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Christian Fantasy

What is Christian Fantasy?

Pretty simple definition: Fantasy written by and for Christians. It is a story that reflects some part of the Christian world-view. Some Christian Fantasy is overtly Christian with strong imagery and the deliberate naming of Christian figures (God, Jesus, Moses, Mary, etc.). Other stories are more subtle with authors weaving only particular aspects of Christianity into the narrative.

These are not necessarily books the retell biblical stories, but rather take elements of the Christian faith and incorporate them into a fantasy. For example, rather than retelling the story of the Fall to talk about sin, there is a villain character who embodies greed and in the end he is repentant and therefore finds grace.



Christian Fantasy is not for all Christians. There are some who would describe Fantasy as blasphemous and wicked. But those who like this sub-genre do not think of it as wicked, but rather as a way to engage with Christian ideas and messages. Some even see the sub-genre as a way to glorify God.

 

Characteristics of Christian Fantasy

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  • Level of Magic

    Generally low. Magic is not a part of Christian world-views and so doesn't always find its place in its stories. Even in stories where magic is present, it is not magic in the traditional Fantasy-sense, and it is often tied into the glory of God.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    High. Christian Fantasy stories grapple with some big ideas: creation, good vs. evil, morality, sin, faith, and finding meaning. There is always a theological idea to be explored or a lesson to be learned.

  • Level of Characterization

    High. Characters in Christian Fantasy often undergo some kind of transformation or reach an understanding about the universe. As such, characters have well developed arcs in which readers get to see them change and evolve.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Variable. Christian Fantasy sometimes runs into a problem with reusing the same plots over and over again—sort of inevitable when there is a single central text influencing all stories. Then again, other writers succeed at crafting engaging plots with unexpected twists. Generally, the plots of Christian Fantasy stories have a pretty standard flow—they do not try to reinvent storytelling. There is standard rising action and resolution in these stories. Readers are not likely to be left hanging (unless the story gets picked up in another book in the series).

  • Level of Violence

    Moderate-High. Battling evil in one incarnation or another is a common trope of Christian fantasy, and these battles can be quite violent. Although, some authors will choose to skip the gory details of violent situations.

Related Fantasy Subgenres

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    Allegorical Fantasy. Sometimes the Christian ideas and world-view used in a story is told as an allegory.

  •  Religious Fantasy. Fantasy that's about religion in general; it might be about the Christian faith, Catholicism, or some other religion. Religious fantasy can include Christian Fantasy, but in general the distinction is that religious fantasy takes a look at the broader question of region in general and might ask specific questions (which might not necessary show religion in a favorable light), rather than trying to perpetuate a specific religious message, proselytize, or follow a specific "guideline" for how the fiction should be written (i.e. no swearing, sex scenes, etc).

  •  Bangsian Fantasy. Bangsian fantasy is not necessarily concerned with a specific religious agenda or message but rather uses SOME religious aspects (usually but not always the Christian ones) as the setting for the story. The typical Bangsian fantasy might answer the question "I'm Dead, Now What?" sort of question, showing characters who died and find themselves in an afterlife setting, which turns out to have problems of its own.

Christian Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you're not Christian (sort of). Christian Fantasy is definitely targeted at a Christian audience. However, some of these books are more subtle about weaving Christian ideas into the story, which means that they have the potential to appeal to a secular audience.

Popular Christian Fantasy Books

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