I have never been into high fantasy. You know the type – set in its own world, playing by its own rules, characters typically include some form of dwarves, wizards, giants, plus there are mythical creatures like dragons or unicorns. Think Lord of the Rings, Discworld, Dungeons & Dragons. I dabbled with it a bit as a kid because I do enjoy fantasy in general. But the world building would bore me, with its extensive explanations and descriptions, which I’ve never cared for. (I stopped reading Stephen King and Anne Rice as their novels got longer for that same reason.) And honestly, I’ve never enjoyed over-the-top magic, which seems to be the only type wizards and magicians in those worlds are able to perform.
However, my love of low fantasy (which has a more real world setting) allows me to appreciate some elements of the high fantasy genre. And I do have a few holdovers from when I was a kid, like mythical creatures. Friends know I really dislike unicorns – I wouldn’t say hate because, seriously, if I had a massive, sharp horn on my head that I could run people through with, I’d probably all about it. But I do like other creatures, especially the large-scale variety. Sure there are massive wolves and dogs (like Cerberus), but the one I’ve always liked best is dragons. And although I do love Falkor, the furry luck dragon from The Neverending Story, I’m primarily a traditionalist when it comes to the beasts. I like them large, scaly and fire breathing.
Although I’m not into a lot of the politics of the plot, I watch Game of Thrones (no, I haven’t read the books… see above re: extensive descriptions). There are very few viewers of the show who would dispute the fact that the dragons are one of the most impressive features. I know people who haven’t even heard of the term “high fantasy” who watch primarily to see the dragons! But this past season brought out the excited kid in me because of those dragons. For the first time I got to see living, breathing versions of the images that have been in my head since first picking up a fantasy novel. Sure, there have been versions of dragons in movies over the years, but Game of Thrones has the most realistic, classic dragons I have ever seen. And the destruction they wrought with their fire was phenomenal and exactly what I had been waiting for.
So you see, even for someone not into a particular genre within the geek world, I can appreciate when an element of it is done right. I’m sure there were plenty of D&D gamers squeeing at the screen when Daenerys Targaryen rode in on Drogon and decimated the Lannister army – and I was doing the same. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your imagination come to life.