There are five signs to watch out for to distinguish whether you’re reading an Epic Fantasy novel or just a regular Fantasy novel.
1. A map. This means you will be able to trace visually the long and sometimes circuitous voyage of the protagonist. They will move—née travel to distant lands.
2. A glossary. If the book you’re reading has a glossary, you’re in trouble. Now you know there’s enough in those pages that even the author thinks you won’t remember and is putting it all in the back of the book as a reminder.
3. Unnecessarily complicated names and titles favoring (but not always) the dreaded and frequently used double vowel combination “ae.”
4. A large cast of characters with equally confusing names and titles (sometimes appearing frustratingly similar to each other) that are related in some kind of vast, convoluted type of relationships so perplexing you begin to think you need a relationship tree or, perhaps, a glossary of who’s who. Or even a Dramatis Personae.
5. Size. Does your book look like it could stop the wind from slamming your door shut by sheer mass alone? Do you frequently confuse it with a “pocket” dictionary (albeit no pocket I own will ever be big enough to shove one of those inside)? Epic Fantasy tends to run on the high end of the triple digit page count.
Take a look at the book you’re reading. Does it hit all 5 points? If it does, you may be reading an Epic Fantasy novel! And if you haven’t started it yet, brace yourself. The journey can be long, arduous, and trying. In this, you may find sympathy with your no doubt Heroic protagonist.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!