Five Fantasy Failures

Posted on June 13, 2011
Views: 7,519

Subscribe to our newsletter


As a lifelong fantasy fans, we have devoured dozens of fantasy novels in our time and even written a few as well. Most of them are quite enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some aspects of the genre that have started to get under our skin. Not all of the mistakes we’re about to list are necessarily exclusive to the fantasy genre, nor do we claim it to be a complete list of everything that can go wrong in a fantasy novel. It is merely some of the things that have become extremely irritating and tiring and can often be found in these types of books. So, you aspiring writers take heed and you fantasy aficionados share a collective sigh, as we dissect the five biggest letdowns from the land of magic and dragons.



Everyone likes a good love story. Even people who read fantasy for the swordplay and badass mythical creatures can appreciate what a good love story between two characters can do for a novel.

Unfortunately, this seems to have led to some kind of unstated rule that every bloody fantasy character needs to fall in love at some point, which in turn has led to an unending stream of half-assed or poorly planned romance plots that make little to no sense. This phenomenon reaches its peak of dumbassery in something we have dubbed Randomsex.

Randomsex is not just a poorly written romance. Nor is it merely a case of a character having an unexpected one night stand. Randomsex usually goes something like this:

“Hey, I’ve only known you for two hours, and we have nothing in common whatsoever. We should fall madly in love and have sex!”

“Yeah! Cool!”


If you want to include a love story, you have to foreshadow it and develop it. It has to be a logical thing for the two characters to do, and it has to serve a purpose for the greater story. You can’t just throw two random protagonists together and have them mate like a pair of rabbits in springtime.



Maybe we’re just reading the wrong books, but lately it feels as if some authors are subscribing to a school of thought that every female fantasy protagonist needs to get raped sooner or later. This has led to the birth of Randomsex’s darker cousin, Randomrape.

Obviously we’re not fans of reading about rape (that feels odd to say), and we imagine most people are siding with us on this one. That said, we acknowledge that under some circumstances, it could be necessary to part of a story. Randomrape is what happens when it isn’t.

Even more so than consensual sex, rape needs to be in some way foreshadowed and play a key roll in the story. You don’t just have your protagonist randomly ambushed and gang-raped while going to the store and then fail to mention it again for the rest of the story. If you can’t think of a way to add drama to your story, there are better solutions than simply deciding, “Needs moar rape!”


If you find yourself writing about a sexual assault, take a moment to ask yourself “Can I tell this story without a rape scene?”. If the answer is yes, it’s probably time to reconsider your mental state, as any instances of sexual assault should fit within the tone of the story. This brings us to our next failure…



Stories need to keep a consistent tone. Our thoughts go to a trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, which we will not name to avoid spoiling it too badly for people. The first two and a half books were almost ludicrously light reading. Nothing particularly bad happened, and the characters were all likable and nice to each other. Until the middle of the third book where, in the space of a single chapter, one of the ridiculously nice characters was brutally killed and readers were suddenly treated to graphic descriptions of the nice female protagonist being gang raped and horribly tortured while the villain fondled himself through his clothes because he got off on her anguished shrieks.

What the hell, Lackey?


We’re not saying books have to be exactly the same the whole way through, or that authors can’t surprise their readers. But stories should flow like water. There needs to be foreshadowing. In simplest possible terms, if you want a lot of bad things to happen in your novel, don’t pack them all into a single chapter.


Cruelty to Cute/Beloved/Innocent animals:

Don’t. Just don’t.



Midkemia Syndrome:

Midkemia is the setting of Raymond E. Feist’s extremely popular fantasy novels. Feist is a good writer and the books are usually enjoyable, but they can also be very frustrating for one reason. Feist has created an amazing world filled with great characters and awe-inspiring fantasy concepts — all of which he steadfastly refuses to use.

From what we can tell, Feist’s thought process looks something like this: “Well, I could give some more info on that really interesting sorcerer character I introduced last book, but what would be even better is to create a new random soldier character and have him sit in a trench and skirmish with bandits for half the book for no reason.” “Who cares about that epic conflict on a mysterious and distant continent? Readers want to hear about how the heroes are getting their shipments of flour!”

(Sorry, Ray. We’re still planning to read At the Gates of Darkness…[as if he cares what we think].)

The real problem with Midkemia Syndrome, though, is that ignoring the interesting concepts already introduced means having to create an unending stream of new interesting concepts, which in turn are passed over for more interesting concepts, and things start to border on the ridiculous.

“Behold the Algallar of Algillieth, a being cursed to know the fate of every person who will ever live but be unable to change any of them. Only it has the power to save us from the Demons.”

“Wow, that’s amazing! How will it stop the Demons?”

“Demons? The Demons were just a ploy. The true threat is the Darkspawn, which can only be stopped by the life giving magic of the Seven Crowns of Thul-Ta!”

“Er, um, okay, what are Darkspawn?” “Beings so alien that their very presence destroys everything around them!” “Wow, that’s actually pretty scary. Okay, where are these Seven Crowns?”

“Seven Crowns? Psh, we don’t need those. Only the Runespear of G’tarra can save us from the rampaging hordes of the Fallen Ones!”

“Wait, what?”


“The city seemed to be built of gems and light. Its people flickered with their own magic, their feet hovering above the ground as they walked, and the air was filled with… Squirrel!”

And so on. When writing fantasy, we firmly believe it is better to create a few races, myths, and concepts and then develop them as much as you possibly can. You will end up with a deeper and more meaningful story than you ever could with an endless parade of new fantasies.

Written by Tyler Edwards – Copyrighted ©

Page 1 of 3

Latest Articles

Makeup Artist Transforms Her Face Into Her Favorite Cartoon Characters

Makeup Artist Transforms Her Face Into Her Favorite Cartoon Characters

Laura Jenkins is a London based brilliant makeup artist who brings various cartoon characters to life on her own face, or to be more precise on her mouth. This is what happens when...

5 Most Unique and Unusual Islands - #3 Is it Cute or Creepy?

5 Most Unique and Unusual Islands - #3 Is it Cute or Creepy?

For most of us islands hold a certain mystique. It could be their seclusion that entices us, or the perceived difficulty of reaching them. Others are relatively untouched and...

5 Ad Campaigns That Backfired - #5 With True Message

5 Ad Campaigns That Backfired - #5 With True Message

It's fair to say that in the digital age we're beaten over the head with advertising on a regular basis. With constant exposure to commercials, banner ads, and other spots trying...

7 Utterly Bizarre Assassination Attempts

7 Utterly Bizarre Assassination Attempts

Assassinations are a dirty part of global politics and warfare, and as you can probably guess there are tons of attempts on the lives of political leaders that you never even hear...

15 of the Scariest Urban Legends From Around the World

15 of the Scariest Urban Legends From Around the World

Everyone loves a good old fashioned urban legend. People love getting a good scare, and something about urban legends just makes it feel like these things could have actually...

15 Myths About History You Probably Believe

15 Myths About History You Probably Believe

It turns out that a lot of what you were reading in history textbooks was wrong, and some of the things you believe are either skewed by false information passed down through the...

8 Prettiest Nations in Europe

8 Prettiest Nations in Europe

It might be hard to tell the difference between women in Europe, but every man with a keen eye will tell you exactly why these nations have the prettiest women.

13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Lord of the Rings Movies

13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Lord of the Rings Movies

The Lord of the Rings will go down as one of the greatest movie trilogies in history, and this year Peter Jackson’s follow-up trilogy The Hobbit will be coming to a close as...

13 Crazy World Records You Won’t Believe People Bothered to Set

13 Crazy World Records You Won’t Believe People Bothered to Set

These are the people who work on breaking and re-breaking world records that no one in their right mind would ever even consider as a legitimate thing. You know, the records that...

13 Famous Fictional Characters You Didn’t Know Were Based on Real People

13 Famous Fictional Characters You Didn’t Know Were Based on Real...

Through all mediums of entertainment - music, movies, books, and so forth - we get attached to the truly great, fleshed out characters who just jump off the page or screen and...