Fantasy Friday #16: My Favourite Elements of Fantasy Fiction

Posted 4 July, 2014 by Rinn in Fantasy Friday / 26 Comments

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite elements of fantasy fiction.

1. Unexpected friendships

Two people thrown together by unexpected circumstances, whether it be a quest or for revenge, their previous distrust and even hatred developing into a close friendship – I LOVE THIS. My favourite (and possibly the most obvious) example is that of Legolas and Gimli in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s often a feature in fantasy fiction due to different races that do not get along, like dwarves and elves.

Would you like me to describe it to you? Or should I fetch you a box?
(image source)

You do however see something similar in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, where Celaena, an assassin, becomes friends with a prince and the captain of the guard.

2. Assassins

Speaking of assassins… anything to do with them. Although I suppose it’s more of admiration of extremely skilled fighters. And the costumes. Yeah. There’s a reason I’ve been obsessively playing Assassin’s Creed lately (not that it really comes under the fantasy category unless you make an argument for the Animus?), and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Unity trailer…

3. Archers & bowmen

This is for the same reason as assassins really, I’m in awe of anyone skilled with a bow. There’s been a big surge of interest in archery lately, due to films and books like Brave, The Hunger Games and Hawkeye in The Avengers. I always wanted to join the archery club at uni, but you spent most of your time waiting around for a turn at shooting, so I never bothered. Maybe this year?

Isolde (Neverwinter)
There’s a reason I always make archer characters in games…

4. Magic systems that demand sacrifice

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the magic in Harry Potter. But I also love it when a magic system demands that the user sacrifices something, so that magic doesn’t seem too easy or simple. It requires work and dedication. Examples of this are The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss and The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson. In both of these series, the magic user must sacrifice energy and health in order to use magic. Prolonged usage without a break is not an option, which feels more ‘realistic’ to me – despite the fact that it’s magic!

5. Guilds

Maybe I’m thinking back to my MMO days, but I love guilds in fantasy. Groups of people with similar interests or skills, often those who have lost all their family and friends, so the guild becomes their new family. Whether it’s a thieves guild, an assassin’s guild or a simple merchants guild, there’s a real sense of camaraderie. It’s probably more to do with how guilds made me feel on MMOs (well, Dream of Mirror Online more than any other), but they sort of give me the warm fuzzies. Yes, even those guilds full of heartless assassins.

6. Non-human MCs

It’s fantasy fiction! Why write about humans if you don’t have to?? If you’re going to be exposed to all these different fictional races and cultures in fantasy, why not see it through the eyes of one of them? It’s a much more immersive way to learn about them – for example, seeing The Hobbit through Bilbo’s eyes.

How about you – what are your favourite elements of fantasy fiction?

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26 responses to “Fantasy Friday #16: My Favourite Elements of Fantasy Fiction

  1. I love these elements of fantasy fiction too! Unexpected friendships (especially between non-human and human MCs), archers (I have the same fascination with people who can use bows), and guilds (MMOs, haha!) are aspects of fantasy reads that I enjoy. And a big element for me is the magic and MCs learning how to harness new powers. 🙂
    Sophie recently posted…Summer Bookish Bingo

    • Yes, or between different races like Legolas and Gimli 😀 I think I basically just have major respect for anyone skilled with any sort of weapon, which is why I like archers and assassins, because those sorts of things need major precision!

      And yes, MMO guilds give me happy feels 😉 I get what you mean about the magic – it’s fun to learn along with the MC 😀

  2. Legolas and Gimli!!! Bromances before there were bromances! That is one of my absolute favourite LOTR scenes also. *flails* I wish they’d done the ending like in the books though.

    Have you read the Forbidden Library? That magic system is awesome! I also love the system in the Rithmatist.
    Melanie recently posted…Review: Beauty’s Beast by Jenna Kernan

    • Haha, I think they just look awesome but that’s probably part of the reason I play them too 😛 Same with assassins, if you play it right then no-one hears you coming and you don’t need to worry about defence 😉

      Although I was a tank for our guild on DOMO… but you could be every job with one character on that, I never would’ve levelled a tank class otherwise.

    • I don’t quite know why I’m so fascinated – it’s the skill and something else I can’t quite work out – but assassins are cooooool. I’m playing Dishonored now, where you get to be a supernatural assassin 😀

  3. #4 reminds me of World of Warcraft when I played a mage and always ran out of mana xD That pissed me off all the time! But I usually played a hunter – the archery thing was always the coolest!

    Legolas and Gimli is my all time non-romantic OTP – I will ship their bromance until I die. That scene never fails to make me laugh!

    Actually I have to agree with all of these points, but especially the assassin’s guild thing. That’s probably why I love Throne of Glass so much 😀
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted…Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

    • Yesssssss! Lots of mages in books have endless supplies of magic, so why can’t we? Tssssk! 😉 And yep, hunter/archer/assassin are my go-to classes in games. Funnily enough, it used to be mage. I do enjoy all classes really, especially support in MMOs 🙂

      BROTP! They’re so cute. <3

  4. #4 reminded me about Brandon Sanderson’s Second Law of Magic. Basically, limitations > power. He explains it here: I much prefer it when magic systems have limitations, to make sure the characters don’t become invincible or ridiculously powerful.

    Assassins are my favourites, and also archers! My character on Skyrim, funnily enough, is an archer/assassin. I couldn’t decide which to make her so she’s a bit of both right now. Maybe next time I create a character I will have them properly specialise XD
    Amber @ Books of Amber recently posted…Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    • Yes! That’s why I like that in Mistborn they actually get tired from burning too much metal.

      Haha, I have an assassin and an archer on there! I made the archer first, although she is very sneaky too – she just prefers to assassinate with her bow 😛

  5. I love all these things!!!

    Archers though…ARCHERS. I always loved elves the best because of their bows. I always create my characters on games in the archer role for this same reason. I’m not sure why they are just the COOLEST.
    Natalie Crown recently posted…Eon – 5/5

    • Nor me, but it sure seems they are popular! I wish I could do archery irl, but the club at uni sounded like a bit of a waste of time 🙁

  6. Great post Rinn! I really love all these aspects about fantasy stories, although magic systems are the most fun to me – especially when they are complex. I think because I almost live vicariously through them and can imagine myself wielding magic! 🙂 I think the aspect of fantasy that most appeals to me is the strong sense of duty or justice that comes with needing to complete a quest.

    And you should definitely join an archery club this year! 🙂
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…The Refined Reader (16) Dewey Decimal System

    • Oh that’s a good one! I love it when characters (or just people in general) are passionate about something.

      I don’t think Leiden has an archery club, I did look the other day 🙁 I’ll have to stick to badminton, haha!

  7. I love non human main characters. YOu would love The DeathGate Cycle series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Or I’m sure you already read the Drizzt D’urden books right? good stuff.

    Assassins are cool and bowmen yes so freaking talented. I agree magic systems that require sacrifice always seem to mean more – cause you’re giving something up.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…How Goodreads calculates Top Reviewer Rankings

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