We seek them here, we seek them there…..

Each Thursday, the Fantasy Review Barn takes a look at ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’.  This week’s Tough Travel Guide to fantasy takes us to new and unexplored places.  Off the beaten track these places can’t be located by map.  If you’re in search of adventure then delve right in.  This week’s ‘wish you were here’ is ‘Hidden Kingdoms’.  (I tried not to cheat but I think that there are at least two questionable ones on here!!)

1.       A world of talking flowers, cheesy grinning Cheshire cats and pipe smoking caterpillars.  Be sure to visit the Mad Hatter’s Tea party whilst you’re there.  All you need to do is locate the white rabbit’s hole (located on a lazy sunny day, beneath the trees with a bubbling stream nearby) and follow the pocket-watch-toting bunny straight down.  You need to get your ‘hurry’ on because he’s late.  Read up on court politics before taking this trip – the Red Queen is quick to judge so if you’re partial to your head being on your shoulders tread carefully. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

 2.       Pay a visit to old Blighty and take a trip to London Below.  A seedy and strange underworld where you will mingle not only with London’s homeless but also other fantastical people from different times and places.  London Below is a parallel of London above with a few differences:  The Angel of Islington is ACTUALLY an angel.  Nightsbridge is a scary bridge that literally takes human lives as its toll!  You may need the assistance of ‘Door’ to enter and the help of the Marquis to traverse the place however be warned that he can be tricksy and slightly untrustworthy.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Confession: this is one of my ‘not quite so sure about choices – is it really a kingdom, or is it more just a ‘place’ – it’s never really made clear if there are rulers as such??)

 3.       The Split Worlds are just the ticket if you want to spend a bit of time in Regency Bath – well Regency Bath the parallel version!  A world of Faerie that lies ‘over’ the city of Bath.  Finding the doorway is the secret to taking this trip.  Basically, there are mirror images of major cities all over the world where the faerie realms exist.  Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman.

4.       Forget the sinking city of Venice and visit instead the magical realms of a troll city.  Incredibly difficult to get to, only for lovers of caving and extreme near death experiences.  For a hair raising experience brave the labyrinth of dark tunnels, filled with huge carnivorous, gigantic slug like predators and find the hidden world of the trolls.  Trapped under the mountains by a vengeful witch the trolls have remained underground and largely unknown for eons.  Thanks to a few hardy explorers and the aid of handy markings on the cavern walls more people can now visit this beautiful and intricately chiselled stone world of the trolls,  Might be useful to take a torch as though magic usually provides illumination better safe than sorry is my motto.  Oh, beware, some of the locals are a little, mmm, less friendly, than you might like!  And beware of the King – he has plans for us everyday folk.   Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen.

 5.       If you seek dangerous beasts, a wicked queen and snarling wolves that will chase you through the bitter cold then you need a trip to Narnia.  Through the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city War Drobe, take the turning after the fourth fur coat and find yourself beneath an olde worlde street lamp – from there seek out Mr Tumness for tea and crumpets!  Take care not to try some of the local delicacies such as the Turkish delight otherwise you could find yourself becoming a permanent fixture in the castle courtyward.  The Queen is a frosty one for sure but here be talking lions and centaurs – what more could you ask for?  A great day place to visit, get to role play for the odd year or ten and when you return you won’t have aged a jot!  Colour me happy.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

6.        Hidden in the catacombs underneath London during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I is a different court altogether.  Here dwells the ruler of Faerie England – Queen Invidiana.  Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come – strange alliances between the fae and mortal, betrayal and court politics.

7.   Next time you’re travelling through Middle Earth – on your way to battle, gathering your armies – take a little detour and visit the Army of the Dead.  A spooky visitation with the Dead Men of Dunharrow – lead by the King of the Dead they’ve been cursed by Isildur to remain  in Middle Earth after breaking their oath.  Now, before you go a visiting – be warned they’re not the happiest crowd and only answer to the Heir of Isildur – so just make sure you’re it – Aragorn that is.  Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien!

23 Responses to “We seek them here, we seek them there…..”

  1. Rabindranauth

    Whoa, sweet list. I think you’re the only person to remember Narnia and Alice in Wonderland.

    • lynnsbooks

      I kind of felt like I’d picked very soft options to be honest. Really, I wanted to find something a bit more obscure! Didn’t work – plus, I took a few off the list because I didn’t think they fit. Not really sure the Gaiman choice is a Kingdom – or for that matter the Tolkien one!
      Lynn 😀

      • Rabindranauth

        Bah, it’s your list, do whatcha feel like with it 😀

      • lynnsbooks

        Good plan! 😀

  2. Nathan

    You win this week I think. It didn’t occur to me to look for ones where everyday folk drop into a hidden kingdom, would have made things so much easier. Whats more, I have even read four of them, which is a nice change of pace.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know, I wish I could have come up with something a bit more obscure but these came into my head and stuck. I took a couple off – and I’m not sure a couple of them should really be on here! oh well, immortals next week, I’ll have to think of something really less well known!
      Lynn 😀

      • vacuouswastrel

        Personally, I’m not sure Narnia counts – it’s not really hidden in the wardrobe, that’s just happens to be a portal there, and I think portal fantasies are different from hidden kingdoms, although the lines are blurred.
        But my list did include PART of Narnia – the Underworld revealed in the sixth book is a pretty clear example of the trope.

      • lynnsbooks

        I’ve only ever read the first to be honest so don’t know of this Underworld but it definitely sounds intriguing.
        Lynn 😀

  3. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I’ve read a book on your list! (Neverwhere). So far your list is the only one that I have read one from. Great list! Love the Alice in Wonderland choice!

    • lynnsbooks

      Funnily enough I almost took Neverwhere off there! I wasn’t sure whether London Below really counted. I did think the Alice in Wonderland one was okay but you know what I really struggled with was the whole ‘kingdom’ element. Not really sure the LoTR one is a Kingdom either (although there is a ghost king!)
      Lynn 😀

      • vacuouswastrel

        I didn’t think of your LotR one, but I did think of four other Tolkien ones, including one in LotR, and one actually known as ‘The Hidden Kingdom’…

      • lynnsbooks

        I only thought of the LoTR one as a last minute thing to be honest. I did consider putting Rivendell but for some reason never added it to the list. In fact I deleted a few that I didn’t think were okay that I now figure I could probably have left on!
        Lynn 😀

  4. mmogamerchick

    And you said you had trouble coming up with a list this week, nonsense! 😉

    It’s great, and I have only read Stolen Songbird on that list and included it in mine too because it was just so perfect. Neverwhere and Between Two Thorns is on my TBR though!

  5. Mogsy

    And you said you had trouble coming up with a list this week, nonsense! 😉

    It’s great, and I have only read Stolen Songbird on that list and included it in mine too because it was just so perfect. Neverwhere and Between Two Thorns is on my TBR though!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, Stolen Songbird was a good one. I did struggle to be honest – I think I’ve come up with some really soft options where I was convinced I’d be able to find a few grimdarks or the like! What I found difficult was the whole kingdom element – I had to remove a few because I didn’t think they were kingdoms then last night LoTR and the Brennan book sort of popped into my mind so I thought I’d add them. I’m not really sure that Neverwhere should be on there or not.
      Lynn 😀

  6. jessicabookworm

    I would love to go to Narnia as for Middle Earth that might be a bit scary for me 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      No – it’s not scary, you could stay in a nice little Inn – The Prancing Pony!! – or maybe just keep to the Shire…
      Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        You have read the end of The Lord of the Rings right?!

      • lynnsbooks

        Indeed! At least twice. Well, obviously there’s a little bit of fighting/skirmishes here and there, BUT, it all works out!
        Lynn 😀

  7. Maija Reads

    Oh, your description of Narnia was so much funnier/quirkier than mine! I also loved the description of Middle Earth’s Army of the Dead – I giggled!

    And what?! A magical Regency book I haven’t heard of? With fairies, no less? I really have to check out Between Two Thorns! The cover confused me a lot – what is it with covers like these (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Assassin’s Curse)? Those cursive titles makes me confused!

    Midnight Never Come also looks intriguing!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, that cover – it seems to have been one of those styles that became very popular – I’ve seen a number of books with similar covers and I agree about cursive titles – in one respect I really like them but then in another way they can be really confusing to read. Yeah, the magical regency book – it was quite a unique take on the whole fae theme I thought. I’m not saying I didn’t have criticisms – because I quite often do have – but it was quite original – and, it has a living gargogyle! Midnight Never Come – well, it’s probably not MB’s best work, I prefer her dragon books personally, but, it’s really well written and researched, historical London with a whole other realm of faeries living beneath. Such a good concept. I do like Marie Brennan.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    Hooray – I’ve read wait 3 of those and totally plan to read all the others. Fabulous tastes darling!

    • lynnsbooks

      Thanks! Which 3 have you read?
      Btw – your site is gorgeous and I love your artwork.
      Lynn 😀

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