I’ve read a lot of fantasy books over the years. That’s not really saying much as I’m sure that every fantasy author in the history of ever says the same. But having this experience does help me to recognize tropes — those commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works that pop up in fantasy fiction.
I’m kind of ambivalent towards tropes. On the one hand, they can be tired and boring.
“Oh for the love of <insert preferred deity or snack food>! They’re doing that? Again? I thought this was a new book/movie/show!”
But on the other hand, people have some built-in expectations about things in their preferred genre because of those same tropes. When you read romance, you’re expecting complications to stop the heroine from getting together with the love of her life. When you read horror, you’re expecting danger and the threat of death… or worse. And when you read fantasy, you’re expecting some sort of kingdom and that means some sort of method of governance that’s likely to be a monarchy.
So in my novel, I have a couple of kingdoms. And those kingdoms don’t get along with each other because of huge differences between the people of each nation and a long-standing border dispute that started way back when before anyone currently alive was even involved.
You know, like in real life.
I succumbed to the fantasy trope of having monarchies.
But, I also don’t have just those two realms and just those two types of rulerships. I have another realm ruled by a Queen — not because the king is dead, but because females are in power and the princess is the heir to the crown. I have a community ruled by a council of elders and leaders who defer to a ‘wise woman’ when they can’t agree on something. I have an oligarchy that masquerades as a republic, ruled by the wealthy and powerful who keep ahold of their positions at all costs. And I think my favorite is a city-state that fluctuates and is in turmoil right now because the current ruler is going insane… Or people think he is.
So that’s how things stand for my version of monarchy and how I’m hoping to play with the familiar tropes and use them because I do love the idea of fantasy kingdoms, but don’t want to be too cliché either.