Some critics, including China Mieville, David Brin, and Michael Moorcock therefore accuse Tolkien and his followers of reactionary politics. In the past three decades, writers including Ursula K. Le Guin and Samuel Delany have developed coherent-and thrilling-fantasy worlds that served as utopias, models of social orders and ways of life alien to us but no less plausible than The Lord of the Rings.
The liberal critique of the fantasy genre as reactionary generally paints these novels as intended to comfort rather than challenge, as intended to buttress existing social orders and dynamics rather than overthrow them. Despite the dramatic journey of the novel's protagonists, noble but betrayed Prince Llyr and amnesiac Baelashar, even these heroes are not architects of their own fates but are instead driven by forces beyond their reckoning.
Perhaps due to the characters' inability to alter their trajectories, the narrative moves forward through a series of progressive revelations. This is most explicit in the back-stories of Llyr and Baelashar, both of whom suffer from some amnesia; recovering their respective memories ends up as critical to both the narrative and to the characters' sense of themselves. Some of the revelations come as no particular surprise, except to the characters, which robs the story of some momentum. People satisfied with the storytelling of contemporary Hollywood blockbusters will not consider this lack of a story arc an issue. Other readers may simply wait for the forthcoming novels in the Cataclysm Saga, and hope that the straight-line trajectory of this book is due to the fact that it merely sets up the other novels.
For all that imagination, the novel's world is in some ways quite modern: widespread literacy; a complex and diversified economy for both goods and services; and a surprising abundance of food all seem to be present. Of course, this is a fantasy world, and need not hew closely to the historical norms of our world. Moreover, the similarities between Llyr and Baelashar's world and our own enable Wayfarer's Dawn to express thoroughly modern concerns and anxieties, and to explore these.