Welcome to Trident Thursday where I ask 3 pointed questions like "What is a pointed question anyway?" No, no no! That was not the actual question! Well not this week anyway.
First a disclaimer. The following subject is not new. Like the proverbial horse it has been beat to death in many posts and articles but I have yet to find answers that satisfy me. Besides, the only opinions I care about are yours.
The Problem in a Nutshell. As some of you may or may not know I adore Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery with a dose of good old fashioned Dark Fantasy thrown in for giggles. But the more I read the more I am becoming confused as to what exactly those terms mean.
I frequently see Epic Fantasy also called Sword and Sorcery. I see High Fantasy called Epic Fantasy. And Dark Fantasy is showing up across all the subgenres.
In a world where writers are busy trying their best to break the mold and stand out from the crowd (don't blame them mind you), their efforts are confusing the heck out of me. It is not a huge problem really. Just a labeling/shelving/SEO nightmare. (SEO = Search Engine Optimization for you non-bloggers)
My Mission has always and will always be to read and review those three types of fantasy, though I don't mind a bit of crossover into dark, alternate history or even a tiny speck of Sci-fi. The people who share my tastes are my target audience and I want to provide them with an honest spoiler free review while adding in as many other sources of information as I can find.
I frequently find myself closing the book and wondering exactly what category it falls in. How in the world am I going to label it? This leads me to go looking. What did the cover blurb accolades call it? The publisher? The author? Other reviewers? (I hate resorting to reviews, I try to avoid those at all costs so MY review remains untainted.)
And what do I find? More confusion. This one says it is the best Dark, that one the best Sword, Epic, High, Fantasy they have read in years....
Guess what else I find. Basically everything across the board is being called Epic Fantasy.
Well, my definition of Epic differs. Look at the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. Small cast of characters with magic and wielding sharp pointy things. Yes it is good vrs evil, but they are pretty much contained in one city at a time and not engaged in broad sweeping epic world changing conflict. And yet.... it is called Epic Fantasy. Personally I call it Sword and Sorcery but am I wrong? *Note* The conflict does broaden out by book three but that just makes it more confusing not less.
*(Not picking on you Brent, just the first example that popped into my head.)*
To Clarify. I am not asking about Urban Fantasy or Science Fiction. If the storyline crosses over into THIS world, normally I won't read it. My goal of escaping this world and my suspension of belief are both defeated if there is urban scenery in my fantasy. And the future, quite frankly, scares me. There are however, exceptions to even that rule. Pern comes to mind. Oh and I do not object quite so much if it is a part of YA Fantasy since I left that scene behind a long time ago. Confused yet? Yeah. Me too. But I digress...
Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is three pronged. (Go ahead and roll your eyes, you know you want to.)
1. Do you have your own definition of the various sub genres of Fantasy? I know what the official explanations are and those are not helping me. I want to know what yours are.
2. Should I include them all? If it is a broad sweeping, earth shattering, fantasy with a main hero bearing a magic sword, along with his friendly dragon and elven girlfriend, taking on a horde of blood drinking demons bent on world domination AND set in a undefined or secondary world but obviously based on Celtic history, sorta, what the heck do I call it? A Dark Epic Sword and Sorcery Heroic High Fantasy Alternate History? (I'm out of breath now. Did I just set a record for run-on sentences?)
3. Or, what do you think about this idea? I have seen it said that if the book/series contains any combination of the elements listed above, it is Epic Fantasy. All of the other categories are sub genres. Do you agree? Maybe I should start a new trend, pick the top two and come up with my own terms. Epic High Fantasy, Epic Dark Fantasy or Epic Sword and Sorcery for example. (That would throw SEO out the window.) What do you think?
Discuss, share, tweet, comment, like, but mainly comment! I am looking for an Epic response here!
Oh and in anticipation of the ensuing deluge of opinions, THANKS!