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Old 08-02-2005, 11:12 AM   #1
Four_Elements
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Epic Fantasy and High Fantasy, the same or different?

Epic Fantasy - Set in medieval times, these books focus on a good-versus-evil story. Tolkien is the founder of this sub-genre.

High Fantasy - Extremely character-driven fantasy that often focuses on a greater good rather than the well-being of the characters.

Differences between the two
Some would classify Epic Fantasy and High Fantasy together. Others would say that they are separate sub-genres sharing both similarities and differences with each other. I would agree with the latter. After doing some research on books called Epic Fantasy and others called High Fantasy, I have found a few things that distinguish the two.


Epic Fantasy:
takes place in medieval times

often uses good-versus-evil as the central story

usually involves a large cast of characters

relies on sub-plots to advance the story

Average Length: 120,000-160,000 words


High Fantasy:
takes place in medieval or modern times

involves magic

focuses on fewer characters and often relies heavily on character growth

sometimes presents situations in shades of gray, and lets the characters decide what is right

Average Length: 70,000-100,000 words


Am I right about this? It would explain a lot of things, such as why we see 500+ page epic fantasy books when the typical length of fantasy is supposed to be about 70,000 words.
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Old 08-02-2005, 09:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Four_Elements
Am I right about this? It would explain a lot of things, such as why we see 500+ page epic fantasy books when the typical length of fantasy is supposed to be about 70,000 words.
Pretty much. The way I see it, High Fantasy is more of a setting. It's the time period. It's the situation. It's the way the world works, and the way the characters deal with that world. The situations tend to be much more personal, and the heart and change within a character is what matters most.

Epic Fantasy, however, is more of the scale. The entire world is affected. The fate of good and light hangs in the balance versus a dark force. The Lord of the Rings was a perfect example. All of Middle Earth depended on the success of the fellowship and the forces of good - or else all would be lost in eternal darkness. There is no middle ground here.

There are many elements that both subgenres share, but that is the basic difference.
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Old 08-03-2005, 01:54 AM   #3
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The term "High Fantasy" has always troubled me slightly, as it leads to the question, What is low fantasy?
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Old 08-03-2005, 02:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vomaxx
The term "High Fantasy" has always troubled me slightly, as it leads to the question, What is low fantasy?
The Xanth books? :p
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Old 08-03-2005, 04:32 AM   #5
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i loved the xanth books... when i was fourteen.

i've always considered high fantasy to be more fantastical with more cliched characters. epic suggests to me an ending, not only of the great evil, but oftentimes the cast themselves whereas high fantasy would have them ride off into the sunset. maybe that's just me.
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Old 08-03-2005, 11:21 AM   #6
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low fantasy is, well.

Lawrence Watt-Evan's With A Single Spell pretty much. The key difference is sometimes a grungier feel than, say, High Fantasy, and the magic is generally more mundane. At least, that's my take on it.
 
Old 08-04-2005, 01:31 PM   #7
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I would have thought the main thing about Epic Fantasy was that it is very long, takes place over a wide area and time and deals with big events - history-changing battles, the fate of whole cultures and so on, rather than domestic incidents.

For example, IMO The Last Unicorn is one of the best fantasies (indeed one of the best books) ever written. But it's not epic, because it's fairly short, and because it concentrates mainly on the fates and happiness of a handful of individuals rather than the fate of a society.
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Old 08-04-2005, 05:48 PM   #8
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IMO, high fantasy refers to stories heavily dependent on magic, often containing Tolkienesque characters. Epic fantasy tends to be long, but I think the most defining characteristic is that the fate of a large number of people is involved, not just the hero and friends. Maybe an entire country or a world, such as a battle over a throne ("A Game of Thrones" comes to mind). IMO, an epic could take place over a short period of time and involve a handful of characters, but it's the consequence of their failure (or success) which make it an epic. Good vs evil? Not necessarily.
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Old 08-05-2005, 02:47 AM   #9
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Technically, a book can be both then?
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Old 08-05-2005, 06:12 AM   #10
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It can, can it? It seems to me that mine is. Since it is like a high fantasy that evolves around larger events. (i.e. saving the worlds) would that fall under both?
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Old 08-05-2005, 06:24 AM   #11
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Is this a good place to ask what the various other subgenres of fantasy are? Or has that been covered in a previous thread that someone could direct me to?

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Old 08-07-2005, 02:09 AM   #12
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http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/fsubgenre.html gives a brief description of each sub-genre.
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Old 09-22-2005, 12:13 AM   #13
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Exclamation This Thread Is Closed

Because of the deceptions of the originator of this thread, we are closing it. We could have just deleted it, but there are responses here that may be valuable to others. However, to continue any of the topics discussed here, please choose another thread or begin a new one.

Thank you for understanding.
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