Do Dwarves still have a place in modern fantasy? - Page 2


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Thread: Do Dwarves still have a place in modern fantasy?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by RWK View Post
    There are numerous books using Dwarves as primary characters. The Black Library put out numerous.

    Other than a slower ground speed, Dwarves have no drawbacks; I've had no problem depicting them in the books I've included them in. They feature as both primary and second characters.
    You're right about the sling.

    What value do you find in dwarves? Why is your character one? Is there something I'm missing that is explored using one?
    Elves explore pride, beauty, immortality, nature, corruption. Undead explore the cost of power and immortality, the soul, death, afterlife, God. Fairies explore nature, magic, vulnerability, new perspectives. Beastmen look at the divide between human and animal. Their race gives you greater depth and meaning to their stories, beyond their character or culture. I'm struggling to see what a dwarf brings to the table that something else doesn't. From what I've read and seen they function like humans, but with new customs. Why not just have a human then? Or something else?

    The usual 'hook' I've read for dwarves is the 'forgotten city'. Who built this, where did they go, what happened to them? The answer is 'greed'. Greed can be developed with other races just as well. Or the 'fish out of water' humour. 'Doesn't the sky look strange?' haha, they lived underground and couldn't see the sky so they're nervous!

    I think dwarves require more effort to become interesting to me, making them harder to write. They don't have that fantastical pull which dragons etc have.

    I dunno, maybe I'm not ready for that hot dwarf on dwarf romance just yet.

  2. #12
    At least one contemporary fantasy mag openly complains about people sending in too many stories about dwarves. So the trope can't be completely dead.
    What value do you find in dwarves?


    HAIL DURIN THE DEATHLESS ugh this song makes me cry every time
    But seriously, who doesn't love dwarves? Love of dwarves is the love of mountains, of faded glory and twisting caverns, of clever machines and fine weaponry and fearless bearded warriors.
    Dead by Dawn!

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Razzy View Post
    You're right about the sling.

    What value do you find in dwarves? Why is your character one? Is there something I'm missing that is explored using one?
    Elves explore pride, beauty, immortality, nature, corruption. Undead explore the cost of power and immortality, the soul, death, afterlife, God. Fairies explore nature, magic, vulnerability, new perspectives. Beastmen look at the divide between human and animal. Their race gives you greater depth and meaning to their stories, beyond their character or culture. I'm struggling to see what a dwarf brings to the table that something else doesn't. From what I've read and seen they function like humans, but with new customs. Why not just have a human then? Or something else?

    The usual 'hook' I've read for dwarves is the 'forgotten city'. Who built this, where did they go, what happened to them? The answer is 'greed'. Greed can be developed with other races just as well. Or the 'fish out of water' humour. 'Doesn't the sky look strange?' haha, they lived underground and couldn't see the sky so they're nervous!

    I think dwarves require more effort to become interesting to me, making them harder to write. They don't have that fantastical pull which dragons etc have.

    I dunno, maybe I'm not ready for that hot dwarf on dwarf romance just yet.
    Elves are just perverts lurking around in glades molesting anything with fur.

    Dwarves create beauty, whether it cities hewn from the living rock, to weapons crafted with loving care. They value honor and grudges, and delight in war.

    The key to non-Human/demi-Human races IMO is that they are a blank canvas. You can take them and make them what you will, and there are none to gainsay. A sling is a sling always, but an Elf or Dwarf can be whatever you wish to make of it. Tolkien set an example, but it is not the definitive one.

    That's how I see it, anyway.
    Never pet a burning dog.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Razzy View Post
    Fantasy dwarven race does NOT mean a person with dwarfism. They are two completely separate things and should not be equated to one another.
    The issue is more related to the language, I think.

    'Dwarfism' is a medical diagnosis that real people have, so a book in which negative stereotypes get attached under the label of 'dwarfism' is something some readers (including, and perhaps especially, publishers) might find unpalatable in 2020. For instance, it is a very fine line between having the fantasy race of dwarfs be described as 'ill-tempered' and not getting into the weeds with stereotypes relating to 'short man syndrome' in the real world. So, while fantasy dwarves and real-world people with dwarfism are obviously different, there's undoubtedly a possibility of one fueling assumptions of the other.

    It's a little bit like how back in the day it was the norm to have villains have some 'horrible' disfigurement. Pirates with eye patches, hooks for hands, missing legs. Anybody with a brain knows that Captain Hook was not a reflection of real people who have lost a hand however the fact the disability was treated as an intrinsic part of his 'badness', something to be repulsed by or afraid of, undoubtedly fuels the subconscious notion that virtue is somehow linked to the absence of a physical disfigurement, and vice versa.

    Regarding the main point, I feel that dwarves (and elves, dragons, orcs, etc) don't really have a place in much fantasy anymore. At least, not in fantasy that aims to actually be original. All that stuff seems terminally gummed up in cliche. It's at the point I don't even find myself partial to any medieval or Tolkien-esque fantasy (unless it drastically compensates for its lack of originality) and that's despite really liking the setting. At a certain point, we have to surely move on from these things, don't we?

    Maybe not. All I know is, if I see elves or dwarves in the blurb UNLESS there's some clue that the story is going to use them in an incredibly interesting or unique way, I'm likely to think the book is going to be poorly imagined or just downright lazy, the writer just another neckbeard who wants to base his creative oeuvre on Tolkien and a world based on role-playing games. Cue Robert Stanek. Cue Robert Newcomb. Cue Terry Goodkind and his Ayn Rand garbage. Cue Eragon. Cue The Eye of Argon which is so terrible it's actually genius and I highly recommend it for a drunk night's comedy. Cue a thousand others. Unfortunately, fantasy is something of a cesspool when it comes to derivative crap.
    Last edited by luckyscars; May 25th, 2020 at 05:58 AM.

  5. #15
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    Last edited by Biro; May 25th, 2020 at 09:41 AM.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by RWK View Post
    Elves are just perverts lurking around in glades molesting anything with fur.

    Dwarves create beauty, whether it cities hewn from the living rock, to weapons crafted with loving care. They value honor and grudges, and delight in war.
    .
    On the subject of stereotypes, Dwarves and humans are both mortal races, humans do or have historically done mining, created weapons with loving care, some valued honour and grudges, both grow beards, neither are typically associated with being magical (I certainly have no magic powers, no human I know does), dwarves are more about runes giving them resistance to magic.

    I can see a writer of humans including dwarves to make a point about species-ism and bigotry, but the line between a dwarf-ish culture of humans and actual dwarves seems thin.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by BornForBurning View Post
    At least one contemporary fantasy mag openly complains about people sending in too many stories about dwarves. So the trope can't be completely dead.

    HAIL DURIN THE DEATHLESS ugh this song makes me cry every time
    But seriously, who doesn't love dwarves? Love of dwarves is the love of mountains, of faded glory and twisting caverns, of clever machines and fine weaponry and fearless bearded warriors.
    Lol see if you can spot the massive panic I had about this exact subject in SoE


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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Annoying kid View Post
    On the subject of stereotypes, Dwarves and humans are both mortal races, humans do or have historically done mining, created weapons with loving care, some valued honour and grudges, both grow beards, neither are typically associated with being magical (I certainly have no magic powers, no human I know does), dwarves are more about runes giving them resistance to magic.

    I can see a writer of humans including dwarves to make a point about species-ism and bigotry, but the line between a dwarf-ish culture of humans and actual dwarves seems thin.
    That's where world-building comes in. Like any other subject in your work, it is up to the author to make them come alive.

    Countless books have made Dwarves (and other races) vibrant and separate from Humans.
    Never pet a burning dog.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornForBurning View Post
    At least one contemporary fantasy mag openly complains about people sending in too many stories about dwarves. So the trope can't be completely dead.




    HAIL DURIN THE DEATHLESS ugh this song makes me cry every time
    But seriously, who doesn't love dwarves? Love of dwarves is the love of mountains, of faded glory and twisting caverns, of clever machines and fine weaponry and fearless bearded warriors.
    Totally agree w this song. Hauntingly beautiful.
    Some girls are made of Supernova’s,Moonbeam dances ,Stardust sprinkles,Forest Witches and Crows Kisses ~ RR

  10. #20
    They could be written well. One trope has them as geniuses at the craft and art of building machines. It is the character personality that when constructed correctly is what works for the reader. They've been reinvented countless times just like dark and light elves. Terry Pratchett's discworld series are well known for their dwarves since they are supposedly funny characters.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
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