Top 10 Themes of My New Upcoming Fantasy Series

Austin Dragon Fantasy, Series Overview, Sneak Peek 86 Comments

Strangely, for as much as I loved the Lord of the Rings saga, both the Rankin-Bass animated movies of the late ‘70s and 1980 to the epic Peter Jackson movies of the early 2000s, I had no intention of ever writing fantasy as a published author. That was until HBO’s adaption of Game of Thrones hit TV. Despite its popularity, and don’t be offended if you love it, I loathed it and barely got past the first episode. In fact, I really don’t consider it fantasy at all–it's more like a medieval and lesser version of House of Cards with a dragon or two thrown in. As for the books, I can’t comment because I have yet to finish even one of Martin’s novels—I'm more of a sci-fi, mystery and thriller reader.

Always, I try to put a new spin on a genre that I write in, whether it’s the provocative “religious science fiction” of my After Eden series, or my Liquid Cool series being cyberpunk reimagined—personally, I love the term “cyber-noir”—I wanted to do the same for my new fantasy series.

So what are the major themes of the fantasy genre that I'd put my unique twist on? Here’s my Top 10 List!

1) Good Versus Evil.
It doesn't have to be the over-used, two-dimensional Hero versus Dark Lord structure, fulfilling some ancient prophecy. I'm equally unimpressed with most anti-hero(ines) or evil versus evil stories. Good versus evil is a universal trope for a very good reason (with good triumphing over evil in the end)–because that's how audiences expect the universe to be, any universe, even the ones we fiction writers create.

2) A New World.
Also, called world-building, the first novel often has to spend some time acclimating the reader to your universe. If done well, it all feels natural and welcome. For a lot of fantasy, it seems there's some boilerplate that everyone follows. If we're doing fantasy, okay elves and dwarves are fine—I have the former and not the latter. However, there's a lot more in historical mythology than just that, a lot more.

For my new fantasy series, I want to show readers sophisticated and diverse societies, realistic nation-states, and complex social structures. When I use the word “diverse” I don't mean the often silly, politically-correct use of it in our time, for the new series, I mean one where humans are merely one of many in this “universe.”

3) Mythical Races.
I need to expand of this point because it has been a source frustration with me for a long time. As a kid who was fascinated with Ancient Greek and Roman mythology and later medieval mythology, much of it due to my Lord of the Rings fandom, I often asked why do we see only dwarves, elves, orcs, satyrs, and a couple of others? Folks, there are dozens and dozens of different races. I do add quite a few of my own, but finally you get to see some of those other races from historical myths.

4) Mythical Creatures.
Dragons? Sorry, no, and it's not just because that's my last name. I have often felt that throwing in some dragon to be a cheat in most epic fantasy fiction. I even polled my VIP Readers' Club members and they too came up a ton of mythical creatures that I'd like to see too. In my new fantasy series, you'll get to see them!

5) Magic.
I do believe magic is an important ingredient in fantasy. It goes beyond wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, witches or whatever term we use for the practitioners. At the core, these are lands, beings, and creatures of magic. It plays a key role in my new fantasy series as well.

6) Medievalism and Mythology.
Kings and queens, princes and princes, knights and swords? Yes, to all of the above. Some critics say this is the never-ending “McEuropeanizing” of epic fantasy—all the major themes are from Western European mythology. I agree, though nothing is wrong with that by itself; people like Western mythology. However, when I was a kid diving into mythology, I started with Western European mythology, but then moved to other parts of the world, with Chinese mythology being my absolute favorite. In fact, my Sleepy Hollow Horrors series will delve into Native American and Old North American mythology when it relaunches.

One of the things about my new fantasy series is that it will be focused on Western European mythology, but that is only the start. In fact, some of the key characters are not from “Western Europe” lands.

7) Prophecies.
No. It's one common fantasy device I will not be using. I've always felt that its overuse suggests that none of us have free-will and that everyone is just going through the motions of the universe. It's one thing to say that good should triumph in the end. It's another to say that evil has no chance of winning in the end, or sometimes does win. If that were the case, then it wouldn't be good drama.

8) The Quest.
This is another staple in fantasy fiction. Whether you consider it boring and overused, or a satisfying standard depends on whether it’s a good story or not. Actually, this is what originally attracted me to writing in the genre. I was going to write a thriller story about a quest (more about that next month) but when my VIP Readers' Club members wanted me to write a fantasy series, I simply modified the thriller quest story I was already going to write. As some readers and fans know already, I love genre-blends.

9) Romance.
Does fantasy have to have a good romance? Good question and I have no idea, but I can't think of any fantasy story I enjoyed that didn't have it. Though, I still had no obligation to add it, if I didn’t want to. I don’t follow crowds; I prefer to lead or not be in them at all. However, in this case, it adds to the quality of the story, which is the only reason a writer should add anything to their work. What's an example of what I consider a good romance story? (Yes, I’m a guy but from my 2017 Year End Survey of my VIP Readers’ Club, I was surprised to learn that 72% of my reader fans are women!) Here's an example: Besides the subplot in the Lord of the Rings between Aragon and Arwen, how about the 1985 classic movie Lady Hawke starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer? 

10) Fantasy novels of 800 pages or more.
This is why I haven't read George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones yet. I'm busy and when I do read it's a binge of multiple books. So would I rather read five books in a finite period of time or just one GRRM book? Obviously, I have chosen the former for the last four years. I have a personal rule never release a single book of more than 500 pages, with 400 being the targeted standard. So that's what I will do with the new fantasy series. I'll write lots of content, but not bury people with 1000-page single novel tomes.

There it is.

What do you think about my “Top 10 Themes of My New Upcoming Fantasy Series”? Leave a Comment Below.

#Fantasy #EpicFantasy #ActionAdventure #Thriller

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Austin Dragon

Author of over 20 books in science fiction, fantasy, and classic horror. His works include the upcoming military sci-fi Planet Tamers series, the epic fantasy Fabled Quest Chronicles, the cyberpunk detective Liquid Cool series, the international epic After Eden Series, and the classic Sleepy Hollow Horrors. He is a native New Yorker but has called Los Angeles, California home for more than twenty years. Words to describe him, in no particular order: U.S. Army, English teacher, one-time resident of Paris, political junkie, movie buff, Fortune 500 corporate recruiter, renaissance man, and dreamer.

Comments 86

  1. I think all of these can be brilliant or pretty naff depending on the quality of the writing and story telling. Traditional story tellers can even repeat the same story again and again but still transfix their hearers by putting passion into the story telling.

  2. I think there is so much diversity, inspiration, vision & character reading through the Top 10 Themes of your New Upcoming Fantasy Series.

  3. I love all sorts of books and stories. Thank you for doing this giveaway I would absolutely love to win. God bless and I pray you succeed and do well.

  4. I like your thoughts about prophecies. I like thinking that the characters control the outcome of their actions and decisions.

  5. Your ideas seem to be very well thought out. If they are included in your stories, I believe that the stories should prove to be satisfactory complex and rewarding to the reader.

  6. I like your number 10. Longer books are not always better. The Hobbit, was actually quite short. 350 pages in my paperback edition. GRRM, tends to drag on.

  7. He seems to have the same objectives as I look for in a good read! I can’t wait to get to know his writing, and get lost in his stories!

  8. You seem to be a critical thinker due to your opinions and explanations. I am seriously over joyed that you will be including Romance and not scary creatures and good vs. evil. I totally agree with your 10 sub-titles. Can’t wait to see what you do in your upcoming new series.

  9. Thank you for including romance to mythical and magic. Good article. I haven’t read Game of Thrones either. I will probably watch it.

  10. I love all of the items you include!! Romance and magic are so important! You are very detailed which is so nice! Rita Spratlen

  11. This giveaways cool I can’t comment on what I haven’t read … it sounds like you’re mixing it up which is needed…

  12. This article was very informative. I didn’t realize all of this about fantasy. It was a very well written post. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. Totally agree with your top ten . Awesome ideas , and love that you included romance . Although I don’t mind a long book If it’s a good one .

  14. Interesting. I don’t mind a book being large if it’s a good book. I like medieval fantasy with magic, too. I liked what of the Song of Ice and Fire books that I read, but they were too dry at parts.

  15. I love magic and mythilogical creatures! Great themes. If you don’t have time to read the books at least watch the series for game of thrones, it is worth it!

  16. Like the sound of this series – I love magic, good vs evil and mythology. I believe a good book draws you in and entices you to read every page, no matter what the length, although at this point in my life, it is difficult to get through larger “tomes” for sure! Looking forward to checking this out!

  17. I do like some of the themes you have listed here. I do believe that a good series can be unconventional and don’t follow too many guidelines. It’s good to have plenty of twists

  18. So I know you don’t care for dragons but I’ve really got a soft spot for them! Anyway themes like Man vs Nature can occur in fantasy and it necessarily doesn’t mean good vs evil but maybe it can be encompassed in that category. The categories are great btw

  19. These outlines are good, especially 10. Long books tend to seem overwhelming for many people, and if it’s a physical book, you get broken spines.

  20. Definitely sounds this is going to be a lot different than the typical fantasy book and the thought of that is intriguing to me. A lot of fantasies have become si similar all you have to do is change the names of some characters and/or lands/ or castles.

  21. Can’t wait to read these books. Serial adventures are especially awesome. Around 500 pages is the perfect length

  22. I like all your choices, with emphasis on #10. That is what serial adventures are for, not clubbing the reader between the eyes with a weighty mass of semi-digestible intertwining plots.

  23. I dislike your rule 10 except for the fact that 8oo+ pages would be an AWFUL long ARC to fit into my limited reading time.

  24. Personally I like all the entries except your 10. I’d be sad to have to miss Sandberg’s Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Tolkein’s Ring saga, or Jordan / Sanderson’s 10k or so pages of The Wheel as examples. But tight and complete stories of under 500 pages are also great in my book.

  25. As an avid reader of Scify, Fantasy, etc, etc, for over 50 years, I feel there are many subjects over done in print and needs something new injected. I read with great interest your input and look forward to reading some or all of your next series. I’m not a professional book reviewer or any thing along those lines. I’m just a 67 year old who fell in love with reading back when I was in the second grade, (circa ’58, ’59). I was originally attracted to anything space related, but discovered everything else in my 20’s. Please keep me on your email list.

    Donnie L. White

  26. I’m excited for your new series Austin. I read all forms of fantasy and I do find occasionally that consuming a nice, uncomplicated, gentle, formulaic, standard trope/creatures story – can be very soothing and satisfactory, in this pace-driven life. But your outline is intriguing and I’ll enjoy your thought provoking tale.

  27. I think the outline is very good but it is missing another very important thing; Religion. Almost all the good fantasy books I have read included characters that have a religious background and that influences them or other characters throughout the book. Whether you like it or not, I loved the last book by Brandon Sanderson in his series, the stormlight archive. He included characters that have a strong religious influence and I personally think that it added certain fresh and randomness to the book. I’ve read Metal Flesh and I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet but I did appreciate adding of religion in that Sci-Fi world. But overall, for this outline, I think it is wonderful and I do look forward to the series whether it has a religious aspect or not.

  28. I have to agree with your GRRM opinion. I’ve tried many times to get through any one of his “novels”, and failed miserably. I always thought I could read anything if it were well crafted. Solid world-building, character development and plot that moved. GRRM had times where 50 or more pages went by little really happened.
    Your ten points are wildly stimulating and have fired up my old imagination. Going where no one dared to venture. Characters real and good vs bad is not precise. I look at old Indiana Jones pulling out his revolver and shooting then walking away. And of course both Dr Jones scoring with the Nazi chick. If I had the opportunity I would have too!
    So I await whatever your Muses lead you too. Maybe the true EL DORADO….

  29. Good to see someone is going to get away from the usual fantasy lands, creatures and thinking out of the box, did not know GoT was a book, at 800+ pages it is too long for me to bother with. think that has got to do with Hollywood’s big flash bang in a short time span. Enjoyed reading the first Liquid Cool, Keep on writing.

  30. ThIs is a wonderful way of sharing your ideas with us, Austin thank you!
    I wholeheartedly agree with all the points you’ve stated. I’m a bit tired of dragons, kings and princess stuff. A subtle romance won’t disturb though. And I love the movie Lady Hawke! Both are great favourites of mine! Anyway, I know the series will be superbly written, coming from you, and with your characteristic humour, I hope!

  31. I’m excited to see what your take will be on this genre. I like when authors aren’t afraid to think outside the box and try something a little different. I also appreciate that you don’t bury people in large word counts. Regardless of whether I love the book or not, I struggle to finish longer books since I just don’t have that kind of time built into my life right now.

  32. Largely in agreement with your 10. There’s a certain satisfaction in good triumphing over evil, particularly if there’s an element of comeuppance involved for the evil being(s) in question. If you’re going to create mythical beings and beasts you might as well create some alternate mythology in which to deploy them. I do get a bit bored with the Sword & Sorcery, prophesies and quests being the main driving elements of fantasy. Yes, I like books of 3-400 pages, preferably without a cliffhanger that forces me to read the next one, and the next one, and so on.

  33. Thanks for sharing the outline, Austin – I am intrigued to read what you come up! While I do not completely agree with every point (I too have not read the GoT books, but the show is very well produced and the actors do am amazing job of getting you into their world – even if the world does make you cringe!), I certainly understand and agree with the formula/predictability of the genre as a whole being frustrating. I look forward to reading a prophecy and dragon-free fantasy!

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