K is for knights and kings

On a writers’ board I frequent, another poster recently opined that if a book doesn’t have knights, swords, and horses, he (I think the poster was male, although I could be wrong) doesn’t consider it epic fantasy. While that clearly leaves in books like Game of Thrones, Songs of the Earth, and even Miserere, it also excludes much wonderful work in the subgenre, including Cold Magic — and as knights are at best a small portion of the trilogy, could even be said to exclude Lord of the Rings.

The association of knights and kings with fantasy is even related to some people’s dislike of the genre. (See, for example, Charlie Stross’s post “Books I will never write,” which includes such lines as, “Monarchism, the default political stance of high fantasy, sucks. We have a term for its latter-day incarnation: we call it ‘hereditary dictatorship’, and point to North Korea for an example.”)

Some love the notions of chivalry and codes of honor, of flashing blades and one true king. Some don’t care for oversimplification. Others write knights and kings fairly close to the reality of how they worked. Where do you fall? Love ’em or hate ’em? Do you have a favorite author or book that uses them?


This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t mind it at all. I like books of all different kinds.

    • Me, too. I read all over the map, and I write fairly diversely as well.

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

  2. Margaret Weis’s series “Star of the Guardians” comes to mind for me, although it’s more of a sci/fi retelling of epic fantasy to me. I love the monarchy and (energy) swords, the spaceships replacing the horses.
    I don’t like strict lines drawn, defining what is or isn’t a particular sub-genre. If I like it, it works for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Another commenter on the writers’ board said that if it feels like epic fantasy to her, then it is. To a certain extent, that’s true. We all have our own internal definitions.

      It’s just useful to have some idea of the territory so that if someone recommends a book to us as being in a subgenre we enjoy, we don’t start reading and say, “This isn’t what I was expecting at all — it’s too modern/old/tech/low magic/sword and sorcery/whatever.”

      I’ll have to check out that series. I love Weis’s work!

  3. Give me the horses any day, although I wouldn’t consider an epic fantasy not epic or fantasy without knights, kings and horses. Of course, I can’t necessarily think of any titles right off the top of my head…

  4. As long as it’s well written and draws me in, whatever works. I love reading about the knights of old, although I’m well aware that what comes across in literature is a far cry from reality, still, it’s nice to imaging that there was a time when chivalry ruled.

  5. I dig chivalry and codes of honor….especially in the reality of life. I’m also into knights, kings and swords….just not exactly in books. You see, I rarely read fiction but you caught me at the perfect time as the A to Z hits on the Letter K today. I was up all night last night watching “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” on DVD, after spending several days watching “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship” of the Ring….so, um, bring on the Kings and the Knights. I can’t get enough of ’em! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Glad you caught me on a good letter, then! You might want to pop back and read tomorrow’s post, too (because what else would L be for?).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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