Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam and Wizard's First Rule: The Ultimate Showdown

Something that's been around for a few years but has more or less languished in obscurity is The Fantasy Novelist's Exam. It consists of 75 yes/no questions any prospective author should ask him- or herself before writing a fantasy novel. An answer of "yes" to so much as - get this - one of the questions "results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once." This isn't a traditional high-school test, in which either 50% or 60% (depending where you are) connotes a pass, nor is it an occupational test sitting in the 70-80% range. Not in the least. A normally sterling 74/75 will fail you this test.

As I haven't written a full-length work of fantasy in a number of years, and probably never will again, I sadly can't nominate any of my work to be put through it. What I can nominate, however, is Wizard's First Rule, which I reviewed here last year. The book is the first book in the Sword of Truth series. For those unconvinced of how steeped in the genre this book is, I quote the author text from Reed Business:

The protective barrier that separates Westland from its neighbors to the east is about to fall, letting loose a monstrous evil upon the world. Only the combined efforts of a young man dedicated to finding the truth, an enigmatic woman intent on concealing her past, and a crusty old hermit resigned to his inevitable destiny can prevent the opening of the three boxes of Orden-an event with the potential to destroy existence itself. The inclusion of graphic scenes of sado-eroticism, though integral to the story, may deter purchase by some libraries. Nevertheless, this first novel offers an intriguing variant on the standard fantasy quest. The richly detailed world and complex characters will appeal to mature fantasy aficionados.

It's an interesting exam and a fun book. The combination of the two will probably result in something akin to the famed death of short-lived Simpsons robot Linguo. Here are the question numbers corresponding to "yes", as done for Wizard's First Rule:

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
14, 15, 16, 17, 19
26, 27, 28, 29, 30
32, 33 in a way, 36, 37, 38, 39
47, 48, 49, 50
52, 55, 56, 57
60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 70, 72

That's a solid 40/75, or, to invert the score like I did above, 35/75. On a test requiring 74/75 (.987) to pass, Wizard's First Rule got a lowly 35/75 (.467). None of this should be considered surprising.

So, basically, if you're going to write a fantasy novel, either avoid all the items on the list or hit as many as you can with such extreme audacity no one's reaction will matter? That should do fine.

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