Musings: Epic Fantasy

Drinking: Green Tea, Bigelow

Epic Fantasy is my favorite genre.  I love all kinds of books, but there is something about getting lost in an imaginary world for a day, a week, or even years that is appealing.  As some of you may recall, I had a rather wild imagination as a child.  Add in a misfit feeling, and I was the target audience for epic fantasy stories.  My first, as far as I can recall, was The Chronicles of Narnia.  Something about finding a magical world in the most ordinary of places – a wardrobe – has captured the delight and imagination of children of all ages for decades.  I was no different. I followed the Pevensie children, their horrible cousin Eustace and his friends through all seven books, rereading them over and over.  My parents now have them on wonderful radio theater recordings.  My favorite is the outtake book, The Horse and His Boy, because who hasn’t dreamed that they are really a lost prince or princess?

From Lewis, I moved to his friend Tolkein’s The Hobbit.  Bilbo Baggins is one of the most endearing characters in fiction.  I really identified with his adventures, and wished that a stranger would show up on my doorstep and take me somewhere I’d never been.  I subsequently attempted to read The Lord of the Rings epic, but struggled with the language.  I have since returned to Frodo and his travels many times and loved them.  (I even took a class in college, “Middle Ages, Middle Earth,” that looked at Tolkien’s influences).

When I was 12, my friends gave me The Eye of the World, thus beginning a journey/ fangirlness that has lasted for more than a decade.  I’ve reread all of the books in the Wheel of Time series multiple times.  The publisher’s blog, Tor.com, has had a long-running reread series that was only supposed to last about a year leading up to the release of the final book.  The final book was split in three parts, and the last installment comes this year, more than two decades after the first book was published.  I love the world Robert Jordan created, the characters, the magic system, and the humor (a key part of the world-building, in my opinion).  There are short comings to the series, of course, but every time I pick it up again, I discover a new facet of the world or the plot or a characterization that I didn’t notice before that simply enriches my love of the story.  The recent takeover of the series by Brandon Sanderson following the untimely passing of Robert Jordan has continued with only a few awkward nuances that smooth themselves through the story. (And for those wondering…I wish I were a Min but I’m totally an Elayne.)

My most recent foray into epic fantasy is George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.  Hands down, my favorite character is Arya.  I think she’s everyone’s favorite, though.  Martin’s series turns epic fantasy tropes on their heads.  There is a fan joke that any character you start liking is going to be killed off.  Maybe.  It is  medieval politics and violence mixed with magic and dragons.  How’s that for a hook?  Many people refuse to read the books because they come out so far apart and Martin may die before finishing, as happened to Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time. I think those are lame reasons to miss out on fantastic books.

Finally, Brandon Sanderson, mentioned above as the new author for the Wheel of Time, has begun his own epic fantasy series.  He began with the Mistborn series, which, honestly lost me after the first fantastic installment.  His latest series, beginning with The Way of Kings stars with an assassination and goes full throttle from there.  It’s all in here: manipulations, strange cultures, ideas at crossroads, pointless wars… Mind you this is truly epic – The Way of Kings is only the first book and it clocks in around 900 pages.  Sanderson says he is planning at least 9 more novels.

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Author: Lisa Fry

Freelance Writer & Editor. Book lover. Feminist. International development professional

2 thoughts on “Musings: Epic Fantasy”

  1. Yay fantasy! One of my favorite genres, too. I couldn't finish mistborn series either, but I know the guy who helped with the artwork for it… or was it elantris that he helped with….can't remember. Yay! Small world! If you haven't read elantris, you should.

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