High Fantasy is what people usually think of when they hear the word "fantasy" - a pseudo-medieval world inhabited by elves, dwarves, and wrinkly old wizards, with clearly-defined boundaries between good and evil. You'll usually find knights, kings, princesses, and dragons.

Tolkien arguably started the genre with The Lord of the Rings, drawing his inspiration from Norse stories.

Examples of High Fantasy

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy is and always will be the best example of High Fantasy.
  • The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks is also a good example
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Common Plot PointsEdit

  • The hero will, at some point, be called upon (literally or figuratively) to save the world, or at least a large portion of it. It's quite likely that he/she is the Chosen One, destined by blood and/or prophecy, and the only one capable of accomplishing the task at hand.
  • Early in the story, the hero will receive a rundown on things from a mentor character, frequently an aged wizard.
  • If the saving is limited to a kingdom rather than the world, chances are high that the hero is an eligible heir to the throne and/or will become king before the end of the story.
  • During the climax, one or more swordfights are likely to occur, generally between the hero (or his sword-wielding companion) and the villain's number-one henchman.
  • Though he/she may be a warlord, the villain almost never uses a weapon; he/she is most likely to be a magic-user, either a wizard or sorceress.
  • As the villain is highly skilled in his/her craft, it will likely be impossible for the heroes to overcome him/her through direct combat. Instead, they will be forced to invent other (often anticlimactic) means to take him/her out. If the hero has been carrying a Magical Trinket for most of the story, it will probably come into play here.

Common AbsurditiesEdit

  • High fantasy worlds often seem to be in a vacuum-sealed, technologically-frozen world; it's often implied that people have been living the same way for thousands of years without advancing in any aspect. If there are different cultures, they rarely have any impact on each other, save perhaps warring, which often produces a long-held stalemate.
  • Many classic High Fantasy worlds are inhabited by monoculture races. For example, Elves are good - "evil" elves had to be sorted into a subspecies of their own (Dark Elves.) Dwarves are usually all gruff, bearded miners who usually do not get along with Elves (as in Lord of the Rings). Gnomes are usually short tinkerers with bulbous eyes.
  • High fantasy often relies on high levels of purple prose and a huge number of foreign-sounding names, be they of places, people, things, kinds of magic, weapons, certain kinds of smell, etc.
  • Once he has heeded The Call[1], it may take less than a few weeks for the hero to change from a clueless farmboy to a fully-fledged warrior, ready to save the world. Even if the skill and powers required normally take years to attain, he will have them all by the time he's ready to face off against the villain.


  • Original Writerium Article[2]