Bookish Thought: Why I Want to See Less Royalty in Fantasy

Bookish Thought is a type of discussion post where I talk about anything book related and of course leave it open for you all to respond :)

Who doesn’t love a member of a royalty family?

Most of the time, sure, I really enjoy those characters in a fantasy novel. I recently read through a small handful of fantasy novels and every. single. one. had a major character that is royalty.

I get it. Usually the first things that I think of when I think Fantasy is medieval-like society, royal family, and of course magic.

Since I started trying to write more novels (key word try), I’ve been trying to think of new and refreshing ways to write something that would be considered fantasy.

Let me tell you, it’s really hard not to go the cliche route and have a major character or love interest, etc. has royalty AND there’s a reason they’re a main character. Probably because they have some kind of magic power.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that this might be something that’s overdone in the fantasy genre. Just go ask Google.

The most basic reason why I want to see less royalty in fantasy? Like many, if there’s something new I can get, I want it. Even better if it’s really different or has some unique trick up its sleeve.

As I’m writing this, I’m also realizing that maybe it’s medieval fantasy stories that I want less of. Because when we think medieval, we think monarchies. Or at least I do.

And that circles back to the idea that we need more diversity in literature. I’m glad to see more and more fantasy novels, especially Young Adult, feature more diverse cultures and societies rather than writing the overdone Medieval Europe style.

This whole idea initially came up because I had an inkling of a fantasy story that I wanted to try to flesh out, but I got stuck because I didn’t want it to be centered in the ‘traditional/ Tolkien’ style society (even though I love the world of Middle Earth!) Luckily there are a lot of helpful articles out there and I now have an idea I hope is different enough to be interesting.

While I love the fantasy books I’ve read that do have royalty in them, I still hope to see more diversity in governments, cultures, and worlds.

Do you? Or do you think you’ll always be a lover of the Tolkien style? 
Have any recommendations for non-medieval fantasy books for me?


16 thoughts on “Bookish Thought: Why I Want to See Less Royalty in Fantasy

  1. Great post! And really good point! We have come to associate fantasy as they typical medieval world + magic. There is so much that can be done with the genre and I would really love to see that. the middle east has great mythology and lots of fantastical elements that no one has thought of using until very recently. There are also a ton of other cultures that would create beautiful settings and would diversify both fantasy and just books in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed! I know a lot of fantasy thrives on hierarchies, but there have to be more ways to build power structures than having a monarch + royal family… There also seem to be a lot of fantasy-fairy tell retelling hybrids that use royalty to shape the plot (as fairy tales tend to do), and maybe that has something to do with it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting post!! That’s a really great point on how it would be interesting to see more diverse societies and kinds of rulers. Personally, I think there is a role for the archetypal king in fantasy, as either a tyrant or father figure, so I wouldn’t say I had a problem with the trope being used- *but* I would definitely pick up and be interested in reading fantasies without royalty altogether. It would make for a really unique and different kind of story- especially in high fantasy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post. I do like books about royalty but you are right – there is a gap in fantasy books that don’t focus on royalty.

    Some of the fantasy books I read that don’t have royalty or royalty is a minor character are:
    – Peter Darling by Austin Chant
    – Fire Boy by Sami Shah
    – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    – Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Cordóva
    – Shadowshaper – Daniel José Older

    Those are just a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think a major character that is royalty in a medieval book is almost expected. What about glass blowers, potters, and black smiths? There jobs sound a lot more interesting rather than telling people what to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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