In the writer’s group that I belong to I’ve been reading a fantasy novel.
I’ve written sci-fi and horror but I’ve never ventured into this particular genre. Not knowing the rules to these kinds of books I wasn’t sure how to properly critique it.
I eventually went to my old friend Wikipedia for help. Wiki says, “Fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in fictional worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of (pseudo-)scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (which are subgenres of speculative fiction).
As I read the chapters I did indeed experience the various elements listed in the above definition, but as I read more and more chapters I discovered that what really mattered to me beyond the wonderful settings and other-worldly characters was whether I cared about the protagonist or not. This got me to thinking, isn’t that pretty much the case with any genre?
Shakespeare once said, “A beer by any other name would still taste as sweet.” Okay, maybe he didn’t say it quite like that, but the point is no matter where the story takes place or who the characters are, it nearly always boils down to whether we – the reader – have an emotional interest in their outcome.
Here’s an interesting blurb from fantasy author Mysti Parker for her book A Ranger’s Tale
In the world of Tallenmere, the high elf – Caliphany Aranea – who is nearly a century old, has never been allowed to travel farther than a few miles out of the capital city of Leogard.
Her father, Sirius, leads the Mage Academy. After losing his only son, he expects Caliphany to take his place one day. The trouble is, she doesn't want to study magic and doubts she'll ever be as good a wizard as her father.
She dreams of leaving Leogard to explore the world and strike out on her own. When two brutes at Leogard Harbor attempt to kidnap her, half-elf ship captain and ranger, Galadin Trudeaux, comes to her rescue.
She and Galadin will face more adventure, more love, more heartache, than they ever thought possible. Through it all, Caliphany must decide where her heart truly lies.
This certainly has all the elements of the fantasy genre, and just as important seems to have a central character that is determined to make her own way, yet is torn over her obligation to her father and her country. Caliphany sounds like a character I could care about.
Mysti Parker's book can be found at: A Ranger's Tale.
Now pass me a beer, or whatever you want to call those things.