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Literature / Fantasy Encyclopedia

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The cover depicts the perfect place to find many of the creatures within...

"A guide to fabulous beasts and magical beings, from elves and dragons to vampires and wizards."

The Fantasy Encyclopedia by Judy Allen is a children's encyclopedia of numerous creatures and magic beings told in stories and myths. Contrary to potholes in the page quote, the book actually describes the origins of the entries and tells of them in their most traditional forms, and also compares those forms to the more modern depictions. A little over 130 pages long (not including the index or glossary) the book is filled with illustrations and descriptions of the creatures, as well as noting famous examples. Another feature of the book is a small box on certain pages that lists examples of the entries in books and movies, sort of like this site.

Contains a forward by Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus Triology. Also serves as a Mythbuster by showing how people long ago crafted tales through exaggerated descriptions of actual animals or occurrences (i.e. the Manticore being a Tiger), but also leaves some events ambiguous to their true nature.


The entries are sorted into chapters, in this order:

  • The Little People: Elves, dwarves, goblins, fairies and whatnot.
  • Elementals and Nature Spirits: Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Mysterious Animals: Creatures that have been around and discussed for thousands of years, and if they exist.
  • Fabulous Beasts: Here There Be Dragons...and sea monsters, and magic horses, and giant monster birds.
  • Mythical Beings: Crack open your Greek/Egyptian Mythology book. Also has mermaids.
  • Magic and Spells: Witches and Wizards and Sorcerors, oh my! Notable entries include Morgan Le Fay, Circe, and Merlin.
  • Shape-Shifters: A relatively short chapter, werebeasts galore.
  • The Undead: If the creepy title isn't enough, the dark illustration of a graveyard should help.
  • Ghosts and Spirits: Distinctively separate from The Undead in that the former are walking corpses.
  • Advertisement:
  • List of Creatures by Area: "Certain magicians and monsters were born and lived (or still live) in one location. It is those that are listed here."

This is not The Encyclopedia Of Fantasy from 1997.

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    Tropes Applying to the Whole Book 
  • All Myths Are True: The magical creatures AND the stories they originate from.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The book tries to include every creature from myth, legend, and folklore that it can. It is the "Fantasy Encyclopedia" of course.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Averted, the book keeps its documented creatures as close to the original sources as possible.
  • Public Domain Character: The book mentions several characters from myth and public domain literature. Oberon and Titania, Merlin, Circe, Dracula, the list goes on...
  • Scenery Porn: Some pages, particularly the openings of chapters, show beautiful landscapes and settings.
  • World of Weirdness: The creatures, beings, and magic are all implied to exist in the same world. There's even an index in the back saying which creatures live in which countries.

Tropes by Chapter:

     The Little People 
  • Creatures by Many Other Names: When talking of gnomes, this is mentioned for the connection between regular gnomes, garden gnomes, and dwarves:
    Gnomes are not at all like garden gnomes, which are actually dwarves, a mistake that began in early fairy tales.
  • The Fair Folk: From mischievous to downright evil. The majority of the first few pages of this chapter detail these elves.
  • Fairy Godmother: She's described as one of the few types of fairy to ever carry a Magic Wand.
  • Faux Flame: What a dwarf can appear as to miners.
  • Griping About Gremlins: There's an image of a gremlin flying an airplane. They are generally described as being little pests.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While goblins are usually mischievous and vicious, they are fond of children and will give wellbehaved children presents.
  • Leprechaun: They're mentioned to be rich fairy cobblers, and can trick the unwary who go after their gold.
  • Little People: The chapter is devoted to this concept, and every variety of it.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Actually, a bit of a mix-up. While they are miners and steelworkers, dwarves are bearded only because they are elderly. Also, every illustration of them features them looking more like Gnomes (which are discussed later). However, this statement comes off as a bit of ironic humor: "Dwarves are very helpful and are believed to be good fortune. However, it is wise to leave food for them and never to swear or even whistle when they are around."
  • Our Elves Are Different: Has a section titled "Light and Dark Elves", describing the light elves as beautiful and pleasant while the dark elves are not as beautiful and mischevous.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The chapter tells how they can range in size, appearance, and personality.

     Elementals and Nature Spirits 
  • Back from the Dead: The Green Man will return to life no matter how many times he's felled.
  • Elemental Embodiment: All of the Alchemic Elementals are featured on the chapter's first section, which also mentions Paracelcus as their creator.
    • Salamanders for Fire; the book also compares them to real life salamanders and why they wouldn't exactly work as fire elementals.
    • Sylphs for Air, which are described more as spirits than winged fairy-like creatures.
    • Undines/Nereids for Water.
    • Gnomes for Earth, although these look more like Jawas than stubby little fat guys with cone hats.
    • The spirits of the Eastern elements are mentioned as well:
      • A yellow phoenix for Earth.
      • A red pheasant for Fire.
      • A white tiger for Metal.
      • A black turtle for Water, sometimes with a serpent.
      • A green dragon for Wood.
  • Elemental Powers: Every nature spirit has powers that correspond to whatever object or element they embody.
  • Nature Spirit: Nymphs, dryads, and many others, such as the god Pan and the Green Man, aka the Leaf King.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're strange hooded figures; garden gnomes in fact depict dwarves.
  • Plant Person: Some spirits, most notably the Green Man, whose picture is a green man with a flowery and leafy crown and a thorn vine-wrapped sword.

    Mysterious Animals 
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Both are featured, with a positively terrifying illustration of a giant, horned sea serpent. Ironically enough, a photo caption actually says that Leviathan and Behemoth may have been based on the whale and the hippopotamus.
  • Sea Monster: A section of the chapter is devoted to them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A particularly frightening picture of a manticore is the illustration for the chapter's title page... and then it is never even mentioned in the rest of the chapter.

     Fabulous Beasts 

    Mythical Beings 

    Magic and Spells 
  • Black Magic: A section on this, "Sorcerers and Necromancers", including the Hand of Glory.
  • I Know Your True Name: Certain beings can be controlled if you know their true name.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Played with. The chapter notes several different types of magic, with varying consistencies.
  • Magic Cauldron: These are mentioned among other traditional witch's paraphenalia.
  • Magical Seventh Son: One way to obtain natural magic power is to be born a seventh child.
  • Ring of Power: The chapter explains these, and mentions King Solomon's as an example.
  • Squishy Wizard: Most of the magic-users shown are old men.


    The Undead 
  • Dem Bones: There is a section on skeletons and skulls.
  • Dracula: The man himself appears in the section section on vampires, along with a summary of the book and how he changed the depictions of later vampires.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Two sections for vampires: the first focuses on the older, coarser vampires of legend, and the second on Dracula and his ilk.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They have a chapter describing the various ways zombies have been created over time.

    Ghosts and Spirits 


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