silentcrown Presents: Grimdark Fantasy

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Hi there! I'm Ana, also known as silentcrown. This is the second time I've been featured in the Block Party — so I'm excited to be here, and thankful to KellyAnneBlount for giving me the chance to be. The post below is my attempt to define Grimdark Fantasy, and to present its existence to new authors and readers. I hope you enjoy!


"One for the slum

Two for the crown

Three for the rags

Four for the gown

Five for the rebel

Six for the king

Seven for the war

In which the dead sing..."

Revolution marched its way to the palace.

It was as if a wave of carmine and obsidian had burst through the city's streets, hollering, howling, brandishing weaponry of every known kind. Hundreds of crimson-hooded rebels shadowed their leader, who bore an onyx mask over his features. Some whispered that he bore a mask over his soul.

As soldiers scattered, the revolution stormed past the palace gates. It was a torrent — one of gritted teeth, clenching fists, glimmering blades, and sparking firearms. It did not pause until it stood before the king, who fell to his knees and trembled with fear. He blubbered, he wept, and he cursed the rebels 'til he could speak no more. He would have been a pitiful sight to the empire. The revolution's leader knelt beside the king, unwavering, and tore the mask off his own features.

As the king's life ebbed to nothing, all in the palace saw the face of a dead man. For it was death himself who'd come to bring ruination to the crown.

The notion of Grimdark Fantasy shows that humanity is flawed. It allows us to imagine a world which didn't end well, where the light of a better tomorrow has been dimmed by bloodshed, misery, and despair.

It would be wise not to read grimdark tales to young children.

Let us erase the shine off of every knight, strip the maidens of their purity. There will be no high kings and heroes, no destined saviors, and no wise sorcerers to guide their way. Ash has buried the happily ever afters, war has torn apart children's innocence and joy, and the empire — one which used to glimmer with sunlight — glimmers now only with blood.

Instead of black and white, the pages you read have been stained red and grey, for grimdark has crawled from the shadows.

Now, how could one possibly wish for such novels to exist? Are they not wary, disgusted, afraid of them?

In truth, these tales have been around since at least William Shakespeare. Although the term "grimdark" is recent, the writing style is nothing new, merely renamed by history. One of the earliest examples is Norse mythology. And the writings of people such as Robert E. Howard, James A. Moore, Mark Lawrence, and George R. R. Martin all range from the past to the present of grimdark fiction as well.

We do not often recognize the true subgenre for a simple reason — we feel the need to make characters likeable. We make them appear noble, give them a sympathetic cause, prove that they are the victims and that they can be forgiven. Because of this, many novels do end up with heroes, but that is a subgenre for another day.

You see, most tales speak of good versus evil. The heroic protagonists may experience darkness, yet the world is better after they've made their sacrifices, after they've fought their battles and defeated all that is grim. They might waltz one night with evil. But they will soon slay it, and bring about a peaceful future to their world.

Yet grimdark fantasy worlds, and the characters within them, may meet unfortunate ends. Those who do get through will not be unscathed, or unscarred. They will most certainly not be genuine heroes. They will often be the characters who held the bloodied blades, who lost their moral code, and who were forced to sacrifice their humanity in favor of survival.

Those who sacrifice the most will remain alive. Or not.

Now, why do I write grimdark fantasy? I'm not sure. It can force us all to ask the complex questions we avoid — not only about ourselves, but about the society and universe we live in. Unfortunately, humanity has always had a darker side. And grimdark fantasy makes us pause, because there are times when the unsettling things we see in it are reflected in our own world. After all, stories help us make sense of reality. Grimdark stories help us understand, and explore, the painful truths within it. They show us that there is no such thing as pure good or pure evil, that humans aren't simple, that life can be upsetting and perplexing and flawed.

And, though I know I haven't supported this much with everything above — grimdark shows us that, even in the worst kind of existence, there may still be a shred left of hope.


To celebrate the #WattpadBlockParty, I'm giving away shout-outs to two lucky winners! This giveaway is open internationally. The link will be posted at the bottom of this chapter, as well as on my profile.

Leave a comment and recieve an online hug from yours truly,

Anastasia Ledyaeva <3




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