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Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab

Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Naming Fantasy Novels: Titles That Hold Your Mind Ransom To Itself

There are some fantasy titles that hold your mind hostage, mercilessly, until your mind agrees to discover what that title is alluding to. As a reader, when a book is spine out on a shelf, the title will grab my attention as much as whatever aspect of the design I can see from the side.

And as a writer, I want to find a title that fills my reader with wonder and does my story justice. Naming characters, places, things, customs, celebrations, styles of clothes, food, and all the nitty-gritty stuff - I adore. I've gotten increasingly good at it, having practiced since I started writing at around 13. But naming titles of books - and I have NO idea why - has always been one of my great weaknesses. I normally give it a working title so that I can remember what story it is, and then just get on with the writing.

So let's pick a dozen books from my TBR list (mainly because I'm sure you're sick and tired of hearing about the fantasy books I adore, and if not then SEE THIS POST! =D I swear, I mention them every second post, though. Let talk about something new.) and analyse them. The focus is entirely on the titles, so I am ignoring whatever I know beforehand about the book.

1. The Slow Regard of Silent Things (A Kingkiller Chronicle Novella)
WOW. Doesn't that just make you want to own the book at once or cry? It's so intriguing, and the mention of 'silent things' is very mysterious.

2. Song of Blood & Stone: Volume 1 (Earthsinger Chronicles)
I admit, I am drawn to fantasy novels that "sing". A Song of Something or Song of Such and Such is such a popular, stylised title in fantasy. I'm sure you will recognise the series title A Song Of Ice and Fire. It's almost getting boring. Still, the part of me that doesn't roll my eyes at the predictability wants to read it anyway. Songs are magical and enchanting. Books are the same.

3. The Queen Of The Tearling
I'm also drawn to books about queens! Especially very fearsome or cunning queens - and I get the feeling from the cover I won't be disappointed. And what on earth is a Tearling?

4. The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series)
A magician? MADE OUT OF PAPER?! Haha I'm joking. But seriously O_O do they work on paper? With paper? Paper dolls? Does the magician eat paper? I need to know why the word magician - one of the most powerful figures in fantasy - is coupled with the word paper, one of the most fragile, boring substances unless it's being used to make something.

5. The Broken Eye
I've heard of eyes being a lot of things, but never 'broken'. My interest is piqued. Maybe it's a metaphor for a spyglass, or a telescope, or... contact lenses.

6. Sins of a Sovereignty: 1 (Amernia Fallen)
This interested me because it made me wonder all the ways a governing body or an authority can collapse. That would leads to chaos, wouldn't it? *rubs hands* Mwa ha ha.

7. The Thousand Names (Shadow Campaign 1)
I love books about names! I've always had a slight fascination (obsession?) with how they're used and how they are chosen, and I happened to have a lot of them. What sort of person has a THOUSAND of them, though? A great ruler, perhaps? Also, I adore the name of the series - The Shadow Campaign. Oooo. Very Assassin's Creed.

8. The Sin Eater's Daughter (Sin Eaters Daughter Trilogy 1)
... I get put off when too many books go on about sin and make it into a desirable thing. Sin is not cool. (Many erotica books use 'sin' in their titles - like Delightful Sin or Wrapped in a Bearskin of Sin or something bizarre (I made those up). Y'know, sometimes working in a bookstore teaches you things you'd rather not know.)

What drew me to this was the Eater part. Sin EATER? Also the story is about the daughter, which is akin to my own novel Karalan's Legacy. An old title of that novel was The Daughter Of The Man Who Defied Death. So I'd like to see what this book about eating is all about. If the father turns out to be absent from the story though, and this is just another YA romance and not a father-daughter bonding story, I'll be pretty pissed. Where are all the fantasy stories about family love? WHERE DA LOVE? =(

9. Who Fears Death
This stuck in my mind as once because the title is a disjointed phrase - not a word, not even a complete sentence. Which makes me want to ask... "Well, WHO fears death?" And I want to read and find out.

10. Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
MYSTERY! J'adore mystery. What has been long hidden?! So many possibilities! =D

11. Shades of Milk and Honey (The Glamourist Histories)
This title I like because it's highly unusual. In a way, it's very boring. It doesn't draw attention to a person, place or pivotal event in the story. But thinking about milk and honey swirled together is somehow quite a nice thought, like thinking about a bubble bath. I'd want to try this book.

12. Unwrapped Sky
One of my FAVOURITE titles. Those two words conjure so many images in my mind of what an unwrapped sky would look like. I see stars and curious lights and faraway planets without a hint of a cloud. It gives me the feeling of a journey, and who doesn't love an adventure? c:

Also, I'm getting a bit tired of fantasy books that start with 'The'.

What do all these titles have in common?

They are named after:

- THE PROTAGONIST - Their actual name, a metaphor, or a title. eg. The Paper Magician.
- A PHILOSOPHY OR TRAIT OF THE PROTAGONIST - (Auri DOES regard silent things.)
- AN EVENT - which should be included even though I haven't got an example here.

Ashana Lian .

Once again, thanks for reading. Which did you think were the most striking titles? Why do you think that might be? Comment below! 


  1. Ooh, interesting analysis. I'll have to remember these ideas for later! :D

    1. Me too! Chances are though, when I need it I'll forget I even wrote it. XD

  2. I love this! Titles really are important, just the same as I find covers important. Sometimes I can be entirely put off a book just because of the title. The Sin Eater's Daughter, I made the same judgement as you... that they were talking about a father. But it's not, it's the mother that's the Sin Eater. I don't know why we see daughter and assume the person must be the father and not the mother. Weird! The Slow Regard of Silent Things is one of the most amazing titles, I love that.

    1. OMG!! You're so right! I have no idea why I assumed it would be the father. I swear, now you've said that I'll never forget it XD Patrick Rothfuss has some amazing titles for his books. =D I wanted to write this post because my titles are quite awful. c: Thanks for your comment!

  3. The Paper Magician and Slow Regard of Silent Things really stood out to me!

    I think because mysterious books are the ones that really grab me. I like to think deeply and book titles like this offer promise of deep plots and characters. Hopefully they deliver on those promises too!

    1. Hi Bethany!
      I know exactly what you mean. I'm guilty of impulse-buying based on a title good enough to intrigue me that way. =o 9 times out of 10, I'm not disappointed!!


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