Non-European Medieval Fantasy Does Exist!

Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Sword of Truth, The Riftwar Cycle, The Inheritance Cycle, Shannara…

What do all these series have in common?

  1. They’re fantasy, duh

  2. But also, they take place in a world based off of medieval European times.

Now, I’m not saying these are bad series at all. My childhood would be formless without these tales of noble knights protecting their lords and princesses, kings and queens ruling in their castles over their magical lands. And dragons, So many dragons.

I’m just tired of it.

Fantasy can be much more than just one setting and I know it’s out there. Right now, I’m reading River of Stars by Guy Gavier Kay. It takes place in a land similar to China in their Three Kingdoms period. It’s not high magic, but it’s there, and I’m loving it. Brave soldiers, fox spirits, clever courtesans, and a ruling class that’s completely out of touch with their people. All good stuff.

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This is why I love Robert E. Howard. Sure, his main character Conan is a muscle-bound white dude from a proto-Celtic people, but at the very least, he’s not from feudal England. Howard was a historian and loved to use ancient civilizations in his work. Ancient Greece, Egypt, Chinese, Scandinavians, Rome, Afghanistan, Iran…he used them all. He was also hideously racist, but we can do better than him.

I wrote my first book based off of ancient Egypt and in my research I didn’t get much further than just using Greek, Roman, and Scandinavian influences. Because with studying ancient civilizations, you can definitely go down a rabbit hole from which there is no return.

But I’ve got time. And I’ve got more books to write. I’d love to learn more about the Hittites, Nubians, and Hyksos. Ooh, and the Scythians!

Oh man. I’m going to be at this for a while. But my main point today is just check out some books that aren’t based in medieval Europe. Or try books that aren’t based off of any pre-existing culture, like the Broken Earth trilogy by N K Jemisin. It’s about geological magic and the evil things people do to try and harness the power and those who use it. Check it out!

How to Write Multiple Genres as an Author

Was there not a question mark in the title? Crap. There should have been. I'll fix it in post.

I've self-published a couple of fantasy books. Vessels and its prequel What the River Brought. Both are part of the Dusk Eternal series, which I plan on finishing. I've got two more books planned in that weird pseudo-Egyptian world but none of them is my next project.

I love fantasy. From Middle-Earth and Westeros, to Hyboria and Pern, all those imaginary worlds sustain my soul. Even more than that, I love when the setting isn't based on a European medieval period or anything remotely close to it (which is why I'm loving N K Jemisin right now). But even if it isn't, I'll give the book a try. I'm amazed by all these writers who write book after book about completely made-up worlds and I want to stand among them one day.

But I can't help but wonder...do those well-established fantasy authors ever want to write in a different genre? Because I sure do. My next project is going to be...what? Modern day surreal horror? Absurdist humor? A collection of overly-long descriptions of drinks popular in the 70's?

                           Pictured: The newest novel from Rachael Dunn.

                           Pictured: The newest novel from Rachael Dunn.

I'll settle for horror/humor even though that sounds like the nichiest niche if there ever was one. But now I'm thinking that I have to redesign my website, change my author name, dye my hair, take up a drug habit, and commit some non-violent crimes before I can really change my genre.

But then again, I'm not well-known. Maybe I can do whatever the hell I want, write about whatever I like, and just not worry for once. Maybe I'll be Rachael Dunn for fantasy and R.L. Dunn for my horror.

I"ll be sure to wear big sunglasses and not smile in my author pic. Ooh, and have it be black and white. In a graveyard.

Because at the end of the day, I'm only going to be satisfied writing about what I want. And hey, some of the best cereals come in two flavors in one box.

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