I have always loved fantasy. SciFi and thrillers are great, but fantasy will always be my one true love. I read pretty broadly in the genre too. From sprawling epics like the Wheel of Time, to nice quick urban fantasy reads, I like a mixture. One thing I have come across in the past year or two is the rise of two new sub-genres; grimdark and noblebright.
The two terms originally came about in the gaming community and eventually expanded to book genres. Grimdark and noblebright have both been around for a fair while, but the terms have become more widely spread and more prominent over the past year or two. Thanks to some stellar authors like Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, and Miles Cameron, grimdark has by far become the more popular and widely used term. What exactly is encompassed within each of the sub-genres can be pretty vague and whether a book is considered grimdark or noblebright will vary depending on who you ask. I think C.J. Brightley put it best in her article on Noblebright.org:
The notion that the actions of one person can do little to improve this world in decline, that the forces of evil and inertia and temptation will ensure that all of us are doomed. The best we can hope for is a little struggle with morally ambiguous heroes to oppose danger and maybe rescue for a brief time a few others.
The notion that the actions of one person can make a difference, that even if the person is flawed and opposed by strong forces, he can (and wants to) rise to heroic actions that, even if they may cost him his life, improve the lives of others.
One thing that I have come to realize, is that a lot of people seem to think that you have to choose one or the other. Fans of grimdark will often slander noblebright saying that it is all just unicorns and rainbows and fans of noblebright will do the same of grimdark (obviously without the rainbows and unicorns. If someone can write a grimdark book with rainbows and unicorns in it, I would be seriously impressed). I see people insisting that if you like one, you cannot like the other. And I hear this from both authors and readers. But I’ve never understood why.
Both grimdark and noblebright are fantastic sub-genres and both have their place. I have books in both genres that I love. Miles Cameron’s ‘The Red Knight’ is a great book that I absolutely loved reading. Yes, it can be a bit dark and yes it can be violent, but it’s a great book. Even though I haven’t gotten to the other books in the series yet, I’ve already bought most of them and they are sitting on my shelf glaring at me. I also love Chris Riddel and Paul Stewarts ‘The Edge Chronicles.’ They are brilliant examples of noblebright and they definitely don’t have unicorns and rainbows in them and I have loved them since I first found them when I was a teenager.
And that is what really bugs me about this. I get that people have different tastes and like reading different things but given the broad range in both sub-genres, I’m sure if people gave it a try, they’d find something to enjoy in both.
Anyway, that’s the end of my mini-rant. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Drop me a comment below and tell me what you think!