Here's what made me think about this thread. This is what I'm reading at the moment and what I wrote in the reading thread: Most fantasy is about good guys and bad guys. You need to feel that the world is truly threatened, but there must be a glimmer of hope, something that will keep you reading through the depressing parts. This balance is not easy to achieve and have be believable. The heroes usually have faults, but there should be something engaging in their characters such that you want them to succeed. There can be too much of a good thing as well. There's no tension or excitement in a story where there is not much of a threat looming. This reminds me of my first read of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. There was barely enough positive to balance the overwhelming feeling of despair, especially in the last 3 books. Other parts of the story - the characterization, the world and mythos - kept me interested so not only did I read them, but have since visited them again and consider them one of my favorite series. Have you ever been put off on a book because it was just too depressing? Or because it was just so perfect that no one got killed and everyone lived happily ever after?