The last poll's topic of interest was the narrative mode the authors choose for their novels. The question was "Which narrative mode do you prefer?" and the results were:
- First person - 18%
- Third person - 44%
- Both - 38%
So it seems that readers have a clear preference after all between first and third person perspective. I would have thought that "both" would have finished with a higher score. The results may be more related to the number of novels available in each category and surprisingly, the people who like first person perspective more than third were more adamant about it.
On to the next subject!
Fantasy is usually defined by imaginary settings where magic is involved (I know, that's one of the most central aspect and not a complete definition). When you think about these imaginary settings, the European medieval theme and history is probably the one coming first to your mind, at least where epic or high Fantasy is concerned. The genre was defined by Tolkien, Jordan, C.S. Lewis, Michael Moorcock and George R.R. Martin to name just a few and in almost every cases, the medieval era stood as a certain base.
In the last couple of years, Fantasy authors explored more varied settings. Some included steampunk or technological elements but in term of inspiration from the real world, Arabic and Islamic cultures are now more and more present. Looking at R. Scott Bakker, Peter V. Brett, Richard Morgan, etc.., slowly, a multitude of elements from the Middle Eastern lore and people became represented, more often than not as foreign civilizations and not as the principal background.
Even more recently, Arabic and Islamic culture became the predominant environment for Saladin Ahmed (Throne of Crescent Moon), Mazarkis Williams (The Emperor's Knife) and Howard Andrew Jones (The Desert of Souls). However, Middle East is not the sole region being capitalized upon, Brad P. Beaulieu's The Lays of Anuskaya series is inspired by Russian culture and Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghost world is a derivation of the Mongolian empire from the time of Genghis Khan, the steppe people.
Even if I can't really imagine a Fantasy setting without swords, they don't have to be swords from a pseudo-medieval era of Western Europe. I really like the fact that the authors are finding inspiration in more diverse cultures from the real world and it's always interesting to read a story set in a completely invented world full of surprises. In the end, I think I will always have a knack for the pseudo-medieval setting but to keep it this way, there ought to have original settings from various cultures popping up from time to time.
I'm not saying that every epic Fantasy novel ought to be set in this setting, I'm only pointing out my favorite. Alright, my question is:
"Which cultural inspiration do you prefer for your Fantasy setting?"
- Pseudo-medieval Europe
- Middle Eastern (Arabic, Islamic)
- Another culture from the real world
- Completely out of this world
- No preference