Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spotlight List: 5 Reasons I Love Historical Fantasy

1. Opportunities for humor

I like to laugh, and historical fantasy is a genre ripe for humor. Just take the fantasy element of time travel, for example. The "fish out of water" possibilities are endless!

One of my all time favorite humorous scenes was in Emily Whitman's Wildwing where the main character totally flubs the dining conventions of the time.

Then, to make things even funnier, Emily Whitman gives us a peek into one of the local's impressions of the time traveler--showing that she didn't pull things off anywhere near as well as she thought!

2. Makes it feel like magic could be real

Perhaps it's because, deep down (or, not so deep), I want to be a fairy tale princess (minus the evil stepmother or curses, plus the handsome prince), but a part of me is still holding out hope that I can live in a world where magic actually exists.

Of course that's unlikely to happen, so immersing myself in historical fantasy worlds is the next best thing! The historical part grounds me in the real world so the story feels like it could actually happen, and then the fantasy part makes my dreams come true.

Check out Stephanie Dray's books about Cleopatra's daughter Selene for an example of magic and history coming together seamlessly.

3. Hot guys

I am a firm believer that a hot man will become ten times hotter if he wields a sword. And do you know how common a sword-wielding hero is in historical fantasy??

VERY common.

Plus, historical men oozed with chivalry goodness. Just look at Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series for an example of how unbelievably hot historical fantasy men can be.

4. Women's roles are more interesting

Let's face it, the life of most women in history was booor-rriiinng! Sure authors can make a totally spunky female lead who doesn't follow any of the conventions of her time, but that's a very tricky thing to do and still make the book feel historical and be true to the historical setting.

So enter historical fantasy. Suddenly that boring life is made interesting because maybe she can do magic spells, or see the future, or time travel, or do any number of fantastical things. Instantly better (without being anachronistic!).

The fantasy aspects also let me stretch my rigid historical standards a little. I can more easily buy that a woman would be a master assassin in a world where magic also exists.

5. History + Fantasy = 
The perfect combo

Historical fiction and fantasy are two of my favorite genres ever. Combining the two is simply perfection!

What are some of the reasons you love the genre? Which books are some of your favorite examples?

Dislike any of these features? Feel free to share why!

What about on the author's end of things? Why do authors like writing historical fantasy? Ruby has the answer (and a giveaway) today!

Check out our Historical Fantasy Jubilee full schedule of events and giveaways!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?


  1. Sorcery and Cecelia! *jumps up and down with happiness to see that book cover included* That's one of my favourite examples of historical fantasy done well :)

  2. Lovely post! I think one of the key things for any fantasy for me is the "real" factor. I want to forget that this is magic. I want to believe that vampires actually exist. I want to believe that Hogwarts actually exists. If the author can convince me, I'm sold.

  3. What about the Fairy Godmother? I totally want one of those.

  4. Danya, Yes! That book is SUCH a prime example of the genre.

    Alison, I couldn't agree with you more! That is such a good point and, if I think about it, I do use that as the bar for historical fantasies. Stephanie Dray's series is especially good at this. Even though I KNOW the magical parts aren't real, I have to constantly remind myself of that fact.

    Rubita, Oh totally. Yes, I'll take a fairy godmother too please!

  5. I don't think I like historical fiction. Sometimes I suprise myself though. What I do find I'm really enjoying is historical fiction + fantasy - this works for me! :-) Book suggestions in this genre are certainly welcome.

    Wasn't Kat Incorigible a book which fits in this category?

  6. Yes, Kat Incorrigible is definitely historical fantasy! (and will be featured soon, ssshh) ;)

    Fantasy features make historical fiction more approachable for me. I love history and historical fiction (even the dense stuff), but I have to be more in the mood for it. I can fall into historical fantasy much easier.

  7. I love historical fantasy for all of those reasons too, but particularly because of #3. I can always count on the romantic leads in historical fantasies to be gentlemen which isn't the case all the time in other genres.

  8. Although I didn't like Wildwing that much, yes, there were opportunities for humor (mostly because I thought the MC was Too Stupid To Live, and therefore made hysterical mistakes).

    I just read your review for Lily of the Nile, and I wanted to read that first when I saw it featured here, and now that I know why it's so good, it got auto-saved on my TBR.

    YES. Any HFs by Lisa is JUST YES. Her men are INDESCRIBABLY smokin' and I would invite Marcello and Luca into my bed any day, just saying. (That is if I could tempt them away from Lia and Gabi.)

    Sorcery & Cecelia- never read. BUT. I do agree with you on how women's roles were so boring in rigid Historical Fictions, that the fantasy ones make it infinitely better and arresting.

    Set in another time period and there's something magical involved, HECK YEAH I'm going to read it(:

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  9. A Canadian Girl, Yes, historical men are so gentlemanly. *sigh* :)

    Asher, Aw, I don't know if I would have done much better than her in Wildwing! My knowledge of the time isn't so hot, and at least I have Wikipedia :P (she was from the early 1900s if I recall). Yup, Marcello, Luca, Greco, I would be happy with any of them :) Sorcery and Cecelia is great!

  10. I love having female characters do things outside the time constraints, whether etiquette or some magical thing. One of my fave things about HF is having women battle against those social restrictions and find ways to be strong on their own terms despite the time period. LOVE!

  11. Melissa, YES! *swooon* I adore Luca.

    Logan, I agree. BUT, I do want them to be psychologically and culturally a product of their times. It really bugs me when a character holds beliefs that a person from that time period would NEVER hold.


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