My love of fantasy is no secret, it’s 99% of what I read (other than blogs of course). And recently I got to thinking about why I love fantasy, what is it about the genre that just feels so good to me.
In this post I’m going to try and articulate why I like the fantasy genre so much. I’m also very keen to hear from you and why you like fantasy.
I recently wrote a post about the importance of worldbuilding and why it is integral to my enjoyment of a fantasy novel. The truth is, I LOVE the worlds created by fantasy authors. They’re intricate and intriguing, and when they’re done right (I’m talking to you Mr Sanderson) there’s nothing I’d rather read.
A lot of people use fantasy for escapism, you know, leaving their everyday world to travel to a different world, a world created by an author that truly knows how to transport you there.
The lifeblood of a story is the characters in it. They’re the ones you buy into, hear from, and root for, whether it to succeed or to fail. The characters created by an author need to be unique, that way they’ll help to create a unique story. The 5 characters that first pop into my head when I think of favourites are;
- Colonel Sand dan Glokta
- Durzo Blint
- Kaladin Stormblessed
These 5 characters all have something in common; characterisation. That may sound funny but it’s true. The authors who created these characters have fleshed them out and made them real to read, that’s true characterisation.
Who doesn’t love magic?! Well me, if it’s some guy threatening to rip up a £5 note. But I love magic and the different forms it comes in within the fantasy genre. The fantasy community often mentions the different ‘magic systems’ and I’m seeing more book bloggers talk about it in reviews, this highlights its importance to a reader’s experience.
The magic systems within the fantasy genre come from a range of inspirations; Brent Weeks uses the structure of light as the basis of his magic system in the Lightbringer Universe and he has his characters drafting ‘Lux’, a resin-like substance that holds different properties based on what colour they are drafting. The characters within the universe have eyes that match the colour of the Lux they can draft. Weeks’ magic system is intrinsic to his whole series of Lightbringer novels.
Another favourite of mine is the weapons that are created by authors and wielded by our favourite warriors. I mentioned Snaga earlier because it’s one of my favourites. The importance of the weapon is not just due to the magic that the axe is imbued with, or the fact that it’s deadly-sharp and doesn’t dull, it’s the fact that it’s synonymous with Druss the Legend. If you tell me you don’t know what Snaga is or you’ve never heard of The Sword of Gryffindor then we can no longer be friends. Jokes, jokes, but you should know them.
Gemmell, like many authors, had a way of doing this really well, fusing a character and a weapon, just like Olek Skilgannon with the Swords of Night and Day.
Fantasy does evil like no other, it’s sprawling, bloody, and all-encompassing, with the worst characters dreaming of nothing less than, at best, bringing the masses into servitude, and at worst, using their blood to feed off.
Some of the most evil characters are those that operate on a small-scale but who bring a real danger to a novel. Fantasy has a way of darkening even the most shadowed figures and producing some of the most memorable antagonists in literature.
Have you ever read a ‘submissions’ page of a publisher’s website? Most of the time when it comes to fantasy they’re asking that authors don’t submit manuscripts with any ‘tropes’ i.e. long-ranging quests or characters who suddenly realise they’re an all-powerful being descended from Odin. Excuse me? What? That’s what I want. Give me the fantastical quest and the character who has the soul of Hermes, I want it all.
The ‘quest’ is the archetypal trope for fantasy because it allows the author to take their characters, and you, through the world that they have created. They want you to meet the vast arrays of wonderful characters, creatures, and deadly landscapes that they’ve weaved, for us. Why wouldn’t you want to see that?
Fantasy has branched out, and it’s awesome. I’m buying into all of the subgenres, even Steampunk, which has grabbed me with it’s mechanical claws and pulled me in. The one I’ve really fallen for though, is Grimdark. Oh you wonderful, brutal, bloody beast you.
The first Grimdark book I read was Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, and I immediately fell in love. The anti-hero angle gripped me, I couldn’t help but root for this cold and ruthless protagonist. I then encountered the self-proclaimed Lord Grimdark (Joe Abercrombie to those not in his yoke) and I haven’t looked back since. I love the bleak feel to the Grimdark stories but what I’ve also found is a running theme through them all; camaraderie. There seems to be a lot of ‘band of brothers’ type books entering in the genre and I can’t help but get excited by them.
Long live Grimdark and all the fantasy sub-genres!
The fantasy community seems to have exploded following the genres rise through TV and in Movies. I for one am not complaining; the geekier the better. What I do love though, are the people. I’ve met some absolutely fantastic people since I started blogging about books, and some of them are authors that I would never have had the chance to interact with if it weren’t for the overall friendly and supportive nature of the fantasy community. People like Suzanne Rogerson, a self-published fantasy author who writes some amazing stuff (she wrote one of my favourite guest posts recently).
Thanks to the fantasy community I get the opportunity to meet some bloggers who are doing great things for the blogging community and for the book community, one such person is Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek (TTBG) who not only posts great reviews but also highlights some of the issues facing the reviewing community at the moment.
What do you love about the fantasy genre? If you liked this post please consider sharing it on Twitter.