The Evolution of Epic Fantasy Tropes

Explore the evolution of epic fantasy tropes with a twist of dark humour, from Chosen Ones to complex worlds and powerful female leads.

Epic fantasy, a genre as enduring as an overambitious wizard’s beard, has long been the home of grand tales and even grander clichés.

Yet, in recent years, these tropes have undergone a transformation, much like a reluctant hero who realises he’s left the oven on in chapter one.

Let’s delve into this fantastical world to see how these changes have unfolded.

1. The Chosen One, or the Accidentally Selected

The ‘Chosen One’ – a character as traditionally predictable as rain at a British barbecue. Once, they were the heart and soul of epic fantasy, plucked from obscurity to save the world.

Think Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” or Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”. But modern authors, like George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson, have had a bit of a laugh with this trope.

Now, our ‘chosen’ ones are more likely to stumble into destiny after a wrong turn, bringing a delightful blend of incompetence and unforeseen heroics to the table.

2. Good vs. Evil, or How Everyone’s a Bit Dodgy

Gone are the days when good and evil were as clear cut as a knight’s sword through a surprisingly soft dragon. In the past, we knew where we stood – or, more accurately, who we’d cheer for.

Today, thanks to writers like Joe Abercrombie and Steven Erikson, characters inhabit moral grey areas, much like a politician’s promises.

It’s no longer about good triumphing over evil; it’s about who’s less of a scoundrel.

3. World-Building, Now with More Realism!

Tolkien’s Middle-earth set the bar for world-building, but let’s face it, it lacked a certain… what’s the word? Ah, yes, diversity.

Modern epic fantasies, such as N.K. Jemisin’s “The Broken Earth” trilogy, offer worlds with more layers than a wizard’s wardrobe, complete with cultures and languages that reflect our own world’s messy, wonderful diversity.

4. Magic Systems, or Making Sense of the Nonsense

Magic, once as mysterious as the contents of a deep, dark dungeon, has evolved.

Earlier fantasies treated magic like a secret recipe, known only to a select few. Nowadays, authors like Brandon Sanderson give us ‘hard magic systems‘, where magic is so well-defined, it could feature in a physics exam.

It’s less about waving wands and more about understanding the fine print of the universe.

5. The Role of Women: From Damsels to Destroyers

Remember when women in epic fantasy were as active as a painting on the wall?

Thankfully, those days are as gone as a dragon’s diet plan.

Now, female characters are leading the charge, armed with their own complexities and strengths.

From G.R.R. Martin’s formidable women to Robin Hobb‘s influential heroines, these characters are shattering glass ceilings with a battle axe.

Epic fantasy has certainly come a long way from its once-predictable roots, much like a hero on a quest who realises halfway that the real treasure was the friends they made along the way (or, perhaps, the enemies they gleefully thwarted).

This genre’s evolution, laced with a touch of dark humour, shows us that even in worlds filled with magic and myth, change is the only true constant.

So, let’s raise our goblets to the ever-shifting landscape of epic fantasy, where the only guarantee is a thrillingly unpredictable adventure.


Jon’s author diary – December 1, 2023 #amwriting

It’s been another action-packed week in my writing world, filled with progress, creativity, and some intriguing learning experiences. Let’s dive into all the updates and explorations of the past week.

What’s Inside This Episode:

🧟 “Punks Versus Zombies” – New Episodes!

Exciting news for fans of “Punks Versus Zombies” – I’ve written two more episodes! The story continues to evolve, and I can’t wait to share these latest instalments with you. Get ready for more action, drama, and suspense in the world where punks clash with the undead.

🗡️ “Guild of Assassins” – Responding to Feedback

Based on some valuable feedback, I’ve added an extra chapter to “Guild of Assassins.” Crafting a story that resonates with readers is a journey, and I’m dedicated to making each chapter as engaging as possible. I’ll discuss how feedback influences my writing process and the importance of staying adaptable.

📖 Redrafting “Ravenglass Legends Book 2”

The journey continues with the redraft of “Ravenglass Legends Book 2.” Delving back into this world is always an adventure, and I’m making steady progress. Join me as I share some behind-the-scenes insights into the redrafting process and how the story is shaping up.

🎧 Podcast and Learning Insights

This week, I’ve been engrossed in the “Tales from the Rabbit Hole” podcast, exploring the fascinating world of conspiracy theories. Additionally, I’ve been listening to the Great Courses lectures on Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories. It’s been an enlightening experience, and I’ll share how these topics have sparked new ideas and influenced my thinking.

🔗 Stay Connected and Engaged

To catch up on my stories and for more exciting content, visit

👍 If you enjoy these weekly glimpses into my author’s life, please like, share, and subscribe. Your support is invaluable!

Thank you for tuning in, and I look forward to sharing more adventures with you next week in the world of writing and storytelling!

#AuthorsDiary #PunksVersusZombies #GuildOfAssassins #RavenglassLegends #WritingJourney #Podcasts #ConspiracyTheories #WritingCommunity #AuthorLife

Jon’s Author Diary – November 24, 2023

What a week it’s been! From major progress in my writing to embarking on a legendary literary journey, this episode is packed with exciting updates and insights.

📚 Welcome to Jon Cronshaw’s Author Diary! 📚

✍️ A Productive Writing Spree

I’ve had a tremendously productive week, penning down five new episodes of Punks Versus Zombies.

The story is escalating—higher stakes, intense emotions, and fraying nerves.

📖 Embarking on “The Wheel of Time

I’ve finally taken the plunge into Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series.

It’s a world I’ve been hesitant to step into, given the sheer scale of the series, but I’m finding the journey enjoyable and intriguing so far.

🎉 New Releases and Endings

I released the ninth episode of Punks Versus Zombies on Substack this week.

Additionally, I’ve brought The Long Night, the second prequel to my forthcoming Ravenglass Legends series, to a close.

🎩 Lord Sidebottom’s New Adventure

Get ready for a treat this weekend—a brand new Lord Sidebottom story is on its way!

These tales are always a delight to write, and I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store.

To read the latest episodes and stories, visit

#JonCronshawsAuthorDiary #PunksVersusZombies #TheWheelOfTime #RavenglassLegends #FantasyFiction #WritingCommunity #AuthorLife

The Enduring Influence of The Riyria Revelations on Fantasy

Explore how Michael J. Sullivan’s “The Riyria Revelations” has left an indelible mark on modern fantasy. From character dynamics to moral complexity, discover its lasting impact.

Ah, The Riyria Revelations—a series that tiptoes between traditional fantasy tropes and contemporary storytelling like a ballerina on a knife’s edge.

It’s no secret that Michael J. Sullivan’s dynamic duo of Hadrian and Royce has garnered a dedicated fanbase.

But let’s discuss the larger influence this series has had on modern fantasy, shall we?

A Return to Simplicity: The Quest Narrative

At a time when fantasy was fast becoming a tapestry of intricate political manoeuvres, Sullivan took us back to basics: a quest.

Yes, that age-old formula of heroes embarking on a seemingly impossible mission. It’s not a step back, but a refreshing counter-narrative in an oversaturated market of complex plot lines.

The Duo Dynamic: Reimagining Character Relationships

Hadrian and Royce—the optimist and the cynic, the sword and the shadow.

This dynamic partnership doesn’t just entertain; it revises the age-old trope of the adventuring duo.

Their rapport explores the nuances of friendship, trust, and mutual respect, all while executing heists and slaying beasts.

In doing so, they set the bar for character-driven narratives, pushing modern fantasy to prioritise individuals over epic scopes.

Moral Ambiguity: No Black and White Here

One of the series’ most significant contributions is its approach to moral ambiguity.

Gone are the caricatures of unadulterated evil and untarnished good.

Instead, Sullivan presents a world where characters exist in shades of grey.

The “bad” guys have redeemable qualities, and the heroes are flawed.

This multi-dimensional approach to morality has set a precedent that resonates deeply within modern fantasy storytelling.

The Art of Accessibility: Who Said Fantasy Must Be Inaccessible?

Some modern fantasy reads like a philosophical treatise interspersed with sword fights.

Not Riyria.

Sullivan’s writing is accessible, giving newcomers a gateway into the genre.

Yet, for seasoned veterans, the series doesn’t lack in thematic depth or complex characters. It’s a delicate balance that makes the series appealing to a broad audience, further fuelling its influence.

Self-Publishing: Breaking the Norms

Sullivan was initially a self-published author, and his success story is a beacon for many aspiring writers.

He proved that you don’t need the backing of a corporate publishing house to succeed, inspiring a new generation of authors to take the indie route.

In essence, he’s helped democratise the realm of fantasy fiction.

The Lasting Legacy

The Riyria Revelations may not have reinvented the wheel, but it certainly added some much-needed flair.

Its influence is nuanced, manifesting in various aspects of modern fantasy—from character dynamics and moral ambiguity to accessibility and publication routes.

As Hadrian and Royce continue to capture imaginations, they also reflect the ever-changing landscape of fantasy literature, proving that sometimes, all you need to make an impact is a sword, a cloak, and a friendship for the ages.

Blades of Wolfsbane – Full Free Audiobook by Jon Cronshaw

Dive into the world of chieftains, warriors, and ancient traditions. Experience the thrill of the tournament, the weight of a secret, and the struggle for respect.

Welcome to the immersive world of Blades of Wolfsbane, a high fantasy novella prequel to Jon Cronshaw’s Ravenglass Legends series.

This captivating tale is an unforgettable journey into a vibrant universe filled with courageous heroes and electrifying sword fights.

In the heart of the story, we meet Ragnar—a chieftain’s son yearning for his father’s respect.

Secretly honing an unorthodox fighting style, he grapples with a choice: reveal his prowess in the imminent boys’ tournament and risk family disgrace, or submit to defeat.

This epic tournament, a secret to safeguard, and a legacy at stake, sets the stage for a story that will ensnare your imagination.

It is a tale of intrigue, honour, and brave hearts.

Fans of rich world-building and high-stakes fantasy will feel right at home in the expansive Ravenglass Universe.

Embark on Ragnar’s epic journey today.

Dive into the world of chieftains, warriors, and ancient traditions. Experience the thrill of the tournament, the weight of a secret, and the struggle for respect.

Don’t miss out on this exciting journey! Listen to the full audiobook of Blades of Wolfsbane for free right here on YouTube.

Remember to like, share, and subscribe for more immersive audiobooks. Enjoy the adventure!

Claim your FREE Ravenglass Universe ebook starter library by visiting

Jon’s Author Diary – November 10, 2023 #amwriting

It’s been a productive and exciting week in my writing journey, and I can’t wait to share all the latest developments with you. From revisiting old projects to celebrating new achievements, there’s plenty to talk about!

🌟 Welcome back to my Author Diary for this week! 🌟

It’s been a productive and exciting week in my writing journey, and I can’t wait to share all the latest developments with you. From revisiting old projects to celebrating new achievements, there’s plenty to talk about!

In This Week’s Episode:

📚 Back to “Ravenglass Legends Book 2”
After a few months’ break, I’ve returned to redrafting the second book of the “Ravenglass Legends” series. I’m diving deep into the world and characters once again, and it feels great to be back. Join me as I share some insights into the redrafting process and what it’s like to revisit a project after time away.

🧟‍♂️ “Punks Versus Zombies” Episode 9
The ninth episode of “Punks Versus Zombies” is written and ready to thrill! I’ll be talking about the latest happenings in this adventurous serial and what you can expect in this new installment.

🎨 New Cover Reveals!
I’m thrilled to share the brand new covers for “Punks Versus Zombies“, freshly delivered from the designer! We’ve got covers for the book, podcast, and YouTube video, and they look fantastic.

📖 Book of the Week: “The Pagan Lord” by Bernard Cornwell
This week, I indulged in Bernard Cornwell’s “The Pagan Lord”. It’s historical fiction but ticks all the boxes for a fantasy lover like me. I’ll share my thoughts on this captivating read and why it resonated with me.

🔮 Looking Ahead
As always, I’ll give you a glimpse into my plans for the coming week.

Lord Sidebottom and the Pirate Pandemonium

Embark on a majestic journey aboard the Skyward Empress, the crown jewel of Victorian ingenuity, as it embarks on its maiden voyage through the skies of London.

Embark on a majestic journey aboard the Skyward Empress, the crown jewel of Victorian ingenuity, as it embarks on its maiden voyage through the skies of London.

Meet Lord Sidebottom, the brilliant mind behind this marvel of steampunk engineering, as he mingles with high society and encounters the enigmatic Lady Penelope.

Tensions rise and sparks fly, both metaphorically and literally, when the luxurious airship is besieged by the notorious pirate Captain Skybeard and his ruthless crew.

With opulence hanging in the balance and the city’s fate at stake, witness a tale of daring heroism, clever gadgetry, and unexpected alliances.

Strap in for an adventure where the steam age meets the age of invention, and the sky is no longer the limit.

More Than Magic: The Power of Friendship in Fantasy Tales

Explore the enduring themes of friendship and loyalty in fantasy stories. From inseparable duos to unlikely alliances, discover how these bonds elevate the tale.

Friendship and loyalty—two themes so recurrent in fantasy stories that you might think you’ve stumbled into a daycare rather than a realm fraught with peril, dragons, and morally ambiguous sorcerers.

In a genre that often pivots around quests, battles, and someone’s desperate need to stick a sword into a stone (or another person), the power of friendship is an oddly comforting constant.

Let’s explore, shall we?

The Inseparable Duo: Two Peas in a Deadly Pod

Every hero needs a sidekick, just as every fish needs a bicycle—no, wait, that’s not right. Scratch that.

Whether it’s a warrior and their comedic relief or two mages that complete each other’s spells, the dynamics are tried and tested.

They may bicker like an old married couple, but when push comes to shove (usually off a cliff), they’ve got each other’s backs.

The Unlikely Alliance: Frenemies till the End

Ah, nothing says ‘epic tale’ like an alliance forged out of sheer necessity rather than affection.

You know the type: the honour-bound knight and the rogue thief, the elf and the dwarf, the vegan and the carnivore.

Their loyalty is begrudging at first but give them a couple of near-death experiences, and voilà, best buds—or at least allies who won’t stab each other in the back.

The Brotherhood/Sisterhood: All for One and One for Death

Oh, the sweetness of voluntary kinship!

These groups go beyond the usual duos or trios and evolve into miniature armies of friendship.

Whether it’s a fellowship entrusted with a perilous quest or a band of rebels trying to overthrow a tyrant, their loyalty to the cause—and each other—is the glue that holds the narrative together.

It’s like a group project, but with more danger and fewer PowerPoint slides.

The Pet Companion: Because Who Needs Humans?

Why limit friendships to two-legged creatures?

In fantasy, loyalty often comes on four legs, or wings, or fins, or…you get the point.

These loyal pets and mythical creatures offer unconditional love and a convenient mode of transport.

Not to mention, they usually get the best action scenes.

A toast to the unsung heroes of fantasy lore!

Bonds Forged in Adversity: Trial by Fire, Literally

Nothing solidifies friendship like staring into the eyes of a fire-breathing dragon and deciding, collectively, that today is not a good day to die.

Shared life-threatening experiences have a funny way of deepening bonds.

In fantasy, loyalty is often earned through trials that range from combat to riddles to the always-popular test of eating something utterly disgusting.

Betrayal: The Dark Side of Loyalty

Because what is loyalty without the inevitable stab in the back for dramatic effect?

Betrayal serves as the crucible that tests friendships and, more often than not, makes them stronger.

Unless, of course, you’re the one being betrayed; then you’re probably dead.

But for those who survive, it’s a life lesson gift-wrapped in treachery.

The Best Friendships in Fantasy: A Hall of Fame for the Loyal and the Brave

No fantasy fan’s experience is complete without delving into these iconic partnerships.

They make us laugh, they make us cry, and sometimes, they make us wish for a magical pet. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Locke and Jean (The Gentlemen Bastard Series)

What do you get when you pair a silver-tongued conman with a hulking bruiser?

The answer is Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, two inseparable thieves whose friendship survives heists, betrayal, and far too many life-threatening situations.

It’s a bromance for the ages, complete with witty banter, heartfelt moments, and the occasional punch in the face—for old time’s sake.

FitzChivalry and Nighteyes (The Farseer Trilogy)

No list would be complete without the mind-linked duo of FitzChivalry and Nighteyes.

A man and his wolf, sharing not just thoughts but an unbreakable bond that challenges our understanding of friendship itself.

Nighteyes offers a brutal, yet honest, perspective that often saves Fitz from himself.

It’s more than a pet and owner relationship; it’s a soul-deep connection.

Hadrian and Royce (The Riyria Revelations)

Swords and stealth come together in the formidable partnership of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn.

One’s an optimist with a strong moral code; the other’s a cynical rogue with a penchant for sarcasm.

Together, they form Riyria, a mercenary duo that could either save the world or rob it blind—depending on who hires them first.

Legolas and Gimli (The Lord of the Rings)

Elves and dwarves are supposed to be enemies, but Legolas and Gimli didn’t get that memo.

Their friendship evolves from mutual distrust to counting coup in battle.

They’re the quintessential example of an unlikely friendship that breaks all the racial stereotypes of Middle-earth.

Geralt and Dandelion (The Witcher Series)

A monster-hunter and a bard walk into a bar… and the result is an enduring friendship that survives monsters, political intrigue, and Dandelion’s incessant need to turn everything into a ballad.

A poignant reminder that even the most hardened warriors need a laugh sometimes.

Kvothe and Willem (The Kingkiller Chronicle)

The brilliant but impulsive Kvothe finds a steadying presence in his university friend Willem.

Despite the dangers and darkness that follow Kvothe like a shadow, Willem remains a beacon of loyalty.

Their friendship offers a respite from the chaos, even if it’s only momentary.

Jezal and Logen (The First Law Trilogy)

From disdain to a grudging respect, the friendship between Captain Jezal dan Luthar and Logen Ninefingers is as complex as they come.

They may come from different worlds—one a self-absorbed noble and the other a battle-scarred barbarian—but when their backs are against the wall, they find common ground.

TThese partnerships remind us that even in worlds filled with magic, mythical beasts, and malevolent forces, it’s the human (or wolfish, or elven, or dwarven) connections that truly make a story unforgettable.

Jon’s author diary – November 10, 2023

Hello from sunny Morecambe!

This week’s author diary is a bit more personal and introspective, as I navigate through the ups and downs of a writer’s life, including dealing with SAD, creative revelations, and some critical decision-making.

🌨 Coping with SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has been a hurdle this week, but understanding and acknowledging its impact every November gives me a sense of empowerment.

It’s a reminder that self-care is as important as productivity.

Despite these challenges, I’ve completed the final draft of episode 8 of Punks Versus Zombies and penned the first draft of a new Lord Sidebottom short story.

Pushing through the fog of SAD to create these pieces has been a challenging but rewarding journey.

And I did take some time off to rest and immerse myself in the comforting world of Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies.

It’s amazing how the right book can act like comfort food.

🤔 A Revelation About Dawn of Assassins

A recent one-star review led to a startling realisation: my Dawn of Assassins series is misclassified.

It’s not so much about assassins as it is about thieves and their moral journey around the idea of becoming or not becoming assassins.

This has me pondering—should I relaunch the series with new covers and titles that more accurately reflect its content, or should I leave it as is?

The decision to possibly relaunch Dawn of Assassins is a complex one, balancing the authenticity of the series against the practical aspects (and, let’s be honest, expense) of rebranding.

Thank you for joining me in this week’s author diary, where the journey of writing is as much about self-discovery as it is about storytelling.

Take care,


The Assassin’s Tools: A Close Look at Weapons in Fantasy Novels

Take a detailed tour of the lethal and enchanting weaponry wielded by assassins in fantasy novels. From daggers to magic, discover how these tools define the art of killing.

Ah, fantasy novels—the realm where swords glow in the dark, arrows never miss, and a simple dagger can have as much backstory as a royal lineage.

But when it comes to the assassin’s tools of the trade, let’s just say things get particularly… interesting.

These artisans of death employ an arsenal that is as varied as it is lethal, often with a touch of magical pizzazz to boot.

So, grab a cuppa, perhaps don a black cloak for ambiance, and let’s delve into the enthralling world of assassin weaponry in fantasy novels.

It’s not just sharp objects; it’s a lifestyle choice.


In the culinary world, the chef’s knife is versatile and essential.

In the world of killing, the dagger takes that esteemed position.

It’s discreet, easily concealed, and, if you throw in a touch of poison, has a 100% customer dissatisfaction rate.

Some daggers even have cutesy names, like “Heartseeker” or “Soulpiercer,” for that added touch of sentimentality as you end someone’s existence.


Sure, up-close and personal has its merits, but so does a clean kill from 50 yards away while you munch on some popcorn.

The crossbow is the introvert’s weapon, allowing you to perform your job effectively without the messy emotional engagement.

And in fantasy settings, these bad boys often come with enchantments—exploding bolts, anyone?


The blowdart: the introvert’s weapon for the introverted assassin.

Its user can be miles away, and no one hears a thing.

One moment, your target is regaling his friends with tales of his latest hunting expedition; the next, he’s the one being carried off on a stretcher.

The ultimate party pooper, if you will.

Poison Ringsl

Fashion-forward and functional, poison rings are the ultimate multitaskers.

Perfect for when you want to appear stylish while delivering a dose of the deadly.

Just a casual flick of the finger, and your target’s drink goes from refreshing to lethal.

In a world that values aesthetics, this is killing with flair.


Why go the mundane route when you can set someone ablaze with your mind or make them dance to their death?

Magic offers a range of creative options for the imaginative assassin.

Whether it’s conjuring shadows to do your bidding or weaving spells that make your weapons return to you like a faithful dog, magic brings that extra zing.

Cursed Objects

These are not for the faint of heart or those who lack a sense of theatrics.

Cursed objects can range from coins that bring ruin to mirrors that trap souls.

While their usage requires a tad more preparation and possibly a monologue, the results are often Shakespearean in their tragedy.

So, the next time you’re lost in the deadly intrigues and thrilling escapades of an assassin fantasy novel, spare a thought—or a shudder—for the lethal tools that make it all possible.

After all, an assassin is only as good as the tools they wield, and in the realm of fantasy, those tools are as spellbinding as they are deadly.