Apr. 9th, 2010

lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Genre: Fantasy)
[personal profile] lea_hazel
Royalty and nobility are one of the most common conceits of epic fantasy. Almost every fantasy novel takes place in a world comprised of a series of kingdoms, or similarly structured alternatives. Epic plotlines usually follow the royalty or at least high nobility of one or more of these kingdoms. This applies doubly when the protagonist is a commoner; gaining access to the higher echelons of society is part of their reward.

When I tried to think about fantasy novels (excluding contemporary, and even those have their vampire kings and fairy queens) that defy this convention, I thought first of A Wizard of Earthsea. I may be misremembering, since I read it in translation years ago, but I don't recall Ged or any of the other major characters being noble. A few other books came to mind, where characters sometimes deal with nobility but don't wind up discovered as the long-lost heirs to something, or receiving a noble title, or anything.

I can't think of many fantasies that don't take place in a royal hierarchy, though. For some people, the crowns and swords and other medieval trappings are a major part of fantasy's charm, but it's still a pretty diverse genre. Do people think non-monarchic systems are too much of a divergence for fantasy, or does it just not occur to them that there are other options? Like the title says: If dragons -- then monarchy?

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