Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliché

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday.  Like always, if you have a topic you want to see addressed, please contact us!

A recent discussion with some of the other reviewers on this site turned to a discussion of some of the horrible naming conventions that seem to plague fantasy.  For example, the idea that you can tell you’re reading  a fantasy novel if the protagonist’s name has three apostrophes and a random K and/or H in it. That started me thinking about clichés in fantasy in general.  So I’m throwing down the gauntlet to you, gentle readers.  How many fantasy clichés can you list?  To make it even more fun, let’s list them in story form.  I’ll start.

It was a dark and stormy night.  St’lenth’kor mentally called out for his telepathic bond animal.  Reaching for his sword, he remembered, as he always did when he felt the magical tingle that radiated from the enchanted blade, the night he had received the weapon from his father’s dying hand, the night that had left him an orphan.

Okay, it’s time for you to add to the story.  What horribly clichéd thing happens next?


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit’s staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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13 comments

  1. What dost thou call on me, thine humble servant, for? Tch!c’a asked as she landed on St’lenth’kor’s shoulder.
    He need not answer, for Tch!c’a was such a part of him that she knew his every thought. Trouble weighed heavily on St’lenth’kor’s mind. He had to stop Dark Lord Satanis. He had to! If Satanis got his evil hands on the fabled Gem of Gaelyheria, there would be no stopping him. He would destroy the world and remake it in his own dark, avaricious image.
    Footsteps echoed on the flagstones. St’lenth’kor turned, the flame of his torch bouncing and flickering with his movements. Heavy tapestries hung on the walls, muffling sound, but he knew those footsteps anywhere.
    “You walk too loudly, for an elf,” he remarked.
    Laughter like burbling streams and rustling trees, like fragile silk and opulent velvet, echoed down the corridor. Andiereal stepped into the small circle of light cast by his torch.
    Her beauty was like unto that of a goddess; even among elves, she was breathtaking. The torchlight turned her long locks of curling blond into purest gold. Her eyes, two deep pools of sapphire blue, alighted on him with both humor and awe.
    She’s in love with you, Tch!c’a told him.
    Don’t be stupid, he thought in the hawk’s general direction. She is not. Besides, I don’t know anything about women. If only Keld was here, he’d know what to say to her.
    Andiereal folded her arms beneath her breasts. “Are you going to keep me waiting, Your Highness?” she asked, her voice like the breathy whisper of glass chimes.
    St’lenth’kor’s heart quailed. How could he be a prince? Only last week he had been a simple farmboy, working dawn to dusk on his poor father’s measly strip of land. That land was the only thing indifferent, selfish King Miden had seen fit to give his sad, destitute people. It had been all St’lenth’kor ever knew, that tiny farm just inside the boundaries of Grassyknoll Village.
    And then the trolls had come.

    (Okay, I’ll stop. Got a little carried away there. *cough*)

  2. Sarah /

    K’lan’cia awoke to the dying screams of her nightmare. Mystana was there instantly, a blue-green magelight hovering above her shoulder. Again and again the dreams returned… the horrible moments reliving the destruction of her family’s caravan, the killing of the men, the raping and pillaging by the marauders… K’lan’cia had been left for dead from the head wound she received while trying desperately to save her younger sister. She had woken days later to Mystana’s presence at her side tending her wounds. K’lan’cia had taken a solemn vow of vengeance which required her to also swear to celibacy. A vow that wouldn’t be difficult. She thought that St’lenth’kor her one true love, had been killed at the ruthless hands of the marauding trolls. She would never again know the joy of melding minds with him and Tch!c’a.
    Msytana had been fleeing the evil Satana’s minions who were tracking her to bring her back for the wedding she was determined would not take place when she had been forced by her calling, her curse, her talent to find K’lan’cia. At first touch, she had bonded in an ancient ritual of sisterhood that could not be broken. They would remain together on their quest to find the lost children, and restore the kingdom to it’s rightful heir…

  3. Ummm, I think I’ve read that book. :D

    Now we just need a dwarf. A humorous dwarf…

  4. Robert /

    “RAAA-URRRRRP!” echoed a monstrous belch outside a nearby door, an instant before the once-living oaken boards shuddered from an impatient knock.

    “Stick! Andi! I know ye two lovie-dovie’s be in there! O-ho, by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin–an’ other parts–I do!”

    The elf maiden blushed like a spring sunrise, and the young man groaned inwardly, ruffling the feathers of his soul-hawk. Nevertheless, he strode to the door and pulled it open with a sigh.

    Bulging chainmail vest clinking, Tatiana Malone brushed past the youth’s legs, her high hard boots echoing on the living stones like the very hammers of her native vaulted caverns. A warhammer swung beside one powerful hip; beside the other, a double-bladed battleaxe–duller only than the mountain dwarf’s tongue–caught and reflected the torchlight, momentarily filling the space with the ambience of hearth and home.

    The dwarf looked up at St’lenth’kor with a practiced eye, appraising him like a freshly mined nugget of living ore. She tugged her loam-colored battle-braid over one shoulder, then folded her arms beneath her armored bosom. “Ye find yerself to be a prince and think ye can be about the business of world-savin’ and Dark Lord-defeatin’, eh laddy-buck? Bah, I’ve older bits of stew in me teeth than ye. And ye,” she rumbled, turning on Andiereal, “if’n Satanis be wantin’ his bloody hair brushed, I’m sure ye’ll do nicely. But if’n ye be wantin’ to bury the bloody ol’ bugger, ye’ll be needin’ someone who knows a bit about death and diggin’. An’ who be better at those than yer dear departed da’s ol’ tradin’ partner? Why that be me, of course–good ol’ Tits Malone.”

  5. You guys are cracking me up!!!
    You’ve set the bar so high that I’m afraid to even try!!

  6. Robert /

    C’mon now, it’s a hobbit-sized bar. Everybody drink up! RAAA-URRRRRP!

  7. Sarah /

    Can we do Urban Fantasy…

    My name is Solange. My long shiny raven black hair, so black it looks purple in sunlight, brushes tantalizingly across the top of my tattoo, artfully exposed by my black leather vest. I am a guardian of the city. I keep it safe from the evil monsters that are coming out of the darkness. I can’t decide between my werewolf, vampire and gargoyle lovers, so I juggle them all while still maintaining a relationship with my cop ex-boyfriend who still wants me. I can get beat up and take any magical spell that comes my way and still look good in my stiletto heels….

  8. That’s hilarious!!

  9. Sarah /

    Thanks, been reading a little too much urban fantasy lately. I enjoyed the other contributions. It’s not too late to toss in your favorite cliches.

    I’m wondering if Beth or Robert are published authors?

  10. Not as of yet, for me. But I’m working on it. :)

  11. Robert /

    I am. There’s a bit about it in my reviewer profile. This was fun. RR

  12. It occurs to me, with Urban Fantasy, I’m not sure there’s anything left that isn’t a cliche anymore. Yikes.

  13. Okay, back to high fantasy…(though I won’t comment on the total non-cliche of a female dwarf (oops, I guess I just did)).

    “Why am I not surprised to find you here already, Tatiana, and already into the ale?” The icy stare of Allandor fell upon Tatiana, who erupted with yet another thunderous belch.

    “RAAAA-URRRRRP! Oh, it’s you. Ye barely give a lass a chance to say a cordial hello. Ye might pull the carrot out of yer backside and have a tankard yerself, ye pompous old fart!”

    Allandor, a High Mage of the Order of the Wise, ignored Malone as being beneath his notice, surveyed the rest room, and addressed St’lenthl’kor.

    “Your highness. It is long past time you were gone. The servants of Satanis are everywhere, and though I will be with you for the beginning of the journey with my powers, I will have to leave you at the most inopportune times. This quest is yours alone. You will have to rely on a fantastical set of circumstances to succeed as it is, and the longer you wait, the more fantastical it must be. Already, the boundaries of belief have been stretched too far!”

    St’lenth’kor regarded the aged wizard, and said “But why me?”

    Allandor rolled his eyes “Let’s not go there again, shall we? Now hurry, before you need yet another deus et machina to defeat Satanis…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thoughtful Thursday: The power of a name | Fantasy Literature, Frankly - [...] shortly.  He asked me if I would ask all of you your opinion of fantasy naming conventions.  In an…
  2. Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliché (urban fantasy edition) | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - […] 2009, Ruth Arnell created the Collaborative Cliché project, where we reached for every cliché we have seen or read,…

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