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What is Epic Fantasy?
The definition fo Epic Fantasy is the subject for debate and it differs among critics, readers, and scholars so it is a bit of a challenge. It also shares many overlaps among different genres of fiction -bearing the most similarity to High Fantasy. To understand what it is we should first break the term down into its two components: Epic and Fantasy.
Let's first look at the definitions of Epic. The word is derived from the Latin "epicus", and from the Greek "epikos"
As a noun
1.An extended narrative poem
in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary
or traditional hero.
As an adjective
1 Of, constituting, having
to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic: an epic poem.
So "Epic has two components. Heroic and vast. In an Epic there is a hero or heroic feats and the setting is vast in scope -often a complete world.
Now let's look at the definition of Fantasy.
1. The creative imagination;
unrestrained fancy. See Synonyms at imagination.
4 a.Fiction characterized by
highly fanciful or supernatural elements.
So fantasy is defined as creative imagination and characterized by highly fanciful or supermatural events.
SO EPIC + FANTASY =
So we put the two together and we get a story of creative imagination that has a hero and or heroic feats and that takes place on an epic scale.
Epic Fantasy is generally accepted today to be a sub-genre of Fantasy. The plot line usually centers on one person that develops through hardship and quest from a seemingly average person into a hero that performs heroic feats of might or magic -overcoming challenges that are epic in scope. Usually the whole world laid out in the piece is at stake.
Although often times in the work of Epic Fantasy it is discovered that the "average person" is actually of noble blood line or in possession of previously unknown special skills -typically magical in nature.
The setting for the piece is often one that has a Middle Ages flavor complete with swords, castles, and a magical scheme. Although many successful Epic Fantasy works have used other settings such as the Conan series .
Development of the Character
One of the most important aspects of Epic Fantasy is the development of the main character through the story. And this often follows a tried and true formula of classic steps that a Hero must undertake. This series of steps has been laid out by Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero's Journey and they include steps like
So Let's Put it all together!
Epic Fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy and very similar to high-fantasy where a seemingly average person undergoes many trials and ordeals which develop him or her into a hero capable of heroic feats needed to thwart challenges of an epic scale. The work takes place in an imaginitive world and often the setting is Medieval in nature, complete with swords, castles, strange creatures and a magical system.
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