Before I start this list, however, there are a few other clichés that I feel need to mention, even though they themselves do not make my list. The first is the love interest of the protagonist being or turning out to be a prince or a princess. While this happens quiet often, it doesn’t happen nearly as much as the ones on my list and isn't as infuriating as some.
Another that deserves mention is the evil politician or wizard who serves as an inconvenient obstacle for the protagonist. Here's how it works; for some God-unknown reason a politician or wizard will block the way of the protagonist, either out some insane belief that the antagonist will bring salvation or believes that the antagonist isn't as serious of a threat as the protagonist claims it is. Thankfully, this one, (although it is a cliché of its own), isn't as overused as the ones that make my list and can make for a great quandary. So, without further adieu, it's the Illusive One's Top Ten Biggest and Least Favorite Fantasy Clichés.
At number ten, The Revenge Story. This is something that happens in most fantasy stories, (and most other genres of fiction as well). The scenario usually goes something like this; a family member or someone close to the protagonist will be die and sends him or her out to begin their place in the story. Often the story will end with the protagonist getting his or her revenge but finds that by the story's end, he or she no longer cares about revenge and only about how he or she has shaped the world. While this is a terribly overused fantasy cliché, it can make for a great story if used right and that's why it's only at number ten.
At number nine, The Old Empire. In most fantasy, the current kingdoms that exist are always built on the ruins of some other great, preexisting empire. What exactly caused the destruction of said empire is usually a plot point for the series, if only a minor one. It's one that is used a lot, but is a forgivable one, in my opinion.
At number eight, The Ultimate Evil Antagonist. This is where the clichés start to get annoying. Following in the footsteps of The Lord of the Rings, nearly every fantasy series has this cliché. The villain involved will often be some kind of all powerful, all encompassing evil entity, such as Sauron in Lord of the Rings, the Warlock Lord in Sword of Shannara, or the Dark One in The Wheel of Time. As a result, the lines of good and evil are often clear and this leads to repetitive stories. Unfortunately, those who enjoy fantasy have to accept this cliché, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
At number seven, The Magic Sword. Yet another irritating and common cliché. This is yet another one that has roots in The Lord of the Rings, but was popularized by Shannara. The sword involved will be magic or special, often the only thing that can kill the antagonist. While this one isn't as common as a lot of others, I find it one of the most infuriating and intolerable of the fantasy clichés.
At number six, Red Shirt Characters. A red shirt character is one that is introduced simply to be killed off and is another infuriating fantasy cliché. These characters are often introduced, given a name, have no spoken words, and are killed off almost as quickly as they are introduced. It's one that authors often use, just so the book will have a higher body count and shows laziness on their part and is an unforgivable cliché.
At number five, The Capital Coming Under Attack. From Lord of the Rings, up to Dragon Age Origins, this is a cliché that keeps on getting used, even though we have seen it a thousand times before. Either due to a surprise attack or the crushing of all other defenses or both, an antagonist with a huge army will always attack the capital city of some kingdom the protagonist supports. While it does make for an awesome final battle it's still one that gets overused and I just wish it would die.
At number four, The Average Joe Becoming A Hero. This is a very common cliché, with roots in Tolkien books but is a forgivable one. Here is how it works; a young man or woman will get involved in some wizard’s quest to slay an evil overlord because of their ancestry or through a twist of fate. As I said, this is forgivable one because who honestly doesn’t like to see a commoner rise past social boundaries.
At number three, The Protagonist With Secret Ancestry. This one is easily explained by four but is so common in the fantasy world that it deserves a spot of its own. Often the protagonist will be revealed to have royal parents or have magic abilities that are explained by their true parentage.
At number two, Farm Children or Children of Innkeepers Becoming Heroes. This one is also easily explained by four and usually encompasses three. It just so happens that the child of a farmer or an innkeeper is more common examples and deserves a place of its own.
And what is the biggest and my least favorite fantasy cliché?
The Protagonist Getting Captured. Other then the First Law Trilogy, I don't think I have ever read a fantasy book where this doesn’t happen and it never fails to piss me off to the point of where I'm willing to burn down a whole building full of books by the author just to vent my rage. Just thinking about it makes me want to smash my keyboard as I type. Usually the main character will get separated from the main group of his or her companions due to some unforeseen circumstances and results in said character's capture. These captures often have no purpose other than to have an elaborate escape or introduce a new character that could have just as easily been introduced at some other time in some other way.
And that's my Top Ten Biggest and Least Favorite Fantasy Clichés. I admit this one is a bit short and may seem a bit lazy but I honestly didn't know what else to say. Until next time, this is the Illusive One saying, LATER!