The Curse of Epic Fantasy

May 9, 2019

   Authors should expect crappy reviews. Well, I received one not long ago for my book “The Sword of Cullen.” It seems that someone in the blog site Afterword Reviews basically thought my book sucked because it didn’t world-building. For those of you not familiar with the term, world-building is the process of constructing an imaginary world, including everything from physics to geology. The premise stems from Tolkien and has been taken up by his legion of epic fantasy imitators and by D&D players. Personally, I think it’s boring and pretentious. Blech. I just want to read a story. I don’t want to read endless descriptions about climate, terrain, species, ad nauseam. I want to read a story…a story. Likewise, I want to write a story, not a goddamn textbook.


   My novella is swords-and-sorcery, is not epic fantasy. Huge distinction. Swords-and-sorcery tells a simple story, epic fantasy weaves a gargantuan mess that often becomes unreadable. Here’s the bulk of Kelly’s misguided review: ”The Sword of Cullen seemed a promising premise – an alien gladiatorial contest – but proved lacking in execution for my taste as a reader. World-building did not occur naturally; rather, items were mentioned with exposition quickly following, leading to a read where it was difficult to stay immersed in the story. Overall, not a writing style that suits my tastes as a reader but it could suit others who prefer a more abrupt style that gets to the meat of the tale quickly.”


   I think Kelly needs to quit reading epic fantasy and return to the roots of true story-telling. He or she would probably say the same of Robert Bloch and the other old-time fantasy writers who didn't world build







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