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.
“A statue?” Turalyon laughed. “What could either of us possibly do to earn statues?”
– Tides of Darkness, a Warcraft novel by Aaron Rosenberg
Warning: some spoilers below.
Given my immense backlog of books and e-books, I thought I’d finally start clearing it up one by one. Choosing which novel to read was not a particularly difficult decision though. As a long time player of Blizzard games, ever since the days of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Diablo and StarCraft, I have been enamoured of the worlds the company has created. And having read some previous novels such as The Last Guardian and Rise of The Horde, I was rather keen to delve into this novel, which is their chronological sequel.
I played Warcraft: Tides of Darkness ages ago and going through the novel, I realized that this is very much a rough novelization of the events there-in. Video game novelizations generally tend not to be as good as the original material. Some aspect of the writer’s approach usually brings these novels down, which is a real shame. Character development, mission flows, dialogue, something always takes a hit when a video game is transformed into a novel.
Unfortunately, that trend has continued in Tides of Darkness. Yes, I last played the game more than a decade ago and the novel is not an exact novelization but there are clearly strong links between the two.
So where does the novel go wrong?