Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora books made me notice something. Nobody saves the world. Now, they’re not the first fantasy novels where nobody saves the world, but it was such a given of fantasy for such a long time, post-Tolkien, that there was a time when if you’d told me there was an epic fantasy novel where nobody saved the world I’d have wondered how that even worked. There’s a whole set of fantasy series which are under the shadow of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books, which take a particular kind of realism and a particular level of discourse from Martin. But in ASOIAF there’s no question that the world is in the balance. Winter is coming, and it’s because winter is coming, because ice and fire are out there that we’re interested in the “knights who say fuck.” We expect the books to end in an epic confrontation, and if they do not we will be disappointed. But A Game of Thrones was published in 1996, and The Lies of Locke Lamora in 2007. There has been a change in the kind of stakes we have in our fantasy, and although there were always fantasy novels that were on a smaller scale (Swordspoint positively leaps to mind, 1987, and the Earthsea books are on a very interesting cusp) they were very much the exception, and I don’t think that is the case any more.