Tough Travels #7 & #8: Minions & Mentors

I fully intended to do a Tough Travels post last month and the month before that, but time got away from me so I didn’t get a chance to sit down to it. But, as the saying goes, better late than never. Here are the Tough Travels posts I’ve since missed.

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction. (The meme will move to the Fantasy Hive in January.)

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me. However, I now realize that not as many bloggers participated for these topics, so I’ll have to get creative about finding recommendations.

October’s theme:

Minions

Minions of the DARK LORD can be male or female, though he tends to favour males (who seem to be more susceptible to the Evil One’s wiles). They can take many forms: BAD KINGS, ENCHANTRESSES, HIGH PRIESTS, EUNUCHS, DUKES, REGENTS or WITCHES. Additionally, there are the non-human minions, such as ORCS, TROLLS, GOBLINS and random OTHER PEOPLES . . . not to mention MUTANT NASTIES, carefully selected MONSTERS, UNDEAD, and DEMONS.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Tough Travels #6: Dragons

My plan was to post this earlier in September, but since I was busy and hardly around in that month, this post is late and popping up in October. I love fantasy but haven’t read many fantasy novels to always have unique recommendations for the topics in this meme, so I usually wait until the end of the month to do my post so I can read everyone else’s and get recommendations from them. Doing this has caused me to add loads of books to my TBR. Well, maybe not loads, but definitely many.

I was excited for this topic because dragons are one of my favorite fantastical creatures. They come in many shapes and sizes with various abilities. Sometimes they contain knowledge and wisdom vaster than any human or other creature; sometimes they are simply animals, large and powerful or small and quick but cunning; other times they are spiritual beings or creatures able to take on human form.

September’s theme (late again): Dragons

The Tough Guide advises that Dragons are ‘very large scaly beings with wings and long spiky tails, capable of breathing fire through their mouths. They can be almost any colour or combination of colours, though green, red and black are preferred. They are always very old. Most of them seem to have flown to Fantasyland aeons ago across the void. This migration was almost certainly to get away from our world, where people would insist that they were dangerous monsters that had to be exterminated. Dragons, as all Fantasyland knows, are no such thing.’ Or are they?

Continue reading

Tough Travels #5: Strongholds

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

August’s theme (I’m late, again):

Strongholds

The Tough Guide offers information on various kinds of fantasy strongholds. For example, you might be looking for castles, complete with ‘frowning battlements, slit windows and multiple defensible spiral stairways inside’ and which ‘occasionally adorn the heights for pictorial effect’.

Or perhaps towers, which ‘stand alone in waste areas and almost always belong to wizards.’ Towers are often ‘several stories high, round, doorless, virtually windowless, and composed of smooth blocks of masonry that make them very hard to climb. The Rule is that there is also a strong no-entry spell, often backed up by a guardian demon.

Continue reading

Tough Travels #4: Adepts

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

July’s theme (I’m late):

Adepts

The Tough Guide defines an ADEPT as ‘one who has taken what amounts to a Post-graduate course in Magic. If a Magic User is given this title, you can be sure he/she is fairly hot stuff. However, the title is neutral and does not imply that the Adept is either Good or Evil.’

Continue reading

Tough Travels #3: Non-Human Heroes

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

This month’s theme:

Non-human heroes

The Tough Guide assures us that HEROES are ‘mythical beings, often selected at birth, who perform amazing deeds of courage, strength and magical mayhem, usually against all odds.’ Furthermore, ‘if you get to meet a so-called Hero, she/he always turns out to be just another human, with human failings, who has happened to be in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, more likely)’.

HOWEVER. For good or for evil, some of fantasy’s most memorable Heroes are not human at all. Some look human, but aren’t. Others may look monstrous, but be ‘human’ on the inside. Others still never pretend to be anything other than what they are – and why should they? In nearly all cases, we are likely to Learn Something from them – usually that appearances can be deceiving, or that the concepts of both ‘Human’ and ‘Hero’ are entirely subjective.

Continue reading

Tough Travels #2: Assassins

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

This month’s theme:

Assassins

Assassins are ubiquitous throughout fantasyland. Sharp-eyed readers (or even dull-eyed ones) will notice that their hooded forms often adorn book covers, and that they frequently appear – rather improbably – not to mind being the sole focus of our attention. Whether they’re spotlight hogs or camera-shy and brooding, most assassins will have trained for years and are very, VERY good at their job (i.e. killing people for money).

Continue reading

Tough Travelling #1: Beginnings

I’ve decided to participate in the Tough Traveling feature, a monthly meme that features book recommendations based on fantasy tropes, themes, and clichés mentioned in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

This feature was created by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn back in 2014 and will now be hosted by Fantasy Faction. I decided to participate because it seems like a great way to discover new books I may be interested in based on tropes I like. Also, I bought The Tough Guide to Fantasyland about a week before this meme started, so… fate wants me to do this.

Fantasy is my favorite genre, but I reread books so often that my knowledge of fantasy novels isn’t as extensive as I’d like it to be, which means I don’t have a large resource of books read to recommend. Because of this, I’ve decided to compose my lists a little differently and will include one or two personal recommendations based on the topic and then feature books I’ve seen on other bloggers’ lists that I will add to my TBR list.

Continue reading