Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a squabble at your local book club, arguing whether a certain tale belongs in the realm of high fantasy or epic fantasy?
Well, worry not, because by the end of this post, you’ll wield the power of knowledge like a mighty sword, or a mighty axe, or whatever else happens to be to hand, ready to cut through any confusion.
High Fantasy: Not Just a Tale of Towers and Tea
High fantasy, contrary to popular belief, isn’t just a genre where characters sit atop towering castles, sipping tea and discussing the metaphysical nature of dragonfire. No, it’s something much more profound, and dare I say, magical.
High fantasy, is all about otherworldliness.
It whisks you away from your mundane sofa (which reminds me, mine could probably do with a good dusting) and transports you into a world brimming with magic, mythical creatures and realms beyond our own.
Be it elves with an uncanny addiction to moonlight or unicorns who’ve developed a penchant for politics, high fantasy has it all.
The governing rule here is simple—the story must take place in a world entirely separate from our own, a place where reality checks its coat at the door.
So, if you’re reading a story where Earth is but a footnote, and magic is as commonplace as a boiled egg for breakfast, you’re knee-deep in the waters of high fantasy.
Epic Fantasy: A Grand Adventure, Minus the Bus Fare
Now, let’s turn our spyglass towards epic fantasy.
Just as the name suggests, epic fantasy is all about scale and grandeur.
It’s the literary equivalent of a seven-course banquet, replete with drama, sweeping narratives, and characters as complex as my Aunt Mabel’s knitting patterns.
Epic fantasy is all about the journey.
It’s about ordinary characters, like you and me (minus the love for fantasy, perhaps), who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances.
They must overcome Herculean challenges, defeat dastardly villains, and often, save the world whilst they’re at it.
So, if you’re reading a tale that spans generations, features a cast large enough to populate a small island, and includes a quest that makes your weekend DIY project seem trifling, then congratulations! You’ve boarded the epic fantasy express.
High Fantasy vs. Epic Fantasy: The Showdown
But wait, I hear you cry, can’t a story be both high and epic fantasy?
Indeed, the two are not mutually exclusive.
A tale can whisk us away to a fantastical world (high fantasy) and regale us with a grand, sweeping narrative (epic fantasy).
In fact, many of the most beloved fantasy books do just that.
However, not all high fantasy is epic, and not all epic fantasy is high.
A story about an elf prince living in a magical world, dealing with the daily trials of royal life (including, of course, the notorious moonlight addiction), would be high fantasy, but not particularly epic.
On the flip side, an earthbound tale about a postman’s grand adventure to deliver a mysterious package, fraught with peril and intrigue, could be quite epic, but not at all high fantasy.
So, there you have it, the difference between high fantasy and epic fantasy, as clear as a crystal ball (well, a well-polished one at least).
Whether you prefer your fantasy high, epic, or a splendid mix of the two, remember: the best part of fantasy is its ability to transport us, to captivate us, and to remind us of the magic hidden within our own world.
After all, isn’t that the reason we read fantasy in the first place?