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sleep in the stars, dry your eyes in the wind
I just finished reading The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, ed.) and it was time well-spent. While I find I agree with the arguments of about a third of the essays, at least two thirds of the essays actually do make cogent arguments (I was particular impressed by Nnedi Okorafor's on Writers of Color, Kari Maund's on Fantasy Series, Greg Frost's on Reading the Slipstream, and Farah Mendlesohn's on Thematic Criticism) that I was able to nod along with or roll my eyes at at my leisure, and the readability level in general is exceedingly high, especially as academic writing goes. There are a few articles that are merely disappointing lists of titles, without an argument--we've all been to that panel, alas--and I apparently have not recovered from my own grad classes in English critical theory enough to put up with anybody in this day and age taking Freudian analysis seriously.
The various discussion of epic fantasy play off one another particularly well--there are enough disparate viewpoints on this particular topic to give a sense of the varied attitudes in the field. Alas, I was not as impressed by the treatment of urban fantasy in its varied forms, although Roz Kaveny's paper on dark fantasy was nuanced and interesting--other than that, I don't think there was enough breadth in discussion of the subgenre to balance out the inevitable biases of any one author.