Fantasy is one of my most beloved genres. I love reading fantasy books because we’re oftentimes given a whole new world to immerse ourselves in, new creatures and races to meet, new magic systems to try out, and new problems and hurdles to overcome. The possibilities are endless. Your imagination knows no limitation.
But, if you’re an avid fantasy reader, you may notice that there are… generic fantasy settings -an overdone and cliché world thinly disguised as new. You will have seen the same creatures in other books and even games, but instead of bringing something new to the plate, they will have the same roles as their predecessors.
Maybe it’s just me and that I’ve only been reading bad fantasy books, but when I have a fantasy in my hand that has the generic setting (humans, dwarf, elf, orc), it almost always goes like this:
- Human – the usual hero/heroine. They’re the good guys in the story. They have the most of the power and the resources and are the most dominant among the races.
- Dwarf – human minions. They’re usually hesitant to join humans in their quest. Are usually very elusive and secretive of their “secrets when it comes to ironmaking” (<– lol).
- Elf – human minions. Seen as always beautiful, agile, graceful, and sneaky. They live in forests. And have a beautiful kingdom. Of course.
- Orc – ENEMIES. MUST KILL THEM. THEY CANNOT TALK. THEY ONLY GRUNT AND WAVE AND SNORT. ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!
And every time I see it this way, I go:
“Of course. Of-bloody-course.”
I know, I’m human. I should always root for the humans. I should sympathize more with their plight because we’re from the same race, yada yada yada yada.
But here’s the thing. Stories about humans in fantasy settings? For me, they’ve become PREDICTABLE. They’ve become BORING. 80% of the time.
There are so many races out there that you could use to show a story! Like I’ve said before, fantasy has so many possibilities, so why are most of the heroes and heroines in generic fantasy books humans? Why are the others always used as sidekicks or minions or allies to be won over? Why are orcs always the grunting enemies?
For once, I want things to be a different in a generic fantasy setting. I want to read the story about a Dwarf wanting to be a cook but is forced to conscript to the army due to an impending war. I want to read the story of a poor, kind Orc who finds their home slaughtered by vengeful humans, and thus begins a journey of conquest and revenge. Elves are interesting, too, but they’re getting more spotlight recently as I’ve read books from the Elven perspective as well, so I’m personally more interested in the stories of dwarves and orcs. The book can have the same plot and formula as other books, but since it’s from all-new and refreshing point of views, we can bring even more intriguing stories on the table. There would be more diversity. More excitement.
This is the reason why Shrek has a special place in my heart. It’s a fantasy with all sorts of creatures, and the main character is funny, witty, amazing, and he’s not a human at all. Since he’s not human, we get to witness his frustrations and insecurities about his being himself and his not being a human (which is quite complex, let me tell you). If you think about it, if Shrek were human, it would have been really different and I doubt I would have enjoyed it more than Shrek’s normal Shrek POV. It was different and unique and just loads more interesting.
How about you? Do you agree with my sentiments? would you like to read a generic fantasy from a dwarf/orc/elf point of view? Do you think fantasy in general is lacking in diversity? if possible, what are the changes you’d like to be made in a generic fantasy setting?
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