Unseen People
So much of Tigana, and His Dark Materials, this sort of thing draws me into the world of a story.
5. Crazy Ass Locations
The Dream-Quest of Kadath, At the Mountains of Madness, Mordor, a good deal of Malazan
6. DreamQuests into Alternate Realities
Elric of Melnibone does this a lot and I love it
7. Epic Battles
Clashes between armies, sieges of castles, great and terrible affairs where when it is over its a charnel house, ground littered with corpses, the crows and ravens come to feed, and the survivors and the victors are left to pick up and move on.
8. The Death March
On a small scale this is Sam and Frodo as they struggle to reach Mordor, against all odds. On a larger scale, it is Fist Coltain and the Malazan 7th Army pushing a host of refugees hundreds of miles from one sacked city to the last Imperial city on the continent and the god-awful price paid for this trip.
9. Maps and Appendices
YESSSSSSSSS, give me the mapsssss
10. Against All Odds
Heroism requires heroic resolve and the characters girding themselves for war, even if they do not want it they must fight. If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for? An auxiliary of this is when a character you've come to love makes the final sacrifice, and it is to save the day or save the quest, against their own life. This is where we find Boromir, tragic.
Things I Hate
11. They're All Bastards
12. Paper Thin Allegory
Bio of a Space Tyrant: Politician is a paper thin allegory of JFK, and the Cold War. That took me out of reading enjoyment, and the same has eroded my enjoyment of Narnia.
13. I'm Just a Simple Farmer/I Just Wanna Go Home
Fantasy is supposed to offer an escape from the mundane, and at the end of the story the heroes are changed and they return home, but they return home to different roles and positions
14. Too much of a LotR Clone
If I want Lord of the Rings, I'll go read Lord of the Rings. Nothing wrong with following or taking inspiration, but you gotta do something more with it.
15. Greebles, Diggers, and Spliff-Scree'abi
Fantasy has a basic stable of races: humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. If you are going to play the Our Demihumans are different, it has to be done well. I cant remember the book, but the author had the basic fantasy races but never used the basic names, and instead used Diggers. Diggers were dwarves. I cant remember what the elves were called, but all in all it was annoying because the new race presentation was not used, and it was just a name swap. Erikson has elves, but they are the Tiste Andii and a lot goes into how alien they are, and ancient, and he pulls it off correctly.
16. Overly Complicated/handwavium/Inconsistent Magic System
Get your magic shit together. The one issue I had with Mistborn was how much time and energy was spent on how allomancy worked, and yes it was fundamental to the story, but I don't know how much or important that was in the larger scheme. The other versions are more common, where magic is just a mess, or the author is trying to present magic spells into the story and the only level of magic they are fluent in is RPG.
Songs don't translate well for me on paper, so when I get to where there are verses or entire songs presented I have to change how I am reading the text, which takes me out of engagement, or I just breeze over it.
18. RennFest Architecture
Everything is the same neo-Medieval/pre-Tudor wattle and daub stick build in the city, and everything is different shades of brown and gray. If there is a castle, it too is gray, and built along the same lines as Castle Grayskull, or the cliched standard fantasy castle. There are no monuments, no cathedrals, no towers, no great homes, no plazas, no palaces, none of the centuries of architecture that make old cities beautiful. There is an expression that architecture is the soul of a nation, and in this, most fantasy cities are impoverished RPG planned collections of shops of extremely generic English RennFaire serf cosplayers.
19. HAHA They Dead
Killing characters for cheap shock value, or when a character is slain and the contract between writer and reader is no honored, aka the character who takes the old character's place, is not worthy. Game of Thrones does this egregiously in the show, but not in the books. Robb Stark in the books is a child, fucking scared, and doing the best he can. Robb Stark in the HBO series is a man and doesn't convey the same desperation.
20. Social Fiction
Keep your topical superficial hot-button issues, political ultimatums, and intrusion of real world problems and policies out of my fantasy.
That's why sci-fi and paranormal fiction are for.
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? Responses (1)
Pretty much in agreement here.