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What is it?

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

What is it?

Postby Margaret » Thu September 4th, 2008, 6:08 am

The question of what's fantasy and what's historical is surprisingly difficult to sort out. Novels like the Narnia books take place in a completely made-up fantasy world, but other novels are hybrids between fantasy and history. For example, Mary Stewart's Arthurian novels take place in a well-researched, realistic setting in post-Roman Britain and include some historically documented people. Her Merlin does have prophetic powers, but he's not a wizard who can change people into animals, like the Merlin of The Once and Future King. People may disagree about whether certain paranormal phenomena - clairvoyance, for example, or ghostly apparitions - are fantasy or whether they really happen. And what about alternative history, like the novels that explore what might have happened if the South had won the U.S. Civil War? There are no paranormal phenomena, and the history up to a certain point in time is completely accurate, but then a few elements are changed and things unwind differently from there.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
LCW
Compulsive Reader
Location: Southern California

Postby LCW » Thu September 4th, 2008, 6:43 am

The most "fantasy" type book I've read is Mists of Avalon. I wouldn't read a fantasy novel without it being in some sort of historical setting. I think the line between the two genre's is fuzzy but has to do with amount of "history" vs. the amount of "fantasy" in the story.
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

User avatar
Divia
Bibliomaniac
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Postby Divia » Thu September 4th, 2008, 11:33 am

I always tired to read fantasy novels but they were always about men carring around big swords and being manly. So I cant get into them. I like fantasy stories with a histoircal element too.
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
http://yabookmarks.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Melisende
Reader
Location: Australia

Postby Melisende » Thu September 4th, 2008, 1:08 pm

Author Antony Swithin combines the two in his quartet of novels.

They begin in England during the rebellion of Owain Glendowr and finish off in a land that though barely visible on any good atlas, is not what we would call "historical".

But for the most part they are "fantasy".


What then would we class those novels based on "mythology" ???
Last edited by Melisende on Thu September 4th, 2008, 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: I am tired and my fingers are typing all the wrong letters in all the wrong places!
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu September 4th, 2008, 3:42 pm

Mu daughter once observed, "Have you noticed that most fantasy is just Medieval Europe with fairies and dragons?"
Yes, I have. That is because I am currently working on a YA novel set in pre-conquest Peru, and to appeal to the Harry Potter fans, instead of coming up front with the fact that this is a well-researched historical setting, I went for a 'fantasy' feel. It was surprisingly easy. especially as a great deal of the plot involves the conflict of the many tribal religions and idols, and the major threat is which character gets chosen for human sacrifice.
That's when I noticed that fantasy novels almost always have horses, but never llamas. or camels, or kangaroos, for that matter. Unless they are set on another planet (hence falling into the science fiction genre) you never see African, Australian, or South American settings for fantasy.

TerriPray
Reader
Location: Iowa, USA
Contact:

Postby TerriPray » Thu September 4th, 2008, 4:07 pm

One thing I also enjoy are the good Time Travel novels, the one's where they get the historical detail's correct. For those I'd strongly recommend Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series. There's a fantasy element as well, but I've enjoyed her novels and found them to be a beautiful way of wasting away an afternoon.
Currently reading through submissions ranging from alternative history to science fiction and fantasy.

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xiaotien
Reader
Location: southern cali
Contact:

Postby xiaotien » Thu September 4th, 2008, 5:07 pm

yes. as i mentioned before, i thought i wrote
a historical fantasy until i realized i didn't
base it on an actual time or place. so it
really just pulls a lot on the chinese culture,
tradition and feel. as one editor told me :
"how is this fantasy? it reads like crouching tiger,
hidden dragon and amy tan." =O

like it was a bad thing.

but that was a fantasy publisher--
and i realized trying to sell a fantasy
set in asia may be a hard sell. (they tell
you to be different--but then they balk
when you are.) thank goodness
i wrote a YA by chance, and the YA editors
*were* interested.

fantasy is one of my favorite genres to
read (along with historical fiction). i've only
read one historical fantasy thus far, and
it's marie brennan's midnight never come.
i thought it was very well done.
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

cindypon.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Thu September 4th, 2008, 5:41 pm

There is also a category known as "mythistorical"- fiction which develops a particular myth or legend into a novel - for example, some of Morgan Llywelyn's novels based on Celtic legends would probably fall into this category.

When some of us were playing around on another forum trying (with difficulty!) to get a handle on various historical fiction sub-genres, I came across this article by Carla which impressed me, and as I did originally find it on the old HFF, hopefully she won't mind if I re-post it here

User avatar
xiaotien
Reader
Location: southern cali
Contact:

Postby xiaotien » Thu September 4th, 2008, 7:15 pm

great post.
thanks for the link, annis!
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09



cindypon.com

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu September 4th, 2008, 7:35 pm

Jeanne Larsen's Bronze Mirror blended fantasy with Chinese myths to tell a story about Chinese gods and goddesses. I think it did fairly well, at least it was published by a major publisher and was well reviewed. She's followed it up with two more novels: Silk Road and Manchu Palaces. Also, Barry Hughart has written a series of fantasy novels based on Chinese myths.

Technically, novels like these probably don't qualify as historical novels, because they aren't set in a real historical world. However, I do sometimes list them at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info if they're based on myths and legends that are part of history, because the myths and legends that people shared offer a great deal of insight into the culture of their particular time and place. In that sense, they do have things to teach us about history. For some times and places (like ancient Ireland and ancient India), almost the only written traces of the culture that survive are in the form of these mythical tales, so most of what we know about the culture comes from that and archaeology. And myths and legends contain a surprising amount of information about people's lives and customs.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info


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