Fantasy that’s maybe not so grimdark
Posted December 6, 2015on:
It is just me, or has Epic Fantasy gotten really bloody lately? More battles depicted, more violence, more people getting run through with varied weapons, more plots that revolve around action, battle scenes, and killing people. Maybe that’s just what is being advertised right now, maybe it’s the sign of the times, maybe publishers see how well Game of Thrones is doing and want to publish more stuff like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed a lot of grimdark, and I certainly don’t mind some violence. I don’t mean to knock battlefield fantasy, but like a brand new sword that’s seen recent use, the shiny has worn off for me. Ultraviolence was a novelty for me, and now that I’m past it (or maybe I’m just getting old), I find that I prefer fantasy titles that are more in the vein of Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind , Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora, etc. Fantasy that focuses on plot, characters, consequences, adventure, magic, relationships, changes in perspective and such.
That said, I recently put the following question to the Twittersphere:
Here are some of the responses.
(all blabs from Amazon)
In the land of the Upmeads, King Peter’s sons thirst for adventure and the King agrees that all except Ralph, the youngest, may go forth. But Ralph secretly makes his way to Wulstead, and here learns about the Well at the World’s End, beginning a journey which will eventually lead him there.
Long ago, the wizards had vanished from the world, and all knowledge was left hidden in riddles. Morgon, prince of the simple farmers of Hed, proved himself a master of such riddles when he staked his life to win a crown from the dead Lord of Aum.
But now ancient, evil forces were threatening him. Shape changers began replacing friends until no man could be trusted. So Morgon was forced to flee to hostile kingdoms, seeking the High One who ruled from mysterious Erlenstar Mountain.
Beside him went Deth, the High One’s Harper. Ahead lay strange encounters and terrifying adventures. And with him always was the greatest of unsolved riddles — the nature of the three stars on his forehead that seemed to drive him toward his ultimate destiny.
A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard – for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvish-like Siti, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die.
Only a small scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon–a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League–will go the task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle of long-lost swords of power…and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend-maker’s worst nightmares!
Being a fisherman like his father isn’t a bad life, but it’s not the one that Asher wants.
Despite his humble roots, Asher has grand dreams. And they call him to Dorana, home of princes, beggars, and the warrior mages who have protected the kingdom for generations.
Little does Asher know, however, that his arrival in the city is being closely watched…
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She doesn’t yet know she has inherited a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the noble School of Pellinor and enables her to see the world as no other can. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true identity and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now, she and her mysterious teacher must embark on a treacherous, uncertain journey through a time and place where the forces of darkness wield an otherworldly terror.
The first book in a projected quartet, Alison Croggon’s epic about Maerad and her remarkable yet dangerous gift is a beautiful, unforgettable tale. Presented as a new translation of an ancient text, THE NAMING evokes the rich and complex landscape of Annar, a legendary world just waiting to be discovered.
Little, Big tells the epic story of Smoky Barnable — an anonymous young man who meets and falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, and goes to live with her in Edgewood, a place not found on any map. In an impossible mansion full of her relatives, who all seem to have ties to another world not far away, Smoky fathers a family and tries to learn what tale he has found himself in — and how it is to end.
Now it’s your turn to join the conversation:
Are you also noticing a trend in more violent fantasy novels? Why do you think they are so popular?
If, like me, you prefer your stories on the slightly less violent side, what titles do you recommend?