I first read The Hobbit back in ninth grade. In many reviews and editorials over the years I’ve said that that was a time when I was really beginning to explore the science fiction and fantasy genres. And that was a time when I was reading the works of some of the biggest names in either, authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, J. R. R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others. So suffice to say that (almost) 13 years on, I’ve had a long relationship with the Middle Earth setting. I’ve read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion. And whenever I’ve read either of them, or re-read them, its always been a joy.
A little over a year ago, following the incredible success of his The Lord of The Rings adaptations, Peter Jackson released his long-awaited The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a new trilogy that is based on The Hobbit but not as faithful an adaptation as his previous trilogy. First two movies, and then three, he has said that he would be including materials from various appendices and what not to pad out the entire trilogy, and this is a move that I welcomed. When I saw the movie in 2012, I was extremely impressed with it. It had a few flaws, but the overall effect was just as grand as I remembered from the novel.
Note: The review may contain spoilers.
For this new seasonal list (another one!!), for the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my first pick is the duo of Gotrek & Felix from Josh Reynolds’ Road of Skulls, a part of the Gotrek & Felix series, a mainstay for the Warhammer Fantasy setting from Black Library (Games Workshop).
Hit the break to see why I picked these two characters.
Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.
And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.
Which is what this post is about.