All of us got pet peeves, aren’t we? My newest guest, Andy Peloquin decided to write up an article about anti-stereotypes he enjoys reading about. Let’s face it, we all like to turn our back on stereotypes and find something new and fresh wich twists these tropes we know too well. But before we plunge into the topic, let me introduce today’s guest with his own words:
I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.
Fantasy fiction is rife with stereotypes—everything ranging from male-dominated societies to witty banter before and during sword duels to evil wizards that cackle villainously as they unleash ultimate doom on the world.
Don’t get me wrong, these stereotypes can be fun to read; hell, they’re what most of us remember from our younger years reading early fantasy.
But sometimes it’s more enjoyable to read a book that goes against the grain and defies stereotypes. Here is a list of my five favorite anti-stereotypes that always make me enjoy fantasy books just that much more:
A SMART big guy — You usually see a lot of dumb bruisers getting killed off in those epic fight scenes, and the bigger they are, the dumber they tend to be portrayed. So it’s always enjoyable when that 7-foot giant capable of snapping a dragon’s leg with his bare hands comes out quoting philosophy, whips up a tasty meal, or solves the mathematical equation that’s got the rest of the crew stumped. Jean Tannen from Lies of Locke Lamora is a great example of a clever, intelligent man who just so happens to be big, strong, and terribly competent at killing people.
A “normal” female protagonist – Nowadays, it seems every female protagonist is either: a) struggling to overcome deep-rooted confidence issues stemming from abuse, upbringing, or the male-dominated society; or b) a wise-cracking, ball-busting woman who puts everyone around her in place all the time.
I’ve met a lot of women who don’t fall into either category—neither “shrinking violets” nor “bad-ass urban fantasy stereotypical female”. It’s always nice to read a story where the women are balanced, realistic, and more than just a list of insecurities or a sharp-tongued bad-ass.
Fancy swordsman – You know the type, the Jezal dan Luthars from The First Law or Wesleys from The Princess Bride. Swordplay isn’t about the flourishes, the agile dancing back and forth, the lighting fast parry-thrust-riposte. Sometimes, as we’ve seen in Game of Thrones, it can be straight-up brutal.
To give credit to The First Law, Abercrombie contrasted the fancy swordplay nicely with Logan Ninefingers, a barbarian who had about as much finesse as a charging bull—but got similar results.
While we all love the derring-do of an Errol Flynn-esque sword fight, it feels more genuine to read a knock-down, no-holds barred battle between armored men that has nothing to do with fancy swordplay.
No magic – Don’t get me wrong, I love magic as much the next reader, but sometimes it can be annoying to read about yet another magic system—complete with explanation of the powers, the “leveling up” process of the characters, the mystical mumbo jumbo of actually using the magic.
It’s rare to find a book that doesn’t involve magic of any sort, so it’s always a true pleasure when I get to read one. It’s more enjoyable to see people solving problems using their own limited skills without resorting to magic, and I definitely appreciate being able to skip the Magic 101 included in just about every fantasy novel.
If this article was interesting to you, feel free to follow Andy on the following sites, or get his #SPFBO entrant book:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8KnIEoUDWRJkAhJ16CN5Dw
Reader List Sign-Up: http://andypeloquin.com/join-the-club/