Here is something I’ve learned about myself recently: though I like the idea of epic fantasy, I don’t actually want to read it.
It’s something I feel like I should have realized sooner. Years ago many good friends of mine recommended Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series to me. I read the first book but never got any farther. When Game of Thrones was big, my husband read all the books and encouraged me to try them. I got all of three pages into the first one and set it aside. Two other writer friends urged me to try Brandon Sanderson. I got about 100 pages into The Way of Kings and just couldn’t. I did read The Hobbit, but I never made it all the way through Lord of the Rings. (The books, that is; I’ve watched the movies many times over.)
“But you like Neil Gaiman,” I hear you saying. Yes, but he’s not epic fantasy, is he? Nor is Stephen King, really. Or Anne Rice. It seems I need books to either be not quite that long, and/or I need them to have some connection to the world I know, I guess? I mean, I liked A Darker Shade of Magic, but even it had a version of London I could relate to.
After some thought, though, the real problem for me is the work required to read epic fantasy. The books are almost always massive, and there are usually several in a series. There are so many weird names to learn and people to keep track of. Often these people end up in about ten different locations that I also have to keep a mental map of. And these places have laws and languages and sometimes magic and there are elves or something… It gets to be too much for me. Bottom line: I’m too lazy to read epic fantasy.
Yet I honestly think epic fantasy is probably some of the best work out there. As much effort as it takes to read, it takes that and more to write it, especially if it’s done well. I really respect and am in awe of those who can manage it. I guess that’s why I keep trying to read it—because I know it’s actually great. But I just don’t have the stamina or brain capacity or something. I can do it when it’s on film or television, but reading it feels to me like stuffing my brain with sawdust for some reason. I turn utterly stupid.
Well, we all have our preferences. I don’t read science fiction or war stories because I frankly find those boring. I don’t read erotica because sex isn’t my thing. And I don’t read epic fantasy because that bar is just too high for me.
What books do or don’t you read and why? And do you think there’s an epic fantasy out there that I might not find too taxing for my tiny little brain? Let me know!