Fantasy as Historical Fiction

I’ve been recently enjoying the prompts offered at OneWord. They lead me to write all sorts of strange bits. So far, I’ve explored two fandoms, reality-based fiction, nonfiction, and fantasy.

A recent fantasy bit was unexpectedly popular, and has led me to thinking about things.

This particular bit was born out of a combination of memories. As children, my cousins and I were forever playing all sorts of games, some of which fueled our paths as adults. When I was in Amtgard, I spent one afternoon at my first Spring War heloing to build castles for the major battlegame of the weekend. Because I was the smallest (and I love climbing), I got to stand on top of the walls and shift the hay bundles into place. They gave me this pair of huge hooks to make my job simpler. It was a ton of fun!

As I was reading over and editing the piece, it made me think about Amtgard and my persona. At one point in time, I was developing a series of stories designed to flesh out the world my persona came from. Her personal history alone took three parts, and there was more to tell. There was a story explaining the situation among the world’s magic-users. There were stories introducing the various guilds of the world by following one of their members.

To any of us, these stories are all fantasy, but it occurs to me that these stories, like the story bit I wrote, would be historical fiction if one was sitting in the world in question. Perhaps that’s what makes good fantasy, though. We respond to historical fiction because we know and understand people, places, and events. It’s familiar and feels real. A good fantasy novel has to draw the reader into this imaginary world and immerse them in it. The setting, along with events that are not likely to happen in our own world, is part of what makes fantasy unique.

Much like historical fiction does, fantasy draws us in by allowing us to look through this window and watch a world’s history unfold. We become emotionally involved as we learn who people are and what happens to them.

It’s an interesting thought, probably requires more contemplation though.


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