Grab your fork and knife. 2014 promises to be another smorgasbord for the fantasy reader. I believe fantasy has never experienced such a broad selection of sub-genres as it does today. However, for the fantasy reader this can be seen as a blessing or curse, especially when a reader is trying to find a new author to follow. Some fantasy genres are as different as night and day, medieval and modern times, or dragons and vampires. Likewise, for the author it can be really difficult to figure out exactly where her novels "fit in." That in itself can be a quest of epic proportions.
On The Level
For time's sake, I could tell you the Teller of Destiny series is pseudo-medieval high fantasy with the elements of quest, court intrigue and heroic fantasy. It also tackles dark and mature subject matters. Oh, dang. My eyes are glazing over, too--and I'm the gal writing this. What a mouthful of specifics! It's almost frightening. But that's basically what my readers can expect from the series, in a nutshell.
So what do all these terms mean? If you would like to learn more about the different sub-genres, I suggest checking these pages out: https://www.worldswithoutend.com/resources_sub-genres.asp http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Fsubgenres.html I guess the best way for me to describe what I write, and for you to decide if it's something you like to read, would be to tell you a little about my background as a reader and what I love about high fantasy.
As a reader and writer, I like almost every kind of fantasy from epic to magic realism. Unfortunately many readers who love urban fantasy, low fantasy, or magic realism won't always get into epic or high fantasy. This is just a matter of taste, for the same reason some young readers love to read the teen witch books by Lynne Ewing but can't finish the (amazing) acclaimed witch trilogy by Libba Bray.
Hmmm... Were you a kid who spit out your carrots? Your peas? So what's the flavor of high fantasy?
The Challenge in Reading Fantasy
I started out reading mythology for kicks as a kid. I moved on to science fiction and high fantasy. I loved the moral struggle of good verses evil and all that's grey in between. I spent my freshman year in high school with my nose in a book, going though all the thick novels in Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Chronicles (or two trilogies, depending on how you look at them) followed by LeGuin, McKillip, and MZB. I was hooked. But not right away. And I strongly emphasize that. It took real effort. Just like I learned to adore opera, and coffee, and beer. These were all acquired tastes. Once I'd acquired my taste for high fantasy, however, I spent hours staring off into space, going over the plot and emotions of the epic story and characters. I spent as much time thinking the stories through as I did reading them, probably.
Stories are never spoon-fed to the reader of high fantasy. The author expects the reader to "figure it out" and appreciate the wit. In fact, I know many readers who become infuriated when a point is repeated too many times, or if everything is given away in the first chapter. Traditional fantasy expects real commitment, so I learned early on to trust the author and not expect a plot hook by page five. Hah!
Conveying Emotion Through Setting
High fantasy often lets the scene set the mood. If the quest leads our heroes into a dark, musty part of the forest, the author leaves no doubt that danger and death await. If rain has passed over a village or town, it's most likely an Easter egg for the observant reader--symbolic of a spiritual cleansing or change in fortune. As an author, I love to leave these symbols for my readers. I will rework scene after scene to add clues and tidbits. These little gifts are especially rewarding when the subject matter is spiritual or religious in nature. Those with "eyes to see" will find them. It's part of what makes traditional high fantasy a literary undertaking and just plain fun. These extras also make high fantasy books the kind of novels readers return to again and again throughout the years.
The Traditional Fantasy Narrative and the Intimacy of Deep Point of VIew
I am a writer who seeks a balance between deep point of view and traditional fantasy's narrative. In many ways, fantasy grew out of folktales or the retelling of fairytales. The pull toward third person distant or "God-view" narrative is strong. But today's readers want to connect with the main character, to empathize with her, and deep point of view accomplishes this easily. However, if the same can be achieved through a carefully crafted narrative, it will always pack a bigger punch for the reflective reader.
The Beauty of Words versus the Simplicity of Emotion
If I have an opportunity to write something beautiful, something expressed in such a way that my reader with think on it, ponder it, and savor it, I will go for that goal without regrets. For some readers it may be too flowery, might slow the pace, or might pull them away from the cathartic experience of being in the heroine's head. And that's okay. Somedays I want to see a romantic movie set in nineteenth century India. On another day, I might want to see the latest psychological thriller. We have different moods. We should allow ourselves different books to read during those moods, too.
Investing in the Story Reaps Rewards
As a reader, after placing my trust in a dedicated writer, I've rarely been disappointed with a well-spun yarn of high fantasy. I may not always like the endings or the fates of certain characters, but I can usually understand why certain things happen. I can respect a writer who has really offered her time to set up a deep story of sorcery, and magic, and social commentary. I will trust her with the next book, and the next.
As a writer, I strive for the same with controversial subjects and carefully crafted phrases. I strive for the honey on the tongue, the jaw drop, the intake of breath, and the book pressed reverently to the chest. There are no greater rewards!
--A. H. De Carrasco
My Review: January 2014 ~ Review Copies ~
From Continue by A.H. De Carrasco
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First, I would like to thank the author A.H. De Carrasco for giving me this book for an honest review. I love reading Fantasy stories, good vs evil, the quests, the characters. The world building is very good. The characters are well developed and defined. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.
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