To those who have read extensively within the fantasy genre patterns like the ones previously mentioned might become apparent. It is not necessarily a bad thing as a fan. You do not read a detective novel without expecting certain things, for example some sort of mystery, a thief/murderer/criminal of some sort, an investigator. Readers will have preconceptions based on what they've read previously. This thesis will show that Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series subverts fantasy tropes and will try to identify what elements of his writing serve to make his books distropic. Distropic means, for the purpose of this thesis, that tropes commonly found in the fantasy genre are in some way changed, turned on their heads. It will demonstrate how he subverts tropes, and how role-playing may have made a difference in making his work somewhat unique.
In three chapters, it first establishes how Erikson's work fits into the fantasy genre as a whole by looking at some of the major theoretical ideas of what fantasy is. After establishing how it relates to the genre, it also explores what patterns or conventions define the genre as a whole, and what the major influences of modern fantasy are. Rather than relying mostly on Tolkien and other authors, this thesis argues that one of the major influences of modern fantasy is Dungeons and Dragons, who through the popular pen-and-paper role-playing game and the video games based off of it have possibly taken a position at the center of Attebery's fuzzy set of fantasy.
It shows how Erikson has subverted tropes that have roots in both role-playing games and in fantasy literature.