It's particularly difficult in fantasy, because as the author I want to describe so many things for my reader... all that Really Cool Stuff I've invented. But I can't spend time describing anything except what the point-of-view character would be likely to notice, given their state of mind at the time. No matter how important I, the author, think it might be, if it's not out of the ordinary to the POV character they won't notice it.
For example, I may want to describe his boots or his clothing, but it would be out of character for me to have him go into a detailed description of his own appearance. Unless he has a hole in his boot or needs to buy new clothes, he wouldn't think about them. And unless it advances the plot, any extra time I spent describing them would be both misleading and distracting. The same goes for buildings, dishes, interior decorating, etc.
|Tudor room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art|
If he does notice something, he can only describe in terms a manly sort of guy would use. He isn't going to say that the heroine's dress was made of "jade-colored satin." He would say it was "green and shiny." Not quite the effect I was going for.
The obvious way around this is to use an omniscient narrator. But omniscient is frowned upon in most writing circles as being old-fashioned and distant.
So what's a writer to do?