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A Toast To Fantasy Romance – Guest Blog by Anna Kashina

Fantasy-Faction is delighted to announce that Angry Robot is due to publish Ironbloods, a new fantasy romance series from Anna Kashina, next year! The first novel in the series, Shadowblade, will be released in May 2019.

Naia dreams of becoming a Jaihar Blademaster, but after assaulting a teacher, her future seems ruined. The timely intervention of a powerful stranger suddenly elevates her into elite Upper Grounds training. She has no idea that the stranger is Dal Gassan, head of the Daljeer Circle.

Seventeen years ago he witnessed the massacre of Challimar’s court and rescued its sole survivor, a baby girl. Gassan plans to thrust a blade into the machinations of imperial succession: Naia. Disguised as the lost Princess Xarimet of Challimar, Naia must challenge the imperial family, and win. Losing means certain death, but in victory she would forsake everything she holds dear – even the man she loves.

You can learn more about Shadowblade and Anna’s other novels on her website and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Beren and Luthien by breath-artLike many fantasy fans, I grew up reading Tolkien and immersing myself into his magical realms and epic battles. There is very little room for romance in his books, but even so, I found the scraps of romance, scattered here and there, much more memorable than some of the history and intricate worldbuilding Tolkien is famous for. And yes, I tended to think of myself as an abnormal Tolkien reader, until I realized that many people feel this way too. They just don’t talk about it much.

Modern fantasy tends to be increasingly character driven, giving a much bigger role to character development. Relationships and interactions between characters often take the lead over the events – and, if done well, make the story so much more interesting. Inevitably, this kind of a change brings love to the forefront. Throw in a bunch of people stranded together in a tight spot, and, no matter how difficult a challenge they are facing, you cannot avoid them developing attraction for each other, exploring relationships whether or not they will result in a full-blown love story. Whenever this happens, romantic elements emerge on their own. For a fantasy author, these relationships can become invaluable tools, often more effective in showcasing their characters than epic battles, political intrigues, and hardships of everyday life.

The Wolf and The Red by kekai kotakiMany traditional fantasy fans tend to think of romance as a world of explicit sex scenes between unrealistically beautiful people who tend to neglect thinking with their heads but somehow still emerge in their happily ever after. But romance is really so much more.

There is no better way to test your character’s limits than to throw them into a love triangle, or face them with a love interest who, for some interesting plot reasons, is completely out of reach. These situations often reveal more about a person than any other challenge ever could – and of course, unlike epic battles and royal intrigues, they are something nearly every reader can relate to, one way or the other.

Some of my favorite topics involve assassins and martial arts, which often leads me to writing about strong, physically capable people. Many of them are female. With this, romantic elements come so naturally I don’t need to think of them at all. Throwing a love interest into the mix, whether or not this interest will result in a happy ending, can make personalities shine – and they always give my characters the necessary grounding that hopefully resonates with the readers.

Last Stand by juliedillonI never thought of myself as a romance author. I was surprised when, after the publication of my first novel, I started seeing my name in the lists of fantasy romance – but in retrospect, it made perfect sense. As soon as I realized this, I embraced the idea, and I never regretted it.

In Shadowblade, I initially tried to weave the entire plot around romance. But that, by itself didn’t work very well. Not until I also expanded and fleshed out the fantasy aspects – an exotic world, modeled off the ancient Middle East, a multilayered political intrigue, and of course, assassins and martial arts.

It’s definitely a fantasy. But it wouldn’t be the same without romance.

Title image by MathiaArkoniel.



  1. Thanks Anna for your discussion on romance in fantasy and I will have to look into your Shadowblade.

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