The worst cliches in fantasy literature..?

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#21
clicheed clothes!!!
-I mean, for example, why all wizards have to wear colourful robes???
-It makes no sense, especially since the enemy archers can then spot the wizard mile off.
-Why cannot a wizard wear trousers and padded jacket like the rest of the troupe?

ANd why barbarians always wear loincloth. Even in winter???

You need to read The First Law then =) No wizard robes, no loincloths.
 

blitzburns4

Owns a Ring of Power
#22
Don't get me started, I could go on for days. A few things come to mind:

*Dragons that disappeared, or all but disappeared, but are now making a comeback. Unfortunately, even authors I otherwise like fall into this trap (e.g. George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb).
*Dreams, especially when they're supposed to mean something.
*When the answer to everyone's problems is in some old book.
*Prophetic poems. Especially when they're repeated over and over again.
*Prologues. Especially when they give away everything about the mythology of the world and have nothing to do with the story. Or when they should be actual chapters (a la Robert Jordan).
*Unpronounceable names. Names with "y" instead of other vowels. Names with umlauts, apostrophes, and hyphens.
*Rape. I'm not saying it can't be included, but it often falls into one of two categories. (1) Female characters gets over it like it was nothing. (2) Female character is subsequently murdered -- or kills herself.
*Glowing and/or talking swords. (Sting from the Hobbit and LOTR excepted.)
*Tolkienesque dwarves and elves.
*Magic artifact in a cave. On a pedestal. May have been there for hundreds or thousands of years in pristine condition, only for the hero to find.
*Made-up languages. I can stand the occasional word when it covers a concept that doesn't exist in real life. But when there are made up words for breakfast, young man, husband, chandelier, etc. -- no.
*Special farmboys who turn out to be the long-lost sons of kings. Or any romance between a noble and a non-noble that later turns out to be A-OK because the non-noble is a special farmboy (or girl) who turns out to be the long-lost offspring of a noble house.

That's what I can come up with in 5 minutes this morning, anyway.
Sheesh, you are harsh!

I'm honestly pretty easy. A story can be as cliche as it wants with me. It's all about the presentation, honestly. That's not to say I don't value quality, but I guess I'm just not experienced enough with Fantasy that these cliches are actually irksome.

A show recently reminded me of that. Show called Spice and Wolf. Simplest damn story I've ever seen, and yet is probably one of my favorite shows ever. When I thought about it, I couldn't help but marvel at the ingenuity. (Props to Jenthehen, I owe you one. Thank you.)
 
#23
Eloquency of the heroes!

I mean how can people that grew up in a farm, and had nos schooling whatsoever, be so well spoken and eloquent and verbally talented???
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#24
Eloquency of the heroes!

I mean how can people that grew up in a farm, and had nos schooling whatsoever, be so well spoken and eloquent and verbally talented???
Romancing sheep?
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#25
Just because someone grew up on an archetypal peasant farm doesn't mean they can't be charismatic and 'verbally talented.' That one doesn't even make sense.

No schooling, and 'effortlessly' solving the fantasy world probably-magic equivalent of Goldbach's conjecture, sure. But talking?
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#26
There are a lot of cliches out there that very few people are even aware of. I’m not sure if this is cliche, but I guess I’ll throw it out there; it’s more of a literary cliche than a fantasy cliche I think. This is the idea of voices on the wind and the earth having memories. What if this was literal instead of merely just being metaphorical? Hm… that would be interesting.
 
#28
Just because someone grew up on an archetypal peasant farm doesn't mean they can't be charismatic and 'verbally talented.' That one doesn't even make sense.

No schooling, and 'effortlessly' solving the fantasy world probably-magic equivalent of Goldbach's conjecture, sure. But talking?
IT makes sense if you have actually ever met people who have been raised without education in some remote corners of the world. The do indeed have much troube getting the message across, because they have so limited vocabulary. Struggling to form sentences. I mean no offence, but that's how things are in real world, unlike on the planet feelgood from whence you hail...
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#29
What the hell kind of moron farms do you live by? Honestly. You are conflating education with personality, and vocabulary with intelligence. These things aren't more than peripherally related one another. You can drop as many little cracks at me and my naive little bubble world as you like, but unless you literally live in a poorly researched gritty fantasy world, and are communicating with us here via magic, it doesn't mean you're talking any less out of your ass. Someone can be clever even with a poor textbook education, and charismatic even if they don't have a 2013 updated Oxford Dictionary in their head. It may not be a dime a dozen thing (it's far from a dime a dozen thing even WITH a great education), but it does happen. And has happened, historically. So...?
 
#30
Sheesh, you are harsh!

I'm honestly pretty easy. A story can be as cliche as it wants with me. It's all about the presentation, honestly. That's not to say I don't value quality, but I guess I'm just not experienced enough with Fantasy that these cliches are actually irksome.

A show recently reminded me of that. Show called Spice and Wolf. Simplest damn story I've ever seen, and yet is probably one of my favorite shows ever. When I thought about it, I couldn't help but marvel at the ingenuity. (Props to Jenthehen, I owe you one. Thank you.)
Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed Spice and Wolf :) It's based on a light novel series (which is being released in English - it's the book version, not the manga/comic). Apparently, the story continues past the first two seasons of the anime. I've read some of it. It's not the best piece of literature (b/c it's a "light" novel from Japan, and obviously also a translation).
 
#31
A cliche I really hate is:
Mystic fighting monks!!!

Which goes like this:
-Our hero meets a wizened old monk of oriental origin.
-This wizened geezer beats the crap out of our hero with fancy martial arts.
-This mystic monk then teaches our hero some fancy hand to hand combat techniques!

Argh!!

P.S. an uneducated farmboy would only have a vocabulary of about 500 words. Then how our farmboy heroes know so many difficult words??? And how can they use complicated sentence structures correctly, given that in a medieval farm, most sentences would only have 4 words, at the most, in them...?
 

Belg

Fought a battle in the name of the old gods
#32
I think some of you are confusing Cliches with things that are unrealistic. It doesnt really matter in fantasy why the farmboy can speak so well later in the book, as it doesnt matter why our hero was able to kill several Trained Trollocks with his daddy's sword he has never picked up....

i read fantasy for the story, the fiction.

i enjoy this thread when people are talking about the cliches in fantasy, as it makes me think how many books have i read that do that..(haha funny funny) but without embellishing the story in fantasy ... what will you be left with. And im not just refering to the Farmboy vocabulary.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#33
P.S. an uneducated farmboy would only have a vocabulary of about 500 words. Then how our farmboy heroes know so many difficult words??? And how can they use complicated sentence structures correctly, given that in a medieval farm, most sentences would only have 4 words, at the most, in them...?
Do you actually know anything more about medieval farms than I do? Are you just making things up?

There is no baseline for medieval farms (a very loose concept which encompasses a LOT of time and territory) that is so unceasingly true that any differences are automatically unbelievable, eye-rolling cliches. Most medieval farming communities had BIBLES, and those contain a lot more than four words. Just because your hypothetical farmers can't read doesn't mean they can't think. I know rocket science and such wasn't invented until our time, but you seem to think that medieval people were a whole hell of a lot dumber than they actually were. Maybe it's you that's feeding into the cliche here.

And here's the thing. I'm not saying there's not some insane pocket of secluded, inbred idiots somewhere who survived for a thousand years without knowing what words were. Random chance would dictate there probably were at least a few of those. But the farming communities that the standard fantasy protagonist comes from are nothing like that. They are usually 'secluded' in the sense that they are not near a capital city, but they still get plenty of travelers, have an average education in general, and are at worst only a couple of years behind their urban counterparts, in terms of behavior, way of thinking and social graces. It would make sense for a village of this type to have people in it who were smarter and slightly more eloquent than houseplants. The poorly written country bumpkin protagonist who suddenly has the education of a fantasy equivalent astrophysicist with no additional training is a different trope entirely.

And anyway, this is probably the last I'm posting on that subject. It's a silly argument.
 

Hikerike

Owns a Ring of Power
#34
There is no baseline for medieval farms (a very loose concept which encompasses a LOT of time and territory) that is so unceasingly true that any differences are automatically unbelievable, eye-rolling cliches. Most medieval farming communities had BIBLES, and those contain a lot more than four words. Just because your hypothetical farmers can't read doesn't mean they can't think. I know rocket science and such wasn't invented until our time, but you seem to think that medieval people were a whole hell of a lot dumber than they actually were.
Now i don't claim to know more than you on medival farms. All i know is based from history/religion classes. But the arguement that medieval communities had bibles and thus were able to read is flawed. At most there were a small handfull of guys that could read, often only the priest. Religion was mostly taught orally.
Most people in those farms were taught that they were born as farmers and thus that was their lot in life. There was no education in a village farm? What's the point of learning to read if all you need to now is how to make wheat to live.

Hell in countries like Bangladesh , Pakistan , India , China and Indonesia illiterate adults make up around 40-50 % of the population. Today!
 

Laurentius

Super Moderator
Staff member
#35
I would make the case, that being illiterate does not mean you cannot be intelligent, nor that you cannot speak eloquently, albeit with a lesser vocabulary.

The thing about these farmboys, is that they are, for one reason or another, a one in a lifetime happenstance. The unforged potential of onehundredthousand million quadrillion billion million people. And that's the story we happen to follow most of the time. It's a cliché, but it doesn't mean it would never ever take place in reality. Look at Einstein, or crazy intelligent people teaching themselves calculus.

Being illiterate does not mean you do not have the capability or potential to learn and improve upon skills, such as complex speech, calculus or modern physics. That's just an uncommon occurence in everyday life, translated into an idea in a fantasy book.

Though, I do agree it is a cliché, and often not used successfully.
 

blitzburns4

Owns a Ring of Power
#36
Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed Spice and Wolf :) It's based on a light novel series (which is being released in English - it's the book version, not the manga/comic). Apparently, the story continues past the first two seasons of the anime. I've read some of it. It's not the best piece of literature (b/c it's a "light" novel from Japan, and obviously also a translation).
Yes, thank you again! Naturally, I learned fairly quickly after I watched the Anime (Which I do plan on purchasing the blu ray boxed set, by the way.) that there was a series of light novels for it. However, though I do plan on purchasing the novels, I am simply too bogged down in different series at the moment. I'll let you know, when I do get around to purchasing the Spice and Wolf novels, how they are. It's a shame though, because apparently there are 17 novels and the publisher who owns the rights for the property in NA has decided to only release only 3 novels a year. (With seven currently released.)

Least to say, I'm not the biggest fan of starting incomplete sagas. Having read the current five ASoIaF novels, I don't plan on starting yet another. Having to wait for stories I love to be released is absolutely dreadful; I must tell you.

Going back to the whole Cliche topic, I still feel that a cliche story, given enough ingenuity and refinement, can still be a great story. Everyone here doesn't need me to tell them that, though, (Everyone here already knows this, as clearly seen through Mistborn.) but again that's just my opinion.

Also, to add to the farmboy dialogue, Abraham Lincoln's biography is pretty much your perfect Farmboy story.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#37
Now i don't claim to know more than you on medival farms. All i know is based from history/religion classes. But the arguement that medieval communities had bibles and thus were able to read is flawed. At most there were a small handfull of guys that could read, often only the priest. Religion was mostly taught orally.
I don't actually mean that they could read because Bibles, but rather that their vocabulary would not be shorter than the average length of a book jacket description simply because they lived in a rural area, because something that contained far more than 500 different words, and a lot of higher concepts, would have been very important in their lives. I know people here in the U.S. that can't read as adults. But while they may not be future Harvard scholars, they also aren't so dumb that basic concepts and human interaction are impossible roadblocks for them, and they certainly know enough words to communicate fairly well with people who speak their own language. This is all I was saying. Dude seemed to be suggesting that any medieval farmer who was smart enough to know not to eat poo ("it got eaten once, so why not again?") was some invention of terrible fantasy authors, then got all huffy when I said something. Farmers were not as book-smart as the average person in a first world country today, by any means, and their education may not have contained insane things that would never matter to them, but the idea that they were all literally a single precarious step above being retarded is just silly.

And anyway, Laurentius basically said what I've been trying to say on this, far more concisely and elegantly.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#38
Dude seemed to be suggesting that any medieval farmer who was smart enough to know not to eat poo ("it got eaten once, so why not again?") was some invention of terrible fantasy authors, then got all huffy when I said something.

And anyway, Laurentius basically said what I've been trying to say on this, far more concisely and elegantly.
Speaking as a moderator.

He wasn't suggesting that and it seems a few huffy things have been said on both sides of the argument. I am glad you feel as though your point has been made and I hope that means we can end this argument. If anybody feels that is unfair, please don't hesitate to PM me.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#39
Incidentally, I have stories with both of those things being literal.

Does that make me cliche, or anti-cliche?
It makes you anti-cliche. In a few days I'll post a thread elaborating on the concept I hinted at in my post. I think this argument about farm boys should continue. Reading this particular discussion has been entertaining.