Interesting debate on Helium concerning whether or not the fantasy genre has stagnated.
I'm in the "No, it has not" camp. There's plenty of fresh writing going on--George R.R. Martin, Ellen Kushner, Steven Erikson, Scott Lynch, and stalwarts like Robin Hobb who always seem to break stereotypes and keep me guessing as to what's going to happen next. These are not the sort of writers who use such tropes as dark lords and elves or dwarves--that's a lesson unto itself for budding writers--but who rely on more meaningful devices to keep their readers interested--intrigue, suspense, characterization.
Sometimes you have to sift through some junk to find those authors, though, and I think that's where the belief in stagnation comes from. I received an ARC a few months back that just didn't do it for me. Had I spent money on that book I might have felt obligated to read further. But the fact of the matter is I gave it about 100 pages and had to put it down. There just wasn't anything engaging or original in it.
Let this all be a warning: that as new writers we need to think outside the box, break stereotypes, and write the kind of story that we would want to read were we browsing the shelves looking for that next great fantasy novel.
Debate: Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? - Helium