View Full Version : Gav Thorpe on Warhammer (and fantasy tropes)

05-18-2012, 08:17 AM
Gav Thorpe just posted a rather good article, Elf Preservation part two (http://mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/elf-preservation-part-two/), on his blog (http://mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/). It talks about the evolution of fantasy as a genre and the tropes and such things, and has a rather good passage on Warhammer:

Warhammer has its cake and eats it. It has orcs and dwarfs and elves, and treemen and dragons and goblins, and daemons and vampires and giants and barbarians and sorcerers and necromancers and yes, even Halflings and dark lords. By the nature of its original purpose and slow evolution, Warhammer is chock full of pretty much every traditional and not-so-traditional fantasy trope one could throw at a world.

And it also has realism. It is gritty and dark, with themes of power and ambition (the lure of Chaos) as well as a blurred sense of good and evil. Heroes abound, of both the knightly charging-about-slaying-dragons variety and the more modern flexible-morality-fighting-to-survive kind. It has villains of equal diversity. And it does this with depth, humour and a very British sensibility. It is both High and Low fantasy, of epic battles and desperate sewer struggles.

For those not initiated into the fandom, Warhammer seems nothing more than a derivative mish-mash of ideas thrown together to sell some toy soldiers. That is, after all, how it started, blending fantasy and historical at a time when that was not the vogue. Yet it has become much more, and its success makes the novels far more than simple tie-in pulp for Games Workshop. That success has gone beyond the bounds of gamers to create a readership amongst the fantasy-buying public. What some see as reason for denigration is in fact the great strength and appeal of the setting and the stories. It is with Warhammer that fantasy fans can find all the dwarfs, orcs and elves they can handle, while the ‘mainstream’ lets loose another faux-medieval landscape populated by backstabbing *******s and conniving princesses who would sell a dragon quicker than fall in love with it.

I get to write Warhammer novels, and I am proud to do so. It draws on all of that literary pedigree I’ve just buzzed through, as well as the vastness of real world history. Traditional fantasy may not be quite what it was thirty years ago, but it has not died out. It just has a different name.

I thought it was a pretty good insight into Warhammer, and the rest of the article is well worth reading, go read it now!

Tzeentch's Dark Agent
05-18-2012, 08:22 AM
I do like Gav Thorpe I must admit, he has a very broad view of what he does. Quite a chilled man from what people have said about him.

05-18-2012, 08:38 AM
I'm a big fan of his work, he does Eldar (and Elves) brilliantly. It is just a bit of a shame that his only WFB books ar Time of Legends which I've little interest in.

Tzeentch's Dark Agent
05-18-2012, 08:42 AM
Yeah, I'm a fan of the "Path" series, I must admit. I'm also obviously in love with Deliverance Lost, which bought him big thumbs up in my books. :D

05-18-2012, 09:39 AM
If you've not read his Time of Legends trilogy EG you're missing out there, as Malekith and Caledor are both pretty decent books, and Shadow King is one of the best fantasy books I've ever read, and hand's down winner of the best revenge story I've read. Very highly reccomended.

Yeah I like Gav Thorpe, he seems a pretty decent sort of guy and he certainly "gets" the worlds that he writes so much about. I have a friend ready to lend me a load of his books, just got a couple other novels to get through first.

05-18-2012, 10:27 AM
A very good article. I personally feel it is shame that the 'traditional' fantasy of Tolkien isn't really around anymore. He had the right amount of grimdark and picnics in the countryside with singing spirits. But Gav does a good job of tracing the evolution of fantasy and explaining why that sort of stuff isn't around anymore.

05-18-2012, 02:32 PM
That's an interesting article and I generally like his take on things.
I agree with him that there is a trend/fad in fantasy literature that many "fantasy" elements have become rather mundane. Magic, dragons, elves and the like well known among readers and introducing "fantastic" elements has become harder for writers trying to impress audiences.