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October 4th, 2005, 08:02 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
A typical fantasy setting? What's that??
Just been poking around on one of the other forums here, and noticed a lot of comments along the lines of Robin Hobb's new book is "not your usual fantasy setting." By which, one assumes, they mean mediaeval - castles, swords, horse travel etc. Or possibly Dark Ages King Arthur/Celtic stuff. And, quite frankly, I wonder where the people who posted those comments have been over the last 10 years or so.
If you ask me, very little of today's fantasy is actually set in mediaeval times - neither on a mediaeval Earth, nor on some mediaeval-type alternative earth. And most of it is not Celtic/Dark Ages setting, either. But somehow, some readers have failed to notice! Just look at some of the award winning fantasy of late - Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Dr Norrell ; Gaiman’s American Gods; Harry Potter; Mieville’s work; Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw; I could on and on. And on.
Even fantasy that superficially seems to be mediaeval – in that there is not much sophisticated technology and everyone fights with swords – often has very little resemblance to the mediaeval. (Magic often renders the idea of mediaeval concept superfluous anyway– is a world like Robert Jordan’s mediaeval when people can travel around it magically with an ease that makes airlines look slow?) And yet still readers will insist that “typical” fantasy settings are somehow homogenous. This is not true now, if it ever was.
My Isles of Glory trilogy was quite obviously set in an alternative world at a time that approximates to our 1780-1830. There were scientific expeditions on sailing ships, open ocean navigation by people who knew what they were doing, 19th century type colonialism, the beginnings of modern medicine and democracy and countless other clues to the period. And yet I have had reviewers refer to it as a mediaeval fantasy. I’m not sure what book they were reading! Were they so mired in this tired idea that fantasy has to be mediaeval, that they didn’t read what was on the page?
These days, fantasy has as many settings as there are fantasy books; some are brilliantly realised, some aren’t. Some are cliched, some aren’t. So please, none of this “not your typical fantasy setting” – there ain't no such thing!
November 26th, 2005, 08:43 AM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
- South East England
I did wonder about that. I believe that when they read the word 'sword' they immediately associate it with kings and queens, castles, a knight and a princess, very superficial things.
I believe it's better to let the writer tell the story and paint the entire world for you, then try to match it to a pre-conceived notion of fantasy and suddenly go, "oooh this is one thats not expected!". To be honest, if it IS of the type that's expected, it's not exactly breaking any moulds or taxing the imagination, and won't be appealing to certain audiences.
PS: Glenda, I think the depth of your work is fantastic. Havenstar has been my favourite for the past four years, and no other has beaten it - and I read a lot of books! You have a gift for introducing a person to a whole new world, new people and concepts, and making every moment believable and enjoyable.
I've read a couple of your other posts and would just like to add:
Favourite heroines of mine (and I'm a woman, so I demand them to be a certain way or I simply won't take to them) are a mix of Keris and Blaze - battling with a certain circumstance they are in, not 'perfect' looking, almost dismissible except that they have a quality of courage and ability, with a mix of spirit and humour and just the right amount of goodness that makes them stand out.
Last edited by Elisaria; November 26th, 2005 at 08:59 AM.
November 27th, 2005, 07:11 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
Thank you Elisaria!
That was just what I needed as I struggle with the final stages of my next book...somewhere along the way I always pass through this stage of "nobody loves me", or rather, nobody loves my work, this is **** ...and then I read something like that and I am re-energised. Thanks!!
The new trilogy is set in a Roman-style world - at least no one will think this one is mediaeval! - but I am wondering if I shall get some flak because it deviates in many things from the Roman model. And I hope you like the heroine! Unfortunately, so far, I don't have a UK publisher for it, but the first book comes out in April in Australia.
October 29th, 2009, 06:10 AM #4
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
A fantasy world is a type of imaginary world, part of a fictional universe used in fantasy novels and games. Typical worlds involve magic or magical abilities and often, but not always, either a medieval or futuristic theme. Some worlds may be a parallel world tenuously connected to Earth via magical portals or items; a fictional Earth set in the remote past or future; or an entirely independent world set in another universe.
[EDIT: links to other website removed.]
Last edited by Hobbit; October 29th, 2009 at 08:24 AM.