High Fantasy vs Historical Fantasy

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Apr 9, 2016
But then you run into the problem that a lot of people - myself included - view Historical Fiction and Secondary World to be mutually exclusive.

Personally I think Gumboot's comment about Epic denoting scale and scope rather than level of fantasy is on the money, and you should label Chronicles of Empire as Epic (or Sci-Fan)... although I accept not everyone accepts his definition either. But I think people are less likely to grumble about Epic Fantasy with relatively low levels of magic than they are Historical Fiction that isn't heavily rooted in the History of our world.

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
I'm another one who would only call something Historical Fantasy if there are fantasy elements in a real world historical setting eg Naomi Novik's dragons in the Napoleonic Wars. I'd agree with calling Chronicles Epic Fantasy since "epic" relates to scope rather than degrees of fantasticality. That won't get you readers who don't read fantasy, though.

So, use the category you've already described: Secondary World Historical Fiction. Though since the "secondary world" thing might be known only to SFFers, I'd call it Historical Fiction In An Invented World. (Catchy, eh?)


Well-Known Member
Sep 15, 2007
UK, Yorkshire
Genres and subcategories especially can be irksome. I tend not to go for things labelled steampunk, but I suspect both Emperor's Edge by Lindsey Buroker and Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding would fit into that, and they're both very good.

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