Why I love High Fantasy

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After last week sharing why Meg LaTorre loves fantasy, I thought I’d share why I do.

Fantasy is an enormous genre.

It has often been said that there is room in Fantasy for everyone, and this means that the Fantasy genre is constantly growing and evolving. Classic fantasy has always shared its shelf-space with its brother, Science Fiction, but the wave of new sub-genres into the Fantasy category – steam punk, paranormal fantasy, YA fantasy, romantic fantasy, historical fantasy, urban fantasy – means that it is increasingly difficult to celebrate the virtues of the High Fantasy novel without feeling crowded out by the newcomers.

Don’t get me wrong – I am more than happy to settle down to read urban fantasy or even (dare I say it) a paranormal romance, but my heart belongs to High Fantasy.

High Fantasy; its sweeping scope, larger-than-life (and often anguished) heroes, devilishly evil villains, breath-taking landscapes and stories which can run for generations, and many, many novels. Every time I open a new High Fantasy novel and pour over the intricate map, my breath catches, wondering what new worlds and people this book will introduce me to. In a world of ambiguity, these books celebrate the struggle of good versus evil. They hold a mirror up to our own world yet make us wish to be somewhere else and someone else, if only for as long as our eyes skim over the pages.

High Fantasy novels are the novels that stay with me, long after the reading is done. The characters often feel as real as friends – I laugh with them, cry with them, wish them love and happiness but fear for disaster. I share their dreams, their hopes and their journey, all the while feeling the terrible weight of the decisions they must make – and the consequences which will ensue should they fail.

I love High Fantasy. If you do too, please share your own reasons for loving fantasy.

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16 thoughts on “Why I love High Fantasy

  1. I have to admit that I never made much distinguishing between the fantasy genres. I always loved the magic and monsters and the way these books drew me out of reality. That’s what has me staying within fantasy. I don’t get the same pull from stories that take place in reality.

  2. I love high fantasy because I love to get lost in the worlds. I feel like I’m there in the woods or a desert city, trekking along with the heroes, experiencing what they do, thrilled when they succeed, devastated when they fail. When they finally defeat the villain and finally earn their happily ever after, I grin from ear to ear, as if it’s my victory too.

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  4. I think the main thing that distinguishes High/Epic Fantasy from the rest of Fantasy (usually) is the maps. You really can’t have a good high/epic fantasy story without a good map. I wonder if there’s a correlation between people who like looking at maps and people who like high fantasy? To be honest, the maps are often 60% or more of what I enjoy about a series. Great post!

    • OMG yes! High Fantasy absolutely MUST have a map! I am a sucker for a good map – I love knowing where the characters are on a map at the beginning, and then turning back to the map to see where they’re going and where they’ve been. Whoever produced that opening sequence for Game of Thrones must have known this about us!

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  8. I love it for several reasons, the foremost being that Modernity makes us weak and stupid. It hollows us out with ceaseless, utterly mindless distraction. The primeval/medieval Fantasy worlds still require that characters wield their volition.
    (OK, I just love it for scantily-clad elf chicks…)
    Daniel

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