1) Medieval Europe
High Fantasy is almost synonymous with the medieval era these days. I don’t find this a big problem as I love this period. It’s familiar to me so I already know how it functions, mostly. The king has absolute power and gives some to the lords so they can keep the peasants in line.
The best example of a successful Eurocentric series is the Game of Thrones series. In that series, powerful houses battle for supremacy to sit on the world’s most uncomfortable chair – the Iron Throne.
What I am NOT saying is that we should only read or watch series and movies based around medieval Europe. I’ve also enjoyed shows and books during modern times, feudal Japan, Imperial China and I’m currently beta reading for a wonderful writer who has based her novel around Zambia. But medieval Europe has its place and perhaps always will. Perhaps.
2) The Legendary Weapon
Anaklusmos. Excalibur. Mjölnir. Every hero needs their named weapons.
One of my favourite legendary weapons in literature is anaklusmos, otherwise known as Riptide, given to Percy Jackson in the Lightning Thief. As the author, Rick Riordan, had chosen to write it as an urban fantasy series it was essential that the sword could blend in to its surroundings. So, courtesy of the Mist (the thing that made mortals unable to see the monsters and magic of Percy’s world) anaklusmos could turn into a pen. To activate the sword, Percy had to uncap the lid (not click the pen, as in the awful movies!)
The problem with legendary weapons comes when the power levels of the weapon is too high and too few heroes own one. Added with the fact that many legendary weapons such as Mjölnir (in the MCU, anyway) can only be weilded by one who is “worthy”, and you set your wielder up to be a special snowflake is too powerful for their own good.
3) The Prophecy
A Half-Blood of the eldest gods,
Shall reach sixteen against all odds,
And see the world in endless sleep.
The hero’s soul, cursed blade shall reap,
A single choice shall end his days,
Olympus to preserve or raze.
– Rick Riordan
Call me old fashioned, but I love a good prophecy, complete with a little poem. That’s not to say I like predictability, however. I love a prophecy that unfolds in a manner I’m not expecting.