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What is the average sword to sorcery ratio in fantasy?

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message 1: by Fredrik (last edited Sep 11, 2019 08:50AM) (new)

Fredrik (fredurix) | 217 comments So I'm reading Godblind and while there real dark gods taking part in the story, the world (so far) seems to be pretty grounded and medieval.. Which I think holds true for most epic fantasy, for understandable reasons; it's likely much easier to create a convincing world and human drama when the laws of nature for the most part work as we expect them to. However, it's also fun to read about spell-slingers casually bending or breaking the familiar rules of causality! (or just following different ones from ours).

And thus I pose these questions three:
In second-world fantasy fiction, do you agree with my impression low-magic worlds are more common than high-magic ones? [edited for clarity]

Whether or not you agree, what do you think the average sword to sorcery ratio is in fantasy fiction?

And finally, what are your favorite fantasy books/series where magic-users; i.e. wizards/sorcerers/jedi/aes sedai/etc are an acknowledged and (fairly) common part of the world?
The Wheel of Time and The Malazan Book of the Fallen are my two default answers. I could name others, but I'll leave it there for a start. Oh, and try to stick to original worlds, meaning please avoid Star Wars or D&D or other licence-novels (unless they're really really good).


message 2: by TraceyL (new)

TraceyL | 76 comments Low-fantasy is absolutely more common than high fantasy. The term Fantasy in itself covers such a huge range. So many of the books I read get put on my Fantasy shelf because even though they are really contemporary or horror, they have a small fantastical element.


message 3: by Allison (last edited Sep 11, 2019 08:22AM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 226 comments Do you mean low fantasy in the sense of more "magical realism" / hard fantasy (magic is limited and has rules)?

Low fantasy originally meant fantasy that took place on Earth with Earth settings and structures, while high fantasy meant "secondary world" fantasy.

So, in the original sense, no, I think high fantasy is much more common in epic, heroic, or sword and sorcery type fantasy books.

In the sense of wizards throwing fire or talking to dragons left and right...I have a hard time gauging. I think it'd be about the same ratio? It might be "on the ebb" right now because we had such a long "flow" of epic fantasy 20-30 years ago, but then it's also out there presently winning awards and whatall, so idk. Genre definitions are difficult and if you're looking for epic fantasy with lots of magic and mythical creatures, it's defiinitely out there and still being written!


message 4: by Fredrik (new)

Fredrik (fredurix) | 217 comments Yea, I'm talking about second-world fantasy and low-magic vs high-magic. Sorry about the confusion.


message 5: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1616 comments I guess making high magic/fantasy and whatever Brandon Sanderson is writing with his hard fantasy stuff requires more effort as well as worldbuilding in the magic system so I won't be surprised if the low magic is more common.

Fave series with magic users....I don't read much of them but I could offer The Black Company series, Realm of the Elderling series, Worldbreaker Saga, The Powder Mage trilogy (and its sequel Gods of Blood and Powder), Discworld series, and last but not least, The Broken Earth trilogy.


message 6: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8180 comments Fredrik wrote: "In second-world fantasy fiction, do you agree with my impression low-magic worlds are more common than high-magic ones? [edited for clarity]

Whether or not you agree, what do you think the average sword to sorcery ratio is in fantasy fiction?

And finally, what are your favorite fantasy books/series where magic-users; i.e. wizards/sorcerers/jedi/aes sedai/etc are an acknowledged and (fairly) common part of the world? "


1. I don’t think one subgenre dominates. I’ve been at the bookstore and library a *lot* over the past couple weeks and the balance seems pretty even to me.

2. I don’t know how to separate out sword and sorcery into distinct categories, as they usually go hand-in-hand. I *would* hazard that Contemporary Fantasy and Urban Fantasy feature magic over cutlery, since we don’t use swords much in modern life. Exceptions such as Trail of Lightning and the Iron Druid series (Hounded) stand out because swords are regularly used alongside modern things like iPhones and pickup trucks.

3. I enjoyed Master of the Five Magics and sequels back in the day. Despite some issues I had with certain aspects of the books, overall I enjoyed The Warded Man series.

The series I read the most installments of were Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books. The Deryni are a magic-using minority in that pseudo-medieval world, and they use it a lot. Camber of Culdi.


message 7: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1531 comments It seems like magic while not crazy common, is known to exist by most in the Kingkiller series. And while still leaving room for mystery, I would put this in the Hard Fantasy style of world building.


message 8: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments 1. I agree that worlds which actually consider the implications of widely available magic and its effects on the fundamental aspects of society and how people interact with the world (Codex Alera, Kingkiller, anything Sanderson) are more rare than worlds which try to keep magic mysterious and secret or worlds that are basically just the real world in an arbitrary time period with some magic slapped on.

2. Off the top of my head, I'd estimate there are 4 books that keep thing normal with magic either hidden or tacked on to every 1 that really integrates magic as part of the world.

3. Aside from some of the other fantastic recommendations already mentioned, the Cradle Series (starting with Unsouled) is great if you want everyone flying around and using magic, and... I guess The Thousand Names kind of starts out with hidden magic and ends with VERY pervasive magic by the series' conclusion.


message 9: by Fredrik (new)

Fredrik (fredurix) | 217 comments Awesome! New recommendations for my infinite to-read list are always appreciated.


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