The fantasy genre – quite literally, a world, or even universe, where there are absolutely no limits, so anything can go: dragons, monsters, sorcerers, fairies, unicorns and magic. Fairy tales for adults really; great for getting in touch with your imagination and part of the reason why it’s one of my all-time favourite genres.
What’s Classed as “Fantasy” Fiction?
Typically, fantasy fiction features some or all of the following:
- An imaginary world/universe;
- Elements of the impossible; things that couldn’t happen in “real life”;
- Mythical/magical creatures;
- Supernatural abilities;
- An epic battle of good verses evil.
Sometimes, you might see the fantasy genre being lumped in with science-fiction (“sci-fi”) and/or horror as a broader genre but, as I’m something of a purist, I’m going to keep them separate and save those genres for later posts!
Often, although not always, there’s an Arthurian-type setting and characters with all manner of unusual or exotic sounding names from all over their imaginary world/universe. Most of my favourites include a map somewhere within the book to refer to and get the “lay of the land”, so to speak.
- Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien;
- Game of Thrones, George R R Martin;
- Discworld, Terry Pratchett;
- Age of the Five, Trudi Canavan;
- Harry Potter, J K Rowling;
- The Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis
And of course, many more!
Of course, fantasy fiction spans across a number of mediums, not just books but TV shows, cinema and games. Many times the story will have originally started as a book and later be adapted for another medium. One of my favourite games, The Witcher, was based on the book of the same name by author, Andrzej Sapkowski, and is due to be released as a Netflix original later this year. I’m pretty excited! Trailer here:
The absolute best thing about the fantasy fiction genre is the fact that anything can happen at any time – even the impossible and improbable. A recent example of this is the Game of Thrones series of books/TV shows. George R R Martin went against the grain of many other authors in the genre at the time in his not being afraid to kill off big characters at any time, creating a fair, few shocks for us along the way. Looking back, it was in fact a stroke of genius really capturing his audience off-guard whether as readers or viewers, so much so that it really influenced a rapid change in trend in fantasy fiction style generally.
Fantasy fiction as a genre is really reminiscent to me of the fairy tales, stories and games of my childhood so some can be comfortingly nostalgic and familiar even if the author is new to me.
There’s also a lot of scope to expand the story in a wide range of directions in a world you make up yourself and that usually means an extended series and/or spin-off stories if done well.
It seems slightly ironic that the worst thing for me about the genre is based on its best thing. For me, sometimes the range of stories, given that it literally can be about anything, are relatively limited with quite a few authors sticking too closely to the tried and true Arthurian style stories.
It can also be ages in between books getting released, Game of Thrones, for the obvious example!
That’s my basic take on fantasy fiction anyway. What about you – do you have a fantasy fiction favourite?