Fantasy Tropes I Love


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Poor old genre fiction is often maligned- even by me 😉 Too often I talk about the downsides of tropes and themes I don’t like- so today, since I’ve got a lot of my Moaning Minnie opinions out of my system, I thought it would be fun to talk about some fantasy tropes I actually love!

hermione witch magic gif*Magic*- especially if there’s too much of it!! Which may sound weird to everyone- cos either you think like me “can there BE too much magic?!” or you think “welllll there are limits”. For me there are no limits! I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief for fantasy and this will always make me excited 😀

rhaegal dragonDragons– all the DRAGONS!! Now, I will admit, I’m a bit more discerning when it comes to dragons- as I said in my least favourite fantasy tropes post I won’t just settle for any old dragon. Still, that comes from a place of love, because I can’t really say it enough: dragons are my favourites!


Cgadget manool gadgets/magical artefacts– similar to the dragons, I’m not always into magical gizmo fixes all the problems/needs to be destroyed in order to save the world. That said, I do get a thrill when little magical objects find their way into the story and are shown off in a James-Bond-gets-his-gadgets kind of scene. 

zukoAntagonist turned ally– I just love redemption arcs. So, whether it’s an enemies to lovers twist, or an antagonist turned ally, I am super on board for this trope!! At the same time, I wouldn’t say no to… 


walder freyThe *just deserts* being served– as much as I love villains learning the error of their ways, I also enjoy them being punished just as much. Especially cos not all villains are created equal and sometimes it’s satisfying to see the Walder Freys of stories being served their own sons, Titus Andronicus style 😉

questQuests! A huge part of the fantasy genre is the hero’s journey and what better way to get them started than sending them off on a literal journey?! While I think this can easily go wrong or be done badly, I can still be tempted by a jolly jaunt into fantasy land. For me, this will never get old!!


Mirkwood_Peek_01Going into the *wilds* and coming back transformed– this is an age-old trick in folklore, which Tolkien drew on and famously made a part of the genre. It’s very typical to read a fantasy novel where the main character ventures out into the unknown (most often represented as forests) and learns something dark and twisted about the world or themselves. It’s a stalwart part of the genre- and I can’t get enough of it.

got-credits-picMysterious libraries/castles/schools– naturally, adding magic can make the mundane more special- who knew? 😉 Seriously though, some locations blend better into the fantasy realms. Personally, I really appreciate when buildings are transformed into something creepier and more enigmatic. Speaking of which…

casperGhosts and necromancy– blame Garth Nix’s Sabriel for cementing my love for this one 😉 Funnily enough, I’m easily creeped out, yet I still firmly believe the ability to bridge the divide between life and death is one of the best things about fantasy. It’s such a great opportunity to explore interesting and unearthly themes. I can’t quite get enough of fantasy books which draw up the veil and dance over this line.  

helms deep rohirrimAll hope is lost… oh no wait it isn’t! Also known as the “here comes the cavalry” twist. Maybe I’m a masochist, but I get all jittery when the author makes me truly believe we’ve reached the end of the road and then *DADA* reinforcements come at the last second.


And that’s all I have for now! What do you think of these tropes? Do you have any favourite fantasy motifs of your own? Let me know in the comments!

78 thoughts on “Fantasy Tropes I Love

  1. I love all of these tropes, and I wish we had more of them! I really enjoy seeing different types of dragons and ghosts in books, and I just think there should be more stories including them! I also really love stories which revolve around books/libraries (kind of like Strange the Dreamer?), because we’re all already book lovers to begin with! 😊

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  2. I don’t mind any of these tropes if they’re done well. What does bug me is when someone just straight up lifts someone else’s plot, alters a few details, and regurgitates it with few structural changes. By all means, use the tropes as building blocks, but give us your own story, your own characters, and your own spin on them! (e.g. Tolkien borrowed heavily from Beowulf and the Volsung Saga, but his story arcs bear little resemblance to either)

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  3. If you love the mysterious libraries/castle/schools …you HAVE to read Sorcery of Thorns! You also have a kind of enemy turned ally and being transformed and …LOL

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  4. I love all these tropes but I am a massive sucker for magic, antagonists to ally (especially enemies to lovers *wheezes*), going into the wild and just desserts. I need the comeuppance and in The Mummy movie (the first one with Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser) Evie’s characters tells one of the weasley villains that he’ll absolutely get his comeuppance and I loved it!

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  5. I like most of the tropes, provided they’re done well 😀 Homage is a thing you can pay in many different ways, and I especially admire good twists on the old tropes – but straightforward tropes done well are a delight as well! 😀

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  6. “The eagles are coming!!!” Tolkien used it twice, and it’s just the best. I love when everything looks hopeless and the cavalry comes swooping in to save the day. I’m also a big fan of venturing into the forest to discover that your face in in Darth Vadar’s helmet or whatever. Also dragons! I have zero discernment for dragons, I will read about ALL of them.

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  7. I really appreciate the usage of Zuko for antagonist turned ally–that’s one of my favorite ones! And ugh, yes, the all hope is lost is just the best. That scene in Two Towers–it gets me every damn time.

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  8. I love so many of these, too! I would add the Door to Another World trope, though. Narnia and Wonderland started my love for this trope, and it’s never gone away. 🙂

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      1. I think in some ways we take our favorite tropes for granted. It’s often hard for me to remember my favorite tropes as well. (I was working on a trope post of my own to schedule for later, so I had been thinking about them for a while already.)


  9. I LOVE dragons as well! If dragons are even mentioned in the description of the book, I am 100% more likely to pick it up. I do love a good quest as well! And redemption arcs, when done well, are SO SATISFYING. (Zuko’s is probably the best example, in my opinion.)

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  10. I like the powerful women in fantasy. I don’t know if that counts as a trope, but I feel it is a concept I came across as a child first in fantasy books, before I encountered it in other works of fiction.

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    1. Serious question, I have not actually seen a ton of fantasy books that have mermaids as more than a side mention. (Maybe the Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, cause that covered pretty much anything). Can you recommend any books with mermaids?

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      1. I mostly read YA so you might not be interested in that genra, but I would recommande To Kill a Kingdom which is the Little Mermaid retelling, Sea Witch (Ursula origin story). Also Songs from the Deep is coming out soon and it looks so awesome!

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        1. Well, I’m not usually much for YA romance but I’ve enjoyed some of the more action/fantasy side of it. Currently reading The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill, which is on the younger end of YA and I am really enjoying it. Also a fan of Jane Yolen and Vivian Van de Velde’s fairy tale reimaginings. I’ll read just about anything though, thanks for the recommendations!

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  11. I LOVE antagonist turned ally! I feel like it’s something I see a lot more of on television than in books. I guess I’d like to see it more in books too. Maybe it happens a bit more in UF, it’s that kind of trope I think, but it can be used anywhere well if done right. 🙂

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  12. So many of these are favs for me too! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a book I could accuse of having “too much magic” so I probably also have no limits, or if I do, they’re so high they’ve never been tested 🙂 And you picked the absolute perfect example for ‘just deserts’ 😂 – when you think about it that scene is all kinds of awful… and yet so very very satisfying 😀 And I’m totally in love with Necromancy as a trope too thanks to Garth Nix. Sadly I don’t think I’ve ever encountered another author that comes close to doing it as well as he does though… have you? And those all hope is lost moments are the best!

    I’m not sure how to describe it exactly, but another favourite for me is secret magic – i.e. when a main character keeps their magic (or the extent of their magical skill) secret from others and then there’s a big reveal where they use it to save the day. Might be clichéd, but I love it every time.

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    1. I really agree with you there- I love it when it’s limitless (which I know isn’t always popular among some more hard magic, fantasy fans) hahaha I know right!! YES! Garth Nix was hugely influential on my tastes- so obviously he got me excited about necromancy and it’s so deeply embedded in my brain that I couldn’t leave it out. I wish I had- I wracked my brains earlier for another example, because I’m sure it comes up, but usually only tangentially and if someone does come back from the dead they don’t use the term necromancy. Yes!!

      ooh that’s a good one- I don’t care if it is cliché either- it’s always good (and always gets me to check out a book).

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      1. Yes you’re right in other stories it’s often not called necromancy and is only tangential / not a core focus. I actually just thought of an example though where it’s a bit more of a key element: Children of Blood and Bone has a character that can feel when people die and brings revenants/spirits back to fight enemies with, but can also put their spirits to rest. It’s still not as cool or detailed as Nix’s necromancy though 🙂

        And I’m glad you agree – such a fun trope!


  13. I love all of these tropes too! ❤️ But my favorite is perhaps old fashioned magic! I agree to tons of magic, let there be no limit. I love anything with a slightly different take on magic from the norm. I also really love fantasy places. Like the actual locations. especially when they are particularly fantastical.

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  14. All these are good. Sad to say, my books don’t have many of them, just a redemption arc, dancing across the veil, and a touch of dragons.

    And, of course, every book has to have an “all hope is lost” moment … whether or not the cavalry ever does show up.

    One trope I like is “the past alive in the present.” Tolkien does this one well … but I like books that involve, say, an archaeological dig that suddenly turns very relevant. Anything ancient that either enters our world, we enter its world, or it turns out not to have completely passed away.

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  15. These are some of my absolute favorite tropes as well! I’m a sucker for a well done fantasy, and I must say, magic, dragons, antagonist turned Ally (Ah, I love how you mentioned Zuko, because he is the OG example of this! 😉 ), and ghosts/necromancy! Awesome post! ❤


  16. I’m kinda a sucker for the “surprise chosen one” or switcheroo, or, the prophecy thing, when the person you think isn’t going to be the hero turns out to be the hero? Like when Arthur pulls the sword out of the stone when everyone thinks he’s a nobody, or when Eowen kills the Nazgul. Or if the “Chosen One’s” spunky sidekick suddenly turns out to be the real Chosen One and everyone has an identity crisis because of it.

    I also love urban fantasy whenever anybody first discovers that magic is real in that universe and then freaks out about it.

    I guess I really just love whenever a character is forced to rethink everything they ever thought was true. That’s the best.

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  17. Great list! I’m so on board with all the magic, dragons, libraries, and *just deserts*. I’m currently trying to write a believable antagonist-turned-ally, so I’m glad someone enjoys it!


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