Heroic Fantasy

We all know what this is. It’s probably what attracted us to Fantasy in the first place. Pure magic and medieval societies which have not progressed technologically beyond swords and armor. Mostly. And usually the heroes don’t need guns, because they have potent wizards or little girls with magic wands backing them up.

Swords & Sorcery is fantasy in a primitive setting, where problems must be solved with both violence and magic. The archetype of the genre is Robert E. Howard’s Conan, but the field, while littered with gray Conan wannabes, is capable of much originality. Adventure and confrontation are key words to the genre.

Heroic fantasy has grown over the past few years to encompass settings beyond the archetypal pseudo-medieval, middle-tech S&S stuff we all know and love. Harry Potter carved out a new niche in magical heroism, armed only with a wand. Who knows where the genre will go from here?

Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice, The Cream of the Jest, The Silver Stallion, and Figures of Earth by James Branch Cabell

The Worm Ouroboros, Mistress of Mistresses, The Mezentian Gate, and A Fish Dinner in Memison by E. R. Eddison

Firedancer, by S. A. Bolich, is hero fantasy of a different kind, demonstrating the extremely broad range of this category, and “fantasy” in general, as do Windrider, Water Born, and Delver.

The Belgariad by David Eddings

Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, comprising:

The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Frostflower and Thorn by Phyllis Ann Karr

The Deryni/Camber of Culdi series by Katherine Kurtz, comprising:

Camber of Culdi
Saint Camber
Camber the Heretic
Deryni Rising
High Deryni
The Bishop’s Heir
The King’s Justice
The Quest for Saint Camber
A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and Beyond the Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin

The adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, by Fritz Leiber:

The Swords of Lankhmar
Swords and Deviltry
Swords Against Death
Swords in the Mist
Swords Against Wizardry
Swords and Ice Magic
A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin, though this is also gritty fantasy.

Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore

The Witch World series by Andre Norton, comprising:

Witch World
Web of the Witch World
Three Against the Witch World
Warlock of the Witch World
Sorceress of the Witch World
Spell of the Witch World
Trey of Swords
Year of the Unicorn
The Jargoon Pard
The Crystal Gryphon
Zarsthor’s Bane
The Sunrunner Series by Melanie Rawn, comprising:

The Dragon Prince
The Star Scroll
Sunrunner’s Fire
The Dragon Token
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Sword of Bedwyr by R. A. Salvatore

The Well of the Unicorn by Fletcher Pratt

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

And many others!
You can buy Heroic Fantasy titles at the Other Worlds Bookstore.