Platonic Protagonists: Can Heroes and Heroines Just Be Friends?

So I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately, but I thought I’d get back into the swing of things this week with an examination of some more Uncharted Territory in Fantasy. Full credit for this post’s topic goes to Kumquat Absurdium, whose comment from earlier this year has inspired me to take a closer look at platonic male-female relationships in fantasy stories:

“Why can’t you have a male and female protagonist combo that remain completely platonic throughout the book? We need a movement for this – support #PlatonicProtagonists! It’s not strictly a fantasy problem but it is a problem in fantasy as much as anywhere else.”

Now to be honest, I love a good romance, and I’m not at all averse to sexual relationships in the fantasy I read and watch. That said, I think it would be refreshing to see more platonic friendships between men and women in fiction, because the different dynamic that these relationships offer can be satisfying and rewarding in its own unique way. It might also better reflect the fact that men and women can be friends in real life.

I do, however, think there are reasons we don’t see a lot of male and female protagonists in such friendships:  Continue reading

A Streak of White Hair: Fantasy or Reality?

I recently wrote an article on Fantasy Faction about characters who have “skunk stripes” in their hair. I wanted to find out why these occur both in fiction and real life, and how plausible “natural” white highlights really are. My investigation led me to some interesting answers, so I thought I’d share the article link in case the topic is intriguing to anyone following along here:  Continue reading

Tough Travels: Mothers

It’s Tough Travelling time again! Tough Travels was originally created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, revived on Fantasy Faction, and is now hosted by the team at The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s humorous classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month it highlights a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

This month’s theme is mothers. 

Now this is a tough topic, because as I already mentioned in a post last year about absent parents, it’s often hard to find mothers or fathers who aren’t dead or otherwise absent in fantasy narratives. However, there are definitely some out there, so I’ve picked five I found particularly memorable:  Continue reading

The Award-Winning Fantasy Novels of 2017

It might seem a bit late to be looking back at 2017, but as I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve decided to start doing yearly round-ups of the award-winning fantasy books from the various awards of the past year. Since last year wasn’t all that long ago and had some intriguing prize-winning novels, I figured better late than never!

In this post, I’ll generally only be listing the novel-length fantasy works for adults or young adults that won an award in 2017 (I do make one exception for a novella at the end of this list). The other finalists are certainly also well-deserving of attention, as are the graphic novels, comics, short stories, novellas, science fiction novels, children’s books and other forms of work that won, but if I tried to include them all this list would get very long and overwhelming. If you’re interested in seeing other finalists and categories, the links below each book will take you to the full list of finalists and winners for the related award.

The book blurbs are from Goodreads (to go to the Goodreads page, click on the book cover). I’ve also briefly included my impressions and thoughts on whether I’ll read the each book – these are obviously just based on my own personal tastes and reading habits, and not an indication of whether other people should pick them up or not!

Continue reading

10 Major Awards for Fantasy Literature

If you like fantasy books, you’ve probably seen stickers or announcements highlighting the fact that a particular book has won a Hugo, a World Fantasy Award or another prestigious fantasy and science fiction prize. If you’re a big fan of the genre, you might even follow these awards more closely and vote in them.

I don’t usually vote (either because I’m not a member of whichever group organises them, or because I haven’t read all the shortlisted works and feel bad voting for one if I can’t fairly compare it to the others), but I do check out winners when I see them announced online. While an award doesn’t always mean I’ll like the book, it’s usually a good sign and it gets me interested, and I’ve loved several books I learned about through book prizes. I’m keen to start doing yearly round-ups of award-winning fantasy novels as a reminder of which books have been recognised. Continue reading

Tough Travels: Apprentices

Well crazily enough another month has gone by, which means it’s time to go Tough Travelling again – this time with a look at the much-loved role of the apprentice.

Tough Travels was originally created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, revived on Fantasy Faction, and is now hosted by the team at The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s humorous classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month it highlights a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

Here’s what the Tough Guide has to say about apprenticesContinue reading

Tough Travels: Shapeshifters

It’s Tough Travelling time again, and this month’s theme puts the spotlight on a kind of fantasy character that I  have a particular fondness for: the shapeshifter.

Tough Travels was originally created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, revived on Fantasy Faction, and is now hosted by the team at The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s humorous classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month it highlights a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

Here’s what the Tough Guide has to say about shapeshiftersContinue reading

Uncertain Destiny: Why It’s Time for More Un-Prophesied Heroes with Humble Origins

This week I thought I’d get back to exploring some Uncharted Territory in Fantasy and spotlight a type of character that I wish I encountered more often in the stories I read and watch: a hero or heroine that doesn’t have a royal birthright, a noteworthy lineage, or a reassuring prophecy to prop them up.

I admit, this isn’t completely ‘Uncharted Territory’ as there are examples out there of characters with more uncertain destinies. However, it’s still something I think we could afford to see more of, not only because royal heirs and chosen ones can get a little tiresome, but because I find they can sometimes rob the story of a tension or devalue a character’s achievements  (e.g. when a special bloodline or inheritance is unveiled in a late surprise reveal I find it especially disappointing). Here are three reasons why: Continue reading

Tough Travels: Elves

Tough Travelling is normally a beginning-of-the-month post, but since it took me a little longer to get the ball rolling on this one it’s a middle-of-the-month post this time round… the plus side being I’ve had more time to ruminate on some worthy elves to list!

The Tough Travelling feature was originally created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, revived on Fantasy Faction, and is now hosted by the team at The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s humorous classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month it puts the spotlight on a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

This month’s theme is elvesContinue reading

The 5 Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Books I Read in 2017

Happy New Year! It seems the feasting and drinking are over and it’s time to start making good on those resolutions… one of which, in my case, was to return to blogging – so I’m back! I thought I’d kick off 2018 by taking a look at some books that brightened the past year for me. These aren’t necessarily books published in 2017 (in fact, most weren’t), simply a selection from the books I happened to read over the last 12 months.

I’ve picked 5 favourites – I read and enjoyed other wonderful fantasy and sci-fi books in 2017, but these were the ones that most stood out, enchanted or impressed me: Continue reading