Modern Soldier in a Fantasy World: A Guide to the Genre (2024 Edition)

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Modern soldiers may not fit into what you think of as typical fantasy, but they definitely have their place. Keep reading to find out more about the modern soldier in a fantasy world genre! 

Modern Soldier in a Fantasy World

The concept of a modern soldier in a fantasy world is a fairly new idea. It seems that fantasy authors have taken inspiration from many life experiences and put them into their writing. Stories of modern soldiers making their way into fantasy worlds seem to have started around the time of the Vietnam War. Fantasy was a popular genre during this time, and the war was at the forefront of many Americans’ minds. That is not to say that US soldiers are the only ones found in fantasy novels, but they seem to be the most common.

In many of these novels, soldiers time travel to a past time or they use a portal that transports them to a fictional world. Whatever the case may be, as long as there is a modern soldier in a fictional or fantastical world, it is part of this straightforward genre. In many cases, magic is used to transport the soldiers to the new world, thereby making the novel a fantasy. In some cases, as we will see below, there is even more magic to be found in these novels. The amount of magic can vary between each novel and each author. As long as there is some element of magic or a supernatural occurrence, it is considered fantasy. 

Within the genre of modern soldiers in a fantasy world, it is also common to see modern technology and weaponry. These novels can also fit into the genre in many cases, though they may be considered sci-fi depending on who you ask. (It can be jarring to read about a tank driving through a medieval world, but it has been done.) Regardless, there is so a lot to discover within this genre for those who aren’t familiar with it. 

Examples of Modern Soldier in a Fantasy World 

modern soldier fantasy world fanart
Concept art of a modern soldier in a fantasy world

There are many great examples of modern soldiers in fantasy novels throughout the world. In many cases, these are US soldiers, but that is not always the case. Some of these novels include time travel, magical portals, or unexplained events, but the premise is basically the same across the board. What the author chooses to do with this premise can vary greatly between different novels. As you will see below, just because these novels all include a modern soldier in a fantasy world, does not mean that they are all the same. There are great differences between each book, giving the reader a unique experience with each one. If you are looking for recommendations in a genre that you may not know much about, the recommendations below could be a good starting place! 

The Doomfarers of Coramonde 

The Doomfarers of Coramonde is the first novel in a series by Brian Daley. For readers looking for a novel that has modern-day soldiers mysteriously transported to a fantastical world, this is the book for you. During a battle in Vietnam, Sergeant Gil MacDonald and his crew are magically transported to a new world. No one knows how they got there or how to get back, but they soon learn that they have to rescue a sorceress. 

This novel has dragons, wizards, royalty, and everything else you might expect from a fantasy novel. The twist is the crew of modern-day soldiers who have appeared. There is also humor, magic, and contemporary technology all wrapped up in this page-turner of a novel. The characters are intriguing, the magic system is unique, and the premise itself is fascinating. This novel will likely keep your attention as the modern soldier in a fantasy world storyline unfolds. 

Shadow Ops

The Shadow Ops series is a series of 6 fantasy novels by Myke Cole. The whole series is based on the premise that some people in the world now have magic powers and others do not. The entire series is a military fantasy that seems quite unique. The series follows Oscar Britton who is a lieutenant in the world’s military. He gains powers and is enlisted into the shadow ops organization. 

Throughout the series, the reader sees how magic and fantasy interact with modern-day military forces. The technology used by the military forces is a stark contrast to the fantastic abilities of the magic that the people possess. If you are looking for an easy read and introduction to this genre, this is an solid choice. 


Grunts! Is a 1992 standalone novel by Mary Gentle. This novel definitely qualifies as a modern soldier in a fantasy world, but it is also satirical, playing on many tropes of the fantasy genre. It is different from the other novels on this list, making it a great choice for readers who want to experience a modern soldier in a fantasy world, but perhaps in a more light-hearted way.  

The plot of this novel follows a group of orcs who are on the front lines of battle. This novel takes place in a very Tolkien-esque world, so many of the creatures are similar to those of The Lord of the Rings. The orcs in this novel discover a dragon’s collection of modern weaponry, and it turns their mindsets to those of the US Marine Corps in the Vietnam War. Of course, because this novel is satirical, there is humor and stereotypes on just about every page. Fans of the fantasy genre, in general, could get a kick out of the tropes that the author plays with. 


I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about and given you some ideas of books to read in this subgenre.

And if you want to read more about unique fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!

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