If you look at any ancient civilization, they’ve all used fantasy stories to train the young.
Societies need heroes. So we travel to places where the revisionists cannot dismantle the great.
Many fantasy novels – ‘Lord of the Rings’, for instance, or ‘Lavondyss’ by Robert Holdstock – are beautifully written. Geoff Ryman’s ‘The Child Garden’ is exquisite and utterly beguiling. Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy is an astonishing piece of multi-faceted storytelling. So quality of writing does not condemn the genre.
Our modern world, though infinitely more complex than that of ancient Greece, is also far more superficial. Where the Greeks offered simple psychological training, we live in an age of style and spin in which perceptions of good and evil slither and shift with the political view of the moment.
This is the real magic of fantasy fiction: it can feed souls and change lives.