Monday, June 27, 2011

Where's the Epic Fantasy Romance?

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
One thing I long for as a reader is more epic fantasy blended with a strong, satisfying romance. No "fantasy lite" for this reader. I want all the things I love about epic fantasy: deep, rich worldbuilding, larger character casts, intricate story arcs that stretch over several books, and epic battles between good and evil.

But I also want more than the typical "romance lite" with a minor little love interest plot too. Yeah, I personally like my romance steamy. *sheepish* More importantly, though, I want all the emotions of a really good romance. If the book can make me cry or laugh out loud, all the better. I'm not a patient reader. I don't want to read thousands of pages of sweet longing and maybe a kiss, darn it. I want the whole glorious onslaught of seduction and pleasure, please!

Please give me a strong, formidable heroine, not a cookie-cutter medicine woman Mary Sue who only does good while taking care of Bambi in the woods. *headdesk* I want to remember this heroine, live and die through her eyes, suffer through her choices, and feel her fierce victories.

Give me dark, violent, gritty, and real scenarios. I promise I won't flinch away.

I'm more forgiving of Romancelandia no-nos in a good fantasy-romance blend. e.g. I adored the polyamorous relationships in Gail Dayton's Compass Rose series. The darker elements in Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels series didn't bother me at all. Even the death of characters -- yes, even the major ones! -- ala George RR Martin doesn't bother me, as long as I have a promise of a larger overall happy ending. If the characters are united in some way at the end -- like Arthur, Jennifer (Guinevere), and Lancelot at the end of Guy Gaveriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry -- I'll be teary-eyed and giddy and love you forever, I swear.

Can you recommend more great epic fantasy romance blends? I'd love to find them!


  1. Stephanie ChristineJune 27, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    I don't read much epic fantasy, but some books that come to mind are C. L. Wilson's Fading Lands series and Elizabeth Vaughan's Warlord series. Those are the only ones i've read that i've enjoyed so far besides yours

  2. Stephanie, I did read the first Warlord book, but I couldn't get into the Fading Lands series at all. For me, it was the heroine in both cases. I just didn't connect with them. I know a lot of people have loved Wilson's series, but I just couldn't get into it.

  3. Stephanie ChristineJune 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    yeah I can understand that. I"ve added Gail Dayton to my read list and have Anne Bishop's first around somewhere I will have to dust it off.

  4. *cough* Shanhasson trilogy *cough*

    Joely you hit all the right buttons for me :) And you just added more to my reading list *sigh*

    I have the Fading Lands series here but so far haven't been able to get into it. Anne Bishop has been on my list for awhile, guess I need to move her up the line :)

  5. *cough* Sherri, you're too funny. *cough*

    The main Black Jewel trilogy was really good but I read it a loooong time ago. Not sure how it'd strike me now.

    Gail's newer series is really good too, combining Victorian setting with magic. Not so much "fantasy" but still very good.

  6. Lynn Kurland did a great series. The heroine is a warrior. There are three books, and the title, which I can't recall, has something to do with stars. As It's very good, and there's a great romance involved.

  7. Star of the Morning (Found the titles. Kick ass heroine.)
    2 The Mage's Daughter
    3 Princess of the Sword
    4 A Tapestry of Spells
    5 Spellweaver

  8. Thanks, Barbara - I sent a sample of the first one to my Kindle to try it!

  9. If you find it, let me know. It's hard to find something with a good balance. (That said, I'm putting the Shanhasson books on my TBR list.)

  10. There's also Bujold's THE SHARING KNIFE series. Lots of romance in those. Carey's KUSHIEL'S DART series has quite a bit of romance and it's very epic.

  11. Does my THREE WORLDS series fill your requirements? It involves not swords but rather superheroes, many of whom are alpha males. My heroine may not be dark and gritty, but she's getting grittier and facing worse interstellar (and Earth-bound political) threats as the series progresses. (She's growing into her character arc.) The heat level isn't XXX, but there are steamy moments amid the romance. Start off with TOUCH OF DANGER, which is only something like $1.49 for Kindle, and tell me what you think. (If you want to wait six weeks, I'll have my rights back and will be offering it for 99¢.)

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