Another response in the fray:
So does a book have to be about large-scale war to qualify as epic fantasy? I don’t believe so, but I do feel its has to encompass, in some way, the grand sweep of events—and large-scale war can serve as convenient shorthand for that.
Interesting. I’m not sure I agree with that statement- grand sweep of events- just because I think things can still be Epic without grand sweeping. Wait, I know, what? But really, think for a moment- the original epic poems (where the word burned it’s meanings) were not grand sweeping events. Odysseus’s search to go home? Not grand, nor sweeping. A long, painful, personal journey, were a lot of growth and adventures happen, yes. But it’s not globally grand, it’s not sweeping.
I have this feeling that Epic Fantasy can take this meaning- can be Epic in a way that we’re currently ignoring. I can’t quite phrase it out properly in words, but its the feeling I have that something can still feel epic, still be called epic, still bring that feeling of largeness into a narrative without having to involve grand scales. There are other ways, I think…but it’s hard to explain, and not very many people have done it. But I do think it’s possible.