This list is written for the fantasy month Wyrd and Wonder.
As I was thinking way back in February what would be a fun post to do for Wyrd and Wonder, the fantasy month hosted by Imryll, Lisa and Jorie, creating an a to z list for things that mean fantasy to me sounded great.Or at least words that I associate with fantasy or that I like to see in fantasy or that I come across a lot in fantasy.
That was easier thought than done.
Somehow I managed to create this list regardless. I decided to sit on one word per letter mostly. I mean, that is only fair. Some letters just get more activity than others… There are also some explanations and suggested books that go with the word. Suggested books in italics are books I haven’t read myself yet. I tried to not repeat books or series. But some of them would really fit with multiple words.
A is for Adventure.
I think we all know what adventure stands for but in case you are unclear this is what the online Cambridge Dictionary said: ‘an unusual, exciting and possibly dangerous activity, such as a trip or experience. or the excitement produced by such an activity’. That to me screams fantasy. So many of our main characters go on unusual and possibly dangerous trips and dive head first into it.
Suggested: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
B is for Battle.
The stakes in (high) fantasy are often high and it is hard to get away with a proper conclusion without a battle. This can be between two people or two armies.
Suggested: The Return of the King (LOTR 3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
C is for (Magical) Creatures.
Fantasy to me screams magical creatures that do not exist in our own world. There are too many to mention and some specifically come forth further in this a to z. A lot of the creatures come from mythology and as such are often creatures well known throughout the centuries as they are passed down through generations and later written down for all of us to remember.
D is for Dragons.
This list would not complete for me without naming dragons seperately. They have to be one of the most well known magical creatures in fantasy. They seem to be inspired by actual animals way back in the day (snakes, komodo dragons) and as such come forth in various cultures. In various shapes however. And in such we shape dragons in various ways in fantasy.
E is for Empire.
An empire is a group of countries ruled by one single person or country. There are quite a few fantasy stories that start out with empires or with those that wish to create an empire.
F is for Fairy or Fae.
Fairy is the most common used word for these creatures that find their roots in Celtic mythology. But Fae we often also see. Fae means all those that belong to the order of the faeries. This aren’t just the humanoid creatures with wings that we automatically think of when one says faery. But also goblins, leprachauns, banshees, pixies, elves, dwarves and more. All these creatures are commonly used in fantasy.
G is for Guardian.
In a lot of stories about youth (and even more so in fantasy) we find that they are often without parents. In their stories often a guardian steps up to protect them. But there are also guardians who mentor someone as they go on a quest.
Suggested: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
H is for Heroes and Heroines.
What would fantasy be without their heroes and heroines? When we look at the majority of fantasy we find a lot of those that focus on the heroes and heroines. Their quests, their mistakes.
I is for Illusions and Incantations.
One of the things that makes fantasy so rich is the world building. Especially with those that focus on magic one has to build a great magic system. And a part of that are incantations. Latin incantations or a completely made up language to use magic can make or break a fantasy book.
Suggested: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
J is for Jester.
In medieval times there would be a jester at court, someone who played the fool. The image we have of them is the cap with the poins and bells and the sceptre they swing around for their jokes. As a lot of (older) fantasy is often based on medieval times, jesters aren’t uncommon. But jester can also mean someone who just always plays the fool. Sometimes we have stereotypes of characters who always do the thing they aren’t suppose to do for comic relief.
Suggested: Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb /
K is for Knight.
A knight is someone who was given this honorary title by a monarch and will remind most of the Middle Ages. Knights were seen as nobility and that is certainly no different in fantasy. Fantasy that is based on the Middle Ages almost all use knights. Knights can be main characters or that close friend to a monarch.
Suggested: The Story King Arthur and his Knights by Howard Pyle
L is for Legend.
Legends are traditional stories can are often seen as historical to the people but have not been authenticated. Think on stories that perhaps jesters told or that were shared thorugh song about magical items, magical creatures or even Gods in some stories. A lot of fantasy banks on myths, fables and legends. Countries that have forgotten a past that is still told through stories to children that turns out to be true.
Suggested: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
M is for Magic.
For me there can be no fantasy without magic and a magic system, no matter how subtle or in whatever form it is shaped.
N is for Necromancer.
A necromancer is someone who can rise and communicate with the spirits of the dead. I always find this an interesting addition on magic in fantasy as it brings such interesting questions forth.
O is for Orphan.
It is not unknown that young adult and fantasy suffer from absent parents. This often takes the shape of dead parents and leaves our main character an orphan.
P is for Portals.
Portals in fantasy are often gateways that lead into another world, very often from our own world.
Q is for Quest.
A quest is basically the search for something. In (older) fantasy you see main characters being send out on a quest where they are meant to find an item or sometimes even a person that is to help fight a war.
R is for Revenge.
Characters need motivation. Backstory is important. One thing that is often used as a backstory as to why someone turned villian or why the hero is so bend on getting justice is revenge. Someone treated them wrong or killed a loved one.
S is for Swords.
While magic is often used in fantasy it is often the swords that fight the battles in the war. Magic has its limits and as such swords, knives and so on are still used as protection. And sometimes they are magical.
Suggested: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
T is for Time.
Time is often very important in fantasy. Certain things have to happen before a certain time or doom will fall on us. Well that might be overstated. But often things are a race against the clock, figuratively as in fantasy there aren’t any 50% of the time.
U is for Unicorns.
Whenever I think of fantasy, next to magic and dragons, I very quickly think of unicorns as well. I guess this is something that just came forward in cartoons when I was a kid. And as such that has stuck as something that I will always associate with fantasy even if I have read very little books with unicorns.
V is for Valiant.
Valiant is showing courage or determination, something our characters in fantasy often need more than anything else.
Suggested: Valiant by Sarah McGuire
W is for Witch, Warlock and Wizard.
A witch is someone who practices witchcraft, magic. Witches are not just females but can be male as well (though this is not often seen in fantasy). A warlock is an evil male witch. Wizards also practice magic, are often seen as male in fantasy. They are also often healers. As they practice magic there is no way to not think about them for fantasy. But really it depens on what kind of interpretation the author uses…
X is for Xenomancy.
Xenomancy is a form of divination where the practiser divines the past, present and future by studying the first stranger and their actions. It is a fairly old form of divination, done by the Egyptians and Romans. I’ll be honest and say that this is mostly here because I could not think of an x haha. Having said that, I think that this actually does come forward in fantasy books. Various forms of divination are used without the sub divinations actually ever being mentioned.
Suggested: The Diviners by Libba Bray
Y is for Youth.
Youth, the young ones, especially the period of adolesence to adult. A lot of books deal with the youths these days. Fantasy isn’t alone in this. But we do see a lot of books where we follow a child into their adolesence and into their adult lives. That is an aspect that I love to see in fantasy. How they grow up and develop.
Z is for Zealot(s).
A zealot is someone who is fanatical and uncompromising in their pursuit of their ideals (political, religious or otherwise). I don’t know about you but I think this covers a lot of antagonists in fantasy. Having an antagonist with a good reasoning, someone who really believes in what they stand for, can be such a great deepening to a book and story. But it doesn’t always have to be the antagonist who is a zealot…
Suggested: The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo /