A Guide to Epic Fantasy – Part One (of however many I need to get you through this)

In which the Author tours the fantasy landscape… OR… “Let Me Entertain You!”



The “Chosen One”

Birth is one of the most important clues for you, in determining if you are The Chosen One.

Let’s face it, we all would prefer to be royalty: the perks are enormous, and it’s not rare for a Chosen One, as foretold by prophesy, to spring from a line of kings.

The important tell-tale sign will be that you are unloved or in some way betrayed by your parent or guardian. If it is a guardian, their seeming love and concern for you will inevitably be a camouflage: they will be determined to keep you dependent on them, often by the use of Black Magic that renders you either addled or infirm while they conspire to rob you of your rightful throne.

More commonly, though, a Chosen One will find themselves a simple peasant in a remote village.

In this case, you will have at least one deceased parent, and they will have been categorized by your fellow villagers as “not being from around here”. You will also be almost excruciatingly “ordinary” for at least the first thirteen years of life, and may even be the awkward foster child of some brute who resents your very existence, when not cherished and loved by the gruff soldier who took you in when you were just a babe.

Occasionally, though, Chosen Ones are raised in the depths of the forest by a crusty-but-kindly oldster who turns out to be a famous mage or sorceress. Either way, these family or foster kin are almost certainly doomed to a frightening or violent end when the forces of evil close in on your locale. This generally occurs within the first three chapters.

In all cases, regardless of rank, Chosen Ones are distinguished by two important traits, the first of which is the ability to pick up complex skills such as attaining mastery in sword-craft within days of being handed your first weapon and/or found to possess heretofore unsuspected arcane powers never before evidenced, although some C. O.’s have been known to suffer from an amusing lack of control over those powers, sometimes with devastatingly destructive results.

The other notable trait is that of a complete lack of interest in (not to mention, superlative reluctance to) Saving The World. Indeed, if much of your dialogue revolves around your constant, plaintive questioning of “Why Me?” you are almost certainly a Chosen One.

Another common characteristic of a Chosen One, either as royalty or lowly peasant, is to be, in a general way, unfathomably charismatic, and able to gather to him or her the loyalty of stalwart friends or faithful servants, who will be only too willing to drop everything and leave family and future prospects behind in order to accompany you on your Flight from Doom or the Quest for some Mythical Objet d’Art.

Still, while Chosen Ones are certainly not in short supply in Epic Fantasy, you may well realize by now that you are, in fact, one of the last-mentioned group – a sidekick character, destined to live only in proximity to the Child Long Foretold, an also-ran in the Hero stakes.

Do not despair. By latching onto the actual C. O. and becoming part of this fellowship chasing hither and yon, one step ahead of Ultimate Evil as you race to acquire the McGuffin of Lore and Legend, you still have some potential. It is true that your role will be rather dangerous, and your life-expectancy is not always great, but should you survive, you stand a fairly good chance of graduating to at least a short story or novella of your very own.


(This first appeared in the September 2016 issue of Fantasy Worlds eMagazine, reprinted with permission.)

One thought on “A Guide to Epic Fantasy – Part One (of however many I need to get you through this)

  1. Pingback: GoT-ing down in flames | Traveling Light

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