I'm not a fan, I must admit. I'll do it when I have to, but too many years of traipsing through rough terrain have turned my knees to biscuits – they're firm to look at but crumble easily. A sedan chair would be a boon in this day and age, but no matter how generous the wages I'm sure I'd be accused of exploiting the proletariat. Huh, that's progress for you.
Whatever my perambulatory problems though, I'm delighted I don't live in a generic fantasy world. There's a lot of walking to be done in those. Traipsing about on foot (or horse, which presents its own problems) seems to have become de rigueur, with or without the mortis.
And that's the killer, so to speak.
Consider the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake. The action occurs in a castle for the most part, but the reader is never left thinking 'what's the point of this, then?'
And that's one of the most annoying things about fantasy novels today. They don't seem to have been spawned purely from an idea or a philosophy. Rather, the authors have immediately bent their minds to world creation, no doubt spending much time fleshing out a perfectly-realised planet on which their characters can congregate but never thinking to themselves: is any of this really necessary?
In most cases, I believe, the answer is no. Flitting from A to B and eventually to Z may be great for boosting word count, but it seldom serves any useful purpose. Indeed, most trilogies could happily lose all of the second book and a fifth of the third and the reader would be just as happy.
Characters matter in a work of fiction. They decide whether we choose to continue reading. Setting is secondary, and should only be there as a backdrop. Unless you intend to do a Peake and make the setting a character in itself, there's no need for it to take up so much space on a page.
I'd like to think I'm not alone in my view, though it's always a possibility (shock! horror!) So what do you think, fellow fans? Is fiction (regardless of genre) best set on a small stage with limited furniture, or have I finally lost touch with reality (or, in this case, fantasy)?