There is something about the fantasy genre that is both exciting and comforting.
As a person who loves reading, over the course of the years I’ve tried different genres and even different age ranges. It’s true; there are perks to realistic fiction, to mystery and horror, to science and historical fiction. But for me, nothing compares to the magic (both figurative and literal) found between the pages of a fantasy novel.
There is no greater feeling than opening up a book, flipping through its crisp white pages, getting drawn into and lost in the sea of words. In an open, endless pit of possibilities… Even with staples such as dragons and magic, nothing is set in stone. The rules of magic always seem to vary, and the appearances and abilities of dragons are as changeable as the sky.
It’s true that in this world that we call home, there is another, more innocent form of magic to be found. The magic of words, for example, to take a person from where they were and put them in a place they could never be. Another example: planes are no dragons, but the fact that we can get off the ground at all is something to be marveled at. A final one: our modern medicines are almost inconceivably advanced to what they’d been only a few centuries ago, allowing us to save far more lives than would’ve been possible in even the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries.
So it’s true that this world has its perks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t want to escape the normality of it for a few hours. Fantasy can take us far away in a way that no other genre could. Only science fiction gets close, but even then, it is a genre that imagines this world as it could be in the future, and that future is always grim.
Fantasy novels, however dark, always offer a glimmer of light. In a way, they hit us closer to home than any other genre could, because when you take away all the distractions of this world, and set humanity in a place that is completely impossible, you start to figure out just what humanity is. How good and how bad; how doomed we are always to fall and yet how strong we are to climb back up.
In these adventures where it’s easy to find something to live or die for, a reader gets to ask herself (or himself) what they, themselves, would be willing to fight for. Are we as good as the characters we read about, or are we as bad?
I think the more realistic genres focus on how to live in a mundane world, whereas fantasy throws out the ever-empowering question of if. If the entire world was at your fingertips, at your mercy, what would you do? What kind of person would you be? When so many things are truly a question of life or death, how would your reactions differ from how they are now?
Mostly, fantasy novels always seem to promise that there’s a place in the world for everyone, that your uniqueness is your strength. And it promises that everyone has a chance to change and grow, to become better than they were once.
For those of you also doing Camp NaNoWriMo, I hope your projects have gotten off to a flying start. My total word count is a healthy 2,045 out of my pledged 17,500. Best of luck to you.
Do you love fantasy, or another genre? What is it that you find so alluring about your favorite genre?