So, what is noblebright fantasy? From the boxed set’s description, “Noblebright fantasy characters have the courage to risk kindness, honesty, integrity, and love; to fight against their own flaws and the darkness of the world around them; and to find hope in a grim world.”
Basically, it’s the opposite of grimdark, where life sucks, the bad guys cheat and win, the good guys are corruptible, and anyone who isn’t corruptible is a chump and a fool and probably dies an ignominious death.
Some more definitions of what noblebright is and isn’t:
Noblebright is not equivalent to YA or children’s books. While many (but certainly not all) YA books might fall into the category, noblebright books can also be very much for and about adults, from an adult perspective, about adult characters with adult lives and concerns.
Noblebright also is not necessarily “clean.” There can be violence and swearing and sex. The emphasis is different; noblebright won’t tend to wallow in blood and guts and bad language or glorify violence or purely exploitive or hedonistic sex.
Noblebright is also not the same as Christian fiction. While many or most Christian fantasy novels are probably noblebright, the core concepts of noblebright, that there exists objective right and wrong, it’s worth it to try to do what’s right no matter how hard it is, and anyone, no matter what wrongs they’ve done in the past, can try to do better, are not restricted to Christianity. I’m a Christian myself, and my books have been noted as having a Judeo-Christian worldview, but they are not explicitly or implicitly about Christianity or Christian characters.
The key is in the outlook: in noblebright, it’s worth it to try to do the right thing even in the face of impossible odds; goodness, selflessness, love, compassion, honor, and nobility (of character, not of birth) matter regardless of the forces arrayed against the characters. Even if things don’t turn out perfectly, there’s still hope, and there’s honor and comfort in knowing you did the right thing.
Finally, noblebright does not mean happy perfect people doing happy perfect things in a happy perfect world. It means good (if flawed) people choosing to do the right thing in the face of opposition and difficult circumstances, no matter how hard it is. After all, being a good person and doing the right thing when things are going well is easy. Being a good person and doing the right thing when the world is against you and it would be easier to do the wrong thing is much harder (and more interesting to read and write about!).
Sound good? Here’s the lineup of books in the boxed set:
- C. J. Brightley – The King’s Sword: A disillusioned soldier. A spoiled, untried prince. And a coup that threatens the country they both love.
- Lindsay Buroker – The Emperor’s Edge: A law enforcer being hunted for a crime she didn’t commit must work with a cold-hearted assassin to save the only person who can clear her name.
- Sabrina Chase – The Last Mage Guardian: Most thought the Mage Guardians simply a myth, but their old enemy knows better–and of their number only one remains to thwart his plan of magical domination and revenge.
- Francesca Forrest – Pen Pal: It starts with a message in a bottle and ends with revolution.
- Kyra Halland – Beneath the Canyons: A bounty-hunting wizard and a rancher’s daughter with untrained powers must stop a renegade wizard who is tampering with dangerous magic.
- Angela Holder – Into the Storm: A massive hurricane will destroy Elathir unless Larine and her fellow wizards sacrifice everything to stop it.
- Ronald Long – On the Shores of Irradan: Ealrin Belouve and his friends travel to a new land and face new dangers in search of a tree that may restore magic to one of their own.
- Mike Reeves McMillan – Hope and the Patient Man: A talented young mage must overcome a curse to be with the wounded hero who loves her.
- T. A. Miles – Six Celestial Swords: The dragon Chaos threatens the magical world of Dryth. Xu Liang sets out on a quest to unite the only six magical blades that can save it.
- Christina Ochs – Rise of the Storm: When a renegade priest prophesies an imminent apocalypse, a conflict is sparked which will tip a continent into war.
- Sherwood Smith – Lhind the Thief: Lhind enjoys life on the run, taking what she wants, until her secrets are uncovered one by one.
- Emily Martha Sorensen – The Keeper and the Rulership: In a world where mathematics and magic are forbidden, Raneh’s growing magic and can’t figure out how to stop.
Most books in this set are appropriate for ages 13+, but Hope and the Patient Man [and, I would venture to say, Beneath the Canyons] is appropriate for ages 16+.
The current price is only 99 cents. That might have to go up, but I know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have pre-order price guarantees where even if the price does go up later, if you pre-order at the 99 cent price that’s what you pay.
I’ll be taking a closer look at the books in this wonderful and diverse collection over the next couple of weeks, along with posting links to other blog posts about it, so watch for those. You can also learn more about the noblebright movement at noblebright.org. And in the meantime, don’t miss out on being able to get Light in the Darkness for only 99 cents!