Would I Rather? | fantasy edition

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today’s topic:

would i rather?

Would I Rather is a well-loved game, perfect for any occasion including a fantasy book game. Essentially, I ask myself questions and struggle to come up with the answers (why should life be easy?). Let’s begin…


MAGICAL CREATURES: brand-new or old myths?

I do love the original mythological creatures. Their presence feels more powerful because of all the stories before them. They have all accumulated to add to the new stories. It is like the “avengers” team-up, always epic.

However, I have to go with brand-new magical creatures. Whilst reminiscent of known creatures, I love the creativity and new rules surrounding them. You get to build them slowly in your mind and I love how personal they feel to you as the reader.

example 🠒 The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien is well known for its originality which included new creatures (or reimagined with a new profile) such are the ents, hobbits and orcs.

PROTAGONIST: warrior or scholar?

This is such a hard decision as I love both. Today, I am picking warrior today. Battle, combat, heist scenes in fantasy are some of the best ones. Full of high stakes, twists and occasionally fun moments. I think following characters who can stand their ground and get right into the action is thrilling. But, like I said, I love both and preferably have them together.

example 🠒 The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang is about war as the title states. Rin is a soldier and the book centres around the emotional toil, focusing on how it changes how she views herself. It is very effective at making the battle scenes epic and sweeping whilst adding a lot of purpose to the scenes. It continually takes my breath away and a massive part of that is because Rin is a warrior.

🍄 The Poppy War By R. F. Kuang | Spoiler-Free Book Review

PROTAGONIST LEVEL: new-to-magic or well-accustomed?

This is an easy one, well-accustomed to magic. Characters being new to magic is a handy trick to allow authors to introduce the world to the protagonist and readers at the same time. But I much prefer to get straight into the magic system without being eased in. Plus, those first scenes of disbelief feel a little stale to me at times. I want to skip to the good part and explore the more complex rules of magic as soon as possible.

example 🠒 Jade City by Fonda Lee is perfect in every way (even when it isn’t) and I love how the magic was introduced. It was immediately established and explored with plenty of rules/details. I loved how the characters deeply respected the magic from the start with full awareness of its capabilities. It made the world and logistics so realistic.


PLOT: royal-centric or civilian focus?

I will pick royal-centric plots any day. They bring together a lot of aspects I enjoy; family relationships, power-hungry characters, political plots and power games. Not saying all these traits are exclusive to royal-centric stories but they often do them well. There are a lot of characters surrounding royalty which gives a lot of opportunities for different approaches, even if the basic road is often taken.

example 🠒 The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty, the sequel to The City of Brass, had higher stakes than the first book as the main characters were in new locations and positions. The Kingdom of Copper focused on royal politics and I was in love. The expectations, the family relations, the power, and the rulings. It was juicy and reminded me how much I love royal politics.

MAGIC: focus or background?

Fantasy novels are recognisable for their magic, and I want it to be the focus. The descriptions, rules and uses of magic can make fantasy novels stand out, it shouldn’t be a throw-away aspect. I am not saying every page needs to feature magic, but it should layer and enhance the plot to ensure the book has a distinct punch of power.

example 🠒 The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern was a very whimsical novel where the magic was completely present and added to the plot abundantly. Yet, I felt like it didn’t overdominant to the point where the only personality was magic. I could explore characters and themes alongside it. It was a good balance for me where the magic aids everything without suffocation.

GODS: present or legend?

Gods can be interesting to see in fantasy novels and whilst I don’t think every book should have present gods, it is what I am picking. They need to be handled carefully as having all-powerful deities who are essentially undefeatable can quickly become boring and doesn’t allow for religious diversity all the time, I still think their scenes can be so powerful and mesmerising. It is a take notice moment. Plus, it brings forth a lot of themes and expectations which can be fun to play with.

example 🠒 Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal tackles religious themes with the gods being involved in the story heavily. Whilst the gods were not necessarily “good” characters, I loved how it discussed power and abuse of it paired with religion. It was a gripping and thought-provoking read. I can’t recommend it enough.

🍄 The Best Young Adult Fantasy Books I’ve Read

HISTORY: less or more dominant?

History should be (more) dominant in fantasy novels. Actually, if history isn’t discussed to some semi-decent level in a fantasy book, it would be missing something. Fantasy novels are often sweeping, epic plots which cannot stand without the past. The past will influence the understanding of magic, rules, how people in power got and kept it, and the characters’ motives. It is too important to be left as a passing statement.

example 🠒 Legendborn by Tracy Deonn had a wonderful historic presence. It was well explored, revealing the influence on the present-day whilst not having too many flashbacks that it felt exhausting. It showed that the present can never be without the past but continuously had new reveals so we didn’t live in the past.

🍄 My Books of 2022 | new favourites, the biggest disappointments & DNFs

VILLAINS: close or afar?

Honestly, villains being close or far depends entirely on what works best for the novel as the most important thing to ask is “does it make sense for the villain to be in this scene?”, but for the sake of this question, I am picking the villains being close. Often it means, the protagonist will have a useful relationship with the villain meaning the emotions are more complex than pure hate, which I love. No further points needed!

🍄 The Wailing Writer | wicked villains and their pivotal role in your story

example 🠒 The Rose Society by Marie Lu is an amazing book and the antagonists are kept close to the main character with perfect reasoning. It added a lot to the suspense and never felt forced. You understood the reasoning of all the characters and it was very entertaining to explore all these morally grey characters.

LAND: descriptive or briefly mentioned?

Fantasy novels literally take you to far-away places and I would love that to be descriptive so I can picture as many details as possible. This doesn’t mean I want 4 pages for every tree, but short, powerful descriptions that embed the locations into my mind. As a reader, it makes you feel like you are in the novel and I love building the feel of the landscape.

example 🠒 We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal had beautiful writing and this extended to talking about the land. It brought the scenery to life and I can still remember the landscapes now. This is what I want, especially without it taking pages to achieve!

SETTING: a journey or set locations?

Confession: journey plots are not my favourite, so I will be picking a set location story. It doesn’t necessarily mean a sole location, it could be multiple. Just not on the road. My problem with journey plots are they sometimes have a meandering feel where they are constantly interrupted by action scenes (e.g. a monster attack) to keep a good pace, but they don’t always have a strong purpose. Whereas stories in a focused setting can build up a lot of sensible structure and have the plot come to them when required.

example 🠒 The Unbroken by C. L. Clark is set in the capital for the entire novel. I loved getting to understand the politics of the place. The intricate details and central locations made the plot stronger. This book is a perfect example.

🍄 Would I Recommend All Of The Sapphic Trifecta? | aka i review the unbroken, the jasmine throne and she who became the sun

MAGIC: elemental or supernatural creatures?

If you know me, my answer is obviously elemental magic. I know some people find it overused, boring and an ATLA wannabe, but I think elemental magic is beautiful with such a historical presence. Mythologies have always loved the elements in some fashion and you can’t ever beat that. It is just perfect to me. I will never bore of them, but there is still plenty of creativity you can do with them to give stories a distinct spin. It can push writers’ to think differently about the elements which I love.

🍄 5 Things I Love In Books

example 🠒 The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang is a book I haven’t actually read yet, but I can’t wait. It is meant to have elemental magic and it has the best reviews! It will have to be a book I buy soon so I can experience the lush magic.


Do you like would you rather questions? Do you agree or disagree with my answers? What do you look for in fantasy books? What book recommendations do you have following my answers?


25 thoughts on “Would I Rather? | fantasy edition

  1. This was such an interesting post! I agree with a lot of your choices such as the amount of magic the protagonist knows. As a reader, learning everything alongside the protagonist can get rather tiresome because it all basically needs to be explained whereas a well-accustomed magic user can show the reader more. I don’t need the characters to give full-on lectures on the magic.

    I’m also all about royals for the exact reasons you mention! And I love that The Kingdom of Copper got a mention there because while I do love the entire trilogy, that second one is just one of my all-time favorites 🥰

    Also, you talking about your favorite setting had me laughing because I relate so hard to that “Just not on the road.” 😂 I hate characters traveling. Like, I’m just waiting for them to get to their destination because it doesn’t feel like anything important can happen until they get there. Yeah, we get the “monster attacks” but it feels like they mostly serve the purpose of keeping the reader awake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤️

      When you’ve read a lot of fantasy, the new to magic trope is tiresome because you probably know the basic rules of the kind of magic already. It is much nicer to get in deeper, without the lectures, YES!! It often older characters giving the magic 101 and it feels like a lesson 😂

      Yay, bring on the royal drama!! The Kingdom of Copper was *the* book, I didn’t want it to end and it did so much for the characters! 😍

      Ahh.. Glad I’m not the only one who gets annoying with travelling plots 🤣 it is often just waiting for the destination– and it is so often stretched out for no reason 😂 we need reason to stay awake at times!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a delightful post & I loved reading your responses Sophie. Appreciated where you discussed brand-new creatures, it feels like these days in fantasy there aren’t too many but when there are, it always allows the world to be more memorable to me! I’ll definitely have to try this out for myself and see what I think 😄💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 🥰✨ brand-new creatures are rarer in fantasy novels, it takes a little more time but it feels so exciting to readers. Like you say, it’s more memorable and you want to search for art immediately!
      It will be fun to see your answers 💞


  3. I loved this post so much, Sophie! 🥰 (Which is also the reason for my rather late comment – I needed enough time to write a proper reply, so I hope you’ll forgive my tardiness 😅)

    Anyway, your answers really got me thinking – I’m totally with you on some cases and have the complete opposite opinion on others.

    Like, I, too, will immediately reach for a book that features royalty, love history and descriptive settings, and don’t mind being thrown into magic systems the protagonist already knows well. I don’t need page-long explanations how they work; I’m smart enough to figure it out!

    However, I do usually love scholar characters a lot more than the warrior ones – I may be projecting here because I’d definitely rather be holed up at a library than on the battlefield 🤓 – and I absolutely adore stories where gods are mentioned but you’re never sure whether they’re actually real or not. The moment religion becomes tangible reality instead of belief, it becomes infinitely less interesting to me (although I can’t give you a plausible explanation as to why 🙈) and gods suddenly becoming real entities interacting with the characters is a trope I hate about 7 times out of 10. (I do have my exceptions, though – like, obviously I adore the gods in Percy Jackson 😁 Or in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books…)

    There are also quite a few traveling stories I like – as long as whatever happens on the road isn’t totally repetitive, I’m on board! Although I might still like books with a set location a tad more 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Naemi ❤️❤️ aw.. It is so nice that you comment even when busy so whenever you are ready is good for me 🥰 plus, I am currently behind on my blog so I can’t say anything 😅 (forgive me)

      Oohh, always interesting! Royals, history and a descriptive setting sounds like a book I would pick up ASAP! The page-long explanations on magic can be tiresome, writers can trust readers to figure things out!!

      The warrior vs scholar was the hardest one for me 🙈 warrior took the edge for me this time because I am currently in the mood for action and looking at the emotional toll of intense fighting. I will still probably fall for the nerdy side character though!
      Libraries are the best space to be though– I can’t disagree with that!!

      I definitely agree how gods being present can take away from the religious aspect, if I wanted a story focusing on religious belief I would look elsewhere. I think Gods being present is more interesting in the way heroes/icons live up to reputations I guess. I think you can explore different emotions well. It is like when you are a child and realise you parents are human and make mistakes 😅 but on a grander scale with massive power displays. I can see how it doesn’t work for you as it is risky! I’m just drawn to the conversation I guess 🤔😂

      I dare say there are a few travelling stories I like to (lord of the rings probably). Most tropes can be well written and thought out to make it entertaining! Set locations are fun, I love the connection characters can feel to one place!


      1. Aww, thank you for your kind words, Sophie 💙 I guess we can be behind on our blogs together then and and at least feel consoled about that – there’s nothing to forgive! 🤣

        And the thing about gods being fallible is actually a really good point! Come to think of it, in the few instances where I’ve enjoyed present gods, that kind of character exploration did usually take place 🤔 Although I still tend to enjoy stories that explore religion more, I think. At least if it’s a fantasy religion that’s tied to some sort of magic system… For some reason, my interest dwindles rapidly when it’s real world religions we’re talking about! 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a fun post! I loved the questions and your answers as well as the reasoning. I do agree with most of your opinions and preferences.
    Also, I was wondering if this is a tag? I would love to answer these questions on my blog as well. If this is your own idea nad questions let me know if it would be okay to use them on my blog? With credit of course.

    Either way, I really enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Charvi! 💞 It was a lot of fun to do and I’m glad we share some opinions here!
      It is no tag. I just came up with some random questions for “would you rather?” and it definitely fine for you to share your answers on your blog. I’d love to read them! 🥰✨
      Thank you again 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I agree with most of your answers here although some of these options are hard to pick between. I agree that magic being the focus is definitely a good thing. I adore learning about new magic systems so I suppose that’s not surprising though 😅 new magical creatures are always fascinating to discover (although like you I also adore the old ones) and I’d have to day warrior too (especially based on some of my more recent fantasy reads) but schlors can be fascinating too…especially as I love library scenes 😅 multiple POV books with both are fantastic.

    I definitely agree with you on royalty (following civilians can be fascinating but I love courtly intrigue so much) & history as well. Learning the past of a fantasy realm really brings it to life. When I enjoy a fantasy novel I always find myself loving the world’s history.

    Ooh yes complex relationships tying the central character to the villian are glorious & make situations so much more intense. And I know it also won’t surprise you that I agree about gods being present. We’ve both mentioned how much we adore learning about them numerous times. Since I love discovering new fantasy lands naturally I adore descriptive settings too.

    I think I’d have to go with supernatural creatures over elemental magic but that’s mostly because I have a major weakness for things like vampires & the fae. I do agree that elemental magic can be fantastic though and can always be crafted in new & exciting ways.

    I think a lot of people tend to dislike journey based stories but I really enjoyed several lately. I do agree that they can get stale but when they’re done well you get to cover some fascinating terrain. The depth of a fixed location setting can be fascinating too though.

    Wonderful post, it was so much fun to read. We’ve already mentioned a lot of these books so I’ll just admit that they’re pretty much all series that i majorly hope to get to this year. Although how om earth I’ll manage it I do not know. I’m not sure if the last is on my tbr or not. The names familiar but I’m not certain so I’ll check & add it if not. I hope you enjoy it whenever you get a chance to read it.

    I feel like I’ve shared most of my fantasy suggestions with you already. Basically everything that you mentioned in your last comment to me ticks at least one of these boxes. The Black Sun & Hall Of Smoke are both fantastic. I adored Kristin Cashores books when I read them and Fire definitely gave some disturbing insight into its villian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are some hard questions here for sure. I had to tell myself it was just a game, I wasn’t disposing the other answer for good 😂😂
      Magic system should have solid time dedicated to them! It makes the books more unique. ✨

      New magical creatures are a treat, I need pictures of them ASAP 😂
      I think my ideal situation for warrior vs scholar would be warrior main character and scholar best friend– they work well together 😆 and of course multiple POV, that is best actually (I’ve changed my mind 🤣)

      Court intrigue definitely takes me edge, but I do appreciate books focusing on all characters like criminals, artists etc. But my heart flutters for royals especially 😂
      Exactly, the history brings the land to life so much and you can understand the decisions a lot more!

      A complex relationship between the hero and villain can add a lot of depth. All the different decisions made can be frustrating in the best way!!
      I thought you would pick gods too *high five* 😍
      Take me to the fantasy lands on roads paved with pretty words 😂 I can’t wait to hear what you think to We Hunt The Flame!

      Haha I did think you would pick supernatural creatures, I think vampire and fae are interesting so I can definitely see why. Sometimes you can have both elements and supernatural in one book as well 😍

      I am so glad you have enjoyed some journey books lately, I do think it can be done well if the purpose is well thought out. It can be exciting to experience new places continuely.

      Thank you sooo much Charlotte. I am happy you liked this post and I really enjoyed hearing what you would pick as well 🥰
      Haha I picked all these books just to taunt you 😂😆 but I am excited for you to read them *good luck*! I will definitely want to hear your thoughts!
      The Sword of Kaigen started off indie published I think?? but so many people love it. Thank you 🥰

      Aw.. I will have to read all those books as soon as possible then especially if they have these traits 😍 Hall of Smoke and Graceling have been on my TBR for a while, definitely intriuged about Fire now. Black Sun looks great too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah so true. Don’t think I could handle the one where you pick a book to ‘burn’. Even if you don’t actually have to it seems so cruel!!

        Ooh yes illustrations & fan art of them is wonderful.
        Ah that’s a good way to have it too as they can work really well together.

        Ooh so true, I’ve read some good books with criminals fantasy wise too. And one of the fae books I read had an artist for the MC and it worked wonderfully.
        Yes & it helps make it feel more real as the area has a past. I especially love when that lands mythology comes into play.

        Yes they can really make things so tense & you never truly know what to expect.
        Naturally 😍😍 and I’ll definitely share my thoughts with you when I’ve finally read it.

        Yes some books do contain everything and that’s fantastic!!

        I do get what you mean about being stuck on the road too though. I guess it depends on how it’s handled.

        😯😯 I so hope that’s not true 😅 I’ll keep you updated as I get to all of them. Even if I fail to get them all read I should definitely get through a fair few this year…I think
        Ah maybe it’s on my list from a while ago then. Or I could be getting it mixed up with one that came out last year with the word Kagan. Either way it sounds fascinating though.

        They certainly do. Ooh I can’t wait to see what you think of them all and hope you enjoy them too. The Bone Season is really good too (the earlier mention of criminals made me think of it) although I’ve only read the first few books so far.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yeah, I remember that tag! Burning books does seem cruel even imaginary!

          So cool 🤩
          Yes, best of both worlds 🤣

          Following criminal characters is a lot of fun, a lot of sneaking around which can add to the drama!
          Aw.. I’m glad the artist mc worked well!
          Mythology for the win 😍😍

          Yay, I look forward to it!!

          It definitely depends who is writing the road trip, as I think most things can be wrote well.

          Haha, no just a happy coincidence 😆 aw.. That will be good. Bring on the fantasy 💪🏻
          Aw… Similar names can be confusing, but bound to happen at times!!

          Yay, me too! Thank you, I will let you know when I have!
          I have seen the bone season around but never picked it up, but the mention of criminals has got my attention 👀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I can’t remember what the third option was. One was save I think. Ooh maybe it was change the ending or something?? But it all had to be favourites which made it so much worse too!!

            Lots of untrustworthy connections & potential for betrayal too!

            Yes there seem to be some authors who can make most things exciting.

            I find same covers confusing too at times. I’ve definitely seen it happen before.

            I really enjoyed it when I read it. I’m looking forward to rereading it & catching up on the books I still need to read for it sometime too.

            BTW I accidentally found another fame rec. I can’t remember the title but Sara Barnards next book sounded intriguing & featured the subject.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think it was save and change the ending actually, very good memory there!! It was a hard tag, but interesting actually!

              Oh yes, I love betrayals (fictionally) 😂


              Some covers are soo similar though!!

              Aww.. That’s great! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!!

              Oohh yay, thank you. I just had a look, Where The Light Goes! Sara is an author I’d love to check out as well. Thank you ❤️

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes definitely interesting just such a challenge to do. Maybe I’ll try it one day though.

                Me too. Especially the ones that you truly don’t see coming.

                Thank you.

                I wasn’t sure if I should mention it as I thought you were reading less YA but it sounded interesting. I need to check her books out one day too.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I’d be interested to see your answers!
                  So good, they shock you to your core!
                  Aw.. no, thank you so much for thinking of me and I love the rec. Even though, I read less YA, when I’m in the mood I think I can still really enjoy one! Hopefully we both enjoy her books then! 🥰

                  Liked by 1 person

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