No problem, dontlookatmethatway. The social position of women is merely an aspect of the world that the author creates, you said. My counterpoint would be, well, why do fantasy authors base their own make believe worlds on primative European mediveval society? And since it's so widespread and dominant in fantasy, I think readers and authors alike have assumed it as standard acceptability. My characterisation of Wolfe's writing isn't as unfair as you put it. Even if he gives his elves and dragons a twist, he's still using the same tired old archetypes, isn't he? That's my point: 80 percent of available books show the same species time and again. Would a twist in Star Wars be a heroic nice Sith Lord? Tolkien was a great author. The long descriptions that he gives in his books are one of the things that make them good. He goes to great lengths to describe the world that his story is set in, and that's a real boon to the reader. I cannot see how people think that it is boring. Gandalf rambled for a page just to describe his Saruman escape. As for world building, it's all heavy exposition. Told to you, not showed. You are flooded with endless and needless scenic detail and locale names just for walking down a forest road. This is not world building, this is just you told a mountain of people and places that have little direct relevance to any current scene topic. My question above still stands unanswered, and ties into the thread topic: does heavy description make a book more acclaimed, when a lighter one gets to the point faster? Does fantasy need such "world building" to "stand out" amongst lesser peers? The Second Sons Trilogy had absolutely none at all, and it was all but criminal. On the other leg, Son of Avonar did, and in very rich verbose; yet more direct than Tolkien rambling.