Grimdark, Noblebright, Grimlight & Nobledark Fantasy

Okay, let's get these definitions straight...

Grimdark Fantasy - A fantasy story in which the protagonist is an anti-hero and the story is dark/negative (and possibly depressing). [Not to be confused with Dark Fantasy / Horror Fantasy!!!]

Noblebright Fantasy - A fantasy story in which the protagonist is heroic and the story is uplifting/positive.

Grimlight Fantasy - A fantasy story in which the protagonist is an anti-hero, but the story ends up being positive. Sometimes called "Grimbright", but Grimlight seems to be the more popular name.

Nobledark Fantasy - A fantasy story in which the protagonist is a hero, but the story ends up being dark/negative/depressing.

So for example let's say you are writing a Grimlight Fantasy story... What could that story be about?

  • A greedy cowardly murderer/thief becomes a hero by accidentally beating up the local villain, but then gets tricked into leading a group of woodland thieves into fighting against an upstart prince who dabbles in dark magic, represses the poor, makes taxes too high, and the cowardly thief sees this as an opportunity for himself to make some money. Possible title: "Robin Hoodwinked". So very similar to the classic Robin Hood story, but Robin himself is an anti-hero because he is cowardly/greedy and he isn't above murdering people with his arrows.

Or let's say the story is a Nobledark Fantasy...

  • During the a horrible plague a noble knight embarks on a quest to find a cure to the disease, but on the way he encounters bandits, corrupt nobility, difficult choices, desperate starving villagers, cannibals, plague zombies, militaries using the zombies as weapons of war... The knight himself manages to complete his quest to cure the disease, but then the people just go right back to warring against each other so the ending is still depressing.

So which of these do I prefer to write?

Honestly, I kind of like all of them. Generally speaking my protagonists tend to be heroic (but not all of them fall into that category). Here's a few examples from the Adventures of Wrathgar series:

  • Wrathgar - Hero
  • Soljargon - Hero
  • Bizbald - Anti-Hero

The series in question I would say is overall positive stories, but does contain some dark elements so they aren't completely "Noblebright". I would argue that there is realm of stories between positive/negative that are either neutral or contain both.

I also believe that a writer could theoretically tell all 4 of those options above by writing a story in which there are 4 different characters (2 heroes and 2 anti-heroes) and their stories are intertwined but plot wise end up being a mix of positive and negative experiences / endings.

I also believe that characters can sometimes be nuanced. Eg. In one story I once had a group of heroes (and one anti-hero) find themselves in a situation where they end up torturing a minor villain for information. Some of the characters were against torturing the villain, while others aren't opposed to it. Thus within a group of heroes there were nevertheless nuances when it came to the ethics of torture.

Thus some people like the concept of there being Neutral or Mixed categories in between the polar opposites.


I periodically have book sales (usually half price) and also free ebook offers. The sales are available in the USA and UK only, but the free ebooks are available in all countries.

FREE EBOOK / December 10th to 14th 2022
 
Dark Shadows in the Moonlight
 
The Bogatyr knight has been hired by a Habbel village to track down a forest demon that murdered three children and kill it, but can he defeat the huge beast? And why did the demonic Leshy attack the Habbel village in the first place?

"
The Adventures of the Bogatyr" is a series of short stories, novelettes and novellas, telling the tales of a wandering Bogatyr knight who encounters strange magical phenomenon, unusual creatures (both living and undead), and the sometimes mean spirited humans, elves and other humanoids who live in the kingdom of Korovia.


FREE EBOOK / December 10th to 14th 2022

The Unbreakable Arrow

The stranger arrived in the village leading a dying injured horse.

The village was nameless, a collection of huts and stone buildings surrounded by the dense trees of an endless forest. The bedraggled people stared out of their hovels at the strange man with his injured horse, many a greedy eye on both of them. The look of desperation in their eyes was also one of hopelessness. These people had seen dark times and had taken to living in the woods to avoid the darkness enveloping much of the world.

The stallion was a dark grey roan and its flanks were speckled with injuries from arrows, presumably from bandits that plagued the road to the west. Most people would have simply slain the horse and put it out of its misery, partially because the meat alone was valuable, but this man did not. He led the horse to the nearest water trough and allowed the steed to drink for a long time before gently pulling the horse away.

The wanderer was tall and broad of shoulder, with a bushy black beard covering a handsome yet roadweary face, with a mane of unkept black hair with hints of grey around the temples. He was dressed simply in blood spattered clothes and carried a similarly blood spattered arming sword on his hip. The bandits would be burying their dead tonight. He had no armour or other weapons to speak of. Just the sword and the clothes on his back.

Further up the road was the stables at the top of the hill, surrounded by immense pine trees. The stranger walked up the rocky hill dense with tall cedar trees, past the blacksmiths pounding away on their forge next to a gully littered with the old bones of deer, elk and woolly rhinos. They were making swords with handles made from antler and ivory.

The stranger had seen such swords before, in the hands of the bandits who had attacked him on the road. The stranger led his horse further up the hill, slowly, almost gingerly. His horse was breathing heavily. When they arrived after much time he paid the stable boy with copper coins out of a hidden pocket.

"I dunno iffen dis horse will be livin' through da night melord," drawled the stableboy, a skinny uneducated lad of perhaps fifteen winters with a face of pimples and pock marks from surviving the pox. "He be lookin' ta drop dead as a doorknob any moment now."

The stranger produced a gold coin from an unknown location. He held it up for the boy to see. "This is the finest and bravest horse I have ever seen. I want you to wrap his wounds with clean linen and make certain he is well fed, groomed and kept warm during the night. If he lives until morning when I return, this coin will be yours. If any horse deserves to live, this horse does." The stranger gave him a small knowing smile, belying an untold story that made the lad curious to learn more. "Now where can I find a place to sleep?"

The stable boy pointed north. "Ye be gonna walk thatta way. When ye see da forest glade wid all da purdy flowers then da inn will be da tall-like building on da right."

The stranger walked north, following a trail through the tall trees and past wooden huts with quiet villagers who were busy worshipping their dark god. This village was not unlike others he had visited recently. These were dark times and whole villages now worshipped foul gods in an effort to stay alive, falsely believing that if they worshipped a dark god that the dark god would spare them from destruction. Dragons and demons roamed the land, and these villagers had made their homes in a thick forest, hiding from the sight of any that might fly over, and praying they did not attract the attention of any wandering demons.

...

Want to keep reading? The ebook version is currently free until December 14th 2022. Or you can purchase the paperback version.

 

COME BACK EVERY WEEK TO SEE MORE FREE EBOOKS AND BOOK SALES.

Free Fantasy Ebooks, December 3rd to 7th

I periodically have book sales (usually half price) and also free ebook offers. The sales are available in the USA and UK only, but the free ebooks are available in all countries.

FREE EBOOK / December 3rd to 7th 2022
 
The Rusalka's Lament
 
The Bogatyr knight hears the haunting singing of a Rusalka before arriving in the Habbel city of Shorin, where he later learns that there is a wanted poster for the Rusalka. Short on coin, he hatches a scheme for how to defeat her, but killing her and actually getting paid for his hard often requires a little extra effort.

"
The Adventures of the Bogatyr" is a series of short stories, novelettes and novellas, telling the tales of a wandering Bogatyr knight who encounters strange magical phenomenon, unusual creatures (both living and undead), and the sometimes mean spirited humans, elves and other humanoids who live in the kingdom of Korovia.


 
HALF PRICE EBOOK / December 3rd to 7th 2022
 
The Exorcist's Dagger
 
The elderly thief Piotr has been accused of murdering a local exorcist in the mining town of Kazark, but he needs help to prove his innocence. With few options, he tells his apprentice Grigori to contact Wrathgar, a wandering barbarian from the Snowfell Mountains and convince him to help Piotr. Fortunately, the barbarian remembers Piotr
from the time they stayed in the same inn during the winter. Together with the young thief Grigori, Wrathgar needs to find the real murderer: A Xarsian priest who is looking for the exorcist's dagger.

But Wrathgar isn't the only one looking for the Xarsian priest. Svetlana, the exorcist's apprentice, is also looking for him, and she wants to kill the priest and avenge her master's murder. She doesn't care if this means letting Piotr hang from a noose for murder, so long as she gets her vengeance. Can Wrathgar find the evil priest and keep him alive long enough to prove Piotr's innocence? And why does the priest want the exorcist's dagger in the first place? What is so special about it?

The priest isn't the only one looking for the dagger either. Corrupt town guards, the captain of the town guard, and a criminal underground of Xarsians who love their gladiator fights and crucifying people are also looking for the dagger. They will stop at nothing to get it. Trapped in the middle is the prizefighting boxer Boris, the traumatized smith's apprentice Burian, and the gnome Bizbald, who always seems to show up when trouble or gold is involved.

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