The Step-by-Step of Epic Fantasy

Part Three

Chapter 14

Like many chapters in an Epic Fantasy novel (see chapter 2 especially), this will not necessarily be one chapter, as the final battle and its aftermath is the entirety of Part Three, and having Part Three be only two chapters would be rather…lame.

The Evil Overlord's Army, as appeared in Chapter 13 above, attacks the stronghold or encampment of the King's Army, as appeared in Chapter 12. The fact that the reader has only learned of either of these armies two chapters ago or less should not lessen the involvement they feel in this epic battle, as characters they barely know fight to the death.

Speaking of death: who typically makes it through this last great battle? Well, it depends on the book, but here are some guidelines:

The Protagonist/MC/Chosen One: Obviously, the MC has a guarantee of survival through the first two Books. Normally they emerge with only a few rugged scratches, but more debilitating injuries have been known to occur (any inconvenience they cause usually goes away quickly, or at least before it could hamper the plot). Rarely, the MC will not survive the final battle of Book Three, though this seems to be more popular in movies (also, the MC occasionally comes back). Any injuries and/or deaths the MC may experience will come from named, evil characters, generally their nemesis, and will be received doing something heroic, often involving a sacrifice to save a character who, though dear to the MC and possibly the audience, generally isn't that important to the cause of their side.

Love Interest: Traditionally, Love Interests changed with each book, and what better way to go out with the old than to die in battle? However, in more modern epics, the love—or even the interest—doesn't really get going until Book 2, so it's likely the Love Interest will survive without serious injuries.

The Replacement to the Old Mentor: Being younger, the Replacement is not necessarily fated to go the way of their predecessor, but as the MC will be picking up a new mentor close to the beginning of Book 2 all bets are off. For that matter, the mentor picked up in Book Two rarely lasts until the final book. Mentoring isn't a safe habit. You pass on your skills to the next generation—while you still can.

The Member of the Army: A 'possible' character from Chapter 11 or 12. He generally gets a gruesome injury to demonstrate the sort of gruesome injuries that occur in epic battles, but as he is one of the few characters in the King's Army who has a name (but what about the General? you ask—oh, just wait), it is unlikely he will die.

The General of the King's Army: Always dies.

The General of the Enemy Army: Kaput, unless he's the MC's nemesis. But look, one of the Evil Overlord's Employees with a name has to die in this book, and who do the odds say it'll be?

Note that in Book Three, the General of the Enemy Army IS the Evil Overlord. If he does not die or at least be put out of commission permanently, you did not just read/write an Epic Fantasy novel. Nice try.

The King's Army, Generally: Survives, with one or two minor characters dying for the sake of reader sympathy. As this Army is almost all the MC has going for them by the middle of Book 2, it would be cruel to remove them entirely. No, that happens at the end of Book 2.

The Army of the Evil Overlord, Generally: Wiped out.

Chapter 15

A good place to clean up loose ends. In Book Three, it is always called an 'Epilogue.'The Epilogue really just shows how happy everyone has become ten or fifteen years in the future, after all the psychic scars have healed, or at least after the psychic gaping wounds stop oozing.

With the General of the King's Army dead, someone needs to take charge. Any named, surviving members of the King's Army will do for a replacement. The MC will not take over the Army, preferring to work on their own. And seeing how they generally take direction, and assuming from that how they would give it, this is perhaps best.

In Book One, the MC and Love Interest should have some definite spark by this last chapter. If they do not, it is a flaw, but does not mean they won't show some sparks by the beginning of Book Two.

This concludes the Step-By-Step Guide to Epic Fantasy. I do hope it has been of some assistance, and apologize for the fact that it is not nearly the length of most Epics (for that matter, if anyone feels they could do a better Step-By-Step, or a Step-By-Step of a different genre, they're absolutely welcome, encouraged even on my part, to do it. I won't cry foul, I'd actually like reading one myself rather than writing it).

Oh dear. There appears to be some parenthetical gloss on the text.

A Last Note: The 'Non-Epic' Fantasy.

This is generally called 'Urban' Fantasy. Being more modern, it does not follow a Step-by-Step pattern as well as Epic Fantasy does, but a sample plot for a short urban fantasy story should suffice to give some familiarity with the genre. Imagine the protagonist driving, thinking of their little sister who is dying of cancer. Preoccupied, they hit and injure a pedestrian, who happens to be an elf. The elf is taken to the hospital, and the protagonist continues thinking about their little sister, sometimes going on tangents on their financial circumstances, their sex life, or the rest of their family, who are not nearly as sympathetic as the little sister. The elf dies. The little sister dies. The end.

This is really only one of the many potential plots: the only essential ingredients are elves and cancer. In fact, and urban fantasy story could even be about an elf with cancer. The possibilities are endless.