November 18, 2019, 02:55:45 PM

Author Topic: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?  (Read 1335 times)

Offline Peat

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2019, 09:51:58 AM »
Am I the only person who thinks that the diversity and breadth of the fantasy genre is so wide that just casually flicking through it all makes it pretty difficult to encounter the same thing again and again?
No, you’re not. I typically read 3 books at a time, mostly fantasy, and I find myself entertained by the many variations on the theme that authors can come up with.

This is something I've started to notice. We're all familiar with the typical fantasy tropes, farm boy chosen one, wise old mentor, stop off in a tavern etc, but thinking back, I haven't actually read any books that completely play them straight for quite a while. There are a few things that will crop up once or twice that bother me, but none of the newer books I've read really feel all that cliche or stale, even those I've disliked.

I haven't seen most of them played straight for a while either* and that's because they're no longer the genre's tropes, and in some cases never really were. I feel like if you were to round up all the major trad/epic fantasy releases of the last 5-10 years and start interrogating them for their tropes, you'd come up with a fairly different list - its all assassins and secret organisations and court intrigue and double-edged magic. I'd be curious to see what exactly Bender means by meddling gods and what he'd hold up as the trope played in full, as I'd say something like that seems to be popular.

And that's not even including all the Urban Fantasy that veers off in a somewhat different direction, or the semi-historical slice of life fantasies like Helene Wecker's and Marie Brennan's, or the fantasies drawing more from fairytales etc.etc.

Tbh, I'd love to see someone go back to the standard 80s model and write it again with heart and conviction, as it'd actually be pretty fresh for me right now.


*Wise old mentors seem to be in and always will be but, being a bit pedantic, I can only think of three actual farmkids of destiny in the whole of written fantasy - Rand Al'Thor, Paks, and Garion. Okay, it gets a bit (lot) higher if you start including servants and tavern boys, but the fact we're calling them farmboys seems to indicate just how loose with reality the standard fantasy tropes are.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Yora

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2019, 07:46:58 PM »
Thank you for reminding me. I had my own personal assassin crisis a few years back, where I was desperately looking for contemporary fantasy books that don't have teenage assassin protagonists.

80s and early 90s fantasy really is where the good stuff is. Yes, a lot, and perhaps most of it was cheesy or even campy. But one think that camp has is earnest enthusiasm that makes the whole work more than the sum of its silly parts. In my heavily distorted perception of someone who doesn't really need it, contemporary fantasy always looks stiff and trying to be grounded and down to earth.
I am always looking for magical adventures, but I just can't find any.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2019, 07:51:16 PM by Yora »
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2019, 09:06:42 AM »
Thank you for reminding me. I had my own personal assassin crisis a few years back, where I was desperately looking for contemporary fantasy books that don't have teenage assassin protagonists.

80s and early 90s fantasy really is where the good stuff is. Yes, a lot, and perhaps most of it was cheesy or even campy. But one think that camp has is earnest enthusiasm that makes the whole work more than the sum of its silly parts. In my heavily distorted perception of someone who doesn't really need it, contemporary fantasy always looks stiff and trying to be grounded and down to earth.
I am always looking for magical adventures, but I just can't find any.

That's the problem I have with a lot of Joe Abercrombie's latest work. It feels embarrassed to be labelled as fantasy. Every book he writes since the First Law trilogy has fewer overt fantasy elements in it. Red Country feels less like a fantasy novel and more like a mainstream novel set in a fantasy world. The YA trilogy he did isn't really fantasy at all, it's post apocalyptic. Joe's writing is fantastic, and I'll pick up the new trilogy in a heartbeat, but I pick up these books to read about weird and impossible things. When I want reality I just read a history book.

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2019, 09:39:23 AM »
Thank you for reminding me. I had my own personal assassin crisis a few years back, where I was desperately looking for contemporary fantasy books that don't have teenage assassin protagonists.

80s and early 90s fantasy really is where the good stuff is. Yes, a lot, and perhaps most of it was cheesy or even campy. But one think that camp has is earnest enthusiasm that makes the whole work more than the sum of its silly parts. In my heavily distorted perception of someone who doesn't really need it, contemporary fantasy always looks stiff and trying to be grounded and down to earth.
I am always looking for magical adventures, but I just can't find any.
When I want reality I just read a history book.

"When I want reality I just read a history book." I'm definitely keeping this quote for further usage, hahah.  :D

Offline NedMarcus

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2019, 01:07:40 PM »
... a lot of Joe Abercrombie's latest work. It feels embarrassed to be labelled as fantasy. Every book he writes since the First Law trilogy has fewer overt fantasy elements in it. Red Country feels less like a fantasy novel and more like a mainstream novel set in a fantasy world. The YA trilogy he did isn't really fantasy at all, it's post apocalyptic. Joe's writing is fantastic, and I'll pick up the new trilogy in a heartbeat, but I pick up these books to read about weird and impossible things. When I want reality I just read a history book.

It might be Game of Thrones influencing other fantasy, but I think this stage of fantasy will pass.

Offline Yora

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2019, 01:36:24 PM »
What I really want is Star Wars without lasers and space ships.  8)
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Rostum

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2019, 01:48:11 PM »
Have you read The Princess Bride?

Offline NedMarcus

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2019, 02:08:36 PM »
What I really want is Star Wars without lasers and space ships.  8)
But how do you get between the stars?

Offline Skip

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2019, 05:29:51 PM »
There's stuff I'm bored with even before reading it. Urban fantasy, vampires, zombies, grimdark. Beyond that? I guess I'm bored with court intrigue. And village intrigue, for that matter. Most of it just drags.

But really, just give me good writing, which can make anything interesting. Give me a passionate writer (note: earnestness is not the same thing).

I hear what folks are saying about the Fantasy of Yesteryear (this old coot is amused to find the 80s and 90s referred to as "back then" but is tolerant of young 'uns). I do think passion was part of the equation. The whole field was still new enough that one could get away with "Dwarves! In taverns!" and the reader would be right there for the ride.

But I also respectfully suggest that folks may be recalling the literature of their youth. There's nothing that will ever match the music from one's teens and early 20s. You'll never be that rocker again, and you'll never be that reader again. The first horror stories, the first mysteries, the first fantasy novels, these are going to resonate in ways that cannot be duplicated.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread. Appalling as it is for me to say, these are the fantasy novels of their youth. These forgettable works will be the ones they remember, and against which they'll measure all their future tropes and boredoms.

And hey, @Eclipse. I don't have mines in Into the Second World, but I do have caverns. Really, really deep ones. I suggest you stay away. ;-)

Offline Yora

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2019, 06:32:32 PM »
Mysteries and twists are severely overrated.

A good story does not actually have to conclude in a huge twist. Though I feel like in this day, the whole idea that you could have a story without it would seem baffling and bizarre.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread.
Star Wars episode 7 has 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. There are actually people who love this rambling dumpster fire of an incoherent train wreck. And I am only in my mid 30s.

Though it is true. My entire music collection is from when I was 16 to 20, or deliberately retro-style.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 06:37:41 PM by Yora »
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Elfy

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Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2019, 10:38:37 PM »


I hear what folks are saying about the Fantasy of Yesteryear (this old coot is amused to find the 80s and 90s referred to as "back then" but is tolerant of young 'uns). I do think passion was part of the equation. The whole field was still new enough that one could get away with "Dwarves! In taverns!" and the reader would be right there for the ride.

But I also respectfully suggest that folks may be recalling the literature of their youth. There's nothing that will ever match the music from one's teens and early 20s. You'll never be that rocker again, and you'll never be that reader again. The first horror stories, the first mysteries, the first fantasy novels, these are going to resonate in ways that cannot be duplicated.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread. Appalling as it is for me to say, these are the fantasy novels of their youth. These forgettable works will be the ones they remember, and against which they'll measure all their future tropes and boredoms.


And this is where the 'suck fairy' comes from. You read something in your early teens or 20's and it's the best thing ever. Years go by and your life experience and interests broaden and your reading tastes alter. 10 years on and you're looking for something to read and you pick up this book you remember loving when you were 14 or 22 and it's not the same. The book hasn't changed, you have and off the suck fairy goes, having claimed another victim.

Offline Bender

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2019, 01:07:46 AM »
I hear what folks are saying about the Fantasy of Yesteryear (this old coot is amused to find the 80s and 90s referred to as "back then" but is tolerant of young 'uns). I do think passion was part of the equation. The whole field was still new enough that one could get away with "Dwarves! In taverns!" and the reader would be right there for the ride.

But I also respectfully suggest that folks may be recalling the literature of their youth. There's nothing that will ever match the music from one's teens and early 20s. You'll never be that rocker again, and you'll never be that reader again. The first horror stories, the first mysteries, the first fantasy novels, these are going to resonate in ways that cannot be duplicated.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread. Appalling as it is for me to say, these are the fantasy novels of their youth. These forgettable works will be the ones they remember, and against which they'll measure all their future tropes and boredoms.

Any serious reader will recognize that books don't age equal. I have good memories of Shannara, but for the life of me I would not go back to read them. Actually I tried and was surprised how bad they were now. But others like Drennai are still cool.

Anyone who claims books of "yesteryear" are better is sadly misguided and just plain wrong.
Not all those who wander are lost

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2019, 05:50:01 AM »


I hear what folks are saying about the Fantasy of Yesteryear (this old coot is amused to find the 80s and 90s referred to as "back then" but is tolerant of young 'uns). I do think passion was part of the equation. The whole field was still new enough that one could get away with "Dwarves! In taverns!" and the reader would be right there for the ride.

But I also respectfully suggest that folks may be recalling the literature of their youth. There's nothing that will ever match the music from one's teens and early 20s. You'll never be that rocker again, and you'll never be that reader again. The first horror stories, the first mysteries, the first fantasy novels, these are going to resonate in ways that cannot be duplicated.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread. Appalling as it is for me to say, these are the fantasy novels of their youth. These forgettable works will be the ones they remember, and against which they'll measure all their future tropes and boredoms.


And this is where the 'suck fairy' comes from. You read something in your early teens or 20's and it's the best thing ever. Years go by and your life experience and interests broaden and your reading tastes alter. 10 years on and you're looking for something to read and you pick up this book you remember loving when you were 14 or 22 and it's not the same. The book hasn't changed, you have and off the suck fairy goes, having claimed another victim.

I think that depends on the book and the reader, though. I remembered being quite fascinated with Eragon the first time I've read it. For the love of me I wouldn't go back to re-read it again.

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2019, 08:16:10 AM »

I think that depends on the book and the reader, though. I remembered being quite fascinated with Eragon the first time I've read it. For the love of me I wouldn't go back to re-read it again.

I did go back to re-read it again once. I knew it wouldn't hold up, but it still was far worse than I had expected. The book simply has no plot. Sure, things happen, but none of it is causally connected.

Offline Peat

Re: What is the fascination of mines in fantasy?
« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2019, 11:23:35 AM »
I'd be an idiot to say there's nothing to the idea that the media we consume as late teens/early adults will always burn brightest, and often forms an impression on us that leaves us thinking "This is what it should be" and we then judge all later works by it.

But there is also the issue of the genre's mainstream shifting and sometimes, people's preferences getting left by the wayside. I have a definite weakness for easy reading fantasy with an optimistic air (among other things); there's a lot less of it on the shelves than there used to be. I think on that score, the genre is probably not as strong as it used to be, and that's not just me loving my formative books. There's a few other fields that aren't as popular as they once were too.

I think the genre has a lot of very talented authors today. But it's got very few that I want to tell everyone about and read all their books.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/