Monday, September 17, 2018

Monarchy in Fantasy



Have you ever noticed that fantasy worlds almost always have monarchies of some form or another? Sure, every once in a while they mix it up- say a riff on Venice- and there are some fantasies that don't go this route, but by and large? I think some form of monarchy is the norm in a lot of fantasy, especially epic fantasy. I think this is fascinating because in the real world we have long since dispensed with ideas like divine right of kings and noble blood, but in fantasy it just seems to be accepted. Take Game of Thrones, for example. The clue is right in the title. This is not about gaining the most seats in a parliament (and frankly that'd be quite boring, probably)- no this is a game of thrones, after all.

The world of Westeros, to continue the example, has something like eight thousand years of history, and yet they're still using kings and queens for government? Think about how far the real world has come in that span, and then compare to Westeros. They seem to be behind the times. I guess magic and dragons will do that. Or Tolkien. The world of Middle- earth is another one with noble bloodlines and even has immortals living alongside mortals. You'd think that they would have found a better form of government by the Fourth Age? I guess not.

Now again, maybe monarchy is just sexier. If your blood has power that's kinda neat, right? The "chosen one" or the hidden princess, the royal child raised in secret, all of that's such good story fodder. But do you, as a reader, ever think about that and wonder- why don't they move on? You know, get with the program. I mean let's face it, in some of these societies the whole monarchy thing isn't going so well, is it? And while it may be improving some- we're getting more and more fantasy set in Renaissance settings, or steampunk worlds, or whatever- I think most epic fantasy is still royal.  

So what do you think? Is this a problem or are you fine with it? Are there enough alternatives out there or do we need more? Share your thoughts in the comments, and I'd love to hear your favorite ones, whether they be kingdoms or independent cities or something else entirely. 

23 comments:

  1. You know, I've never thought much about it before but, you're right, they almost always do!

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  2. I think it's more exciting to overthrow a monarchy than a government, maybe that's why it's used so muchπŸ˜ƒ

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    1. That's true! And I guess we have The Hunger games and stuff if we want gov't's to overthrow lol.

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  3. I don't have a problem with it but I'm bored by it. There are so many exciting ways to write stories but they keep using the same premises.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I think that's my main thing, it's just after you read a ton of fantasies it's always the same thing- but fantasy does seem to be getting more diverse, so maybe it'll change?

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  4. Yes and it’s not just the monarchy but everything is so Middle Ages. The women still wear dresses, there’s no guns or technology it’s all swords and candle light. So basically fantasy is just Middle Ages with magic. I’m ok with it though.

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    1. I'm kinda okay with it too? As in, it IS more exciting I suppose to oppose a monarchy than, say, some boring gov't lol, but you're right, it's that way with EVERYTHING- you'd think after thousands of years some of these societies might develop light bulbs?

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  5. I loooove monarchy books. In fact, my two current WIPs have monarchies. There is just something so wonderful and intriguing about them, especially in fantasy novels. I don't really love them in contemporary books because then it feels a little like the show The Bachelor (in my limited experience) but that doesn't mean I won't turn down a contemporary book with a monarchy.

    Thanks for sharing,
    ~Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

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    1. I like em too, I have to be honest- I mean if I'm in a fantasy story it feels exciting to be opposing an evil queen or something, but it occurred to me how common it is. Although fantasy IS getting more diverse...

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  6. I never really thought about it, but you make some good points. Why are there still kings and queens in all those fantasy worlds? I guess parliaments, presidents, and senators aren't sexy enough. Besides, we have enough of that in real life. Do we really want to read about them, too? I don't! :D

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    1. Right? And I think you've got it- the evil senator isn't quite as exciting as evil king or queen haha. And good point- I read to escape, not to have more!

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  7. I don't mind reading stories with monarchies especially if they are written well like Game of Thrones. I think reading about kings and queens takes us out of our boring world and throws us into something magical. I wonder what British people think because they still have a queen.

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    1. Same. I do love the escapism. And that's a good one- having a monarchy (even ceremonial) is so different for us- I wonder that too.

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  8. I'm pretty much fine with it. I think since so much of the world has moved onto different systems of rule, it makes it stand out that much more in fantasy and really lets the reader know that this isn't a normal world. Plus, it's just more whimsical than, say, having scenes of the characters voting for their next president! Also, I think it hearkens back to a very different time period, too.

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  9. You are SO, so right. And honestly, I am kind of over it? Like okay it obviously works sometimes, I don't hate every example of it or anything, but it feels... Idk, too easy sometimes? Like does it *have* to be a monarchy? No. And for the most part, they start to feel very similar- most have a European, pre-Industrial Age vibe and just.... meh, I need something NEW!

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  10. You know I never really thought about it, but you have a good point! I would like to see a high fantasy based in a democratic society for a change.

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  11. Part of the reason I don't read a lot of fantasy is the King or Queen's Court being front and centre. I'm not a big fan of Courts in fantasy, especially when it involves the fae or set in ye olde times. Game of Thrones and books about the Tudor Court are my exceptions!

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  12. I actually love monarchies and the whole king, queen, emperor, etc. My Nogiku Series centers around the royal bloodline of Japan. I love the Emperor of Japan. God, that man is so freaking adorable, I can't even! But I also agree that if you're going to have an advanced society, you may want to do away with this. In another one of my series, the worlds are rules by corporations, which is not far off from what we have now. Fantasy, though, almost always has some sort of medieval feel to it. Ever see a flushing toilet in Game of Thrones? Yeah. Me neither.

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  13. I have grown weary of queen/king and kingdom Fantasy because soooooo many YA Fantasies are based on it, and then come the wars and assasins. I had to read too many ARCs that began to all sound the same; plus I hate assasins, anyway. Ha ha. 😝

    I'd like to see more tribal Fantasy where you get chosen by a test or by majority vote. πŸ‘

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  14. This is such an intriguing discussion. Maybe since the whole king and queen thing has long been dissolved in our age, we feel like the idea of it is a fantasy. Nobility, riches, power and privilege seem pretty magical and unbelievable now.

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  15. This is a good point. I've never thought about this. Most high fantasies do have a monarchy, but why? Like you said, why haven't they moved on? Why is monarchy the go-to fantasy thing? I have thought before though, why is high fantasy always written the same way in general? Like, the authors can create literally any type of world they want. Society could be so completely different. But the government, the language, the society, the technology (or lack thereof) tends to be the same. I guess it's just become kind of ingrained into everyone's minds that that's how high fantasy is supposed to be.

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