Here’s something I’ve been meaning to write for a while. (Yes, it is mostly inspired by my reading of Oathbringer)
A lot of high fantasy is grounded in some sort of reality. Typically, you’ll find it’s based on medieval Europe which is, in itself, becoming tired and overused. There are authors who stray from that (though a majority of them I have yet to read) and showcase cultures that aren’t based on Europe, but, where do we draw the line?
I’m going to focus on Sanderson only because he’s the only author I’ve read (so far) who doesn’t base his stories on medieval Europe. Quite honestly, while I do like seeing more cultures represented, I sometimes feel like he goes overboard. I don’t think he’s offensive in the way he does things (I certainly thought his obviously Latino based culture was pretty great – I’m Latina, btw), however…can’t he be just a little more creative with his cultures? It gets pretty obvious very quickly which Earthly cultures he’s basing Roshar cultures on and there have been plenty of times I felt like he could have just as easily created something unique to his world alone.
Writing is hard. I’m not going to pretend it’s not difficult to create new cultures and worlds from scratch – I’ve been there, I am there – which is exactly why we base them on already existing cultures. However, I am of the mindset that we fantasy writers have a license to depart from those bases as much as we want. We can mix & mingle and we can make up things that we don’t see on this world because of the unique history in the ones we created.
While I do adore Sanderson and what he and others are doing, I think we can push the boundaries of high fantasy even further.