7 Fantasy Tropes I Love

20/05/2019 Discussions, Reading 8

The word ‘trope’ may have negative connotations, but I don’t necessarily think they’re always a bad thing…

Fantasy, for example, is a genre that is often accused of being ‘tropey‘, but it’s easily my favourite genre, and in a lot of cases, I think the tropes are an integral part of it. Yes, in the wrong hands’ classic elements of fantasy can come across as cliched and tired. But when well executed we often recognise them and think – ‘Yay! I love this type of character/setting/plot, etc.!’

So here are 7 fantasy tropes that make me say yay!

Dragons

The fantasy genre is full of mythological creatures, many that we’ve seen time and time again. But does anyone ever get tired of dragons?

In fact, the inspiration for this entire post came from me reading Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree, and my realisation that dragons are just eternally epic! There are literally books that I’ve only picked up because there is mention of dragons in the blurb… I just really love dragons, OK?!

Medieval Settings

Recently I’ve been loving seeing more and more fantasy books moving away from traditional, medieval European settings, especially in favour of more Asian inspired cultures, or more modern style settings. It’s incredibly refreshing, and I like that it’s giving fantasy a much more varied feel.

However, I can’t say that I don’t still love traditional fantasy settings complete with knights, kings, castles and sword fights. That may be the history nerd in me coming out though!

Royalty

It’s pretty common for major characters in fantasy books to be members of royalty, and you know what? I love it (so much so that I wrote an entire post about my favourite fictional royalty!)!

Having characters who are members of a monarchy makes the stakes of the book much higher, with the things that happen to them potentially having catastrophic effects on their kingdom. One of the reasons I’m also such a fan of historical fiction is because I love the intrigue and politics, and having royalty in fantasy pretty much guarantees it!

Underdogs

As well as royal characters who exist at the top of the fantasy world hierarchy, I also love the overlooked underdogs who often (reluctantly) rise up to save the day.

Underdog tales are popular in general, and let’s face it: it’s because we all feel like underdogs sometimes. So seeing a tiny hobbit or skinny orphan rise up and do something great is encouraging, because it means that maybe we could rise up and do something great too.

Mentor Characters

There’s just something so comforting about mentor characters, wouldn’t you say? The Dumbledores and Gandalfs of the story are usually there to guide the main character through their journey, and I love seeing the building of the mentor/mentee relationship that you usually get. Especially the later bit where the mentee has to take what they’ve learnt and finally spread their wings!

World-weary warriors.

This may have become a bit of a cliche by this point, but I still love the grumpy, world-weary badass characters that populate a lot of fantasy novels. From the likes of Sandor Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire, to virtually all the North Men in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law books, they generally say entertaining things, have cool fights, and are just overall interesting characters (I’m always particularly interested to find out why they’re so grumpy and tired of it all!).

I also like it when these characters finally show their human side, perhaps by developing a genuine friendship with another character or doing something uncharacteristically noble. I just love a good heart-warming moment!

Epic journeys

Fantasy novels generally involve more travelling than most other genres, and that’s something I really love about it! For one thing, you get to see more of the fantastical setting of the book, which is generally one of the main draws of fantasy.

And for another thing? It’s fun to see characters travel together! There’s a reason ‘buddy movies’ are a thing: because people love to see interesting characters go on adventures. From the big epic moments where they’re fighting for their lives to the smaller character moments where they’re bickering by the campfire, travelling shows you different sides to characters as they operate outside of their usual environments, and have to trust and rely on each other.

It’s a great way to show characters building a relationship, and I love that it’s such a huge part of a lot of fantasy books!

So what fantasy tropes do you love, or are you tired of seeing any of these? What tropes do you love from other genres?

8 Responses to “7 Fantasy Tropes I Love”

  1. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators

    World-weary warriors and underdogs are my some of favorites as well! And I don’t know why but this whole post just had me thinking of The Name of the Wind. It has a whole bunch of fantasy tropes in it, but it’s done so well!

    I also think that while I like royalty in fantasy (although the lost princess trope is a *bit* overdone for my liking), I’ve come to really appreciate royalty in contemporaries and romances as well. In the past few months I’ve read a fair bit of romances with this trope and I’ve really enjoyed them!

    • Laura

      The Name of the Wind is a great example of a fantasy that includes a lot of classic tropes, but is absolutely amazing!
      I can’t say I’ve read many contemporaries with royal characters, but it is a trope I really like, so I imagine I would like it in any genre.

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    I do really love a good mentor character. I don’t read TONS of fantasy, but I think some tropes in general are great if done well. Nothing wrong with a good trope.

  3. Cam @ Camillea Reads

    Ooooh I love the underdog tropes! They’re so much fun to write and play around with. While I do love dragons, I would also love to see more mythical creatures being written about.

    • Laura

      Underdog tropes are so much fun to write!
      And yes, whilst I love dragons there are some other mythological creatures I’d like to see more often. I feel like there’s a lot more mermaid books around now, which I’m glad about, because until a while ago I hadn’t been able to find any!

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