The Fantasy Genre

Last time I reviewed some authors in the Historical Christian Romance genre of books. This time, I'd like to focus on Fantasy. This is by far my favorite genre. I think it is often mistaken with Science Fiction, so I'd like to talk about what Fantasy is and isn't. Maybe you don't consider yourself a fan of Fantasy, having an idea that it is silly and for geeks. Or maybe you think it's evil, because it includes magic. Those things may still stand at the end of this article, but I'll at least try to shed a little more light before it's totally written off.

The Difference

Fantasy involves a story that couldn't actually happen in our universe, while Science Fiction could possibly happen if science were to get us to a certain point. Science Fiction also probably won't happen, but you can at least imagine it as something that is probable within our realm. Fantasy is usually set in a different realm, often times including magic. Think of it like this: Star Wars is Fantasy, while Star Trek is Science Fiction. Usually more science-minded people, those into learning how things work, will be drawn to Science Fiction, while those more into History and seeing how an adventure unfolds will be drawn to Fantasy. This makes sense to me, as I'm really not a fan of Science Fiction, and I'm very right-brained. I tried to like the popular Science Fiction Ender's Game, but I really found it boring. But, Hunger Games is actually science fiction, and I loved that, so maybe I'm more well-rounded than I thought. And, just a rule of thumb that isn't across the board, Science Fiction characters will most likely fight with guns, while Fantasy will be brandishing swords.

It's Long

One thing to be aware of with Fantasy is that it is known (along with Science Fiction) as the genre that pushes the boundaries of length. A normal Fiction book is about 70,000 words. Well, a Fantasy novel averages 110,000 (on the low side). That's a long book! And when you consider that most Fantasy books are part of a series, that becomes a LOT of reading. In my case, I listen to audiobooks, so that averages above 25 hours of listening, compared to the 12 of a normal book. Recently, I listened to a single book that was over 45 hours long! Whew, that's a commitment. But, when you get into the story and begin caring about the characters, you really can't wait until you can read more.

It's Usually Dark

A problem I have with Fantasy is that it tends to be dark, or grim. I love Narnia, 100 Cupboards, the Graceling Realm series, The Accidental Highwayman, etc., but those are Young Adult books. Just like Romance books tend to be sexually racey, Adult Fantasy's downfall is that it tends to be dark, often involving titles about blood, death, and witches. You can see the trend with Harry Potter. The first books in the series were for Young Adults, and weren't very dark. As they went along, and became more books for Adults, they got very dark. Lord of the Rings rises above the darkness, offering hope, but, strangely enough, it isn't the norm for this genre. So, I wanted to point out and offer a little praise for recent authors that are doing just that. 

1) Brandon Sanderson
Although I felt like the 45 hour long book I mentioned before dragged on way too long, I must congratulate Brandon Sanderson for not being so gory, and focusing more on plot building in The Way of Kings. He seems a little too brilliant for me sometimes, but I do plan to give him another shot. 

2) Lindsay Buroker
I'm currently reading a series, a set of three books, by Lindsay Buroker called Forgotten Ages. Admittedly, I just started, but I was pointed to her because she particularly is not a dark Fantasy writer. The story hooked me right from the start, and the quirky female lead is likable. That's something else to note about Fantasy, it's made up of mainly male authors. 

3) Michael J. Sullivan
And the last series I want to mention is really why I wanted to write this post. I found a favorite author in the form of Michael J. Sullivan, while reading his Ryria Revelations books. These books are fun, smart, engaging, and that ending is one to knock your socks off. There aren't many books that I want to read over and over, but these fall into that category.

I have this distant dream to bridge the gap and write hopeful Fantasy, especially as a female author. Whether that happens or not, I'm always on the lookout for these kind of books. If you know of more books like this, let me know! Fantasy takes us on a ride, and often teaches us about life and overcoming odds. If you are ready for an adventure, it might just be time to pick up a Fantasy novel.


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