Buzzwords Guide to Bad Fantasy Novels

I ran across this post on Reddit and thought it was funny, and a bit insightful.


Here are a few buzzwords you often see on the back of mediocre fantasy books along with their actual meanings:

  • Gritty: In this book, people get raped, tortured, and killed. Not necessarily in that order.
  • Morally Gray: This book is full of people who would stick a knife, or indeed unwanted penis, inside you as soon as look at you. Except for that one shining example of justice and mercy, who will be killed off halfway through the second book. Also, rape and murder will be a thing that is done or mentioned every six pages, but is only excusable when the protagonist or the protagonist’s band of mercenaries does it. If it is ever done to a love interest or main female character, it is of course terrible.
  • Trilogy: How many books did you think this series was going to be, honestly?
  • Compelling Protagonist: This man is just like you, honest, he’s just some guy off the street who gets jumbled into this huge plot, never mind that he’s got more power in his little finger than the Pope and somehow gets women a’gushing at the merest glance.
  • Intriguing fantasy world: Everyone in this book has the cleanliness and superstition of a Medieval European fishwife, except for a half dozen primary characters who are all oddly beautiful and fragrant, and somehow have fewer superstitions and know more about the world than your average traveling merchant. One can only assume the common folk have some sort of superstition that if you have a bath, a dragon will come down and kidnap your best female friend of ten years who you’re absolutely not in love with even though you’ve been jacking off to her every day since you discovered where your libido was.
  • Turns theme/tropes/fairytales/myths on their heads: What if Little Red Riding Hood was a boy, and the wolf was a sexy female lycanthrope, hear me out.
  • Epic: Could be used as a doorstop, and if you have the whole trilogy you could prop open a plane hanger’s door.
  • Gripping: You will read this book for the same reason some people eat Ghost Peppers.
  • Long Awaited: The author had to be hauled out of the pile of cocaine and hookers to finish this series. This final book will be a disappointment.
  • Magical: There is a magic system, but it’s so loosely explained and badly implemented that it may as well not exist.
  • Provocative: Religion is touched upon, but only in so much as there is a god of goodness, usually named Selene or Mercifinous, and a god of evil, Mr. McRape-face, or Mistress of the dark, Stickaknifeinya. Alternatively, most of the characters in the book are racist, except the main protagonist.
  • Strong Female Character The female lead will most likely be kidnapped, but instead of waiting around to be rescued, she’ll stick a fork in her captor. This will accomplish very little of course, but she did try, and perhaps the wound will slow down the captor when the protagonist fights him in that one on one duel.
  • An Intriguing Tale of Love and Loss Yes, this book does indeed have some element of plot in it. Of a sort. Well, not really, but we do have this, which is a pretty good facsimile.


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