On the concept of power in fantasy, and the lowly foot soldier

I read a lot of fiction. I’ve read and loved many of the blockbuster fantasy epics, the cult hits and a lot of the lesser-known stuff too. I love these books, but there are blind spots in this genre. It is primarily because most novels follow a very similar formula when it comes to the treatment and distribution of power, especially in terms of the protagonist and their imprint upon the world. This isn’t a bad thing, but it leads to a significant paucity in alternative perspectives that can be just as interesting; they are perspectives that could and should be explored.

In familiar fantasy the protagonists are often exceptional in some way; be it through birth or an innate ability. Then they are set on a collision course with a rival power that will have dramatic and far-reaching implications. They are progressively infused and suffused with power, the power to fight, to rule, to conquer and to lead. Some books play around with this course of events a little, but in essence they all follow the same trajectory. But, there are certain books that have bucked this trend. I think that they are critically undervalued and some of the most interesting genre writing available today because of it.Read More »