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Mad Lib Fantasy Title
"There are three hundred [stories on this site] with the word "chronicles", more if you include misspellings, almost as many with "begins" and "beginning", and god knows how many "Character Name"'s whatever. There are almost five hundred with "legend". There are over eight hundred with "journey", seven hundred and fifty with "story", two hundred with "quest", and nine hundred and fifty with "adventure". [...] What I'm getting at here is that you want to choose an original title that has to do with your story in particular, not something that indicates it's yet another story [...]."
Farla, on this trope's usage in Pokémon fan fiction

It's not easy coming up with a compelling title for a story, especially if you are trying to convey the idea that the story is big, somehow important. A title that is too blunt, ŕ la Snakes on a Plane, might work for an action romp or a comedy, but for drama, high adventure, and anything that tries to be important, there needs to be something else. Something that sounds meaningful.

Time to put some Meaningless Meaningful Words in there.

You know the words. Eternal, Ever, Dark, Chronicles... those words. They are used an awful lot, especially in fantasy fiction. They are used so much that they have probably lost all meaning, partly due to being used way too much by internet people who are hung up on creating A Darker Me.

That doesn't stop people from using them anyway, to try to let everyone know that, yes, this particular adventure is indeed Epic, and you'd better know it. It doesn't mean that it's a bad story either, just that the author couldn't think of a name.

Here's a challenge: Head to your local bookstore and try to find a book on the fantasy rack that doesn't use one of the following buzzwords in its title:

  • Metafictional descriptors aiming to present the book as something more epic: Chronicle, Saga, Legend, Tale, Fable, Song, Ballad
    • Dramatic events: Adventure, Quest, Journey, Beginning, End, Rise, Fall, Conquest, War
    • Bonus points for biblical references: Genesis, Testament, Exodus
  • Fantasy settings and locations: Castle, Fortress, Tower, Kingdom, Empire, Realm
    • As well as the actual names of the locales in question
  • Stock character classes: Warrior, Assassin, Thief, Hunter, Knight, Mage/Sorcerer/Wizard/Witch/Magician/Warlock, etc.
    • Also titles of authority: King, Prince, Lord
  • Supernatural creatures: God/Goddess, Demon, Dragon, Ghost, Phantom, Spirit
  • Weapons (Sword, Dagger, Blade) or other assorted McGuffins (Ring, Crown, Amulet, Throne)
  • Gems and metals - Steel, Diamond, Gold, Mythril
  • Mystical concepts - Dream, Spell, Curse, Chaos, Omen, Prophecy, Destiny, Oath
  • Time and space on a grand scale - Age, Eon, Epoch, Sun, Moon, Star, Infinity, Eternity
  • Extended table of magical elements - Fire, Air, Wind, Lightning, Stone, Ice, Light, Dark, Life, Death
  • Emotionally charged words - Heart, Soul, Tears, Sorrow, Wrath

  • Bonus points for finding a vampire series that doesn't have at least one volume with Blood, Night, or both.
    • Ditto with werewolves and Moon.

These have a tendency to get tossed willy-nilly into Character Name and the Noun Phrase or The X of Y naming schemes.

Incidentally, an easier way to come up with a title is "The Dark (Noun)". For instance: The Dark Cushion, The Dark Burrito, The Dark Tower, etc. Compare Mad Lib Thriller Title.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

Due to the prevailing view that using English in the title is cool, fantasy mangaka find it difficult to not lean towards this trope.

Fan Fiction
  • As Farla points out, this is very common in Pokémon fan fiction, with the words "Pokémon", "chronicles", "beginning", "Character Name'', "legend", "journey", "story", "quest", "adventure", "saga", "region", "champion" and the names of the series' regions all cropping up in hundreds of different fics.

Film

Film adaptations of fantasy literature used to avert this trope for fear of "alienating mainstream audiences". Nowadays, they play it straight using the title of the original work, or even err in the opposite direction.

Literature
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Dragonlance Chronicles. Oh, where to begin... The Dark Disciple Trilogy: Amber and Ashes, Amber and Iron, Amber and Blood; The War of Souls Trilogy: Dragons of a Fallen Sun, Dragons of a Lost Star, Dragons of a Vanished Moon; The Lost Chronicles: Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, Dragons of the Highlord Skies, Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (not released); Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning, Dragons of Summer Flame.
    • Also by Weis and Hickman, The Death Gate Cycle, comprising Dragon Wing, Elven Star, Fire Sea, Serpent Mage, The Hand of Chaos and The Seventh Gate.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles and Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The in-universe final title of the book decided on by Frodo is The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons
  • The Sword of Truth: Wizard's First Rule, Stone of Tears, Temple of the Winds, Soul of the Fire, Faith of the Fallen, Naked Empire
  • The Belgariad and Mallorean books
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, and Ptolemy's Gate
  • Dragaera: The Paths of the Dead and The Lord of Castle Black
  • The Dark Tower
  • Discworld: The Colour of Magic, Sourcery (yay puns!), Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Thief of Time, Troll Bridge (short story)
  • The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest
  • Referenced in The Well of Lost Plots, where the unfinished fantasy novel set apart as a literary wildlife reserve (with many poor abandoned unicorns) is called The Sword of the Zenobians
  • Dragonriders of Pern
  • Shannara series:
    • First King of...
    • Sword of...
    • Elfstones of... arguably comes under "gems", and certainly under MacGuffin
    • Wishsong of...
    • Elf Queen of...
    • Druid of... (Druid/druidry isn't mentioned in the list of magic users above, but it's the same principle)
    • Talismans of...
    • The three novels in Voyage of the Jerle Shanarra are all named after the Big Bad and the first one has "Witch" in the title as well.
    • As is the last novel in the High Druid of... trilogy. The others are named after a parallel world (country) and a magic tree (MacGuffin).
    • Dark Wraith of...
  • RA Salvatore's Drizzt novels:
  • Harry Potter and the....name of the book.
  • Double points for Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness duology (Trickster's Choice, Trickster's Queen), as the Trickster is a god.
    • A lot of Pierce's stuff, actually, including: Alanna; The First Adventure, In The Hand of the Goddess, Wild Magic, The Realms of the Gods, The Magic in the Weaving, The Healing in the Vine, Magic Steps, Street Magic, The Will of the Empress and Lady Knight. Phew.
    • Or the alternate titles of the first four arcs of the Circle of Magic series:
      • Sandry's Book
      • Tris's Book
      • Daja's Book
      • Briar's Book
  • The vampire series that doesn't use Blood or Night: Twilight. (And even then Twilight, New Moon and Breaking Dawn are still on the "night" theme.)
  • Elizabeth Haydon's "Symphony of Ages" trilogy.
    • Book 1: Rhapsody, fits in with the "Song or Ballad" qualification.
    • Book 2: Prophecy
    • Book 3: Destiny
  • Raymond E Feist avoided this in his earlier works (Magician, Silverthorn, Faerie Tale) but his later series are all about this trope. Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire. Serpentwar Saga: Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, Shards of a Broken Crown; etc.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power that Preserves.
  • Neverwhere.
  • Everlost, and its sequals, Everwild and Everfound.
  • Shadows of the Apt pulls this off both with the series title and most of the individual books:
    • Empire in Black and Gold
    • Dragonfly Falling
    • Salute the Dark
    • Books 3 and 5 kinda-sorta-semi avert it, though- Blood of the Mantis isn't about vampires, and The Scarab Path doesn't even come close to any of them.
  • Parodied by John Scalzi with The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City, found here. Books two and three in the trilogy would be Dark Blood Magic and Dream World of the Fire Wolf respectively, if they existed. This title came from Scalzi's publisher compiling the most popular words in fantasy titles and determining that this was the ultimate title. Scalzi promptly decided to defictionalize it as an April Fools joke. For which he was paid... in bacon.
  • The Wheel of Time series has - The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, Knife of Dreams and A Crown of Swords.
  • Wicked Lovely itself escapes this trope (being more of a Word Salad Title), as does Ink Exchange. The we have Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows, and Darkest Mercy.
  • Steven Erikson tends to avert this with his Malazan Book of the Fallen series by using more descriptive and specific titles: Memories of Ice, The Bonehunters, Dust of Dreams. He does seem fond of the '<blank> of <blank>' construction, though.

Music
  • You can count on Heavy Mithril bands to embrace this trope lovingly, not only in titles but in lyrics too.
  • The song "Magic of the Wizard's Dream" by Rhapsody (aka Rhapsody of Fire) certainly counts. If the title itself wasn't enough, a solid three fourths of the lyrics (ab)use these buzzwords.
    • Hell, you'd be hard pressed to find a Rhapsody of Fire album or song title that doesn't. Even more so, ridiculously many of them are in a "Noun Of Adjective Noun" format, with the nouns and adjectives seemingly randomly picked from the list.
    • The band's name itself falls under this trope (especially the "of Fire" version).
  • Dragonforce's songs tend to embody this trope.
  • Bal-Sagoth take this trope Up to Eleven with songs like "The Splendour of a Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath the Blazon of the Hyperborean Empire, Part II: The Dark Liege of Chaos is Unleashed at the Ensorcelled Shrine of A'zura-Kai".

Tabletop Games

Toys
  • BIONICLE loves these. The three book series were called Bionicle Chronicles, Adventures and Legends. Notable individual titles include Reign of Shadows, Dark Destiny, Journey's End, The Yesterday Quest, The Legend Reborn, The Fall of Atero, The Mask of Light, Swamp of Secrets, The Mata Nui Saga, Sahmad's Tale, The Fall and Rise of the Skrall...

Video Games

Webcomics
  • Honorable parody mention. Penny Arcade's second book: Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings.
    • That is actually a reference to Epic Legends of the Hierarch: The Elemenstor Saga, a collaborative wiki founded by Tycho. It does feature Magic Sword Kings.
    • Of this oeuvre is titled Song of the Sorcelator: Return of the Witchaloks II, starring Kiefer Sutherland. And Ludacris.
      • That travesty is the puview of the rabid, festering, moron, L. H. Franzibald. May he suffer strange maladies of the scrotal variety.
    • Also, Lord of the God-Kings.
    • Tycho gets into it a bit with Dungeons & Dragons, mentioning "Shadowfell". When Gabe asks "Doesn't that mean 'Darkbad'?", Tycho explains that Darkbad is below Shadowfell, and draws a diagram for the incredulous Gabe.

Web Original


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