5 fantasy book club conversation starters

Books clubs give us spaces to share our ideas about books with other readers. The challenge? Getting the conversation started!

Now, we can all find book club conversation topics with a simple internet search. That’s not what I want to share today. Instead, I want to give you five book club conversation starters unique to fantasy books!

1. How does magic work in this world?

This is a fun one if your book includes magic! Every fictional fantasy world has its own rules for how magic works. In Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, people ingest different types of metal to perform different types of magic. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, kids go to school to learn magical spells using wands and spoken incantations. In V.E. Schwab’s The Near Witch, Lexi meets two witches who live in the forest near her house; the book also explores haunted moors and a mysterious, wraith-like boy.

Fantasy Book Club Questions: Does your book include magic? How does it work, and what makes it unique compared to the magic in other books you’ve read?

2. Is the setting inspired by the real world in any way?

Many fantasy worlds feel like they’re based on our own world — or that they could be set in a historical time period. For example, The Near Witch reminds me of 17th century America or England, with its quaint village life, old-fashioned games, women in dresses, and traditional gender roles. V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic takes place in different magical versions of London. Meanwhile, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is set in a city called Ketterdam, which is inspired in part by Amsterdam; even the names sound similar! However, other fantasy novels, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein, feel completely original. There may be bits and pieces that feel like they belong to some other time period, but in general the settings don’t fully remind us of any place here on Earth.

Fantasy Book Club Questions: What is the setting of this book? Is it fictional, and if so, does it remind you of any real places?

3. Does the book include any fictional languages?

I love reading words in fictional languages. While I’m sure I skip over those lines when I’m in a hurry, most of the time I enjoy trying to sound out the foreign words. Creating languages is what inspired Tolkein’s Middle-Earth. Even names can sound like they’re from a foreign language, and to me, they add a magical quality to the world. Whether it’s a song written in another language or just a simple word thrown in to describe something unique to the world, reading something from a fictional languages makes me feel truly transported to another world!

Fantasy Book Club Questions: What languages do characters speak in this world? Are there any fictional languages? What are your favorite fictional words or names in the novel?

4. Are there any fictional races or cultures in the book?

Many fantasy books include elves, but you don’t have to stop there when it comes to fictional races. Sometimes just a single witch on the outskirts of the story adds to the fantasy feel, as in The Near Witch. Or you might have distinctive races of humans who don’t match any races or cultures we have today. For example, in Six of Crows, Matthias Helvar is a Drüskelle of the Fjerdan people. This defines him in many ways, from his blond hair to his reverence of wolves. I always love learning about these fictional people and their cultures when I read fantasy!

Fantasy Book Club Questions: What races are represented in the book? Are there real races or fictional ones, and what are their defining characteristics?

5. Do any characters have totems?

In the Joseph Campbell’s famous hero’s journey — a structure for many fictional stories — many characters possess a totem that they carry with them through the story. When you think of Star Wars, is there any iconic image that comes to mind? For me, it’s the lightsaber, a totem of the Jedi. This sort of totem exists in many stories, and often it aids the protagonist on their adventure. For instance, Lyra in The Golden Compass couldn’t have gotten very far exploring the North if she hadn’t been given the alethiometer! In The Hobbit, the one ring stands out as the central object driving Bilbo on his adventure. And in Sabriel by Garth Nix, Sabriel wields a sword and necromancy bell that enable her to interact with the dead.

Fantasy Book Club Questions: Do any characters have totems in this book? If not, are there any objects that stand out as important to the story or unique to this world?

If you like these conversation starters for your fantasy book club, save this to Pinterest and come back before your next book club meeting! 🙂

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