Favorite Fantasy creation/character race/whatever...

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#1
ok a bit of a loaded question, I expect all sorts of answers.
This one is always on my mind, I am always curious to a point that it jumps in my head if anyone even mentions a fantasy related ...anything...
let me simplify (or complicate it further)
a mythical creature or species that you regard as going hand in hand with fantasy literature (dragons, elves, goblins)
one you relish when it is done well, and condemn the book if it is done poorly (regardless of how good the rest of the book goes)
a creature that you have such an affinity towards you will read a book just because they are a primary plot source (unicorns, leviahthons)
or anything that you feel that might fit the grossly ambiguous question
(I prefer human only fantasy books is also a good answer as so many books are I am sure there are a lot who think likewise)

Also provide me the antithesis to this quesiton.. (so I want two answers)

Mine

Loved: DWARVES... everything about them I love. (I do like Liches and Dragons but they pale in comparison and i have see far too many done very poorly)

Hated: Elves.... considering my love of dwarves i guess this isn't far fetched I hate them passionately I have gotten to a point I won't even read a story on elves anymore, I think Forgotten Realms and FR copy cats are what really killed them for me. Elves remind me of the standard kid no one wants to play with because he always has a counter to whatever throw at him in whatever game you play, (I shot you.... Na UH I have invisibility) you name a trait or ability someone or something can potentially do in fantasy genre, there is an Elf in some book somewhere that does it. I also tend to hate centaurs and Minatours outside of the mediteranean.
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#2
The problem is that the more popular races are over done, and when they are over done they can turn out to be horribly bad.

Dragons is a good example. I love dragons, always have. I used to collection Red Dragon cards when played Magic The Gathering. However, people like to butcher them. Anne McCaffery is one such person. A talking, flying, telepathic, teleporting, time travelling dragon iS FAAAAARKIN STOOOOOOPID.

Naomi Novik has done dragon's pretty well. She has a class system and there are many types of dragons, however, I still find them a little farfetched (yes I know it's fantasy) because they can talk and learn multiple languages in the egg etc...

The problem with dragons is they are never really the main protagonist except for the two I mention above, and when they are, they just seem too powerful.

So where does that leave me.

Not sure...might have to come back to it haha.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#3
Some of the elaboration seems kind of needless to me. If there's something you like that you will condemn a book for not getting 'right,' then the book probably wasn't all that good anyway, for instance. Like, Stephanie Meyer's egregiously incorrect fantasy vampires (which were really more like faeries, if they could be said to be 'like' anything) were only symptomatic of the actual problem with her series, which was that the story was stupid and the writing wasn't that great. You can substitute Twilight for anything you want (I don't actually DESPISE the series, but it makes a good example because everyone everywhere knows it) that involves a public-domain sort of creation given a supposedly new spin in an original work.

Anyway, this is kind of a hard question. Because the answer I could give easily and honestly would BE Elves. However, I read almost no fantasy at all that involves elves, because the majority of it is stupid, seemingly written for adolescents (or whatever audience the occasionally pseudo-erotic DnD novels are supposed to be catering to), very basic story-wise, and ridiculously prone to turning elves into a really obnoxious, heavy-handed PSA. *cut to a scene of an elf mourning about our disrespect of nature*

Elves in general are shorthand for graceful, semi-aristocratic, very ancient (even if the elves themselves don't live for a particularly long time, their culture will usually have been around roughly forever). Also sometimes used to introduce technological or magical (magic being fantasy's analogue to science, in most cases) advancement to a world when the author doesn't want to make an Arab or Asian expat people, and maybe didn't do a lot of research (in which case, see the above paragraph). All or most of this probably comes from Tolkien. They are basically an idealized form of humans, with a few minor aesthetic changes. However, they are also 'powerful' in some way, semi-mysterious, strange, fascinating -- or least intended to be, in cases where the author sucks. When done right, they are a cross between the modern depiction, and the more mythological 'Fair Folk.' They have a lot of this in common with modern day fiction's depictions of vampires, which makes sense, since I think their base appeal is that they are the feminine version of the 'magical boyfriend/girlfriend' dichotomy that humans have been obsessed with for literally all of our existence as a species. Elves may be powerful in some esoteric or metaphysical way, but they are almost never physically threatening, and their weapons, mannerisms, and the tropes surrounding them emphasize traits more classically associated with women than men (at least in the eyes of our modern society). I think whether or not you like them depends on how much this appeals to you. We're all different, after all.

Antithesis: Uh...I don't really have one. However, similarly to the above, I tend to not read books/series' that go on and on about dwarves, gnomes, orcs, or any of the fantasy races that have been stereotyped and used in every two-bit fantasy story ever written. But again, this is not because I abhor the presence of these things, but because the portrayal is almost always ridiculously stupid. It's used as a replacement for characterization; some works will outright TELL you that every race is a living stereotype and that only humans can be truly different from one another (for extra points, this may also be why the other races fear us when, generally speaking, we're usually inferior in nearly every way). You don't need to flesh out the personality of a dwarf, because he already comes with a set of traits that are assumed by default: physically strong, hardy, stubborn, baudy, likes to drink alcohol, likes to laugh, may or may not like to fight but will usually be obsessed with family or personal honor, likes to dig or live in caves, probably doesn't like elves or whatever equivalent exists in X world. If the dwarf is a bad guy, it's still the same traits, just turned to the negative (violent drunk, may kill over the merest slight, etc.). If he doesn't have at least most of these traits, he's simply not treated like a dwarf. Dwarves, gnomes, orcs, trolls, etc. are held even tighter to stereotypes than elves are, because they lack the 'mainstream' romantic appeal that might make people willing to accept new portrayals. People seem to like them FOR the stereotypes (e.g. "if you didn't want to read about dwarves drinking ale, mining, and being a chummy fighting band that killed stuff with axes and warhammers, why would you read a book that was supposed to be about dwarves?"), so any aversion or deconstruction tends to deconstruct them to the point that they may not even be called by their classic name, and only peripherally resemble them (see: the 'trolls' of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn).

(I may or may not be sure what I actually wanted to say here, so sorry for rambling. I think at a certain level, I'm just ranting about my various literary theories, and believe me, I could go on for days, lol)
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#4
Yeah I hated McCaffery's novels but I do like Novik's.

In humanoid terms I probably like vampires the most. Stems from Buffy I guess.

Like Beersnowman because I like vampires I dislike werewolves, but mostly because I think being able to transform and untransform is a bit ridiculous....kind of like the Hulk.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Amaryllis
No need for sorries, I loved it. besides that if I wanted a quick quip from everyone on their answers I would have posted this on a completely different forum, Its literary so I expect some long answers (and anticipate because they are usually the most fun)
I tend to agree with you, but I can't help but hold Disdain and Love for the two I mentionedthey just kind of stick.

I think gnomes tend to get quite a bit of ambiguity. In its earliest appearences gnomes are either a multi-use word for all diminuitive mythologics (dwaves, goblins, faeries, brownies, elves..etc.) or they are a sort of spirit guardian of one fashion or another (guardian of innocent or prudish women, guardian of a hoard of gold, guardian of miners etc.) in the later case they tend to have a ponderous attitude, being like a sage well versed in history and knowledge or scientific endeavours like alchemy. however in modern fiction (19th century included) the gnome has picked up a lot more of jovial attitude, being more comical with jokes and pranks abound uninterested in anything but ground shiny bits and laughing at someone else expense. (almost pixie or brownie like) although use of the word in the broad sense may have seen earlier.

Amaryillis if you have more Id love to hear it.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#6
I like books about people. i don't want to read about dragons or unicorns or any 'animal' as the main focus, even if they can talk, have their own personalities or whatever. I don't mind if those people are vampires or werewolves or any of that as long as they have human like qualities i can relate to. That is the most important thing in fantasy to me, being able to relate to the characters.

I do find it annoying if the races of 'fantasy regulars' are done stereotypically. Why can't unicorns be evil? That one horn atop their head could do serious damage, pair that up with a craved duelling knight and we have a cool partnership. Dragons don't have to be old and wise do they? (loved Hobb for her portrayal of them in her The Rain Wilds Chronicles). The wise old man that gives knowledge to the young farm boy destined for great things also drives me crazy. cough - GANDALF cough cough. I don't even think it's cool when Tolkien did it, everyone loves Gandalf but he would kick so much more arse if he was a little badder. So it's not just animals, i dislike stereotypical fantasy people too. I'm not discriminating :p

I don't and doubt i will ever search out books about x (a few people come here looking for just that, which is fine, I can rec a few) I think that is because what I like is what authors tend most to focus on in their stories.

my all time fav creations though are worlds and magic systems. I think most fantasy reader crave being introduced to knew words and new magic systems, it's probably why we read the genre in the first place.

Most loved books are the ones with great characters, comprehensive and interesting worlds and unique magic systems. The very best have all three.

The most disliked books are stereotypical characters/races and animals, if i wanted that, I wouldn't be on this site, i'd have myself a FR marathon (ooo burn!) and a never-ending supply of it too. (secret shame: I have read them and enjoyed them for the light reading they offered, i have since found better light fantasy reading to enjoy in my down times between epic series though)

Hope you can see i've tried to stick to your topic question!
 

Sotiris

Knows the real name of Lower Corte
#7
I will agree with Danica. While I have no problem with other races, I have come to prefer my fantasy human-centric *. And like Danica, I am a great fan of elaborately built magic systems (e.g Wheel of Time, Long Price Quartet and the reason the next trilogy I will read will be Mistborn). But that doesn't mean I don't like fantasy that (heavily) contains races other than humans. For example, I really like T'lan Imass and Tiste Andii in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Also, I will have to admit that I really enjoy the presence of races like the Shanka from First Law, Orcs from LOTR, Trollocs from WOT (and so on), antagonist races if you will : P.

Now, to answer the question. I love Tolkien's Elves. Their immortal nature, their otherworldly beauty, their connection with magic, their perception of time and the world and generally every bit of their aspects intrigues me. They are the reason ,that when I was younger and into pen and paper RPGs, I always played an elf. But as I stated before, the time that I needed my books loaded with magical creatures and different races, is gone.

Now for an antithesis. Never really liked were-creatures. Werewolves, wererats, weretigers, weregoats for that matter, never really did the trick for me. I am not sure what the reason for this dislike is (maybe that I haven't read a book with a great portrayal of those things yet) but usually I found that both the shape-shifting ability and the characterization of the person having it, are indifferent to me.

* The reason for this preference, must be the heavy reading of Dragonlance and FR novels in my early fantasy reading times. There are only so much renegade dark elves and drunken dwarves one can take. Now that I think of it, I agree with the above. Stereotyping is a baaad thing.
 

Hikerike

Owns a Ring of Power
#8
I do find it annoying if the races of 'fantasy regulars' are done stereotypically. Why can't unicorns be evil? That one horn atop their head could do serious damage, pair that up with a craved duelling knight and we have a cool partnership.
Haha!Damn it you made me laugh so that my coffe whent all over my poor screen.

Most loved books are the ones with great characters, comprehensive and interesting worlds and unique magic systems. The very best have all three.
I had trouble comming up with a post, was not sure of what kind of mythical fantasy creature i liked. Danica's post helped me figure it out a bit. Especially the quoted sentence. I don't really care if there is vampires, warewolves, elves or evil unicorn with a craved duelling knight as a sidekick as long as there's "great characters, comprehensive and interesting worlds and unique magic systems".One thing that's specially important to me is a comprehensive and interesting world. I love books like WoT , Lotr and the warded man just for that. Other fantasy like Abercrombie's work and Asoiaf that I feel are more charachter driven and less about the world and magic is great too.What they do have is mythical evil creatures. With the shanka's and the eaters and in Asoiaf the white walkers, Dragons is always cool! But my favourites fantasy are those that relates to the history/past of the world. a kind of historical fantasy. Like in The way of kings , with those big ass awesome sword's that those gods had ( dont remember if they even were gods). And WoT where refenrence's to the past time is made all the time. Another example is The name of the wind where kvothe looks to find a very historical and mythical group of people. Thats probably why i read fantasy , not so much because of orcs and elves , but more because of the world.
 

Laurentius

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
While I have a small preference for human oriented stories, I don't mind reading about dwarves or elves. Or dragons for that matter. But as has been mentioned quite a few times by now, those kind of characters tend to be either; Too powerful, too perfect or too boring. Basically, a black cauldron of crap archetypes mixed up with generic storylines.

What I really like, is good characterization. It can almost always move me more than a good story. A flawed character which is trying to do the best he/she can, always gets my attention and I feel it makes a better story. Harry Dresden, Kaladin, Kelsier and so on.

I cannot begin to describe how much I hurt while reading about Fitz or Ender. The books became intimate and personal on a level only few has manage to reach with me. To me, this makes good writing great.
 

Laurentius

Super Moderator
Staff member
#10
Dislikes: It's hard to say. I dislike Tigana and Malazen (which is quite popular). Neither can I stomach Eragon-esque types of books. On the other hand, I love the adventures of Gotrek and Felix. It's like a fantasy comic-strip.

I guess it's something I can only say after having read a book and thought about it.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#11
Danica you werte definitely within the realm of the question, I tried to make it as open ended as possible because the answers become more varied that way Although I didn't necessarily meant these races or creatures as the protagonist or even a large focus, even an enjoyment of seeing a species in one chapter in a long book counts. like a Dragon that shows up in the last chaper of a book as an example. I seem to remember an evil unicorn somewhere, but they did it in a very cliche way (and changed the name)

Sotiris I played an elf in a few D&D campaigns, but I have only once played a dwarf, I feel the sting of stereotypes that people expect when I played him and he was different than the latest (name a popular fantasy series that continues on foreverwith a thousand authors) book portrayed it and were dismayed. Ive never read a book with a shapeshifter (except Beorn which I still roll my eyes at) but I bet I wouldn't like it. I hate all sorts of shapeshifters and Psionics/Psychics (Unless its in a horror movie or a video game then I like shapeshifter... sometimes)

all in all I agree with you all I didn't want to make this out to be your reason to read fantasy, frankly I see Magic systems and Worlds and irksome as badly drawn species stereotypes. they can be done just as badly or cliched. I can't remember what the title is but in middle school my teacher suggested a book that had a magic system based on Wishes, purity of heart and it would grant the most outrageous requests that the book could have been over in two pages, but the characters didn't use it at all properly and it took for ever for that Deus Ex Machina wish to come forward. there are some good ones out there Of all three properties of fantasy novels but I don't use any of them as a reason to pick up my next book, I hear Mistborn has a Great magic system, but its not on my to-read list for that, its on there because I know Brandon Sanderson is an amazing author who knows how make a good novel.

And just cause It features dwarves Doesn't mean Illl Like it, but it does mean Ill probably read it eventually.

Laurentinus gortex and Felix, Haven't read it yet. But I do play Warhammer fantasy. You?

Jon Snow you said youd think about it but I haven't seen it. I was really looking forward to you answer.
 

Sotiris

Knows the real name of Lower Corte
#12
Of course you are right. World building ang magic systems can be as bothersome as any badly written race or character stereotype. It just that ,for me, a great magic system or a excruciatingly detailed world can do the difference (maybe the main reason I love WoT so much, is because of the great world-building of RJ). And knowing that and Branderson's writing skills, Mistborn is a must-go for me. But, I'm quite out of topic, so I will stop writing now : - P
 

Haven

Became a Faceless Man
#13
I first read about elves and dwarves in (obviously) Silmarillion,LotR et al and i thought they were awesome , because they were so..different. Since then they have been used,abused and overused in every friggin fantasy possible.The pointy ears,the long lifespans,the strength,dwarven magic resistance,the axes etc etc its all waaaay too cliche now. The only NEW modern interpretations ive seen of the two races was in Dragon Age(which isnt fantasy, but what the hell) which gave me some hope.

The same goes for Werewolves and Vampires( The fact there is now a genre called Werewolf/Vampire Fantasy(read semi erotica) which is somehow popular among the teenagers of today is frankly disturbing ), I mean how much can you reuse the same things before they are sickeningly repititive ?? *Shudder*

Coming back to the topic, my favorite fantasy race would probably be a massive tie between Balrogs,Myrddraal and Raksura(created by Martha Wells, just freaking amazing, a new race after a long long time)
Also im REALLY REALLY intrigued by the Aimians in Stormlight, its really innovative and the fact that there was only one chapter with an Aimian in it probably adds to the intrigue
 
#14
Favourite races:
- WoT: Myrddraal
- Malazan: Tiste Andii, T'lan Imass, Jaghut
- Feist: Valheru
- WoW: Night Elves, Pandaren
- Forgotten Realms: Drows

dislike: Tenescowri (Malazan), Orcs (LOTR), Undead (WoW), house-elves (Harry Potter)
 
#15
Call me a popcorn fantasy reader but!!!

I love drow! especially when the culture is fleshed out in "war of the spider queen"

Live for 5000 years so when your the youngst of 7 children you gotta kill 6 to be the chosen child
Females are the dominants in the culture (not something you see very often)
Live in underground cities with houses in mushrooms
 
#18
I used to thoroughly enjoy all types of fantasy races and creatures. Elves, dragons and vampires oh my!
But anymore because of all out explosion of sexy sparkly vampires I find I will not pick a book that has them. Maybe one day with the sparkle dust settles I'll give it another go, but until then I'm sworn off of the sun-walking bastards.

I do happen to LOVE dragons that are well done and that are personified well, but not too overdone.

Lately, I'm finding an affinity for new races that are hybrid creatures that we may not have seen before. Something completely new. An author that can create a race, even when they borrow from other races, hits home with me. I think it's because I don't already know the "race rules" like vampires should have an aversion to the sun, zombies should be able to be killed with a swift blow to the head and dwarves should have ample beards (Shame on you Peter Jackson).
 

tychobrahe1

Got in a fistfight with Dresden
#19
Love human characters just plain realistic without any embellishments
Also love it when the gods step down into human affairs. Which is why one the best series ever written is the Malayan series .

Hate fairies **** good god what's the point . Other characters are fairly acceptable
 

yobtaf

A farm boy with a sword
#20
Like: Being specific I'd say the Noldor race of elves by Tolkien (don't like the Vanya, they're too much of asskissers and the Teleri are just eh...) The Noldor, on the other hand, are so much more badass. Dwarves are also pretty cool. Dragons, providing they aren't from Eragon.

Dislike: Erm...there are a lot. Vampires, werewolves, fairies/pixies, hobbits (yes, despite my love of Tolkien, I don't like hobbits. Never did and probably never will. Fortunately the Silmarillion didn't have them).

I agree with what Hikerike mentioned about reading to enjoy the world :) In saying that, I do like stories to at least have a race of men.