Fantasy is a complex genre with many of its titles easily fitting within multiple genre, and even into other genre. The genre is sometimes divided into "high" and "low." The classification is not indicative of literary value, but rather of setting and scope.
|High Fantasy||Low Fantasy|
An allegorical fantasy uses an unfamiliar world to represent real world problems.
Epic fantasy is a high form of fantasy. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably. To understand and identify epic fantasy, think Beowulf or Tolkien.
Heroic fantasy is set in a low-tech world readers will recognize or associate with historical times (often medieval). Unlike epic fantasy, heroic fantasy focuses on the actions of an individual character. This character:
In portal fantasy, characters travel between real and fantasy worlds. In the transition, they become immerse in the problems of the fantasy world. This leads to their personal growth, when returning to the real world. The most well known examples of this type of fantasy include Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland.
Not all retold tales are fantasy, but those that retell fairytales, myths, and legends often are. Because the tales on which these retellings are based are fantastical, themselves, you'll recognize the typical elements:
Certain legends and myths have been retold/reimagined so often that they represent a sub-genre of their own. The best example of this is the Arthurian legend.
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Urban fantasy generally presents as low fantasy, set in an urban setting in the real world, or some version of it. There is significant cross over with paranormal fantasy and with futuristic retellings (a punk sub-genre of science fiction). Typical elemnts include:
In Chinese, the term wuxia means "martial heroes" and this type of fantasy is based in ancient Chinese literary tradition that featured expertise with swords and martial arts. Xianxia is derived from the term xian, which translates as immortal. In this sub-genre of fantasy, heroes embody mythical powers. Common elements include:
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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