Two novels read this past month demonstrate an ongoing dichotomy in fantasy fiction. Anthony Ryan’s much heralded first novel, Blood Song, was a run away success as a self-published novel before it was bought by big publishing. It is, for all intents and purposes, a classic epic fantasy structurally reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind, with a texture more comparable to Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy. Juxtapose it with Chris Willrich’s The Scroll of Years, which Scott Andrews described as Fritz Lieber meets Catherynne M. Valente, and the two faces of fantasy go to war.
But, the conflict doesn’t start or end with the fact that one echoes epic fantasy and the other a more literary style. Rather it’s a sense of going somewhere new, beyond traditional narratives that have for decades been a staple in the genre. A few sentences from Willrich’s blurb will begin to illustrate that,
Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone are a romantic couple and partners in crime.