Over on a forum I'm a member of, the fantastic Absolutewrite.com, the question has been asked: Is there a market for high fantasy anymore?
It is an interesting question. It is always a challenge to get agented and published (though agents and publishers say a basic grasp of grammar will take you a long way in the slush pile) but some writers are saying high fantasy is getting harder and harder to break into.
This is strange considering high fantasy is one of the most popular genres. Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, The Belgariad, A Song of Ice and Fire and The Sword of Truth are massive worldwide. It seems whenever a high fantasy epic comes along it is devoured by fans in an instant.
Word on the metaphorical street is "Tolkienesque" fantasy is on the wane. "Tolkienesque" fantasy encompasses different things depending on who you talk to, but that is a whole new post. I suspect this view is largely due to snobbery from some writers, along with some writer's hate towards farmboy saves the world. Looking at the list above, I see some very popular farmboys. Of course, Jordan gave his farmboy and his prophecies some twists, but I digress.
"Tokienesque" and farmboy fantasy (sometimes they are labelled as being the same) are selling. So is fantasy along the lines of A Song of Ice and Fire. There appears to be room for everything. Millions of fans are waiting patiently for Jordan's Towers of Midnight and Martin's A Dance with Dragons.
A counter argument is the men above started their series in the 1990s, which is up to twenty years ago. They say today is all about urban fantasy.
It is a decent arugment, but Brandon Sanderson (who is finishing The Wheel of Time for Jordan) is about to release The Ways of Kings, an epic high fantasy projected to last ten installments. If the 90s classics (and indeed, LOTR is still as popular today as ever) are still selling in droves, I think the market is keen for more.
Then there is the approaching void in the general fantasy market. Twilight, Harry Potter, and Sword of Truth are finished. In three or four years The Wheel of Time will end. Who knows, maybe even Martin will finish ASoIaF. High fantasy fans will want new material.
Now the torch is being passed, what do the fans want in high fantasy? We've heard writers beg for new ideas in the market, but the market at the moment is devouring everything. Would you like more of the same, more of the same with a twist, something mind blowing orginal, or a mixture of both?
I would also be genuinely interested to hear the views of an agent or an editor on this. They're readers too, and it's thanks to their efforts we get the opportunity to share our work with the world. Does the industry have any particular likes and dislikes?