Genre Friday! Presents Historical Romance

It’s a romance set in the past. Well, sort of, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

Three MusketeersFirst, there are the different meanings of romance to consider. “Romance” in the days of yore was pretty much the same thing as what we would call a novel today – a story that someone made up and, to keep it interesting, filled with a bit more drama and action than most people would find typical to everyday life. Thus a historical romance can technically be most any novel written prior to the first half of the 20th century (although particularly in late medieval Europe). This gets even more confusing because some historical romances (read “novels”) focus on a love story, making it qualify as the modern definition of a romance as well.

Of course, this ambiguity is mostly avoided these days due to the simple fact that 99% of the people who go looking for historical romance are looking for books about romantic love that are set in the past. I may have been overstating how complicated it was to take advantage of a teachable moment… Librarian.

Still, even if you are looking for the modern definition of a historical romance, there are choices to be made; mostly involving which time period is you favorite. Most popular are the stories set in the late historical periods of Europe and Great Britain (there is a lot of attention paid to Scottish Highlanders). The American Civil War is also popular, but it doesn’t stop there; ancient Egyptians, Caribbean Pirates, Vikings, you name it, it’s out there somewhere – something for everyone.

Examples:

Traditional Definition:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Rogue by Any Other NameModern Definition:

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Genre Friday Returns! with Court Intrigue Fantasy

Whether it is set on Earth (past, present or future), in a parallel world or universe, or a mystic realm where the familiar laws of nature do not apply, Fantasy allows imagination to run wild. True to this idea, Fantasy’s many subgenres can vary from one another a great deal, encompassing just about anything one could imagine, which helps to explain the genre’s ever-growing breadth and depth.

The Court Intrigue subgenre of Fantasy generally focuses on and around royalty and the ruling elite. Settings can be anything from a well known historical backdrop (but with magic or something) to some unrecognizable alternate world but we are almost always going to be dealing with the upper crust of society and their despicable plotting and scheming. The plots of these stories are often complex and heavily entangled with politics, power grabs, espionage, assassinations (successful and attempted), court scandal and everything else that you would expect from a political thriller, but normally set in feudal, medieval-esque surroundings with sorcerers and dragons about.

GOTCoverMIAExamples:

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner