Is it just me, or is there some kind of abstract formula for an individual reader’s tolerance for fantasy names? It’d be nice if there was some way to calculate it.
I can read A Song of Ice and Fire without batting an eye, but for some reason, I am knocked quite unceremoniously out of titles like Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn. Honestly, nothing against that or any of the books with fantasy names I can’t digest. I took a look at that one because it sounded awesome. But with characters called Sun Wolf and Starhawk going to Melplith from Wrynde (I think?), I don’t think I could read it.
It’s a legitimate problem for writers. And there’s precious little to be done. To me, Elspeth is quite normal, but I remember browsing with a friend who found it too odd. Hermione is another one of those.
And for my personal taste (which I do not think has to do with occidental anything), I can’t stand Japanese names on characters who are not intended to be Japanese (or who seem as if they aren’t, regardless of intention). This may be entirely due to bad experiences with fanfiction, though. And really creepy American anime fans.
Anywho, the reason there’s not much anyone can do is simple. You can’t tell who will accept what names. For example, I rather like Tanvis, but Nrajy and Olyeo stick and smear. Like bits of wettish dead skin stuck to a smartphone screen when you try to wipe it off. …okay, maybe that image is too gross for deserving, but it makes my point, doesn’t it?
I don’t think the solution is to just use “regular” names, either. That can end up just being boring. (Although I did think it was funny that the names Edward and Alice were referred to as “strange, unpopular names” in Twilight.) Maybe it’s a problem for all character names, not just those in the fantasy genre.
It may not even be that big of a deal.