Today, I want to discuss what I like in fantasy novels, the level of technology used, and my favourite story lines. Well, at least I’ll try…but I may get distracted. Hey, don’t blame me. Fantasy is just too awesome!
Now of course, I like a vast and wonderful canvas of things when it comes to fantasy stories – from high fantasy, to contemporary, to everything else in-between. And as such, my taste in the level of technology used in these stores varies as well. An author can use swords, bows and arrows, siege engines, even guns and other more modern examples of such weaponry in their fantasy stories and I’ll read it all the same. Why not? Whatever works, right?
This book by one of my favourite authors, Joe Abercrombie, tells of a post-apocalyptic world where the technology of before (guns and the like) is now seen as magic, and used as such. A great read.
But moving on, what do I prefer to read (and write) about when it comes to fantasy and the level of technology portrayed within it? Well, I like the more classic approach to fantasy. The sword and sorcery stuff, naturally. Although, I do love – and much prefer – stories with a more LGBTQ+ flavour!
For example, a story where a wild barbarian lad who needs shelter from the freezing cold winter stumbles into an isolated but warm Keep one day where he meets a dashing and adept sword master. That could be something I’d read. Mostly because the sword master would then take good care of the barbarian, protecting him, while the flaming arrows of the enemy fly overhead. There’d also be sword fights aplenty and an evil magician thrown in for good measure.
But most of all, both barbarian and sword master get to know each other more and more – even intimately – as the days pass and the seasons change. By the end of Spring, they are both deeply, madly in love, unable to live without each other.
When the battles are done at the Keep, all enemies vanquished, they both then head off into the wilderness to fight monsters and bad guys, and make sweet, sweet love under the twinkling stars together, kissing passionately while entwined as one. After that, maybe another evil magician or two will get thrown into the mix to add drama, perhaps a nasty dragon, but hey, I’m there for the barbarian and sword master love for sure! Hmmm…so good!
So yes, swords and sorcery stories are my all time favourite.
Then, of course, I could be open to other story lines. Ones where there are no swords at all, maybe just sticks and stones and a hefty club or three.
A story set in prehistoric times perhaps? Back in the days of massive mammoths roaming across meandering plains, wary of sabretooth tigers and other clawed nasties, including magical beasts from ancient lore made real. In this world, two rival clan members meet by accident (or not). One of them, a gentle lad who uses natural herbs and liniments to cast his healing magic, the other, a bigger, stronger man who wields his club first, then asks the questions later.
At first they are enemies.
But the more they get to know each other, realise how similar they are as they discover each other’s worlds, they fall in love. And it is because of this they face an even greater hardship, the approval of their clans. For being in a clan means surviving the wilds, as there is protection in numbers. This approval doesn’t eventuate, and the two are left alone to fend for themselves. Exiled as they have chosen to remain together.
There’s then plenty of drama and angst and tough battles with both mother nature and the beasts mentioned. But despite all that, their love prevails and they start their own clan as they discover more of those like them. Other men who love each other and have been made outcasts too.
The new clan worships and respects love above all else, it gives them all their strength.
Then again, how about a story featuring two rangers, out in the wild tangled woods thick with bandits and monsters. They both team up to rid the fair lands of such filth. So with their trusty bows and arrows, always true, they prevail against the evil as best they can. Somewhat victorious, they soon discover they have feelings for one another, and that’s when things get complicated. Can two rangers, masters of their profession, cool and calm, accept their love, a love which turns their world upside down?
Of course they can. And after the slow burn, pages and pages of tension, brushes of hands, knowing glances, gentle giggles, their passion eventually ignites brighter than the full moon visible through the creaking canopy. Their passionate kissing, deep and loving, isn’t the only thing that’ll go off when it comes to their happily ever after, that’s for sure.
Now at this point, I have to mention here that the other stories I simply adore are historical ones, be they fantasy or otherwise.
Back to swords (my favourite, as I think I’ve mentioned…ha ha). This time, how about a story set in a time where the mysterious and graceful samurai live? Here, two warriors find each other after a secret mission is completed for their respective Daimyos (under orders from the local Shogun). A mission so dangerous, they must rely on each other in more ways than one to survive. A dragon needing to be vanquished is no small task, after all.
But can their code of honour mean that they can love each other? Of course it can. As love is as honourable as the steel of their expertly crafted swords. And here, once more, there’s lots of love and happily ever afters, especially under the distinct scent of a cherry blossom tree*
Or can a Roman Praetor, high in status and wealth but bored with his decadent life, discover that the love of a lowly slave lad who has absolutely nothing going for him but hope be the spark the Praetor needs?
And despite what others think, his friends and family included, the Praetor certainly does discover that power, no matter how great, means nothing when it comes to love. For it is love that’s the true food of the heart and soul, no matter what form it takes.
And all it took was a simple slave boy to reveal such truths to him. From there it’s passion all the way amongst the marble pillars and soft cushions of the Praetor’s home. For really, they have both saved each other’s lives; the slave from a hard and short life, the Praetor from a long life of loneliness. How wonderful!
And finally, because otherwise I could go on forever, how about a fantasy story set in a world more modern. Maybe the 1800’s (when “fall front” trousers were popular – as shown by the artist in the drawing above). The technology here at the level of stream trains and the like.
Anyway, this story could involve an artist, his paintings so beautiful they are magical and much sought after, for they bring so much inner joy to those who witness them. Of course, one day a handsome lad answers an advertisement and comes to model for the artist. The modelling involves being unclothed to help speed things up a bit when it comes to the artist (and model) falling in love, of course.
No surprises there.
Now, because of this handsome and outgoing model, one who’s not only well endowed but oozes sexiness from every pore, the artist’s work isn’t the only magic in the air. Tensions run high, but after trying to resist, almost to the point of madness (but with no ears being cut off because of it) the artist finally succumbs to his passions and lets his model colour his world with even more wonder than the artist could ever imagine.
Love is the true magic, no?
So there you have some things that I like! As you can see, good old swords, bows and arrows, and the occasional club or paintbrush are what I love to read about when it comes to the technology used in my fantasy stories. I don’t dislike more modern stuff, oh no, and I wouldn’t pass up a story if it did have such things. A good read is a good read after all, isn’t it?
How about you? What do you like when it comes to fantasy?
*Cherry blossom flowers release compounds that are derivatives of ammonia, which coincidentally (for this blog post anyway) is also present in semen.