Adult Fiction, Behind the Books, Book reviews and recommendations, Young Adult 16+

Fantasy Series – A Closer Look at the Genre – Part 11

Historical, Pre-historic, Classical and Mediaeval.

By Elaine Patterson, Newbridge Headquarters.

Historical Fantasy

This is fantasy that is set in a historical period of the real world and that frequently offers an alternative version of history and where magic or supernatural creatures exist. Historical fantasy is essentially blending the fantasy and historical genres together. The level of magic is variable and depends on the story while the degree of violence tends to be high as most historical fantasy takes place in a historical period engaged in strife. Characters are well-developed and the plot can be quite complex. 

Related fantasy sub-genres are alternate history, celtic, steam-punk and arthurian fantasy.

 The following are examples:

Pre-Historic Fantasy

This is fantasy that is set in pre-historic times such as the Stone Age. Generally, the degree of magic present is low and characterisation and the level of violence are variable, depending on the author. Frequently such stories blend scientific evidence and the writer’s creativity to address questions like ‘where did we come from?’ Partially because of the time period, pre-historic fantasy tends to be adventures and feature discovery of new areas, ideas and perilous journeys, so the plot is complex. 

Related fantasy subgenres are historical, speculative fiction and low fantasy.

Examples are below:

Classical Fantasy

This is fantasy that is set in ancient Greece and Rome; sometimes with that period of history, and sometimes with the myths of that period but usually a combination of the two. The plot is complex, due in large part to the Roman or Greek gods having long lives and complicated relationships. The presence of magic is strong in classical fantasy as a result of the gods and their offspring having magical powers.  Both the degree of characterisation and violence vary from author to author. 

Examples below:


Mediaeval Fantasy

Fantasy where the setting is strongly inspired by medieval society or is set in the medieval period is called mediaeval fantasy with with the European Middle Ages being the most common setting . Both the plot complexity and characterisation depend on the author, so there is considerable variety in character development and plot in such stories. Violence is present, usually in the form of medieval weaponry, magic spells and beasts like dragons. Magic tends to be a strong part of medieval fantasy.  

Some examples are below:

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