I have a confession to make. I love the idea of fantasy fiction, but avid a genre reader as I am, I end up preferring science fiction to fantasy 4 times out of 5. This isn’t because there isn’t good fantasy out there – it’s because I can’t stand reading about elves. Or the cliched triumph of good over absolute evil. There’s a place for escapist fiction, but I like my genre fiction to reflect and comment on the world in which I actually live – science fiction usually does that by building on the present and extrapolating.
Good fantasy, in my opinion, does this by offering commentary on the past. Feudal societies were unpleasant places to live. The medieval era was sorely lacking in an understanding of hygiene, medicine, and science. Racism, sexism, and classism were normal parts of life. I prefer my fantasy to either comment on what these past societies were actually like (with all their flaws), or subvert the tropes that most fantasy fiction seems to accept as necessary. Now, not everyone is going to like all of these books, but I’m hoping there’s something on my list for everyone.
So, without further ado, I present 5 fantastic books that break the fantasy genre mold.
Read more: a song of ice and fire, a wizard of earthsea, care2 book club, dealing with dragons, earthsea cycle, fantasy books, game of thrones, genre fiction, george r.r. martin, john barnes, neil gaiman, one for the morning glory, patricia wrede, stardust, summer reading list, the enchanted forest chronicles, ursula leguin
Photo credit: Zitona via Flickr
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