Epic Terminology

279 wc

Originally posted on my writing blog which was active from 2010 to 2018.

I read another chapter of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings the other day. All right, I get that it’s an epic fantasy with an epic world filled with epic people, lands, animals, and plants. But in the first non-prologue chapter, the reader is slammed with an epic number of unfamiliar phrases and terms. I usually enjoy these kinds of things, but in this case I found myself asking “who or what or where is that?” quite a lot. So much that I started highlighting them:

  • Stormfather
  • shortspears
  • longspears
  • darkeyes
  • lighteyes
  • Shardbearers
  • Brightlord Amaram
  • fearspren
  • slickrock
  • rockbuds
  • highstorm
  • Alethi
  • Gare
  • Veden
  • Stormblessed
  • Shattered Plains
  • Parshendi
  • Highprince Sadeas
  • the murder of King Gavilar
  • skyeels
  • wild axehounds
  • on the ground like cremlings
  • chull rustlers
  • Kusiri, who had run off with the cobbler’s son
  • Hallaw
  • battalionlord
  • the Heralds
  • painspren
  • the Almighty

In my opinion, only a handful of items on that list were explained enough for me to visualize or understand them. All you can do is guess based on the names. Which kind of works for “wild axehounds” but not so much for “chull rustlers.”

I imagine there is a giant glossary in the back of the book, but we Kindle readers are out of luck (because going to the back of the book screws up your reading position). Even if it did work, I don’t really want to have to go to the glossary every three paragraphs.

So, future epic fantasy writers, have pity on your poor readers!

UPDATE: Oh lol, the murder of King Gavilar was in the prologue. There was about a month  between the time I read the prologue and the time I read the first chapter.

This page is a static archival copy of what was originally a WordPress post. It was converted from HTML to Markdown format before being built by Hugo. There may be formatting problems that I haven't addressed yet. There may be problems with missing or mangled images that I haven't fixed yet. There may have been comments on the original post, which I have archived, but I haven't quite worked out how to show them on the new site.

Note: Comments are disabled on older posts.