Why Is Fantasy Stuck in the Middle Ages?

From the Latest Tolkien Adaptation to the New Thrones Series, a Genre Is Reckoning With Its Most Well-Known Setting

The pre-industrial Western landscape of wizards and magic, good and evil, elves and dwarves of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination has become a well-worn part of our cultural geography. Amazon’s shiny new Lord of the Rings prequel series is just the latest tribute to this worldbuilding, drawing on Tolkien’s expansive, encyclopedic volumes of invented language, lore, and cartography to tell a new story that dates back thousands of years before a hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins ever left the Shire to go on an adventure.

But watching The Rings of Power …