What Types of Fantasy Do You Read?

Christian Fantasy

If you listen to some segments of the industry, interest in epic fantasy has dwindled. Certainly it doesn’t dominate the current market like the paranormal and urban fantasy stories, yet it is one of my favorite fantasy sub-genres and observation suggests many others share my interest.

I’m curious to see if that is the case and to find out what types of fantasy others read and enjoy. So I created a poll with an assortment of subgenres. Lines between categories can be blurry and not everyone defines subgenres in the same way, but the results should still be interesting. You can choose ALL the options you enjoy reading, and (if you want) leave a comment listing which ones are your favorites. If I’ve neglect a subgenre you love, please mention it.




One more question–would you be interested in reading some posts exploring various fantasy subgenres in the future?


  • Jenni
    June 10, 2011 - 7:36 am · Reply

    I selected them all except paranormal romance. I’m a sucker for any kind of science fiction or fantasy…

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 13, 2011 - 8:20 pm · Reply

      Me too, Jenni! I enjoy almost all subgenres of science fiction and fantasy, though I have a special affection for certain ones like epic fantasy and retold fairy tales. πŸ™‚

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    June 11, 2011 - 2:40 pm · Reply

    Epic fantasy is my great love. I’ve also read some new fairy tales — not ones retelling a Grimms story or Hans Christian Anderson. Those feel a little like historical fantasy, but I didn’t vote for historical because I’m quite tired of Arthurian stories. πŸ˜‰


    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 13, 2011 - 8:24 pm · Reply

      It makes me happy to find other epic fantasy lovers. I’d like to see your series in print one day soon, Becky! I have the feeling it would be my kind of fiction. πŸ™‚

      Any new fairy tale titles that you would recommend? I’m always looking for good books along those lines.

      There are countless Arthurian tales out there. I imagine it is still possible to find a new angle on the story, but it would take some ingenuity!

  • Andy Poole
    June 11, 2011 - 3:24 pm · Reply

    I still love epic fantasy, I just think that too many of the titles stick to formulas, but there are notable exceptions.

    I assume “Science Fantasy” would include Indiana Jones, the X-Files, Star Wars (let’s face it, it was more high-tech fantasy than science fiction), and the Shadow?

    I don’t see much historical fantasy, but there are notable exceptions. I’m a historian so I have a hard time enjoying alternate history, but I enjoy stories in historical settings where fantasy events happen, such as period beliefs in mythic creatures being real. That is what I write most of the time.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 13, 2011 - 8:34 pm · Reply

      It’s easy to fall into standard fantasy tropes, and there are definitely a number of epic fantasy titles that have a formulaic feel. That makes it all the more exciting to find something creative and unique. πŸ™‚ I liked what Jeffrey Overstreet did with his world in The Auralia Thread. You could see hints of inspiration from a larger body of myths, but the overall feel was distinctly his own.

      Yes, I was thinking of stories like Star Wars. Any kind of space opera or fantasy story with a scientific veneer would fall into this category, at least in my mind.

      I can understand why a historian would be troubled by alternate history tales. It must be difficult to suspend disbelief in an area where you have a great deal of knowledge. I like to see people branching out into different areas of speculative fiction, and your books certainly sound intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 13, 2011 - 8:34 pm · Reply

      I love your stipulation, Morgan, and I quite agree! If only we could filter books by that requirement. πŸ™‚

  • Kimberly
    June 11, 2011 - 4:51 pm · Reply

    I enjoy epic/high fantasy, historical fantasy, alternate world, urban fantasy, and fairytale/mythic retellings the most. The good books (good plotline, good characters, and no or very little objectionable material) always pull me into the story and I often use my favorites as a litmus test for my own writing projects.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 13, 2011 - 8:38 pm · Reply

      Thanks for chiming in, Kimberly! It sounds like we have rather similar tastes, though I haven’t read a great deal of urban fantasy. Like you, I find that a great story will pull me into almost any genre, and such tales definitely encourage me to reach for excellence in my own writing.

  • Warren Baldwin
    June 15, 2011 - 3:59 pm · Reply

    I voted for historical. I’m new to your site and not real sure what all the word “fantasy” entails. I assume novels? And what is epic fantasy? I liked what you wrote about fantasy in what I assume is the intro to your blog. wb

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 16, 2011 - 8:49 pm · Reply

      Thanks for asking, Warren, and for taking time to explore the site! You’re on the right track. There’s so much variance in the fantasy genre that it can be a bit difficult to define. Fantasy falls under the umbrella of speculative fiction, and its characteristic feature is the presence of fantastic or supernatural elements as a regular part of the way the world functions. Often it will take place in an invented world that operates under its own set of rules and has its own history and culture, but it can take place in our own world or in multiple worlds (usually our own and a fictitious world). Myth, fairy tale, folklore and the like are close kin to the fantasy novel.

      Some of the best known Christian writers of fantasy are JRR Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) and CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, Till We Have Faces).

      Tolkien essentially fathered the epic fantasy subgenre, and if you’re familiar with The Lord of the Rings, you’ll have a good idea of the foundation of this subgenre. It typically takes place entirely in an invented world, focuses on the conflict between good and evil, and has a large scope in terms of plot, character, and theme. The stakes are usually high–life and death not just for a single individual, but for the world as a whole, or that which is good and beautiful within a world.

      Does that clear matters up or muddy the waters further? The defining of genres can be an uncertain thing, but I hope this gives a frame of reference at least.

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