Let me start with a quick return on the last poll. I asked a simple question on a theme up to date with the current trends of Fantasy: "Do you like your Fantasy gritty?". The results show a variation even more important than I thought with 87% of the respondents answering with Yes. Since there's more and more authors getting grittier or in fact actually focusing on that aspect, we're in for a treat in the future!
Once upon a time, in an old kingdom, a young hero destined to save the world came upon a nice old wizard who told him he is part of a prophecy and has to learn magic, get a magical elven sword and become a hero by killing the evil dark lord in his castle protected by a dragon.
Would you like to read a book with this kind of synopsis?
Some of the themes/clichés/tropes I introduced here are at the heart of the now labelled traditional Fantasy novels, mostly so in the case of epic (or high) Fantasy and sword and sorcery. They are the bricks and mortar that served to build the genre as we know it now, set the conventions. However, are we still interested in building brick walls? Nowadays, the Fantasy tropes still found in modern authors are twisted, turned inside out or extremely stretched. Clichés exists to be parodied, used with parsimony or clear intent.
Authors tend to me quite imaginative but sometimes they fall into the trap by inadvertence. I say trap but depending on the usage of it, a trope can become an asset. Anyway, for a book to be considered Fantasy, it ought to have at least some recurring themes, a certain dose of magic, heroism or questing. I think that one of the element bringing these classic ideas to the table over and over is probably some kind of nostalgia but in the end, it's what makes us marvel when reading in the genre.
Writing a good story based on compelling characters is the important part (without forgetting that it ought to be in a fictional world to be classified as Fantasy). Nonetheless, one of the skills of a Fantasy author is to incorporate imaginative elements derived from the usual setting and world building and to use them in new ways. As for myself, I appreciate from times to times the good old traditional Fantasy novel, as far as there's still something original about it. I'm pretty sure we all feel the same to a certain degree in that aspect.
However, there are certainly a couple of these tropes that get under your skin. In my case, I admit that I have grown really tired of the young boy hidden on a farm waiting to be found and transformed into the savior of the world. Mostly so when he doesn't really understand what he is doing or why. Evil, pure unexplained evil without a hint of motivation has also grown to be monotonous. Still, dragons, morally devious thieves and assassins and historically rich world are my cup of tea even after reading several interpretations of them all.
Here is my next question:
Which of these Fantasy tropes are you tired of?
- Righteous thieves/assassins
- Elder races
- Elves/dwarves (or other races)
- Evil dark lords
- Farm boy saving the world
- Middle-east references
- Unevolved old worlds
- Artifact/sword McGuffin
- Apostrophes/names with G's and K's
- Black-cowled assassins covers
- All of them
Maybe one not on the list?