What Is High Fantasy?

Fantastical aspects have always been a component of narrative, as proven by the gods, terrible monsters, and magic that can be found in ancient myths, folklore, and religious literature all across the world.

Fantasy as a genre of book is much more modern, and it varies from its forefathers in that its authors are well-known, and both they and their viewers recognize the works as imaginary.

What Is High Fantasy?

Fantasy is a huge genre in itself and can be broken down into smaller subgenres – including high fantasy which we will talk about today.

Definition Of High Fantasy

High fantasy is a type of fantasy in which the tale takes place in a setting substantially different from Earth and deals with world-threatening forces.

Fantastic animals, antique or strange technology, magical elements, and other otherworldly components may appear in the tale.

High fantasy does not always have to include Western fantasy clichés like swords and dragons, despite the fact that these are prominent features of the genre.

The high fantasy genre is within the greater umbrella of the fantasy genre. Low fantasy, historical fantasy, wuxia, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, and dark fantasy are some more forms of fantasy fiction.

High fantasy may also be used as a catch-all phrase for numerous fantasy genres, including heroic fantasy, epic fantasy, mythic fantasy, dark fantasy, and wuxia.

Themes and messages have frequently defined high fantasy.

The idea of good against evil is widespread in high fantasy and defining the character of evil is frequently an essential issue in a work of high fantasy, as in The Lord of the Rings.

Characteristics Of High Fantasy 

Here are some of the key elements that make up the structure of high fantasy:

A Hero

While it is not a required prerequisite of high-fantasy literature, the majority of high-fantasy stories have a primary hero who must combat evil forces and rescue the world. 

In many situations, the hero begins as a youngster and must develop quickly in order to face the struggle. Alternatively, they may go on a lengthy quest to acquire the knowledge and abilities required to confront the opposing forces.

Secondary World

A place unlike Earth is essential in high fantasy. This “secondary planet” might have a variety of characteristics that distinguish it from Earth, such as different creatures, vegetation, races and civilizations, cities, civilizational structures, religious systems, and so on.

World-Level Conflict

A high stakes struggle that frequently puts the entire planet in risk separates high fantasy from other types of fantasy. The motif of good against evil is frequently used in high-fantasy narratives to better separate the “good guys” from the “bad people.”

What Is High Fantasy?


Many high-fantasy novels involve otherworldly creatures—these fantasy species might include dragons (If you like dragons, check out these books from Wings Of Fire), unicorns, vampires, or urban legend animals. A lot of high fantasy also includes creatures which are created from scratch with the imagination of the author. 


Most stories in the high fantasy genre have what is known as a magic system. The characters may use this magic system or are unaware of it but it usually plays a big part in the plot. 

Unusual Technology

Most high-fantasy novels take place on planets with much different technologies than our own. Swords, knives, hand-to-hand combat, and other historical technology or fighting tactics are frequently used in these works.

Difference Between High Fantasy And Low Fantasy

Another subgenre of fantasy is low fantasy. Low fantasy, as opposed to high fantasy, is set in a regular world.

Because magical and fantastical aspects intrude into the actual world, some readers refer to low fantasy as intrusion fantasy.

Low fantasy genres include urban fantasy, dark fantasy, or contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and paranormal. You’ll note that the next three books all take place in the actual world.

As a result, while book critics dispute the distinctions between high fantasy and low fantasy, the most prevalent classifications give just one major distinction: setting. 

High fantasy stories take place in a world that is not Earth or in a planet that is extremely close to Earth, whereas low fantasy stories take place on Earth or in a main world that is quite similar to Earth.

The Lord of the Rings, set in Middle Earth, is an example of high fantasy. Harry Potter, is set in a fictitious version of the United Kingdom, is an example of low fantasy.

Examples Of High Fantasy

The spoken word is where high fantasy began, when stories of gods and monsters were passed down. 

The natural evolution then proceeded into the written word, until there was access to some of the most magnificent works of modern high fantasy.

Here are some great examples of high fantasy books:

The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R Tolkien 

The Lord of the Rings is regarded as an epic high fantasy narrative and is often regarded as the genre’s foundation.

It was released in three volumes as a sequel to Tolkien’s earlier masterpiece, The Hobbit.

The elaborate worldbuilding, intriguing storyline, and engaging characters have made The Lord of the Rings one of the most influential works of modern high fantasy, with writers such as George R.R. Martin and Andrzej Sapkowski, among many others, recognized it as an inspiration for their own works.

A Song Of Ice And Fire By George R.R Martin

A Song of Ice and Fire has swiftly become one of the high fantasy genre’s trademark works. With the introduction of HBO’s critically acclaimed Game of Thrones television series, this celebrity has only grown.

Game of Thrones meets the requirements for high fantasy since it embodies some of the genre’s defining features. These distinguishing characteristics include the existence of epic magical elements, a vast secondary realm, and grandiose personalities.

The Way Of Kings By Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is a high fantasy book. The Stormlight Archive is the first volume of a proposed ten-volume series.

The Way of Kings is divided into 75 chapters, 10 of which are dedicated for flashbacks of the book’s main character, nine interludes, and one epilogue.

There are 17 distinct point-of-view characters in a total of 123 POVs, albeit 12 of these characters appear for far less time than the other five.

High Fantasy In Other Forms Of Media

Just as high fantasy evolved from spoken to written storytelling, the advent of new entertainment channels enabled us to experience high fantasy realms in new ways.

There are now fantastic instances of high fantasy on both the big and small screens.

The high fantasy film and television genre is limited due to the enormous cost of creating new high fantasy worlds; examples include The Witcher, Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings.

You also don’t have to be an external spectator of high fantasy any longer. In video games like World of Warcraft, Skyrim, and Dark Souls, you may inhabit new high fantasy realms.


High fantasy is one of the most intriguing literary genres on the market. It’s a narrative technique that allows the imagination to run wild.

It lacks constraints in many ways, and the high fantasy genre has created some of the most thrilling creative works ever made.

High fantasy, whether in literature, film, or on stage, allows us to be intrigued by new worlds and drawn into battles larger than we could have dreamed.

Sophie Andrea