Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference 1st Edition
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- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1582970262
- ISBN-13 : 978-1582970264
- Publisher : Writer's Digest Books; 1st Edition (November 15, 2000)
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #123,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The Complete Fantasy Writer’s Reference was and still is my essential and core source regarding the “world” of my book-in-progress. Divided into 10 chapters which detail everything you could possibly want to know about classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages— on which almost all fantasy is built as the primary setting (or milieu) as some professors insist.
I cannot recommend this work enough.
Let me sketch in a few details for the prospective buyer. Chapters 1 and 2 offer up cultures of the world for your consideration. Christianity (or religious foundations) political and economic systems (like feudalism and manorialism) are explained in detail. Church hierarchical titles—and only the Roman Catholic Church is covered—are provided in a convenient glossary along with some fascinating esoteric terminology. Knighthood is explained as well in minute detail.
Chapters 3 and 4 cover something that nearly stopped me from buying this book—the occult. Yes, magic and witchcraft. However, much of the genre (not Robert Jordan, or the founding fathers: Lewis and Tolkien) but some authors (Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Terry Brooks) incorporate lots of “dark” magic and what TCFWR calls “occult sciences” into their stories with gaudy references to Yog Sothoth or Cluthlu.
I don’t plan on going there, but it is true horror tropes are gradually making inroads into mainstream, magical realism, science fiction, and fantasy. Genre writing of the near future may end up a clouded and murky mélange of indistinguishable character and plot handles very soon. IF the trend continues to climb.
Anyway, moving on— Chapters 5, 8, and 9 continue the unveiling of commerce and law, dress and costume (with a close to complete glossary!) and more glossaries of arms, armor, armies, and fantastic beasts.
Speaking of beasts, let’s back up a bit. This is what makes fantasy, FANTASTIC in my book—the cool creatures. The use of magic, black or white, light or dark, is one definition of fantasy literature—witches, warlocks, wizards, sorcerers and the like. Science fiction-style creatures are another requirement. Goblins, trolls, dragons, giant bugs or bats, talking animals like birds or four-legged beasts like wolves or bears, tigers and lions. Even shape-shifters are creeping up, were-creatures and vampires feature in the Guide as well.
The book ends with a meticulous, detailed look at the medieval castle, anatomy and siege. Italics and bold print highlight important terms throughout.
Essentially this book is complete and definitive.
But wait! There’s more!
If you purchase this book you may find as I have it is only a starting point.
Other books you may want to sample in tandem with this one:
1. Everyday Life in the Middle Ages by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The above book is another indispensable guide which addresses Heraldry (a subject TCWFR touches on) among other encyclopedic information of the Middle Ages. Together, these books will put you A LOT closer to brimming over in Medieval lore, and ready to write.
If you must write a report or a high school or college thesis, I recommend sneaking peeks at the DK Eyewitness children’s series. A word on this: Children’s nonfiction is a gold mine of information , all tailored to be as simple as possible to understand. Check these out at the local library.
1. Medieval Life
4. Any of the 150 additional titles: Amazon search—they're great!
I will certainly be picking up these titles in the coming months as I flesh out my manuscript.
Consume all this and you’ll be a bona-fide EXPERT on the Medieval time period: A.D. 500 to 1500, and more than ready create your own fantasies, historical novels—or that pesky term paper.
So drink deeply, and go write away.
If the editor had named it "The Writer's Fantasy Reference," few would be complaining. The book is filled with material to trigger the imagination of any writer, and fill out the details in their work.
The problem is the word "complete." At under 300 pages, how can a book claim to be a complete reference to anything, let alone as rich and varied a topic as "fantasy?" The chapter on fantasy races is 17 pages long. I have read discussions of races in the works of JR Tolkien that are longer. The chapter on "Dress and Costume" is 14 pages, and is more appropriately named "A quick overview of Western feudal dress and costume of the first two millennia AD."
I am happy with this book, but left uneasy by the title. An editor could have raised the average score of this book by a full star by omitting the word "Complete" from the title.
While the information in this book is very good, it is not inclusive nor does it claim to be (in fact in the culture section, the authors' suggest further study). The book itself is meant as a desk reference and a starting point for ideas, studies, and reinventing.
What this book is good is for is when you can't remember the difference between a baron and marquess, the names of practiced trades, what the name is of a particular piece of armor on a full plate suit is called, the name of various cultures around the world, etc.
It will not be the only reference book on your shelf, but more of an index to the rest of your reference.