High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by the epic nature of its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, or plot. The term “high fantasy” was coined by Lloyd Alexander in a 1971 essay, “High Fantasy and Heroic Romance” (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians in October 1969).
High fantasy is set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than the “real” or “primary” world. This secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterised by being set in the primary or real world, or a rational and familiar fictional world with the inclusion of magical elements.
The romances of William Morris, such as The Well at the World’s End, set in an imaginary medieval world, are sometimes regarded as the first examples of high fantasy. The works of J. R. R. Tolkien—especially The Lord of the Rings—are regarded as archetypal works of high fantasy. Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is another example of a high fantasy series.
Many high fantasy stories are told from the viewpoint of one main hero. Often, much of the plot revolves around their heritage or mysterious nature. In many novels the hero is an orphan or unusual sibling, often with an extraordinary talent for magic or combat. They begin the story young, if not as an actual child. In other works the hero is a completely developed individual with a unique character and spirit.
The hero often begins as a childlike figure, but matures rapidly, experiencing a considerable gain in fighting/problem-solving abilities along the way. The plot of the story often depicts the hero’s fight against the evil forces as a bildungsroman.
The progress of the story leads to the character’s learning the nature of the unknown forces against them, that they constitute a force with great power and malevolence.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.
About the book
Princess Hesina must take over the reins of her father’s kingdom when he suddenly dies. But Hesina saw that gas come out of her father’s body as the doctor performs an autopsy, so it can’t be natural death. Hesina wants the truth, but she must also reign, quell the revolts against soothsayers, banished and exterminated individuals throughout the kingdom, as well as avoid war with her neighbouring kingdom.
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
About the book
We follow the story of a war orphan, who despite living in a remote province, Nikan, and despite not having an excellent education, manages to pass a very difficult exam to enter the military academy in the capital. At the academy, however, she clashes with the prejudices of the empire’s elite, boys and girls of her age, but who have studied for years for this very purpose. Obviously not everyone accepts that a simple girl from a peasant province can be better than them. Here, Rin discovers that she has a power that few others have, but will she be able to use it or will it only lead to the destruction of the world?
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
About the book
“Last” book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It has been two months since Alina has lost her power and is locked underground along with the Apparat, Mal and all of her followers. Only a few Grishas survived and Nikolai has disappeared. The Dark One now reigns over Ravka along with his Grishas and Alina’s only chance to defeat him is to find the ultimate amplifier. But she cannot do that if she is locked underground and the Apparat treats her as someone that is incapable of everything.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
About the book
Second book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy, the first of which I reviewed last week. We still follow Alina’s adventures, escaped from the Darklink and his plans to conquer the world. Together with Mal, her childhood friend, she embarked on a ship bound for Novyi Zem where she wants to have a new life away from Ravka, but always aware that one day she must return to save her country and the population from the plan of the Darklin.
Meanwhile, the Darklin, survived the Fold, has acquired a new and terrifying power. And he’s always looking for Alina. Alina and Mal will find a very special ally who will help them in their mission to save Ravka. Or this is the intent. Will they succeed?
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
About the book
First book in the trilogy dedicated to the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo. Alina is an orphan of the war that Ravka endured with the powerful enemies that surround it and together with Mal, her best friend since childhood and also an orphan, enlists in the army. When given the command to map the Fold the two can only obey and together with their companions enter the darkness. But when attacked by the Volkras, ravenous creatures that live in the dark, and especially when Mal is in danger, a blinding light shines from Alina, a dazzling power she didn’t know she had.
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