I have vaguely tried, on a couple of occasions, to see what it was about these novels that inspired so much passion in their readers. However several things put me off, not least the people who buy them. Fantasy fans have always been the bain of my life as a bookseller as they have an uncanny ability to appear at the most inconvenient time of the day with an enquiry about when the next book in the Wheel of Time/Shannara/Otherworld/Pern/Mallorean series was coming out. This was always annoying, but today it's unforgiveable. I know these people spend at least four hours a day on the internet and have access to dozens of author websites and online fanzines, so why are they still coming in at 5.27 pm and asking for a list of all the books featuring orcs?
I've been trying to discover the secret of the Fantasy genre, but I've failed. All I can deduce is the following:
- If you're a male writer, you should call yourself Terry
- Always have a map at the front of the book, usually featuring a 'Western Sea' and some mountains in the east
- Use as many superfluous apostrophes as possible when naming people. I'm not sure why P'lomia and D'garian should be considered attractive names. I blame T'pau
- Write in a portentous, over-written style that echoes Tolkein and lends a certain gravitas to your tale of a humble blacksmith who finds himself being sent on an vital mission to destroy a dark lord
- Always have a quest. No quest, no story
- Never mind the quality, feel the width
- Never write a single novel. All self-respecting fantasy writers have at least five in their series
- The front cover should, if possible, feature a white horse
Shall I mention this to the next person who buys a David Eddings novel?