Though I am an eager devourer of all fantasy, I will be the first to admit that they are not all created the same. There are times when the logic of the world building falls short. Other times, I find that the characters act in unbelievable ways. Even more grating, I see inaccurate portrayals of things such as culture and history being handwaved away as ‘oh, it’s a fantasy, if there’s a dragon in here why can’t xx also happen?’ I want to know what your thoughts are on realism in fantasy books, how much can this genre push the bounds in terms of believability?
I understand the need for creative license, allowing authors to build on existing materials and history in fresh and creative ways. As an ardent fan of fantasy, I fully appreciate these deviations from real world constraints. In fact, I admire authors who can make me readily suspend my disbelief and take me into a brand new world.
However, when the answer to every single criticism against a fantasy series is met with the same lazy response: ‘Just cos Fantasy’, I get a little bit annoyed. I can embrace as much magic as the next fangirl, but what I require is a consistency in the logic and construct of the world.
Yes, I want my books to take me to a new universe, I want them to push all boundaries, I want them to be filled with infinite possibilities. However, most importantly, I want fantasy worlds that could plausibly exist, it needs logic and be realistic within its own set of rules.
I admire any magic systems that either come with a cost OR with limitations. Otherwise, you’ll just have deus ex machina running the plot. The main reason why I love Brandon Sanderson is how strictly he adhers to rules in his world. The allomancers of Mistborn may be able to do wondrous things, but they are still bound to their specific metal elements: I love seeing them think creatively around their physical constraints anyway. Even the Mistborn, burner of all metal groups, are still bound be the laws of physics.
SETTING & INFLUENCES
I adore seeing fantasy that is set OUT of the Western world. However, I do require any portrayal of foreign spaces to be culturally respectful. No one wants to see their country made strange and exotic. All the power to books that are based on Japan, India, Africa, etc… I wish there were more of them. However, I also hope that any books set in such places are written with knowledge and research into the country that inspired them. I’m not even that picky about this, just write it in a way that doesn’t offend people from that country, please!
- Being an immortal vampire/angel/supernatural-creature-of-the-month is NO excuse for blandness disguised as wisdom.
- Being a witch/warlock/wizard should not excuse characters from undergoing any semblance of development,
- Being a fantasy hero/heroine, fated to be The Chosen One, is not enough fof a reason for people to love you on sight/pledge their life for you after one meeting.
So that’s just my own thoughts, but what about you? How much creative license do you allow fantasy titles? Have lack of internal narrative cohesion ever put you off in fantasy books, or are you alright with shrugging it off and moving on? Please share!