A good article by Chris Lough on the epicness of epic fantasy; but also the side stories are pretty good too.
There are stories, small stories, that play out quietly in their entirety while I’m off paying attention to other characters. Missing these small stories in an epic makes that fantasy world feel more like our own. After all, how many stories do we miss in our own lives?
There is plenty of room in epic fantasy for the small stories, it seems. Not only that, but I’d go so far as to say that the “small stories” are what define the epic scope of fantasy. These are the “bricks” in the firmament of these worlds, the guarantee that there is something the reader can explore just over the horizon, the promise that there are real people affected by their world’s perch on the edge of doom. . .
This truth was obvious to editor Robert Silverberg when he assembled Legends. And to John Joseph Adams when he assembled Epic. And Shawn Speakman when he crafted Unfettered. The impact of small stories in epic fantasy certainly doesn’t escape George R. R. Martin, who has fashioned several epics, several anthologies, and ascended to the status of cultural icon on the strength of his “small stories.”