Fantasy novels: Proceed with caution

Published 10:27 am Friday, February 19, 2016

by Danny Tyree

It’s time to do some quality control on elves, goblins and trolls.

Although I confine most of my reading to nonfiction, my wife and son are avid readers of various fantasy novel series.

Of course there are the biggies like the Harry Potter and Narnia books, but they have also been mesmerized by series such as “Ranger’s Apprentice,” “Septimus Heap” and “Fablehaven.”

Many of these books are grouped in the Young Adult genre, which is weird, since a high percentage of the young adults in the books are like 600 years old.

Melissa and Gideon revel in their hobby, even though many people scoff at such escapist fare. (“I don’t need no escapism. I’ll sit right here with my imagination shackled by rusty chains, wishing it had access to indoor plumbing. Hey, is that a rat gnawing on my imagination’s big toe?”)

Although sales of fantasy books are booming (they often appear on the New York Times bestsellers list), there are still too many holdouts. Perhaps people are just dipping their toe into the waters with a less than magical fantasy book. As a public service, here are the top Signs That You’re Reading The Wrong Fantasy Book:

1. The epic quest of the series involves someone repeatedly asking, “Now which cursed row did we park the oxcart in?”

2. Ominous prophecies by the resident seer invariably come with a fence-straddling “ish” suffix. (“Your fate will be either death-ish or ruling an empire-ish.”)

3. The latest reworking of the Arthurian legend drifts a little too far into middle-age anxieties, sporting the title “The Sword In The Kidney Stone.”

4. The hordes smashing into the castle drawbridge with a battering ram pause to offer, “We’d like to leave you the latest issue of ‘Watchtower’ magazine.”

5. Instead of talking trees, the book’s lowered expectations give us talking tongue depressors.

6. Being exiled in shame looks an awful lot like doing “time out” in the “naughty corner.”

7. “Shapeshifters” don’t do anything more impressive than shopping at Kmart for elastic-waistband pants.

8. The elaborate map reveals that all the adventures take place in Middle Management Earth.

9. Instead of a classic battle of “good versus evil,” you have to settle for a war of “mauve versus teal.”

10. Dialogue includes jarringly out-of-place snippets such as “Don’t let the magical portal hit you on the way out.”

11. Any magical talismans uncovered by intrepid crusaders must be sold to pay the carbon tax on the dragon.

12. Time travelers ponder whether to warn the people of Atlantis or just photobomb the mayhem. Decisions, decisions.

13. Fine print on the awesome incantations rattles on about “shortness of breath, blurred vision and temporary loss of appetite.”

Go out there and read some good fantasy novels. Maybe next time we’ll discuss science fiction novels. But don’t get the two genres confused.

Fantasy involves magical creatures and fairy tale situations, such as leprechauns and wishing wells and the Land of Restaurant Employees Who Wash Their Hands After Using The Restroom.

Science fiction, on the other hand, involves extrapolations of things that are scientifically plausible, like frying an egg (okay, a whole chicken) on Donald Trump’s forehead.

“You’re a liar! Chickens don’t come from eggs and eggs don’t come from chickens! Apologize, stop all these lies and America can be great-ish again!

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.