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"There are three hundred [stories on this site] with the word "chronicles", more if you include misspellings, almost as many with "begins" and "beginning", and god knows how many "Character Name"'s whatever. There are almost five hundred with "legend". There are over eight hundred with "journey", seven hundred and fifty with "story", two hundred with "quest", and nine hundred and fifty with "adventure". [...] What I'm getting at here is that you want to choose an original title that has to do with your story in particular, not something that indicates it's yet another story [...]."
—Farla, on this trope's usage in Pokémon fan fiction


It's not easy coming up with a compelling title for a story, especially if you are trying to convey the idea that the story is big, somehow important. A title that is too blunt, à la Snakes on a Plane, might work for a comedy, but for drama, high adventure, and anything that tries to be important, there needs to be something else. Something that sounds meaningful.

Time to put some meaningful words in there.

You know the words. Eternal, Ever, Dark, Chronicles... those words. They are used an awful lot, especially in fantasy fiction. They are used so much that they have probably lost all meaning, partly due to being used way too much by internet people who are hung up on creating A Darker Me.

That doesn't stop people from using them anyway, to try to let everyone know that, yes, this particular adventure is indeed Epic, and you'd better know it.

Here's a challenge: Head to your local bookstore and try to find a book on the fantasy rack that doesn't use one of the following buzzwords in its title:

  • Adventure, Quest, Journey
  • Assassin
  • Castle, Fortress, Tower
  • Chaos
  • Chronicle, Saga, Legend, Tale, Fable
  • Curse
  • Dark, Shadow, Night, Twilight
    • Light, Dawn
  • Death/Deadly
    • Life
  • Demon
  • Dragon (or any other mythological beast)
  • God, Goddess
  • House (when not referring to an actual house)
  • Hunter
  • Kingdom, Empire, Realm
  • Knight
  • Lost, Forgotten
  • Oath
  • Prophecy, Destiny, Omen
  • Phantom, Ghost, Spirit
  • Rise/Rising
    • Fall/Fallen
  • Secret, Hidden, Veiled, etc.
  • Song, Ballad
  • Sorcerer/Sorcery; Wizard/Wizardry; Witch/Witchery/Witchcraft; Magician/Magic; etc.
  • Sword, Blade, Dagger
  • Tears
  • Thief
  • Wrath
  • Classical elements: Fire, Air/Wind/Lightning, Water/Ice, Earth
  • Precious metals and gems: Gold, Silver, Emerald
    • Jewelry: Amulet, Ring
  • Titles of authority: King, Prince, Emperor, Lord, Master
    • As well as monarchy-related objects and concepts: Crown, Throne, Reign
  • Fictional country names
  • The name of the MacGuffin
  • Vaguely Biblical-sounding names: Genesis, Exodus, Testament
  • Heavenly bodies: Sun, Moon, Star(s)
  • Really long time periods: Age, Aeon, Era
    • Also infinite ones: Eternal, Ever
      • Or alternatively, letting us know a bit where we are in the time period: End, Beginning, Source, Last...
  • Bonus points for finding a vampire series that doesn't have at least one volume with Blood, Night, or both.
    • Ditto with werewolves and Moon.

These have a tendency to get tossed willy-nilly into Character Name and the Noun Phrase or The X of Y naming schemes.

Incidentally, an easier way to come up with a title is "The Dark (Noun)". For instance: The Dark Cushion, The Dark Burrito, The Dark Tower, etc.

Examples of Mad Lib Fantasy Title include:


Literature

  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • To be fair a lot of this trend comes from the publishers rather then the authors. For example The Magician's Nephew was originally supposed to be the less flashy title "Polly and Digory" but it was renamed by the publisher.
  • The Dragonlance Chronicles. Oh, where to begin... The Dark Disciple Trilogy: Amber and Ashes, Amber and Iron, Amber and Blood; The War of Souls Trilogy: Dragons of a Fallen Sun, Dragons of a Lost Star, Dragons of a Vanished Moon; The Lost Chronicles: Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, Dragons of the Highlord Skies, Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (not released); Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning, Dragons of Summer Flame.
    • Also by Weis and Hickman, The Death Gate Cycle, comprising Dragon Wing, Elven Star, Fire Sea, Serpent Mage, The Hand of Chaos and The Seventh Gate.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles and Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The in-universe final title of the book decided on by Frodo is The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons
  • The Sword of Truth: Wizard's First Rule, Stone of Tears, Temple of the Winds, Soul of the Fire, Faith of the Fallen, Naked Empire
  • The Belgariad and Mallorean books
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, and Ptolemy's Gate
  • Dragaera: The Paths of the Dead and The Lord of Castle Black
  • The Dark Tower
  • Discworld: The Colour of Magic, Sourcery (yay puns!), Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Thief of Time, Troll Bridge (short story)
  • The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest
  • Referenced in The Well of Lost Plots, where the unfinished fantasy novel set apart as a literary wildlife reserve (with many poor abandoned unicorns) is called The Sword of the Zenobians
  • Dragonriders of Pern
  • Shannara series:
    • First King of...
    • Sword of...
    • Elfstones of... arguably comes under "gems", and certainly under MacGuffin
    • Wishsong of...
    • Elf Queen of...
    • Druid of... (Druid/druidry isn't mentioned in the list of magic users above, but it's the same principle)
    • Talismans of...
    • The three novels in Voyage of the Jerle Shanarra are all named after the Big Bad and the first one has "Witch" in the title as well.
    • As is the last novel in the High Druid of... trilogy. The others are named after a parallel world (country) and a magic tree (MacGuffin).
    • Dark Wraith of...
  • RA Salvatore's Drizzt novels:
    • The Icewind Dale Trilogy: The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, The Halfling's Gem
    • Legacy of the Drow Series: Siege of Darkness
    • Paths of Darkness: The Silent Blade, The Spine of the World, Servant of the Shard, Sea of Swords
    • The Hunter's Blades: The Thousand Orcs, The Lone Drow, The Two Swords
    • The Sellswords: Promise of the Witch-King
    • Transitions: The Orc King, The Pirate King, The Ghost King
  • Harry Potter and the...well, all seven of them, really, though I grant you Azkaban's borderline because it's a prison, not a country.
  • Double points for Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Queen, as the Trickster is a god.
    • A lot of Pierces stuff, actually, including: Alanna; The First Adventure, In The Hand of the Goddess, Wild Magic, The Realms of the Gods, The Magic in the Weaving, The Healing in the Vine, Magic Steps, Street Magic, The Will of the Empress and Lady Knight. Phew.
  • A particularly extreme example: Elizabeth Haydon's "Symphony of Ages" trilogy.
    • Book 1: Rhapsody, fits in with the "Song or Ballad" qualification.
    • Book 2: Prophecy
    • Book 3: Destiny
  • Raymond E. Feist avoided this in his earlier works (Magician, Silverthorn, Faerie Tale) but his later series are all about this trope. Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire. Serpentwar Saga: Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, Shards of a Broken Crown; etc.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power that Preserves.
  • Neverwhere.
  • Shadows of the Apt pulls this off both with the series title and most of the individual books:
    • Empire in Black and Gold
    • Dragonfly Falling
    • Salute the Dark
    • Books 3 and 5 kinda-sorta-semi avert it, though- Blood of the Mantis isn't about vampires, and The Scarab Path doesn't even come close to any of them.
  • Parodied by John Scalzi with The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City, found here. Books two and three in the trilogy would be Dark Blood Magic and Dream World of the Fire Wolf respectively, if they existed. This title came from compiling the most popular words in fantasy titles and determining that this was the ultimate title. Scalzi promptly decided to defictionalize it as an April Fools joke. For which he was paid... in bacon.
  • The Wheel of Time series has - The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, Knife of Dreams and A Crown of Swords.
  • Wicked Lovely itself escapes this trope (being more of a Word Salad Title), as does Ink Exchange. The we have Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows, and Darkest Mercy.

Film

Film adaptations of this sort of thing used to avert this trope for fear of "alienating mainstream audiences". Nowadays, they play it straight using the title of the original work, or even err in the opposite direction. Examples not mentioned above include:

Anime

  • Naruto Shippuden sometimes translates to Naruto: Hurricane Chronicles.
    • "Hurricane Chronicles" is the literal translation of "Shippuuden". Well, "Legend" if you want to be more specific.
  • Pokémon Chronicles, a Pokemon spin-off with secondary characters as protagonists.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion, for trying to pack as much quasi-religious atmosphere into a three word title as humanly possible.

Video Games

  • Ever Quest
  • Dark Chronicle (which was renamed to Dark Cloud 2 in the US and Canada). In fact, Dark Cloud qualifies as well.
  • Heart of Darkness (named after a totally unrelated book)
  • An upcoming game is actually called Eternal Chronicle
  • And of course Eternal Darkness
  • Shadow Hearts. Its sequel gained extra points - Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The third in the series broke the chain, though, as its title, From The New World, meant something (unlike its predescessors, set in Europe, it was set in North America).
  • The Tales series: Tales of Destiny, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Legendia.
  • Eternal Champions
    • Justified in that the story is about it's about people from various time periods whose influence would change the world if they hadn't died, and they're fighting in a tournament of which the champion would be resurrected to fulfill his world-changing duty. Moreover, said championship is hosted by a being that is composed of the energy of all martial art masters that have ever lived, therefore named the Eternal Champion.
  • Baldur's Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast, Shadows of Amn, Throne of Bhaal
  • Icewind Dale
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III: Restoration of Erathia and Armageddon's Blade
  • The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall and Morrowind.
    • And Knights of the Nine and Oblivion.
  • Steambot Chronicles
  • Limbo of the Lost, which is not about limbo dancing..
  • The Legend of Zelda.
    • The Adventure of Link
    • Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, if you count Oracle among the Sorcerer/Witch/Wizard group.
    • Four Swords
    • Ocarina of Time
    • Majora's Mask
    • Twilight Princess
    • The Wind Waker
    • Phantom Hourglass
    • Spirit Tracks
  • The first Fire Emblem game deserves a special mention; its full name is "Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light."
    • Not that "The Binding Blade" (or "Sealed Sword" if you prefer), "The Blazing Sword" (released as "Fire Emblem" in the US), or "The Sacred Stones" aren't prime examples as well.
  • Parodied in the print comic Hsu and Chan, in which Hsu and Chan created a wheel of words that could be strung together to make names for console RPGs. One possible option was Blood of the Blood Blood.
  • Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire. In its Gamespot review, the reviewer mocked the Mad Lib Fantasy Title by suggesting a bunch of different titles which are simply rearrangements of the words.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has several:
    • Sonic Chaos (double points for Chaos Emeralds being the all purpose MacGuffin of the series).
    • Sonic 3D Blast was given the subtitle Flickies Island in Europe.
    • Sonic Adventure, and it's sequel Sonic Adventure 2 and their remakes (just add DX and Battle to 1 and 2 respectively). Also, under the same list Tails Adventure, and Sonic Rush Adventure Sonic Team sure love there adventures.
      • And Sonic Unleashed was called Sonic World Adventure in Japan.
    • Sonic and the Secret Rings.
    • Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood again for double points.
    • Sonic and the Black Knight.
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean.
  • Slaves to Armok, God of Blood; Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress. Actually makes use of Mad Lib names in game: proper names are randomly generated, which can theoretically result in names like "Bloodfist the Scourging Fire", but more commonly ends up with you managing a fortress called "Seethebritches the Blistering of Whelks" or "Boatmurdered".
  • Team Shanghai Alice: Project Shrine Maiden:
    • Highly Responsive to Prayers (1st)
    • Story of Eastern Wonderland (2nd)
    • Lotus Land Story (4th)
    • Mystic Square (5th)
    • Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (6th)
    • Immaterial and Missing Power (7.5th)
    • Imperishable Night = Eternal Night (8th)
    • Mountain of Faith (10th)
    • Fairy Wars (12.8) (this one is perhaps a parody)
    • The Grimoire of Marisa
    • Spoofed with Marisa's Ordinary Black Magician.
  • Dragon Quest. It does have dragons and a lot of quests.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny
  • Dang near the entire Sierra Online catalog, starting with King's Quest, the success of which caused them to shoehorn the word "Quest" into all of their franchises possible, even when it wouldn't really make sense (Police Quest, anyone?). In fact, the were sued when they named their second fantasy series Hero's Quest (Already the name of a fantasy board game), before changing it's name to Quest for Glory. A few series managed to avoid it, but the only long lasting one was the Leisure Suit Larry games.
  • Dragon Age, though it makes perfect sense in context: It's the first age since ancient history where dragons have appeared.
  • Neverwinter Nights series: original, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, Mask of the Betrayer, Storm of Zehir. However, each entry makes perfect sense in context.
  • Since it is the love child of Disney and Square Enix, Kingdom Hearts loves this.

Table Top Games

Toys

  • Bionicle loves these. The three book series were called Bionicle Chronicles,Adventures and Legends. Notable individual titles include Reign of Shadows, Dark Destiny, Journey's End, The Yesterday Quest,The Legend Reborn, The Fall of Atero, The Mask of Light, Swamp of Secrets, The Mata Nui Saga, Sahmad's Tale, The Fall and Rise of the Skrall...

Webcomics

  • Honorable parody mention. Penny Arcade's second book: Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings.
    • That is actually a reference to Epic Legends of the Hierarch: The Elemenstor Saga, a collaborative wiki founded by Tycho. It does feature Magic Sword Kings.
    • Of this oeuvre is titled Song of the Sorcelator: Return of the Witchaloks II, starring Kiefer Sutherland. And Ludacris.
      • That travesty is the puview of the rabid, festering, moron, L. H. Franzibald. May he suffer strange maladies of the scrotal variety.
    • Also, Lord of the God-Kings.
    • Tycho gets into it a bit with Dungeons and Dragons, mentioning "Shadowfell". When Gabe asks "Doesn't that mean 'Darkbad'?", Tycho explains that Darkbad is below Shadowfell, and draws a diagram for the incredulous Gabe.

Web Original

  • Secret of Dragon Ledgend.
  • There is an ad on this wiki for an online RPG with werewolves and vampires called Immortal Night.

Music

  • You can count on Heavy Mithril bands to embrace this trope lovingly, not only in titles but in lyrics too.
  • Rhapsody's "Magic of the Wizard's Dream" certainly counts. If the title itself wasn't enough, a solid three fourths of the lyrics (ab)use these buzzwords.
    • Hell, you'd be hard pressed to find a Rhapsody of Fire album or song title that doesn't. Even more so, ridiculously many of them are in a "Noun Of Adjective Noun" format, with the nouns and adjectives seemingly randomly picked from the list.
    • The band's name itself falls under this trope!
  • Dragon Force's songs tend to embody this trope.

Fan Fiction

  • As Farla points out, this is very common Pokémon fan fiction, with the words "Pokémon", "chronicles", "beginning", "Character Name, "legend", "journey", "story", "quest", "adventure", "saga", "region", "champion" and the names of the series' regions all occur in hundreds of different fics.
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