Fantasy Friday: Boy and girl fantasy?

August 20, 2010 at 12:00 am 6 comments

My cousin recently recommended a series of fantasy books to me called A Song of Ice and Fire. Having not read much fantasy lately and being in the mood, I was pretty pumped and happily accepted the books from him. I then opened up the first book, A Game of Thrones, and immediately had a sinking feeling in my gut. Boy-fantasy, I thought glumly to myself.

I can’t say I thought deeply about my designation in that moment, but the more I pondered it later, the more I came to believe there is actually some kind of divide. As far as I can make out, boy-fantasy seems to invariably be more political or war-torn, darker, and somewhat less magical while girl-fantasy seems to focus more on adventure, the unique talents of the main characters, and plenty of magic and/or enchantment (see our previous discussion of whimsical talking animals).

This isn’t to say that girls can’t enjoy “boy-fantasy” or that boys can’t like “girl-fantasy,” but I think there are definitely books within the genre that appeal to opposing genders. (And then there are book like The Hobbit that no doubt appeal to just about everyone.)

I don’t mean to be controversial with this, but I know some of our readers are fantasy lovers so I wanted to ask you all if you’ve noticed this divide. It was just so disappointing to open this book my cousin raved out and be confronted with something that just did not appeal, in large part because of its oozing masculinity. All the same, I’ll most likely give it a second shot (it came so highly recommended!) and see if I can’t get in touch with the boy side of my fantasy loving self.



Entry filed under: Fairy Tale Friday, Fantasy. Tags: , , .

Discussion Questions: Lady Chatterley’s Lover Weekly Geeks: Reading from the Decades

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  August 20, 2010 at 7:13 am

    BOY FANTASY. Yes. I think this is why I had such a problem with the Inheritance Trilogy — it’s very clearly written for a male audience. To an extent, the Farseer Trilogy is a little like that, though there is plenty of magic and many talking animals amidst the power struggles and attractive women.

    My litmus test is generally that if there are boobs or dragons on the cover, it’s probably boy fantasy. Dragons don’t seem to be as popular in girl fantasy, for whatever reason. Admittedly, this is a pretty flawed test.

    (Nice Wiggins shout-out! :P)

    • 2. Kate  |  August 20, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Oh, and also — sci-fi, especially older sci-fi, tends to be a man’s domain. Not that girls don’t read, write and enjoy it, but it’s hard to deny Dune was meant for a male audience.

      • 3. Corey  |  August 20, 2010 at 8:21 am

        Yeah, I was thinking about your Eragon reviews a lot while writing this! Those books are just so clearly written by an adolescent male for other adolescent males. On the bright side, most fantasy novels tend to have some strong women characters no matter if they are boy or girl fantasy. Score one, I guess.

        And I like your cover test! I chose the above Robert Jordan cover for almost those exact reason: towering, angry (or angsty?) male shaking his fist at dragons with a worried, chesty woman standing by. Boy-fantasy if ever I saw one!

        (You beyond rock for getting my Wiggins reference! Thousands of points to you! :D)

  • 4. Britney  |  August 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I haven’t decided my own thoughts yet, but I asked my roommate if A Song of Ice and Fire were boy or girl fantasy as she’s read the first two books and really enjoyed them. “Boy fantasy, because they’re gory.” I then explained your theory. :)

    Now I’m off to my own “boy fantasy” read – the second book in the Farseer trilogy. It is so political, but the world is fantastic and I can’t put it down.

    • 5. Corey  |  August 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      Ha, I’m glad she more-or-less agreed with me about A Song of Ice and Fire! I’m going to try them again this very evening and see if I can get more into it.

      Good luck with Farseer!

  • […] Genres I Dislike/Am Allergic To: 1. Boy-fantasy (see: A Game of Thrones and possibly Eragon, if you asked my co-blogger Kate) 2. […]


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