All posts tagged: fantasy novels

10 Types of Magic

What is it that separates fantasy novels from other genres? Most fantasy novels are set on mythical worlds straight from the author’s imagination, some inhabited by outlandish beasts, or strange and mysterious semi-human dwellers. But what really defines and holds these worlds together is the existence of magic.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss #Kingkiller #fantasy #novel

Magic is crucial to fantasy novels, spanning the genre in many different forms, as sorcerers of many different guises fill their novels with mystery, wisdom, and sage-advice from a lifetime of accumulated knowledge.  But other than giving a general explanation of ‘a lifetime of study’ or ’many years of hard work’ we often never find out how these same wizards, warlocks, or magicians learnt to weave their spells and magic. Patrick Rothfuss has taken this subject in his intriguing new trilogy named the Kingkiller chronicles, The first of which is called ‘The Name of the Wind’.  The story is explained through a series of recollections from his lead character, Kvothe, as he tells his story to a chronicler to give a genuine account of his life.  It reveals how Kvothe learnt his many different disciplines – both physical and mental – ranging from learning to fight, crafting magical items, to calling the wind to act via his will.  His studies, at a very unusual university, is interspersed with the friendships and the alliances he made, …

Mark Lawrence – Prince of Thorns

Ok, I have spent a fair bit of time discussing Historic Novels this week, so I’d like to return to fantasy novels in this post.  I have chosen to discuss one of my favourite recent series, The Broken Empire Trilogy, written by Mark Lawrence, starting with the novel The Prince of Thorns. When you first meet Lawrence’s character, Jorg, you are shocked.  No really, you are.  I’m used to un-conventional characters and anti-heroes, but this guy is just plain nasty, and the fact that he is just a young damaged youth somehow makes it worse.  But that is the attraction of these books – the complex but darkly charismatic Jorg gradually pulls you into his angry world.  I’ll not give too much away, but his psychopathic behaviour is intrinsic to the plot as the story unfolds.  Jorg leads a rough bunch of mercenaries, through a post-apocalyptic world full of knights, magicians, and radioactively mutated monsters.  If you’re hoping for brotherly companionship amongst the band of mercenaries, you’ll again be disappointed, as this lot will not …

There isn’t one proscribed path….

This week I have looked at four separate novelists which have all made a great contributions to the two genres, but all have used very different writing styles.  In summary: David Gemmell – fast paced, exciting stories, interspersed with highly developed character development outside of the leading cast.  The sort of novel you can’t stop once you start. Bernard Cornwell – Gritty, realistic adventures closely matched to real events.  Strong emphasis on real history, and very clear and understandable battle scenes.  Will finish one of his books feeling you have learnt a lot, without realising how. Robin Hobb – Slower paced, but beautifully written novels, with a lot of detailed description and strong emotional journeys.  Immersion guaranteed into a rich and vibrant world, through close connection to leading characters. George McDonald Fraser – History told in the most unorthodox of styles – with a leading character as far removed from the mainstream as can be imagined.  Detailed history of the nineteenth century including some of its lesser known events; all held together by the author’s …

Robin Hobb – The Tawny Man series

Robin Hobb’s writing is characterised by its depth and incredibly detailed description, added to this is a deep insight into her characters inner thoughts and emotions.  It is far removed from some of the faster paced novels so characteristic of the fantasy genre, but that is why her novels achieve something that many other can’t, and that is to bring the reader into complete immersion into the worlds she creates.  The time she spends describing the emotional journey of her characters is what I would identify as the key to her novels.  When somebody dies in her novels, you really feel it, because you have learnt what that character means to others, and by the same token, yourself.  It is important because lives are important, and Robin Hobb never loses sight of that. I have chosen the ‘Tawny Man series’ as my favourite, because it was with this series that I really identified with the main character, a moody, roughhewn man, whose life is characterised by the close bond he holds with his wolf – …

David Gemmell – Legend

Back in 2006 I heard the news the David Gemmel had passed away.  I was greatly saddened by the news, not just because I was an avid reader of all his novels, but also because his novels had come to personify everything that I love about modern fantasy writing.  Fast action, fascinating stories, outlandish worlds full of heroes and magic.  However, what separated David Gemmell from the crowd was the depth of the characters he created.  Not only were the main characters carefully thought out, every support characters life will have been carefully crafted and moulded into a believable character.  If the story required two sentries to be waiting on guard duty, he wouldn’t simply create two generic guards, ready to be bumped off when needed.  He would explain why they had joined the army, what motivated them in life, what their worries were – did they have a family?  Were they looking forward to seeing them that night?  It was this level of character development that made the worlds he created so real, so …