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The Primacy of History

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 | Posted by Theo

the-kings-bloodDaniel Abraham attacks the idea of historical authenticity in fantasy:

The idea that the race, gender, or sexual roles of a given work of secondary world, quasi-medieval fantasy were dictated by history doesn’t work on any level. First, history has an almost unimaginably rich set of examples to pull from. Second, there are a wide variety of secondary world faux-medieval fantasies that don’t reach for historical accuracy and which would be served poorly by the attempt. And third, even in the works where the standard is applied, it’s only applied to specific, cherry-picked facets of the fantasy culture and the real world.

This is a fascinating assertion. We need less authenticity in fantasy? Let’s begin by looking at Abraham’s three initial assertions. First, history does not have “an almost unimaginably rich set of examples to pull from”. In fact, those of us who study history either professionally or on an armchair basis tend to be impressed by the way in which the historical patterns tend to repeat themselves. For example, the economic notions of the Mongol ruler Gaikhatu Khan, whose issuance of paper currency in 1294 promised reduced poverty, lower prices, and income equality, eerily prefigured both the General Theory of John Maynard Keynes as well as most of the Federal Reserve statements since 2008. Granted, neither Bernanke nor Geithner met with the unfortunate fate of the Khan’s chief financial officer, but as they say, history rhymes rather than repeats.


The examples are significantly limited. For example, there was no medieval period outside of Europe. Forget jousting with laser lances, it’s blatantly ahistorical to even populate a medievalesque world with a predominantly non-Caucasian people. As for the ubiquitous strong, independent, proto-feminist, it is as absurd for her to ride around on a horse swinging a sword as it would be to have her spending the course of the novel waving signs, brandishing coathangers, and demonstrating on behalf of abortion-on-demand and suffrage in front of the king’s castle. Actually, it would arguably be much more credible, since there is more chance that a medieval woman would be literate, promiscuous, and cognizant of Cicero’s theory of government than she would survive five minutes of armored combat.

Abraham’s second point can’t be addressed unless he provides us with some examples. Perhaps they would be served poorly by more authenticity. Or perhaps they would be improved. We can’t possibly say, given our ignorance of what secondary world faux-medieval fantasies he has in mind. And while it’s true that there is a certain amount of cherry-picking that takes place with regards to the fantasy culture, it’s much more limited than Abraham appears to suggest here, since most authors are far too lazy to bother creating any new cultures and instead simply change the name of historical medieval societies while pretending that the Papacy and Christendom never existed.

Now, Abraham is right to point out that the authenticity of George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, R. Scott Bakker, and others is extremely questionable. And he is absolutely right to note that they ignore “the central cultural fact of the time”, which is the “the importance of God and the church in medieval Europe”. But this is an indication that more authenticity is needed rather than less, particularly psychological and relationship authenticity. For example, what was, and still is, the most common form of sex in the world? Marital sex between a man and a woman. And yet, this is about the only form of sex that we never see in fantasy fiction. The average man in fantasy fiction is much more likely to have sex with his dead male unicorn than with his wife, even if he is married. And before I am accused of equimythohomonecrophobia by those who enjoy committed, loving relationships with their deceased gay unicorns, I am merely pointing out that the practice was not as widespread during the Middle Ages as prosaic marital relations.

I simply don’t see how Abraham has made any sort of case for how lasers, universal suffrage, and breast implant surgeries will improve fantasy fiction. But, I have to confess, I think it would be extraordinarily amusing to see him try and make it. If nothing else, addressing the latter could go a long way towards explaining those inexplicably pneumatic women on the book covers.

44 Comments »

  1. Authenticity makes it harder to propogate the sort of ideas he wants propogated.

    At least that has been the view mostly likely to complain of it in my experience. For some reason, the notion that writer might not want to propogate their ideas goes right over their heads, even when they are directly confronted with it.

    Comment by Mary - April 29, 2012 1:48 pm

  2. And you don’t explain why fantasy needs to be “historically authentic.” Of course, history is contested, always in the process of being re-written with contemporary concerns (or the historian’s) at the fore.
    I agree with Abraham and some of the comments that argue the focus has been misplaced. Fantasy, whether epic or not, is in dialogue with the epics, myths, tales, and fantasies that came before. History can play a role as an influence. But I certainly do not think it should be more important than that.
    Give me women wearing armor and knights riding motorcycles in a multiethnic monarchy. If I wanted to read “authentic” history, I’ll go read a history book.

    Comment by sftheory1 - April 29, 2012 2:07 pm

  3. No doubt I’m missing something here, but we’re talking about fantasy right? Meaning that it’s a fantasy. It’s made up. It’s not supposed to be real (for that matter, the whole notion of “realistic” fiction is a relative recent phenomenon, but let’s not get into that). For whatever reasons, entertainment or political propaganda or a rumination of good and evil, it’s made up. Why does it matter if it’s historical accurate? I mean, you could put knights next to space ships next to Chinese laborers building American railroads, and if you could make it work as a piece of entertaining and/or enlightening fiction, why would I care that it doesn’t (didn’t) really work this way.

    So hey, if an historically accurate medieval fantasy is poorly written and/or doesn’t engage on an emotional level and/or doesn’t have believable characters, it fails. And if it isn’t historically accurate, but is well written, engaging, good characters and maybe has something to say about the human condition, why wouldn’t that be all right?

    Comment by Soyka - April 29, 2012 2:15 pm

  4. Abraham’s second point can’t be addressed unless he provides us with some examples. Perhaps they would be served poorly by more authenticity. Or perhaps they would be improved. We can’t possibly say, given our ignorance of what secondary world faux-medieval fantasies he has in mind.

    The ones I mentioned in the original piece were The Chronicles of Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and Kushner’s Swordspoint and Thomas the Rhymer. I should point out that of those, Bridge of Birds is not a faux-Euopean setting, but mythical China. I feel the argument still holds.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my little offering and for responding to it. Your interpretation that I’m arguing for less authenticity helps to point out where I might have been clearer.

    I am arguing that historical authenticity is beside the point, and that the inclusion of problematic issues such as sexism, racism, sexual violence, or — to borrow your example — cryptozooilogical necrophilia should be addressed as choices made by an author in service of a particular story and interrogated in that light rather than dismissed as necessary because of a story’s similarity to history. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify that.

    Comment by DanielAbraham - April 29, 2012 5:52 pm

  5. I think you’re viewing a post in a vacuum that is meant to be seen in the context of a long-standing conversation about race and gender in fantasy. A common excuse to readers (ie, the proposed audience for one’s work) who complain about a lack of characters other than white noble males is that that it’s because of the historical context. Abraham is responding, quite sensibly, that this is a BS argument and a terrible excuse for High Fantasy looking the way it often does. It reflects not an accurate depiction of any period of actual history but a warped fantasy (no pun intended) of a world in which everyone is white except for the Exotic Eastern Mages (or some such nonsense) and the women are sexually available to any handy hero.

    I don’t see Abraham making ANY argument about abortion on demand or breast implants, so I have to wonder why you broke the straw-feminist out of the closet to use here. What he IS arguing, and what many of us have argued for some time, is that a narrow definition of high fantasy and the highly cliched set of characters utilized *even in as wonderful a set of works as the Game of Thrones* isn’t serving the genre. It certainly isn’t advancing it any.

    And it is getting boring. We as readers are begging for characters that are new and exciting, and for truly creative world building. And that means breaking away from centuries old tropes about a once upon a time that never was.

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 29, 2012 5:59 pm

  6. Elizabeth,

    I agree that high fantasy has become stagnant. but a change in the color of the characters’ skin won’t improve the stories. Criticism of fantasy based on race and gender has become as stale and boring as the genre itself.

    Comment by Tyr - April 29, 2012 6:20 pm

  7. Tyr, you’re welcome to your opinion, but I disagree that the criticism in and of itself is dull. Meanwhile, no, a simple skin color change will not fix anything, but real creativity about characters and their possible histories will. “Cold Fire” has given us a powerful example of that.

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 29, 2012 6:26 pm

  8. (Or, for that matter, Daniel Abraham’s Long Price quartet.)

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 29, 2012 6:28 pm

  9. I might add that I think fantasy writ large is still vital and that I enjoy fantasy based on mythologies other than Europe. However, The problem with high fantasy is the limited, recycled plots, which would be equally tiresome in any setting.

    And the feminist critique is overblown. Almost everything on the shelves these days has the same boring female protagonist….a variation of the one you find on a Kim Harrison book cover (and also all written by female authors).

    Comment by Tyr - April 29, 2012 6:32 pm

  10. I’m not certain what feminist critique has to do with the latest Kim Harrison book.

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 29, 2012 6:37 pm

  11. Do you have any actual examples of people managing to write “knights next to space ships next to Chinese laborers building American railroads” and make it work? Well, comically, of course, but then comedy runs on incongruity.

    Comment by Mary - April 29, 2012 6:51 pm

  12. I am arguing that historical authenticity is beside the point

    I think it depends. I agree with you if the author’s goal is to create an original fantastic and non-medieval world. I very much disagree in two cases, first when the author claims to be aiming for authenticity, second when the author is borrowing heavily from medieval elements. If you’re going to do it, then do it correctly. It’s absurd, for example, to have a divine right of kings with neither divinity nor organized religion.

    the inclusion of problematic issues such as sexism, racism, sexual violence, or — to borrow your example — cryptozooilogical necrophilia should be addressed as choices made by an author in service of a particular story and interrogated in that light rather than dismissed as necessary because of a story’s similarity to history.

    Why should they be interrogated at all? If Martin wants to get his kicks writing about incest and Bakker wants to alternate between philosophical absurdities and Rapey McRaperson spewing his black seed everywhere, what is that to me, you, or anyone else?

    Now, I tend to dislike modern and post-modern perspectives in my medieval characters. It’s stupid and psychologically false. I find nothing more tedious than the snarky, strong female protagonist who is obviously the wish-fulfillment vehicle for her overweight wallflower of a creator. But then, I’m not the market for that sort of book, any more than I am for Twilight, Harry Potter, or 50 Shades of Gray.

    I don’t see that any author has any need to defend whatever perspective he wants to write, so I suppose I have to agree with you there, although I would say that the authenticity defense isn’t dumb, but rather, unnecessary.

    I don’t see Abraham making ANY argument about abortion on demand or breast implants, so I have to wonder why you broke the straw-feminist out of the closet to use here.

    Because we see these temporally anachronistic attitudes invading everything, including historical fiction. Female authors, and more than a few male ones, have to learn that they can’t make every freaking female character a snarky proto-feminist. Or if they feel they must, go all the way and play it for laughs.

    It certainly isn’t advancing it any.

    Advancing it towards what? I would argue that if fantasy is ever going to become great literature, it needs more authenticity, although not necessarily historical authenticity. But I don’t see it going in that direction, rather more the opposite, unfortunately.

    Almost everything on the shelves these days has the same boring female protagonist….

    My personal favorite is the classic Laurell K. Hamilton approach where two alpha males fall in love with the female protagonist… and instead of having to choose between them or watching one drive the other off, she is amazed when they decide they must share her because she’s such a unique and precious snowflake. It makes the reader feel as if he’s the author’s therapist.

    Comment by Theo - April 29, 2012 6:58 pm

  13. “And you don’t explain why fantasy needs to be “historically authentic.””

    I don’t really think it needs to be explained at this point, even though I believe he has explained it before either here or in his blog. Fantasy fiction has gotten too historically unauthentic over the course of 2 decades (or more) and so unappealing to a lot of people, I just don’t see how it will improve it with even MORE of it.

    “It’s made up.”

    Soyka, how exactly is it made up when you simply copy-paste a historical period sans Christianity while also pasting modern sensibilities and other ideas held by the author, even though many of those ideas are not exactly made up either?

    “So hey, if an historically accurate medieval fantasy is poorly written and/or doesn’t engage on an emotional level and/or doesn’t have believable characters, it fails. And if it isn’t historically accurate, but is well written, engaging, good characters and maybe has something to say about the human condition, why wouldn’t that be all right?”

    Which stories/books are those?

    “The ones I mentioned in the original piece were The Chronicles of Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and Kushner’s Swordspoint and Thomas the Rhymer. I should point out that of those, Bridge of Birds is not a faux-Euopean setting, but mythical China. I feel the argument still holds.”

    The Chronicles of Narnia hold more to Vox’s argument.

    “What he IS arguing, and what many of us have argued for some time, is that a narrow definition of high fantasy and the highly cliched set of characters utilized *even in as wonderful a set of works as the Game of Thrones* isn’t serving the genre. It certainly isn’t advancing it any. ”

    Surely you’re not suggesting that Tolkien’s High Fantasy is in the same league as the modern High Fantasy? Because last time I checked both mixed just as well like water and oil.

    “And it is getting boring. We as readers are begging for characters that are new and exciting, and for truly creative world building. And that means breaking away from centuries old tropes about a once upon a time that never was.”

    I have to wonder what books have you read to reach such a conclusion, specially when almost every author nowadays tries to subvert the kind of Fantasy written 50 years ago. (I don’t remember nihilism being a century-old fantasy trope and that’s just for starters). If anything readers want a return to the high quality Fantasy of the old days. This trying to always break the mold is what’s turning away readers. Not all that is new is good. Not all that is old is bad (or boring).

    Comment by Jake - April 29, 2012 8:16 pm

  14. Jake, why would I want to read Theo’s blog? Anyway, I think “authentic” needs to be defined because, right now, no one is making it clear what is meant by “authentic.”
    Fairy Tail, Naruto, One Piece, and Fullmetal Alchemist all come to mind. And of course there is Bas-lag and the Hyborian Age.

    Comment by sftheory1 - April 29, 2012 10:04 pm

  15. [...] Black Gate on The Primacy of History. [...]

    Pingback by SF Tidbits for 4/30/12 - SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog - April 30, 2012 1:06 am

  16. “Anyway, I think “authentic” needs to be defined because, right now, no one is making it clear what is meant by “authentic.””

    Wasn’t the issue about “historical authenticity” and not “authenticity”? Because I believe the former speaks for itself: authentic to the values from the historical period is borrowing from, be them ideological, technological, anthropological, etc. (And to which your manga examples won’t hold except perhaps Naruto, but just barely)

    Comment by Jake - April 30, 2012 1:26 am

  17. Yes yes, you hate Urban Fantasy. We’ve gotten it. That doesn’t excuse a series of misogynistic ad hominems. There’s a lot of trash out there in every genre, and you’re explicitly ignoring a series of examples that both Daniel and I have offered of historical or epic fantasy using non-white or female characters that have nothing to do with the pulp characters you dislike, and how they’ve made for stronger stories.

    Look, no one here is saying that all fantasy has to be diverse, or make a point, or do whatever you seem to think we’re saying it SHOULD or HAS to do. What we’re saying is that the excuses offered for why it “can’t” be done are flimsy and often-times irrelevant. Write a standard fantasy set in a medieval western European world staffed by all male characters. No one is saying you can’t. No one is saying you can’t enjoy those books if you want to. All anyone is saying is, “Don’t pretend that that’s the only option, that you CAN’T do anything differently, or that there aren’t artists out there creating really, really good and original work that breaks those paradigms.”

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 30, 2012 12:54 pm

  18. It seems to me that there’s a lot of dancing angels on a pin here, to what end I don’t’ really understand.

    Fantasy as great literature? It already is (see Kafka, Borges, Shakespeare, etc.). Don’t like medieval fantasy that is not historically authentic, well, as has been said here, don’t read it. It’s not going to cause the collapse of Western Civilization.

    Literature is full of unrealistic situations and narrators. What ultimately matters is whether it’s own internal logic is successful in suspending disbelief to advance a story and/or perhaps shed some light on the human condition. Even if the storyline is not necessarily sympathetic to our personal political/philosophical convictions. As long as it is interesting.

    All this stuff is less about literature than advancing a political/philosophical agenda which may or may not have anything to do with works of fantasy.

    As of whether I know of any work that combines knights and spaceships and Chinese laborers, well, it certainly would be something I’d read.

    Comment by Soyka - April 30, 2012 1:29 pm

  19. Soyka, I agree with a lot of what you say, with one caveat: looking to maintain the status quo and becoming actively irritated with people who are trying to push the boundaries of genre is ALSO advancing a political and philosophical agenda. To whit, art is always political. It is always written from a philosophical perspective. The question is whether or not it’s done A) consiously and B) successfully. I think everyone here agrees that B is very important. The debate really comes down to whether A is significant or not.

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 30, 2012 2:20 pm

  20. As far as “authenticity” goes, the real question isn’t about the trappings of the story, but about the behavior of the characters. You can have laser beams, floating castles, dragons, magic, orcs, time travel, FTL starships, intelligent alien crabs, all sorts of imaginary, made-up story elements, but if the behavior of the characters rings false, the story falls apart.

    Authenticiy of behvaior is what matters.

    Of course interesting characters are frequently those who go against type, but unless the author is content with a Mary Sue wish-fullfillment vehcile, people bucking the system generally have lots of ripple effects, not all of which are good or intended.

    Finally, something I think a lot of counter-cultural thinking misses is the underlying reasons for cultural norms they disagree with. The reasons may be good or bad, but they’re usually not totally arbitrary, and fiction that treats culture as basically an arbitrary mash-up of tropes feels hollow and two dimensional.

    Comment by JMHawkins - April 30, 2012 2:42 pm

  21. Yes yes, you hate Urban Fantasy. We’ve gotten it. That doesn’t excuse a series of misogynistic ad hominems.

    To whom are you addressing this? As for me, I don’t hate Urban Fantasy per se, it’s just that most Urban Fantasy is as absurd and intellectually stimulating as the average porn flick.

    And where are these “misogynistic ad hominems” of which you speak? You claimed “a series” of them, so do give us three examples.

    All this stuff is less about literature than advancing a political/philosophical agenda which may or may not have anything to do with works of fantasy.

    That’s wildly untrue and is the immediate response from everyone whose literary merits are being questioned. We saw it from Bakker, now we’re seeing it here.

    The problem is that it adds several degrees of difficulty to create great literature from nonsensical bullshit. Yes, I admit it is theoretically possible to create great literature based on a story of laser-armed lesbian Mongol hordes with breast implants invading Europe in order to install democracy and universal suffrage, but you have to admit, it would be tough to pull off.

    Anyone who has read Thucydides knows that humanity hasn’t changed all that much in 2,400 years. So, if you’re going to “move things forward”, chances are pretty high that you’re attempting to pass off a load of nonsensical tosh.

    What ultimately matters is whether it’s own internal logic is successful in suspending disbelief to advance a story and/or perhaps shed some light on the human condition.

    This is absolutely correct. My point is that the further you move your story from the actual and/or historical human condition, the harder it will be to avoid triggering the average reader’s disbelief.

    Don’t pretend that that’s the only option, that you CAN’T do anything differently, or that there aren’t artists out there creating really, really good and original work that breaks those paradigms.”

    It’s theoretically possible, sure. But no one I’ve read is doing it. Most of it not only sucks, but is as risible as it is predictable. Who are the artists out there who are creating these really, really good works? I’ll be quite happy to check them out.

    Comment by Theo - April 30, 2012 3:51 pm

  22. [...] over at the Black Gate blog, rebuts this hypothesis and asserts “The Primacy of History,” essentially making the case that more historical accuracy is called for in faux-medieval [...]

    Pingback by The Primacy of Story | Serial Distractions - April 30, 2012 4:27 pm

  23. Did everyone know Theo’s read Thucydides? Isn’t that awesome?

    Comment by Dinguschance - April 30, 2012 4:40 pm

  24. Did everyone know Theo’s read Thucydides? Isn’t that awesome?

    Thucydides? Seriously? Now, reading Dante, Eco, and Calvino in Italian, yeah, that is pretty awesome.

    Comment by Theo - April 30, 2012 5:09 pm

  25. The ones I’ve mentioned here so far are “Cold Magic” by Kate Elliot and Daniel Abraham’s “Long Price” quartet. Off the top of my head I’d have to add N. K. Jemison to the list. Ursula K. LeGuin was pioneering and is considered one of the greats of the genre for a reason.

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 30, 2012 5:30 pm

  26. No Elizabeth, not all art is political. I pity the people who view everything through a political lens, for they live in a sad, soulless world.

    Comment by Tyr - April 30, 2012 7:23 pm

  27. No, D. Abraham didn’t make a case that anachronistic elements will improve fantasy fiction by their very presence. He didn’t because he didn’t try to. His point was that a fantasy fiction story is remembered for what it says about, and to, the real world when it is written. It will remain popular if it makes significant statements about, and to, the real world of future readers. I will add this criteria applies to all fiction, fantasy or not.
    Historical authenticity can therefore makes things worse instead of better. The historically “accurate” world view of a character can be a barrier to reader sympathy for the character. That doesn’t require a quasi-medieval setting should be populated with 21st century American personalities. It does require the writer to pick & choose between historical authenticity & deliberate anachronisms to create a world that’s both internally consistent & populated with characters that readers understand.

    Comment by hooded.swan - April 30, 2012 7:24 pm

  28. Tyr,
    Such as?

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 30, 2012 7:57 pm

  29. Historical authenticity can therefore makes things worse instead of better. The historically “accurate” world view of a character can be a barrier to reader sympathy for the character.

    The Harry Turtledove way around this is a parenthetical comment about what the character did not think / perceive / notice. (Prince Misogynus never imagined the peasant wenches did not enjoy his attention.)

    Comment by Lugo - May 1, 2012 3:44 pm

  30. A common excuse to readers (ie, the proposed audience for one’s work) who complain about a lack of characters other than white noble males is that that it’s because of the historical context. Abraham is responding, quite sensibly, that this is a BS argument and a terrible excuse for High Fantasy looking the way it often does. It reflects not an accurate depiction of any period of actual history but a warped fantasy (no pun intended) of a world in which everyone is white except for the Exotic Eastern Mages (or some such nonsense) and the women are sexually available to any handy hero.

    A historical novel that accurately depicted medieval England, France, or Germany – or an “accurate” fantasy novel set in their fantasy analogues – would have no non-white characters at all. Or at any rate, the novel would have to go very far out of its way to introduce such an unusual person.

    Comment by Lugo - May 1, 2012 3:47 pm

  31. Wow. Reading this blog first and then Daniel Abraham’s article has me wondering if we even read the same article.

    In fact, the strongest response I had with Abraham’s article, which I found to be a logical, concise and fascinating discourse on the importance or lack thereof of historical authenticity in epic fantasy was this:

    At its heart, the argument that the Middle Ages were “really like that” misunderstands what epic fantasy is by treating it as though it was in conversation with actual history. It isn’t. It’s in conversation with the epic fantasy that came before it.

    I actually believe that epic fantasy is not necessarily always a conversation with either history or the fantasy that came before it (although it might be both at once, why not?), it’s a conversation with the present.

    Dead unicorn lovers and ladies with swords and talking lions withal – epic fantasy reflects and hyperbolizes and makes just alien enough the world around us (a world built of its own history as present fantasies are built on the fantasies that came before it) that we can engage with it without immediately snapping up all defenses. Those defenses may come anyway, but there is often a little delay, where the magic of metaphor may creep in.

    Fantasy is not so much about historical authenticity as about possibility. Anything goes – dragons, quests, superpowers. The erasure of whole races or genders, conveniently. Or the uplifting of the same into positions of power. Like, with flaming swords and things.

    I think that possibility, that exercise of the imagination, that thing that makes fantasy fun, doesn’t so much address the past as it yearns to the future. And everyone has a different vision of what they want the future to be.

    Not a future with dragons and knights and other trappings, necessarily, but of a future where anything is possible. Where gender and race are not erased or peripheralized; where women too can fight dragons (read: any strange and terrible threat to home, country, family) with swords (read: strength – of mind or body or soul), where a hodgepodge of diverse humanity lives and seethes and breathes and acts together or against each other but NOT marginalized from each other, where one might take any lover one fancies (dead male unicorns or otherwise) and with that choice also take the consequences of loving outside of the norm. You know. Silvery little magical maggot STDs and all.

    I agree with Cady up there that all art is political. It comes from us, and we’re products of our time. We assimilate everything we read, see, hear, learn in schools, rebel against, choose, and it churns in us, and burns, and changes. And sometimes it changes into big heaping fantasy epics. And sometimes it changes into blogs. But I think it’s always about now and now is made up of history too.

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - May 1, 2012 7:17 pm

  32. A historical novel that accurately depicted medieval England, France, or Germany – or an “accurate” fantasy novel set in their fantasy analogues – would have no non-white characters at all. Or at any rate, the novel would have to go very far out of its way to introduce such an unusual person.

    About as far as any major city or trade port. Especially in France, which actually has a southern coast (I’m told it’s very nice) which is a very short hop comparatively from northern Africa.

    Comment by Erik Amundsen - May 1, 2012 10:03 pm

  33. Okay, I had a few thoughts on this topic (hah). I’m afraid this is gonna be a long one.

    Before I get into it, though, a thought on authenticity: I’d argue that the use of pseudo-medieval settings in fantasy fiction derives from an older tradition in English literature, which used the Middle Ages (as they were understood by various different writers) as a venue for fiction and specifically adventure fiction. This tradition goes back to Walter Scott, past him to Ann Radcliffe, and past her back to the 1762 novel Longsword, often called the first historical novel in English.

    One can go past that, back to Mallory and Ariosto; but I think it was the late 18th century that began writing the Middle Ages as something different, something distinct, a setting with its own attitudes. You can see the understanding of that setting develop from Longsword to Scott; the sense of difference was very rudimentary at first, so Scott was able to position himself (in his prefaces and public statements) as a different kind of writer — one more concerned with authenticity than his predecessors. Nowadays, that claim doesn’t hold up well, because our understanding of the Middle Ages has grown considerably from Scott’s time. As sftheory said up above, the understanding of a period changes over time.

    Still: Scott’s idea of the Middle Ages (along with that of Victorians like Tennyson) still seems to shape the popular perception of the period. I think that’s important because it’s worth remembering in this discussion that writers aren’t just engaging with history when they write either historical fiction or historically-based fantasy; they’re also engaging with previous writers, and what those writers made out of the history they understood

    Moving on to some point-by-point thoughts. Theo:

    1) Historical patterns do repeat themselves, but I’d argue that they repeat in the same way basic narrative patterns repeat themselves. When people talk about how literature has 7 basic plots (or 3 basic plots, or one basic plot), they don’t mean it isn’t rich and varied. They mean there are deep recurring structures that help shape the mass of varied material. So, yeah, I’d agree with Abraham about the variety of history.

    2) To say that “there was no medieval period outside of Europe” begs the question of how we define the medieval period; what makes it characteristic? Or, from the perspective of fantasy fiction: can the characteristics of the medieval era as we understand it be altered — by the introduction of fantasy, by the use of fictional geography, and other devices — to create a setting that has the feel of that society, and which is internally consistent within the world of the novel, but which also helps to illuminate whatever aspect of character or theme the writer feels is important? I see no reason that question always has to be answered with “no.”

    3) For example, you say that it’s ahistorical to have a non-caucasian nation in a European medieval setting. But there’s no reason I can think of why that would have to be so in a fantasy world; one can easily imagine a world in which, either due to changed geography or due to some movement of populations, you’ve got a medieval setting which includes or is dominated by a non-caucasian people.

    4) You say it’s absurd for a “proto-feminist” to “ride around on a horse swinging a sword” and doubt that “she would survive five minutes of armored combat.” This seems historically unsupportable, in that there are at least two prominent examples of women in the Middle Ages who did just that: Joan of Arc (as testified by the men who fought alongside her), and Sichelgaita, the six-foot-tall wife of Robert Guiscard. That’s to say nothing of, for example, Scandinavian shieldmaidens, who seem to have fought with the Varangian guards. Why do you think women would have been unable to fight? (And why the adjective “promiscuous” in your final sentence?)

    5) You say that the most common form of sex is married sex between man and woman; I have no reason to doubt that. You then ask why that frequency isn’t reflected in fantasy literature. It seems to me consistency requires you to broaden the question: why isn’t it reflected in literature as a whole? It seems to me that if one looks at sex in literature, the majority of it isn’t between husband and wife. Mostly it seems to be between people whose love is forbidden by society.

    In fact, there’s good reason for that. Literature tends to focus on what’s dramatic. Illicit love is almost necessarily dramatic: if you have lovers whose love has been forbidden by the society around them, that’s dramatic. (I have to admit I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but I suppose it makes logical sense that as society, broadly speaking, becomes more open to more different kinds of love, it makes sense to write about those kinds of love set in earlier eras.)

    6) In response to Abraham, you say that authenticity’s important “first when the author claims to be aiming for authenticity, second when the author is borrowing heavily from medieval elements.” I think I’d disagree with the first point; I don’t see that it necessarily matters what the writer states about his aim. The work has to speak for itself. The second I think gets to the core of a lot of this discussion: it’s important to think about setting, and make sure that the elements you’re using aren’t in direct contradiction with each other. As you say, having the divine right of kings without organised religion.

    The thing is, I suppose, so long as we’re talking about fantasy, we’re talking about something that is by definition not accurate history. The fantasy elements change the setting, however slightly. So the trick is trying to harmonise the two: the elements of history that you want to use, and the changes to that history that follow from the fantastic. So to that extent, the quality of the fantasy depends precisely on the *in*authenticity of the history.

    7) You ask why a writer’s choices should be interrogated. I think the answer is because that’s what criticism does. This entire discussion comes, as people have said, because of a debate (or series of debates) about the merits and effectiveness of Martin, Bakker, Abercrombie, and similar writers.

    8) You say: “I find nothing more tedious than the snarky, strong female protagonist who is obviously the wish-fulfillment vehicle for her overweight wallflower of a creator.” The funny thing is … I grew up reading comics, often considered (sometimes perhaps justly) as power fantasies written by, well, physically inadequate male wallflowers. The thing is, some of those comics turned out to be pretty good. What I’m trying to say is: while the type of writing you’re talking about may well be bad, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

    9) You say: “Female authors, and more than a few male ones, have to learn that they can’t make every freaking female character a snarky proto-feminist.” I don’t know if that’s necessarily so. Particularly in fantasy, one can fairly easily imagine, say, a female-dominated societal enclave struggling with a male-dominated society around it (or the reverse. It’s fantasy; why hold back?). Even with respect to historical fiction, if a writer sets a story at the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, you could write a plausible story populated largely by proto-feminists; there’ve been many debates about the true nature of the “court of love,” but so far as I know, there’s simply too little known to be able to rule that sort of thing out.

    10) You say: “I would argue that if fantasy is ever going to become great literature, it needs more authenticity, although not necessarily historical authenticity.” What other authenticity did you have in mind?

    11) You say: “The problem is that it adds several degrees of difficulty to create great literature from nonsensical bullshit. Yes, I admit it is theoretically possible to create great literature based on a story of laser-armed lesbian Mongol hordes with breast implants invading Europe in order to install democracy and universal suffrage, but you have to admit, it would be tough to pull off.” I’d say that nonsensical bullshit’s in the eye of the beholder. Something you or I might look at and think is nonsense might strike another writer as the perfect seed for a story.

    12) You say: “Anyone who has read Thucydides knows that humanity hasn’t changed all that much in 2,400 years. So, if you’re going to “move things forward”, chances are pretty high that you’re attempting to pass off a load of nonsensical tosh.” I think this is true and untrue. I agree people haven’t changed much in recorded history in terms of their basic desires (I’ll see your Thucydides and raise you a Herodotus — less sedulously accurate, more fanciful, but also the father of history). But the way we describe people, the way we understand them, the way we try to structure society to deal with who we are, these things have all changed repeatedly. Things have moved forward; we don’t (most of us) adhere to the misogynistic or anti-semitic views common in the European Middle Ages, and we tend to think that democracy’s a more just form of government than monarchy. So when we write about the Middle Ages, or about settings based on the Middle Ages, our perspective on the time and the way we write about it ought to be different as a result.

    13) You say to Soyka: “My point is that the further you move your story from the actual and/or historical human condition, the harder it will be to avoid triggering the average reader’s disbelief.” I think that’s precisely the challenge of fantasy. I that’s always been the challenge. Writing fantasy is by definition writing something that’s at a remove from anything that could be real. It refuses to coddle readers with the appearance of fidelity to their common understanding. The trick, the art of it, is to do this and have it nevertheless feel real. Or, even, feel more than real.

    (I think the odd thing is that the history we don’t know often feels unreal, fantastic, when we first encounter it. ‘Can it be so? But it is.’ Perhaps to some extent the use of history in fantasy is an attempt to catch that sense of wonder.)

    Tyr:

    1) I don’t know if I agree that race/gender criticism of fantasy has become as boring as fantasy itself. I’d say criticism, like the fantasy, is boring in inverse proportion to the skill of the writer. In any event, just a because a criticism’s boring, it’s not therefore wrong.

    2) You say: “Almost everything on the shelves these days has the same boring female protagonist…” I don’t really see that; as far as I know, much of the debate that led to Abraham’s post came from discussion of male-written fantasies that didn’t have these kinds of female protagonists. Do you think Martin has too many trite female protagonists? I’ve read the first two books by R. Scott Bakker; there aren’t any in there.

    3) With respect to art and politics: Anything can be read in a political way; or, rephrased slightly, anything can be seen as having a political dimension. For some people, the soul of a work lies in its politics. Particularly if one chooses to define politics as any interaction between human beings. If you choose not to read a work in a particular way, that’s your call; if you think a given reading is mistaken, that means you’ve got a critical argument to make; but it seems to me to be going too far to argue that people who read a work in a way you don’t like are necessarily sad or soulless.

    Mary:

    You asked if there are examples of writers using knights and lasers and railway laborers together. Zelazny’s Amber books leap to mind. I’m reading Steph Swainston’s Castle series, and that book uses deliberate anachronism (which I think is justified by things within the story, though it’s not yet been explicitly spelled out) quite extensively and intriguingly.

    Jake:

    1) You say “almost every author nowadays tries to subvert the kind of Fantasy written 50 years ago.” I can’t entirely agree with that. I mean, certainly there are authors who try to do that, one way or another. But I think a lot more are trying to write within that tradition, just perhaps with a slightly different spin on things. Which is pretty much what most writers do, I think; come out of a tradition, but try something a little different. Whether that constitutes “subversion” or “invention” is I suppose up to the individual reader.

    2) You say: “I don’t remember nihilism being a century-old fantasy trope and that’s just for starters.” I had a point about that the last time this subject came up around here, and that is: it’s actually been around quite a while. Dunsany was cheerfully impious. Howard’s about as close to nihilism as I’ve ever read in fantasy: “Babarism is the natural state of mankind. … Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.” Leiber and Vance wrote about amoral thieves and rapists.

    3) You say: “This trying to always break the mold is what’s turning away readers. Not all that is new is good. Not all that is old is bad (or boring).” I agree with the latter two sentences, for sure. Do you know how many readers are being turned away? I mean, are there marketing studies or polls or some such about this? I would have thought that commercial publishers wouldn’t be backing writing that wasn’t turning a profit. Are you sure there are more readers turned away than are being brought in?

    Lugo:

    As Erik Amundsen pointed out, there were African traders in Europe. And of course the Muslim invasion of Spain involved Africans of various ethnicities. In fact, you can see black people in art and illustrations from medieval Europe, particularly when the art’s depicting Muslims. There were black people in medieval stories and legends; Sir Morien was a, um, black knight allied with Launcelot and Gawain. St. Maurice, an Egyptian saint, was depicted as a black man.

    There’s a lot that’s simply not known about travelers and how many people from how many places went where. A little while ago people were surprised when analysis of a 13th-century skeleton found in Ipswich, England revealed that the man originally came from Tunisia:

    http://news.discovery.com/history/medieval-african-england.html

    Who knows how many others like him were around? For what it’s worth, my sense of medieval historiography over the past couple of decades has been that increasingly historians are looking at the European Middle Ages in context; how it was influenced by the multi-ethnic Byzantine Empire, how the Italian Renaissance was funded by gold from Mali (by way of Italian traders in Egypt), that sort of thing. I see no reason fiction should refrain from the same sort of investigation.

    Claire:

    I agree that fantasy’s in a dialogue with the present moment that produces it. I think any kind of fiction is, as you say. I suppose I’d suggest that dialogue is shaped by the literary traditions preceding a work. Books, as Northrop Frye observed, are made out of other books. (I never did figure out where the first book came from, though, so there’s that. I mean, yeah, oral storytelling, but you see what I mean: where did the first story come from?) But, yes, I agree, fiction reimagines the world, and fantasy (to me) allows in some ways a particularly extensive re-imagining.

    Comment by Matthew David Surridge - May 2, 2012 1:39 am

  34. C.S.E.

    I disagree, it’s not really “anything goes” at least not if you want the reader to connect with your world. An author is certainly free to make any changes from a starting baseline, but those changes will have an effect on the setting.

    For example, if you had medieval mortality rates and modern fertility rates, your society would die out pretty quick. So if you have a medieval fantasy world beset by the common filth-borne illnesses of, say, 14th C Paris, and the majority of women behave more or less like 21st Century Western women (delayed marriage, fewer children, careers more common) then your society is unworkable unless you figure out some way to address the population rate. Maybe magic healing dramatically lowers the death rate? But then what impact does that have on your socieity? do you have a growing mass of elderly people kept alive by magic? Or is healing magic rationed (and maybe it’s a plot point to get access to it)? You get these spreading ripples that are needed to ground your original cultural change and make it feel organic and not just a Frankenmileu.

    Or, you could say women in your world have a choice and those who want to can go out and slay dragons, but most still decide to stay home and have lots of kids, so no population problem. Okay, but that just means it’s not Taboo for your Warrior Princess to go out hunting dragons. It’s still very uncommon, and Medieval societies weren’t all that comfortable with unusual things, so more ripples…

    Point is, you can’t just pull one thread in the tapestry of your world without other threads moving around too. Human societies settle into patterns because those patterns are stable, and any change big enough to permanently alter the pattern will change more than just one aspect of it.

    Of course, an author can ignore it and not worry about realism. The Wizard of Oz was a great story despite being ungrounded in any reality. But if part of what you wanted in writing your story was to have some social commentary taken seriously, you can’t really just make a change and ignore the unintended consequences.

    In the real world, people who make positive changes take the unintended consequences into account and figure out how to control and moderate the ripples. People who make things worse don’t know or care and end up swamping the boat by thrashing blindly about. If all art really is political, then wouldn’t artists have some responsibility not to be that careless?

    Comment by JMHawkins - May 2, 2012 1:51 am

  35. Matthew David Surridge:

    Things have moved forward; we don’t (most of us) adhere to the misogynistic or anti-semitic views common in the European Middle Ages, and we tend to think that democracy’s a more just form of government than monarchy

    Who, exactly, is “we” here? In the Middle East, we seem to have a wave of countries going to all the trouble to topple brutal dictators and replace them with democracies, and then the first thing the new democracy does is vote in a theocracy.

    Well, that’s the Middle East, you say. They’ve got some serious problems, so let’s just stick with Western culture. Okay. Weimar Germany was a democracy that willingly voted in a very ugly dictatorship. Hitler wasn’t some stealth tyrant, he spelled it all out in a book years before, and they still voted for him. Their philosophers touted the dangers of a democracy (and were just slightly antisemetic too).

    Okay, okay, the Nazi’s were a unique evil, we can’t make any broad cultural assumptions based on them. Fine, we’ll just look at modern europeans, who are so enamored of democracy that they’ve created the EU, which is run by unelected bureacrats who claim their regulations trump the elected parliaments of sovereign nations. And the German Chancellor is invading Greece with accountants instead of paratrooopers. And BTW, antisemitism is on the rise in Europe today.

    Luckily in the US we’re still a democracy and don’t have any of that European aristocratic nonsense. Over here, our House or Lords, er, I mean Congress, only has a 97% retention rate. And we don’t have any of that Public School close-mindedness that England has. No Eaton’s here, though whoever wins between Obama and Romney, by the 2016 elections it will have been 28 years since we had a President without an Ivy League degree (and they’ve all done so well don’t you think…).

    Nah, we’re no where near the end of history. We’re not off the treadmill. There are some very fine, noble aspects of our society, but nothing is carved in stone and trends are going the wrong way in many places. What right do we have to claim we’re better than the Romans when they had their republic? Or the Germans when they first had theirs? What magic totem makes us immune to their failings?

    Do we understand ourselves any better than they did?

    Comment by JMHawkins - May 2, 2012 2:31 am

  36. About as far as any major city or trade port. Especially in France, which actually has a southern coast (I’m told it’s very nice) which is a very short hop comparatively from northern Africa.

    Rubbish. And this leaves aside the fact that the vast majority of people didn’t travel more than a short distance from their native villages, and thus did not ever GET to the “nearest trade port”.

    And of course the Muslim invasion of Spain involved Africans of various ethnicities.

    You will note that I specifically excluded Spain in my original statement.

    In fact, you can see black people in art and illustrations from medieval Europe, particularly when the art’s depicting Muslims. There were black people in medieval stories and legends; Sir Morien was a, um, black knight allied with Launcelot and Gawain. St. Maurice, an Egyptian saint, was depicted as a black man.

    Um, depictions of imaginary black people (or historical black people who lived thousands of miles away) does not mean that significant numbers of actual black people lived in England.

    Basically you are arguing that if one black person ever visited England, or if anyone in England made a picture of a black person, then medieval England was somehow a “non-white” society. This is stupid. England, France, and Germany were, as I said, white nations in the medieval period, and a novel pretending to accuracy would depict them as such.

    Comment by Lugo - May 2, 2012 9:39 am

  37. And this leaves aside the fact that the vast majority of people didn’t travel more than a short distance from their native villages, and thus did not ever GET to the “nearest trade port”.

    Frodo simply walked into Mordor.

    Comment by Erik Amundsen - May 2, 2012 6:26 pm

  38. Being flip, and I think that though flip is sufficient for the task, I expect folks to be obtuse about that last comment about Frodo.

    Let me be more plain: Fantasy, especially epic fantasy is about people (ordinary or extraordinary) doing extraordinary things. One of these things, one which seems to be a prerequisite for a number of fantasy readers and writers (data not being plural of anecdote) calling a fantasy “epic” is travel. Travel across oceans, continents, through haunted forests and underground places. You know, getting to see the world you have to save.

    I think attempting to get that feeling of weight and depth of setting – which, again, I have been told and must take the word of the tellers for it – while remaining within a day’s travel of the protagonist’s native village sounds like an intriguing challenge. Once.

    If you set this native village someplace sufficiently rural, yes, you probably are going to have an ethnically homogenous – hell, make it small enough, and you’ll probably have a hard time finding two people who aren’t cousins. That doesn’t seem terribly epic, even to me, but if it’s what floats your boat…

    Comment by Erik Amundsen - May 2, 2012 6:47 pm

  39. JMHawkins: What I don’t think you are seeing is that having a mortality rate matching some place and time in premodern Europe is not a baseline at all but a choice you make, starting with which part of premodern Europe and what time period.

    The common understanding of what “medieval” life was like (just narrowing it to hundreds of years in a single continent) isn’t terribly historical and never particularly was.

    If that is a setting you love and want to see, great, you will see at least one author try it every year. But it is a setting choice, perhaps a very common one, but that doesn’t make it a baseline.

    Comment by Erik Amundsen - May 2, 2012 7:00 pm

  40. JMHawkins: It’s true that there are all kinds of potential consequences to any setting change. But I think in some ways that can work *for* a writer. I think it’s probably fair for a writer to say that the fantasy elements in their setting either cancel each other out, or else have had effects that don’t need to be enunciated. Let’s say somebody’s writing a story set in a medieval Europe where magic works. I don’t think the writer needs to go in depth into how the magic shaped Greece and then Rome and then what it had to do with Church history. The reader can assume that various levels of magic were controlled by the various factions involved in such a way that history developed much as we know it. The writer can then choose to focus on what they feel is important to the story. Which might involve the histories of Greece or Rome or the Church, or might involve something else.

    On another note, I think that when people here say art is political, they mean it slightly differently than you’re interpreting it. I think the phrase is being used to refer to the way a work of literature relates to the world in which it’s being read, not the world it imagines. That said, yeah, if a writer’s consciously trying to make a political statement, it’d make sense for them to write with care. In a sense, that’s what triggered off the whole discussion, on various other blogs; the argument that Martin (and some other writers) could have thought more about their setting — which led to the argument that the setting had to adhere to historical reality, which led to Abraham’s post, which led to Theo’s post, and here we all are.

    With respect to your comments to me, you’re quite right that things are always in flux, and that there are countercurrents to everything. My point to Theo was simply that there are certain ways in which the modern Western world is different from the medieval world, in terms of its ideals and philosophies. I certainly don’t mean to suggest we’re near any kind of end to history. (I’m actually in Canada, for what it’s worth.)

    Lugo: What part of Erik’s statement do you think is rubbish? Do you think there weren’t traders in major ports?

    You say to Erik that his statement “leaves aside the fact that the vast majority of people didn’t travel more than a short distance from their native villages, and thus did not ever GET to the “nearest trade port”.” Then to me you say “depictions of imaginary black people (or historical black people who lived thousands of miles away) does not mean that significant numbers of actual black people lived in England.” But neither Erik nor I were arguing that there were. Your original statement was: “A historical novel that accurately depicted medieval England, France, or Germany – or an “accurate” fantasy novel set in their fantasy analogues – would have no non-white characters at all. Or at any rate, the novel would have to go very far out of its way to introduce such an unusual person.” Both Erik and I are pointing out that this is not necessarily so; that there are records of black people, in particular, in those countries at those times. It is true that they were not present in ‘significant’ (or ‘large’) numbers. But they do seem to have been present.

    I’m not arguing that these countries weren’t “white” (though I could argue that “whiteness” is an idea from a later time, and inherently anachronistic when applied to the Middle Ages). What I’m saying is that there seem to be evidence in art and literature that black people were known; that there’s at least one example of physical remains of a Tunisian in England; that the physical proximity (of Spain to France, for example) and political links (to the Crusader kingdoms, for example) of the countries you name to other places mean that it looks likely that at least a few ‘non-white’ people were known in those countries. That’s justification enough for including such characters in a historical novel, or a historically-based fantasy.

    If fiction had to stick to writing about the majority of the population, most medieval historical fiction would be filled with the peasant agricultural laborers who made up 90 to 95 percent of that population. What I’m saying here is that a historical novelist who wanted to write about a black African in Europe has enough grounds to make a reasonable interpretation of history in which such a person might be unusual, but neither impossible nor unheard of.

    Look at it this way: you say that the depictions of black people I mentioned are either “imaginary people” or else actual people “who lived thousands of miles away.” Those are possible interpretations of the evidence. But there are others. And when we’re talking about fiction, we get to expand on what can be absolutely proven.

    Comment by Matthew David Surridge - May 3, 2012 12:42 am

  41. It seems that it’s true authors can pretty much do whatever they like if the back story or the history of that event or person is good enough to keep the reader tuned into the story. In other words, the reader doesn’t say, “Oh that’s BS and shuts the book.” A sample scenario: four hundred years from now everything is climate controlled therefore there is no need for clothing. However if writers in that era would have a woman walk down a New York street in 1984 completely nude, the believability factor might lose the reader. The event would be incongruous with the actual history of 1984 unless (and I apologize for using a movie instead of a book reference) the woman was an ex mermaid who has just acquired feet but no clothes. Now there’s a reason for her nudity that the viewer in this case can accept. And there’s already been a back story on how she becomes human.

    It isn’t just a case of what authors can do – as stated, they pretty much have carte blanche but there’s more than one person involved. There’s also the reader. I may have misread the posts above but it seems to me that some are discussing the problem from the point of view of the author and others from that of the reader. The willingness of the reader to suspend belief is vital to every author. Anything is possible but is it probable — is there an explanation for it that the reader accepts. You can set a whole tribe of native African people in the middle of anyplace if you give a good enough explanation, e.g., due to a severe magnetic storm, a rift in time is created and the whole area was transported to another time and location on earth. Dr. Michio Kaku is probably laughing his a** off at that particular explanation and if he were reading that in a fiction story that I wrote, I’d lose him. Hopefully though it makes my point clearer. I don’t think I’m saying anything new here, just from a different point of view perhaps.
    BB

    Comment by Barbara Barrett - May 3, 2012 5:18 am

  42. [...] an article on historical authenticity in fantasy.  A week later, Black Gate blogger Theo posted a critique of that article (and a follow-up post 2 weeks after that, to clear up some of the misconceptions created by his [...]

    Pingback by Historical authenticity, historical verisimilitude, and how political correctness leads to bad Christian fiction - July 27, 2012 7:17 pm

  43. #215…

    Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Primacy of History…

    Trackback by #215 - March 18, 2013 12:21 am

  44. [...] of many characters, especially Elyse.  The role of religion in pseudomedieval fantasy cultures was mentioned in a post by Theo over on Black Gate the other day as part of a discussion of historical authenticity in [...]

    Pingback by Rise and Fall Heralds the Rise of a Great New Fantasy Trilogy | Adventures Fantastic - August 6, 2014 11:13 pm


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