As promised several weeks ago, today I’m here to talk about two of the smaller, sub-genres of fantasy. These are particular favorites of mine.
Wait, if you’re only here to talk about two, just how many specialty sub-genres of fantasy are there? you ask. Believe me, more than you think.
The thing to remember about specialty genres is that while it can help you precisely define your story to help people understand, it can also confuse the average reader if they know nothing about that sub-genre. So, unless it’s a well-known genre, you’ll probably have to explain it a little more than just the title.
Pretty self explanatory. Re-tellings and re-imaginings of Arthurian myths and legends.
One of its charms is that the possibility for POVs is almost endless. You can make a knight, the king, a sorceress, or a servant (or even all of the above) your MC and each POV can radically change the story.
Druids, coming of age, Old Religion (usually magic or Druidic) vs. New Religion (usually Catholicism), love triangles, knight bromance, prophecies, quests. Themes of chivalry, honor, duty to king and church.
The Once and Future King – T. H. White, The Pendragon Cycle – Stephen R. Lawhead, Down the Long Wind trilogy – Gillian Bradshaw, The Crystal Cave – Mary Stewart
Common crossover genres:
Celtic Fantasy, Medieval Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Court Intrigue Fantasy
NOTE: some Arthurian re-tellings are actually historical fiction instead of historical fantasy, so pay attention to the magic and historical details to distinguish between them.
COURT INTRIGUE FANTASY
Concerned with political maneuvering and machinations as statesmen, diplomats, and royals match wits in courts of palaces and castles.
Often simply grouped under ‘political fantasy’– I’ll elucidate the differences between the two at a later date.
Since the division into this sub-genre is fairly new in the literary world, there is sometimes confusion over whether this is an actual sub-genre or not. I’ve included it because it’s gaining popularity, chiefly thanks to the TV show Game of Thrones.
Intensive worldbuilding– especially of fictional history and government, power plays, moral and ethical gray areas, war or the possibility of war, overt or veiled social commentary
The King of Attolia and Conspiracy of Kings – Megan Whalen Turner, the Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley, A Song of Ice and Fire series – George R. R. Martin, TV show Game of Thrones (based on A Song of Ice and Fire), Turkish TV show Magnificent Century
Common crossover genres:
Political Thriller, Political Fantasy, Medieval Fantasy, Fantasy of Manners, Historical Fantasy
So there you have it, a breakdown of two specialty sub-genres. Still have questions? Want one part explained further? Have requests for which ones I cover next? ASK AWAY in the comments below!
Have you read books/watched movies in either of these genres? Did you like them? Have you written any stories that fit into these genres?
Come back next Friday for a discussion of the Weird West genre… and until then, Merry Writing!