In honor of the final day of Entangled Teen’s Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Promotion, it’s time for us to talk a little about our views. Since we couldn’t really make a decision, we asked the most undecided of the four of us to explain his love for both. Check out Ismael Manzano’s post below.
Team Urban or Team Epic? My answer is both simple and complicated: I’m on both teams. Like Bo Jackson did in the 90’s, I play for two separate, equally fulfilling teams. Unlike Bo, who couldn’t charge down the football field with a baseball bat or pitch a football at a batter, I sometimes indulge both preferences at the same time. To explain my love for both, I’ll provide you with some of my favorite selections.
I’ll start with the genre that had me fall in love with writing in the first place, Epic Fantasy, specifically to an old favorite of mine, the world of Shannara, written by Terry Brooks. His attention to detail and flowing, engaging prose, hooked me from the very first line and transported me into his world like no other book I’d read at that time. The next is George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, which I read about ten years prior to it becoming a hit HBO show. What struck me about this book was how grounded and gritty everything was, a complete tonal shift from the optimistic and whimsical stories I had read up until that point. It was dark and dirty and had me trapped in its characters for hours at a time. In the same vein of gritty realism, I must talk about Stephen King’s Epic, The Dark Tower Series, which spans seven books and over three decades. It was unlike anything I’d ever read, in that it embodied the entropy that the main characters were attempting to stop. As the series evolved, things became wilder, scarier, bloodier, and more fantastical. That is to say, the chaos the gunslinger was trying to prevent was mirrored in the chaos of the plot of the story. It was brilliantly done. Finally, we have Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. Both have compelling characters with a rich and extensive amount of worldbuilding. I would say Mistborn comes out a little ahead of The Name of The Wind, only because the magical system in Mistborn is incredibly unique and I can picture it in my head as if it is really happening. (On a side note, I really, really, really hope they turn Mistborn into a movie or a series one day).
Okay, so, now onto the Urban Fantasy. This genre tends to get pigeonholed into a sort of magical romance category, but romance and Urban Fantasy can be mutually exclusive. That’s not to say romance cheapens the genre in any way, just that there are other types of Urban Fantasy books. Two that come to mind—and are two of my favorites—are Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, both great examples of strong leads who do not get deeply involved in relationships. They also both combine a modern day film noir vibe with strong magical elements. Lev Grossman’s, The Magicians, is an example of an Urban Fantasy book that has a romantic element to it, but does not rely on that element to drive the story forward. It doesn’t hurt that the story is incredibly well written and infectiously fun to read. Of course, I couldn’t talk about Urban Fantasy without mentioning, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, where the protagonist discovers a secret magical world that exists directly underneath his own mundane world. It’s a classic story, that I feel is the template for many of the Urban Fantasy stories of the last twenty years. Finally, we come to Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Other World Series, that began with the novel, Bitten. This one, unlike the others on my list, does have heavy elements of romance in it, and that’s just fine with me. The characters are engaging, flawed and very relatable, and the story was captivating, well written and had me hungry for more. It’s no wonder, the Otherworld Series has thirteen books and several novellas under its belt.
So I stay firmly grounded in my neutral zone where I can read an Epic Fantasy book one day and an Urban Fantasy book the next, because I love them both and don’t see the need to give up either anytime soon.
Thank you for joining us for Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Fantasy Promotion. Pop by on Tuesday, and view a conversation between Megan and Ismael about the book and television series, The 100.