Monday, August 3, 2009

Magical Monday - Epic Fantasy

High Fantasy, also known as Epic Fantasy is a subgenre in the realm of fantasy fiction. Most of the fantasy work being published today falls under this category and has long, elaborate plots, very detailed characters, and magnificent settings and have multiple subplots interwoven within the tale. Epic Fantasy stories are often fashioned into a series of an impressive length – this gives the long range story line ample time to play out and primary characters to evolve as they learn lessons while completing their quest. Some of the most popular fantasy novels of our time follow this formula such as JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.

High fantasy usually takes place in an extraordinary world filled with fantastical beings, magic and a hero in the making. There are quests to be made, lessons to be learned amidst the ongoing battle of good and evil. The novels are filled with archetypal characters (which we will talk about more in length next Monday) and a mythology well rooted in tradition. These tales explain the nature of the world and life itself.

By definition a quest is a journey towards a goal. In fantasy this often involves a magical artifact or being that can save the world. The elements necessary for a quest often include a hero in the making – this is typically an individual one would not think of as a hero and it takes some evolving of the character for them to achieve their ultimate goal. There are usually friends (old friends or newly acquired friends) bonded by the goal of the quest. There is also typically some magical elements involved – as artifacts with magical powers or individuals able to wield magic. A long journey involving soul searching and tests that only those of high character can hope to pass. These tests/tasks will push the hero in training to his very limits and then force him to take a step beyond.

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Enid Wilson said...

I generally stay away from reading epic, no matter if it's fantasy or romance. I'm just too impatient. I'd rather watch them in movies.

Bargain with the Devil

N A Sharpe said...

Good Morning Enid - I know, epic is quite long and detailed - one reason why it is broken into a series but it is usually an amazing story. I like the movie versions of them too :D

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Stephen Tremp said...

Its interesting to see how authors develop protagonists. Are they born leaders, like Alex Cross (James Patterson books), or are they individuals who are thrust into a situation or greatness is thrust upon them, and they would otherwise be just an anverage Joe.

My hero is kind of in the middle, lots of potential, but kinda coasting through life.

Stephen Tremp

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the definition of high fantasy. These are the type of books my son loves reading--the quest, magical elements, rich plot, and detailed characters. I was having a hard time pinpointing what to call it at the bookstore. Some fantasy-type books he doesn't enjoy as much and I wasn't sure why--he said the plot lines were 'downers.' From your post, I see that what he likes is a particular fantasy sub-genre. Thanks!

Mystery Writing is Murder

The Practical Preserver said...

Everyone enjoys reading a series and young adult and middle school readers are no exception. Bring on the epic!

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Steve - yes, in Epic books the hero is always a commoner who rises to the challenge. I like my protagonists this way - I like to see the flaws and watch them grow into the challenge.

Hi Elizabeth - I'm with your son - I like Epic books - rich in details that make you feel part of the story.

Hi Karen- I agree! I love the middle grade/young adult Epic Fantasy series a lot!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

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