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7 Things I Hate About Fantasy Novels

I love speculative fiction of all types. (Except paranormal romance and most urban fantasy, both of which I loathe with a disturbing passion.) Some of the best stories, characters, ideas and yes, ‘literary’ writing are to be found in the works of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, among many many others. Ender’s Game absolutely blew me away the first time I read it, and when I was younger I wouldn’t touch anything that didn’t feature some sort of mythological being brought to life. There are, however, some things about the genre (is speculative fiction a ‘genre’?) that annoy the crap out of me, and most of them are firmly in the domain of the ‘fantasy’ end of the spectrum.

If the following list moves you to start a ‘Science Fiction vs. Fantasy’ flamewar in the comments…well, go ahead, actually. That sounds kind of entertaining.

#7: The focus on nobility. All right, I can see why people do this. In the kind of society that most fantasy novels are set in, the king or queen is unquestionably the one with the most power and the most ability to act on that power. Sure, it might not make sense in terms of actual history, where kings and queens certainly couldn’t go dicking around in the countryside looking for magic artifacts every three months, but in the land of fiction it makes sense. I get that.

It doesn’t mean I have to like it, though. I always find it very difficult to empathize with a fictional example of the nobility, for the simple reason that I’ve never had the same worldview as them. Outside of the elaborate fantasies constructed by my raging ego, I don’t live in a world where I hold the lives of thousands of people in my hands, or where I can move entire armies against my enemies with a single command (as much as I’d like to be able to sometime). Any writer who’s going to bring me into that kind of character’s head is going to need to do a damn good job of it, and most fantasy author’s I’ve read just weren’t up to the task. Sure, I might have enjoyed their books for other reasons, but I never really felt connected to the core cast. (George R.R. Martin is the exception here, just as he is in so many things.)

Unfortunately, characters of noble birth will probably always be a staple of the fantasy genre due to the near-ubiquitous medieval Europe settings. Which brings me on to my next pet peeve…

#6: The near-ubiquitous medieval Europe settings. Before somebody jumps down my throat, I’m well aware that not all fantasy books are set in Pseudoshire, Arcadia. But I still think way too many of them are.

What’s that, fantasy author? Your epic story of epic kings is set in a pastoral land inhabited by short mountain people, beautiful forest people, and strangely bland people-people? Thanks, but I’d rather not read yet more poorly disguised Lord of the Rings fanfiction. Actually, now that I think about it, I’d rather not read Lord of the Rings either.

Do me a favor: go and get an Atlas, or a globe, or Google Maps, or something that displays a reasonably accurate depiction of what the Earth looks like. Got it? Okay, now throw it out the window. (Er…unless you’re using Google Maps, in which case I guess you could just close the window.) This is fantasy we’re talking about, people. You don’t need every location in your fictional world to correspond neatly with something that exists in real life. I’m not saying that every fantasy novel should be filled with terrain so outlandish that nobody will be able to picture it, but at the very least, please don’t ape real places and real countries unless you’re certain you can pull it off. Which segues nicely to my next point (let’s see how long I can keep this up)…

#5 The Obvious Ethnic Stand-In. Also known as the Fantasy Counterpart Culture, only mine tosses race into the mix for added controversy. It’s difficult to come up with a believable culture completely from scratch, which is why so many authors use bits and pieces from real cultures in order to lend authenticity to their creations. There comes a point, however, when the resemblance starts to get a bit too strong, and that point is when your brownish-skinned people with narrow eyes and Japanese names start describing their rigidly honor-based society that features a colorful pantheon of minor and major deities. Unless your story is set in some sort of weird multiverse, it might behoove you to vary things a bit more than that.

Even worse are authors who seem to think that people who look Asian have to correspond to modern (and Western) Asian stereotypes, or that fantasy people with dark skin all have to live in tribal societies in a desert. They don’t, and if you bungle things here you’re going to look at least mildly racist on top of everything else.

#4: Absolute Good vs. Ultimate Evil. I’ll explain this one with an example from the Wikipedia page for Robert Jordan’s inexplicably popular Wheel of Time series:

The Creator imprisoned its antithesis, Shai’tan, at the moment of creation, sealing him away from the Wheel. However, in a time called the Age of Legends, an Aes Sedai experiment inadvertently breached the Dark One‘s prison, allowing his influence to seep back into the world.

….

In The Wheel of Time books, Verin Sedai says the Dark One is the “embodiment of paradox and chaos, destroyer of reason and logic, breaker of balance, the unmaker of order, and the opponent of the Creator.” Shai’tan (Arabic word for ‘Adversary’, related to Satan) is the godlike figure of the creatures of darkness.

‘Shai’tan’? Wow, that’s subtle. Those of you haven’t read the book will probably not be surprised to learn the The Creator has almost no presence in story – he’s implied to be doing something vague in the background, but unlike the ‘Dark One’ (blergh) he never seems to communicate with anybody or even act directly on the world. Yes, I get that it’s awesome to have some farmboy discover that only he can stop Mr. Evil, but you know what would be even more awesome? If Mr. Good actually got up off his ass and did something for once. This isn’t an issue of whether or not The Creator exists, since he (or it, or whatever) is the only thing stopping Mr. Evil from escaping from his can and killing everybody. There just seems to be this pervasive idea that evil gods should explode onto the scene with much fanfare and sulfur, while good gods should float in the ether and maybe give the main characters visions every now and then. (I could start making some point about monotheism here, but I’m not going to because that would be boring.) If the evil god is sealed away but still capable of taking over the world, why can’t the good god be similarly powerful? Wouldn’t it make more sense for our hero-farmboys to release the good god and have him deliver some righteous ass-kicking, rather than try to kill something orders of magnitude more powerful than themselves on their own?

Related to all of this is the common idea in fantasy novels that there must be a grand battle of absolute good and ultimate evil. The main characters, although they may make mistakes or have to work against their own consciences, are almost always certain that what they’re doing is totally right. There is never any hint that their conception of Mr. Evil might just be clouded by their culture’s prejudices, or that Mr. Good, seemingly impotent though he may be, is just manipulating everybody to fulfill his own goals. If this was how the real world worked, there would be exactly two religions: the Good One and the Bad One, which people would join based solely on how much of a dick they liked to be.

Here’s an idea: toss out the omnipresent systems of right and wrong and have fantasy heroes struggle in a world that seems to have no solid moral reference points, just like people in the real world.

#3: Always Chaotic Evil. Do I really have to explain why I hate this one? You know all about it already: some species, race or other group is always irredeemably evil. There are almost never any exceptions to this. Very often they will even brag about how evil they are, even though almost nobody in the history of the world has ever actually described themselves as ‘evil’ unless they were insane. If things are very bad, they will dress in black and live in big pointy fortresses and murder children for fun. If things are even worse, they will have some name for themselves that positively screams ‘I’m about to kill you” (‘The Forsaken’ springs to mind) and will speak in a language that just ‘sounds evil’. (Actually, Harry Potter is pretty bad about this, now that I think about it.)

I could understand this if the species in question was simply alien to us, and thus considered ‘good’ what we might see as unspeakably cruel or evil, but that’s almost never how it works. More often, they’re fully aware of whatever objective morality that governs their particular fantasy universe, and actually mold their identity around the fact that they fall way over on the ‘dark’ side of the spectrum. This, of course, gives our heroes a good excuse to slaughter them in their hundreds over the course of the novel(s).

#2: Never-Ending Series Syndrome. (I’m going to pick on WoT again here, because I just hate those goddamn books.)

The Wheel of Time series currently consists of eleven published books, all of which are well over 200,000 words long. Hell, some of them are close to twice that. The last volume is now being split into three books, presumably because Brandon Sanderson’s contract stipulated that he must have at least one of the characters say or do something stupid enough to derail the plot every three paragraphs. (Those of you who have read the books will know exactly what I’m talking about here.) If your story takes that long to tell, something has gone wrong.

I can understand why writers, readers and especially publishers love a long-running series, but I’ve always felt that it allowed for some mild…excess, shall we say. Subplots breed like rabbits because the writer knows he can always ignore some of them for entire books if he needs to (I’m looking at you yet again, Robert Jordan) and characters proliferate way beyond what’s necessary to get to the end of the story. I have yet to read a book that convinced me it’s a good idea to dump an entire extended family into an already complex story, especially if every single member of that family ends up creating a fractal-like nightmare of parallel storylines.

A closely related problem to all of this is Universal Character Immortality, but I’m not going to go there for now because it would mean hitting on WoT again, and I’m already going to do that in the next entry. (For the record, I actually did enjoy the series until the whole ‘strong women dominate men’ theme got so pervasive that I thought I was reading very long-winded erotica.)

#1: Prophecies. Oh, how I loathe them. I could write a doctoral thesis on how much I hate prophecies as plot devices.

I actually wouldn’t mind them so much if they were handled well, but very often they’re not. Take our literary punching bag for the evening, the Wheel of Time series. Almost every event in the series happens because of an ancient prophecy, one which is literally inescapable. There are numerous points throughout the series where the characters (all ten billion of them) are literally incapable of choosing to act in a certain way, because doing so would go against what Destiny has proscribed for them. Do I have to point out that this sucks all of the tension out of the story?

For example, we know from the beginning that Rand Al’Thor, the savior (or possibly destroyer) of the world, will not die before close to the end of the series. He starts out as the main character, but there quickly comes a point where things could easily continue without him…except they actually couldn’t, because then The Prophecy wouldn’t be fulfilled. We know that he can’t die, which means that every confrontation he has with the legions of evil are always going to end the same way – with him winning. The only question mark over his fate is whether he’ll save the world or give in to his encroaching madness and destroy it, and even then you can be pretty sure that he isn’t going to go nuts and blast away the planet’s atmosphere in the middle of book 5 of 14. Nothing kills interest in a character faster than knowing that he or she will definitely do A, B, C and D before they die, and in the Wheel of Time virtually every major character has such a checklist to work through.

Prophecies (or prophetic dreams, or magical-artifact induced trips to the future…) also seem to inevitably lead to clumsy writing. These things always seem to take the form of ‘cryptic’ (cough) poems or songs, which means we get treated to crap like this:

Twice dawns the day when his blood is shed.
Once for mourning, once for birth.
Red on black, the Dragon’s blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul.
In the Pit of Doom shall his blood free men from the Shadow. (Source)

The first time I tried reading the series, I started skipping the poem-prophecies once I realized they weren’t going to go away. The story still made perfect sense. 1+1=…?

***

Thus ends my needlessly confrontational list of pet peeves. Feel free to tell me what makes you mad enough to throw a book across the room in the comments section. But before I go, and in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I’m currently writing a fantasy novel involving a medieval Europe-ish setting, at least two noble main characters, a ‘Lord of Darkness’ type character and a prophecy (which, in my defense, I’m trying to be creative with). It just goes to show, some things are popular for a reason. And also that I’m a massive hypocrit, but then you probably already heard about that.

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Categories: Writing
  1. blissbait
    October 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    wheel of time lost me
    made it through two and a half
    when my head screamed ‘halt!’

    But I was crazy for them at first. Your post is very thorough and I don’t think I read as much fantasy as you, but I certainly agree with some of your points! Thank You, Cheers, and Happy Reading!

  2. Theophage
    October 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Up until about 9 months ago I would have agreed with you on every point, I was a veteran at pointing out why people should steer well clear of everything fantasy in favor of sci-fi – and classic sci-fi, at that. By and large, I still stand by that view, but there is one series that has cracked through and made me admit that not all is lost for fantasy lit, that being George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. I won’t try to sell you on it past saying they’re well written books, although if you want to skip that HBO is making a series out of the first bit – no guarantees that won’t suck, though.

    • October 4, 2009 at 7:27 pm

      I read the first book of the series and loved it. Then I waited too long to read the second one, and I’d probably have to reread the first one to have any idea what’s going on. (Due to the fact that there are tons and tons of characters, but they’re handled well, dammit.)

      Also, just to clarify: my point in all of this wasn’t to say that I dislike fantasy or that I consider it inferior to sci-fi – I just wanted to point out some common fantasy tropes that particularly annoy me. I’m sure if I read more sci-fi (particularly more bad sci-fi) I could come up with a similar list for that.

      • Me
        July 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

        Oh no, see you were right the first time: Fantasy IS inferior to sci fi, as a genre. It’s too littered with potential for laziness. Prophecies, god-modding/deus ex, magic itself being nothing but an easy out. There’s little of value in the world of fantasy because it takes a genuinely gifted writer to pull it off well.

        All of this is thoroughly muddied by the notion that much of what we call sci fi, isn’t. I reject this notion of “hard” and “soft” sci fi; if it isn’t “hard sci fi, it isn’t sci fi at all. It’s technology flavored fantasy. Some go to great lengths to hide this fact (star trek), while some wallow in it with reckless abandon (star wars). And tech flavored fantasy simply substitutes magic for the “rilly sooper advanced technulojees” for lazy writers to have easy outs. Deus ex comes in the form of aliens or space wizards, or sometimes the technology itself. Prophecies are substituted with “laws of the universe we discovered a bajillion years in the future that you don’t know about yet which conveniently happen to write away the plot holes in this terrible story”.

        Yuck. To the VERY few who got fantasy right, I thank you. But honestly, this is a genre that simply lends itself to poor writing as a consequence of its subject matter. It IS an inferior style.

  3. mikespeir
    October 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t have much use for fantasy, either. I write science fiction (mostly) and I realize that you have to invent technologies that will probably never actually work in order to make the story move along. But there’s a difference between that and out-and-out “woo.” Now, I have read some fantasy that used super-advanced technology as a stand-in for the magic and such. Sometimes that’s not too bad.

    • October 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      I don’t mind the ‘woo’ in fantasy. Although I do like more ‘down to earth’ fantasy, particularly fantasy that isn’t packed to the brim with a hundred different sentient species and magic systems, I also love reading fantasy that puts an original twist on magic. Brandon Sanderson’s first book, Elantris, seems to be doing that so far. (In that none of the main characters can actually use magic at the start and most people aren’t entirely certain whether it even exists. It also features the first religious zealot character I’ve come across that I actually think is well written, in that he isn’t just a cackling psychopath.)

      I actually don’t like it when fantasy novels try to ‘justify’ the magic by saying that it’s some sort of super-technology. With some rare exceptions (I’m thinking of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King) it feels superfluous – if you’re going to go with magic, just go all the way with it. The only people expecting you to explain it away will be people who somehow managed to buy a novel with a dragon (or whatever) on the cover without realizing what genre it is.

  4. October 5, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I agree with all seven points you made. Fantasy isn’t the only genre to have a host of literary cliches, but it’s probably the most notorious. I would humbly suggest that it is possible for a fantasy novel to defy these conventions and still retain its element of wonder, which I think is the key ingredient in a fantasy story. I also think that when one finds that kind of story that catches on to a human element without resorting to these worn-out devices, it can be something special. I think it makes the hunt for a good story completely worthwhile.

    • October 5, 2009 at 9:11 am

      Definitely. Alas, fantasy authors and publishers don’t make the search easy sometimes – I’ve seen books with awesome covers and even awesomer concepts that ended up boiling down to ‘Prophecy Y says Hero X will collect Mcguffin Z’, and they’re usually sitting right next to a book whose cover features a chainmail bikini Goddess and a title like ‘The Prophecies of the Darkland Hero’ but which is actually about Machiavellian intrigue in a fantasy-ized Renaissance court.

      I may be exaggerating slightly here, but you get the idea.

      (Also run-on sentences for the win – in my defence, it’s relatively early here.)

      • October 6, 2009 at 3:42 am

        You’re not exaggerating by much! And don’t knock run-on sentences. I’m a writer too, and they’re my bread and butter!

    • Me
      July 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      One of my least favorite thing about ANY form of story telling is the ham fisted attempts by misguided authors to explain away the “woo” factor (as Mike put it above). Honestly, you know what you’re getting when you pick up a fantasy novel. No one is in it by accident, there’s not much in the way of casual fantasy fans due to its polarizing nature. There’s no need to perform mental backflips to justify “BLAMMO! I just vaporized the enemy with wizard fire since I wrote myself into a crappy corner”. Terry Brooks did this with the Shannarah series to disgusting effect, attempting to liken use of magic to some manner of personal pollution in order to reign in the god modding. I applaud him for that last part, but ultimately it did more harm than good as long hours were spent reading the intricate details of how So-And-So magic user was experiencing this entirely unrelateable experience of having a non existent ridiculous force do some sinister something or other to a part of him that probably doesn’t even exist each time he coughed magic bubbles. … It occurs to me now that it was a lot like watching crappy anime where the “animators” use long winded internal dialogue to pad the episode in hopes you wouldn’t notice their budget was too small to animate more than 3 frames in 20 minutes.

  5. jbreach
    December 2, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    I do appreciate your caveat at the end of your post. However, you clearly do not understand the point of fantasy novels for the devoted reader, and you certainly miss the most interesting and captivating parts of the Wheel of Time. I too could write a thesis on fantasy, specifically why the Wheel of Time has captured the imagination of so many fans, but I will keep this brief (in a matter of speaking).

    For one Robert Jordan set out to create a world, something so complex and in-depth that it resembles what could be a legend or myth in our very own time. Robert Jordan is an astounding historian, working in legends and myths from the real world into his writing, so as a fellow historian I am captivated by the similarities to the real world. The seemingly endless subplots and character development only serves to deepen this world so that the reader is always hungry for more. The fact that WOT has so many characters allows the reader to become attached to a character that is like them, as the characters go through the same moral dilemmas that we as real human beings do. This in turn throws out your good verse evil argument on a basic level because even in attempting to do good, the characters have to deal with personality conflicts, morality issues, and the definition of good itself.

    The prophecy issue is interesting in the WOT because as Moiraine, Verin, and several other character state that the prophecies can be interpreted so many ways, and not all of them come true. Rand al’Thor could very well die and the Dark One would win. In fact the characters are dealing with these very issues of whether or not a victory by Rand will be a victory for the light because of the moral dilemmas put in place by Robert Jordan. The fact that it is cryptic allows the reader to predict what might happen and gives the author the ability to foreshadow what is going to happen and keep the reader hooked.

    The male versus female crisis is also particularly interesting because both sexes are well represented within Robert Jordan’s world. This gives the story a dynamic that most fantasy worlds do not explore and attracts varied types of readers.

    I’m going to end this here, but I hope I have left you with a new appreciation for the WOT and Robert Jordan in particular. Perhaps now you can understand why it is perhaps the most popular fantasy series of all time and why Robert Jordan will probably go down in history as 2nd only to Tolkien as the best fantasy writer ever.

  6. crysharris
    December 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I Stumbled this and I wish I could give it two thumbs up instead of one.

    To add to your list, I personally despise anthropomorphism of all kinds, with the exception of Anne McCaffrey’s dragons. I’m a sucker for those. Animals that act like people enrage me. If authors want a slightly exotic character, they should create a humanoid one, not a talking/sentient horse/dog/bear/et al

    • Mel
      May 11, 2012 at 3:15 am

      I think this depends entirely on how well sentient beings are portrayed. Eragon, for instance, is a perfect example of what an author should not do. I too find talking beasts childish by nature but, again, that depends on how they’re portrayed. Centaurs, nymphs, elves, hobgoblins, and faeries are all examples of sentient beings that if developed realistically (in terms of character development), would only benefit a work of fantasy instead of hinder it.

      Mythology is built around the concepts of anthropomorphism and sentience. To limit a fantasy to strictly humanoid creatures is to defy the hallmark of the fantasy genre. No other genre allows for such obscure parameters as fantasy. Every other genre is anchored to realism as we know it on Earth and doesn’t provide for as much room to create and think outside the box as fantasy. So to limit fantasy cultures strictly to humanoid peoples is to limit the imagination, I feel; especially when even Earth’s own mythology is founded on these concepts you abhor so much.

      My list of tropes that I can’t stand in fantasy are:
      1) Archetype characters (wise old wizard mentor, farm boy turned hero, Evil villain wizard/king, prophet witch, stubborn dwarf, beautiful elf, evil henchmen orc, etc.)

      2) The Quest/Journey (in terms of the traveling expedition and learning key info/finding artifacts necessary to defeat the big bad guy in the end)

      3) Archaic, flowery, purple prose. “Hark ye fair maiden. Thouest knoweth thee.”

      4) Unpronounceable names that are abbreviated with random apostrophes: “Ar’mlg’vart”

      5) Pseudo Latin-based languages (usually created for elvish cultures)

      6) The “chosen” one plot device.

      7) Damsel in distress females or butch Amazonian-rip offs

      8) Feudalism

      9) A strictly Medieval England setting

      10) Any form of deity that ends up randomly saving the day and consequently rendering the hero’s journey up to that point completely pointless (deus ex machina)

      11) Action scenes written like an RPG game where you can practically see the hero’s manna bar and health bar increase/decrease.

      12) Any form of bestiality or erotic love play (sex passed off as romance, in other words)

      13) Abra-cadabra spell work

      14) Magic explained in pseudo-scientific terms (Ex: Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series where people ingest metals to absorb magical elements…can you say RPG?)

      15) Black and White morality, Black and white races/cultures, Black and white religions…dual everything with seemingly no other forms of religions/races/ethics available in the world.

      16) Twee little faeries with wings flying around being twee.

      There are others but they fall somewhere in the spectrum of those I already outlined. I also enjoyed Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series but found many tropes there as well along with other issues. But his fantasy series isn’t high fantasy. It’s low fantasy because there is very little magic involved. Most high fantasy tends to use the Tolkien formula, which is why I can’t stomach most of it. Steve Erikson’s Malazan series was also very good, especially in terms of plotting and character development. But again, many tropes in that one too. So it depends on how they’re done.

  7. Todd
    December 31, 2009 at 3:08 am

    I love all types of fantasy, even the epic ones but there is only one flaw some authors tend to over stuff their books with words that don’t need to be there. Tolkien, and many others, I would rather read a good strong story with strong characters.
    I should know, I get ideas reading these kinds of books. The reason many fantasy authors don’t link there books with certain keywords to draw in a bigger crowd is because they don’t know about those links. Even I try to find them. Hint

  8. Scott
    January 22, 2010 at 4:25 am

    An example of a fantasy setting that overcomes all the icky cliché of the genre: Steven Erikson’s Malazan series – one of (if not the best) fantasy series I’ve ever read. An absolute heap of interesting characters, unconventional settings, an incredibly deep back story to the world, and incredible battle scenes are just a few of the reasons to trudge through the 9(11 if you include the novels by co-creator Ian C. Esselmont) book series. I have yet to be dissapointed.

  9. Todd
    January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    The Malazan series is one of the best out there at the moment. But there are others that are just as good, sometimes a good story comes a long and I pick them up to read. I have an open mind and I’ll read anything fantasy, The Madness of Avlon Klynn is an awesome read as well.

  10. Philippe
    January 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Yeah, I get it. You hate the Wheel of Time.

    What’s funny to me is that for every complaint you have, there are a number of strictly fantasy authors out there who specifically cater to a successful counter-approach method of storytelling. Robin Hobb springs to mind as the best.

    Btw, WoT rocks. Can’t wait for Memory of Light. The most epic tale ever written. Hands down.

  11. WoTLover
    September 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    pathetic man,pathetic.

    that was a highly biased diatribe against the greatest series ever,…WoT.

    you better go read archies comics or see powerpuff girls.
    you know…..

    if you could ever get past your unfounded hatred towards female domineering in the series..you’ll actually find that it is AWESOME.

    the pain felt by rand as he goes towards the last battle….is well portrayed.
    buddy…it is not there to give you suspense. it is there to make you awed about the broad spectrum of human nature and emotion.

    so,..think twice before criticizing WoT. half the people in the world are not mistaken in loving the series like hell.

  12. Axiomatic
    April 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

    WoTLover, you really don’t have the moral highground to imply that someone’s tastes aren’t mature enough when you’re defending the Wheel of Time.

    You know, the series that’s 99% braid-tugging, skirt-smoothing and complaining about how men are wool-headed. In THOSE EXACT WORDS.

  13. May 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    thank you for speaking my mind, sir. the fantasy genre is a cyclic retelling of old ideas.

  14. June 26, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Way to go I was waiting for someone to identify these cheap devices.

  15. RMT1976
    October 25, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    You need to remember that the reader needs to be able to relate to the people and setting to some degree. Medieval Europe is far enough back in time, but a society and setting that we can still recognise. If it was neolithic, bronze or iron age the society, such as it was and technology, such as it was are too far removed from our mindset that it would make it too hard to relate.
    And WoTLover you said 50% of the world loves it. Well, that means the other half don’t.

  16. Michael Harris
    September 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I will keep this in mind when writing my book. It is good to hear some opinions about fantasy and what is wanted in these types of books.

  17. DAVID STEIN
    February 27, 2016 at 6:20 am

    I was enjoying this, until you addressed me as “people”. I HATE that!

  18. Drakonemi
    March 4, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Such a long comment, almost fantasy like, but actually what it says? Something very short, simple and predictable. It says: Stop writing fantasy (and read also, including fairy tales and myths), and start writing realistic literature, because the real art is when we depict reality as it is and we need to read about what we already live and know and experience every single day again and again… Well, that is more or less the opinion of all haters of fantasy. Still, with all weaknesses of the different authors or books, one should keep in mind that fantasy is fairy tales, contemporary myths, where the point, and the meaning is based on deeply embedded archetypes which has nothing to do with all this crap about prejudices, racism, medieval settings, etc. And who makes you read fantasy after all? Just stop reading fantasy
    and go for Balzac 🙂

  19. June 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    LOVED THIS. This gave me a great idea for a plot twist, thank you!

    • June 18, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      Also I’m damn tired of mideval fantasy books blarg.

  20. December 12, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Well the only fantasy author I like is, um, Borges? Other than that they’re usually just fast food for the brain.

  1. October 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm
  2. October 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm

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