TTT : Favourite Fantasy Tropes


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

 Favorite Tropes

There’s a reason why tropes are used a lot – basically, done well, they make for some rather excellent reading as my list below shows.  I’ve chosen today’s topics from the Tough Travelling fantasy meme that I used to enjoy taking part in.  Run by Nathan at The Fantasy Review Barn the idea was to come up with examples each week that fit Diana Wynne Jones Tough Guide to Fantasyland.  Here are a few of the topics we covered:


PIRATES range the seas in force, though most of them operate individually…The sole qualifications are that they must be rough and ruthless, which a penchant for dressing gaudily.’

The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Much feared, his daring and sword fighting abilities precede him.  However, there’s more to Roberts than at first meets the eye????  I won’t give it away here though.


A tour official who will be at your service until halfway through the tour, when you will unexpectedly lose him

Chains – and the Gentlemen Bastards

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  Chains is a great character.  He teaches his little band the art of subtlety, how to blend in with a crowd, how to spot a mark, how to speak multiple languages, cook, read and fight with their weapon of choice.  His charges are experts in the art of disguise and deception.  They play the long game and entertain with their snarky humour and bad language!


Fairground- This is like a MARKET, except it is much , much bigger and planted somewhere right in the middle of nowhere so that everyone can get to it.  There will be rows and rows of TENTS and BOOTHS…

The Troupe by Robert J Bennett

The Troupe is a coming of age fantasy about a young boy who runs away to join the fair!  Well, he runs away to join the Vaudeville circuit and search for his father.

So George, much like Nellie the Elephant, packed his trunk and joined the strange and mysterious world of The Troupe.  They follow a gruelling schedule, in fact you’ll be lucky if you can catch a performance.  Are the Troup running away from demons, they’re certainly followed by faceless men in grey who blend with the shadows.  The imagination and fantasy contained here is really fantastic.  It’s a gripping story.

The Troupe has its own strong man and a puppet master (creepy at all) and the Master of the show gives a spellbinding performance at the conclusion of each event that leaves the audience, quite literally, spell bound.


Kush1Apprentices are people who are training for a trade or skill, which means they are usually quite young and bad at what they do. Most of the time they are like nurses during an operation, being there only to hand the master his tools. They seem to have to do this for a good many years before they get to do anything more interesting, and it is therefore not surprising that some of them get restless and either try to do the interesting stuff themselves or simply run away. The Rules state that if an Apprentice tries to do the interesting stuff on their own it will blow up in their face. If they run away, they will learn all sorts of things very quickly and also probably prove to be the MISSING HEIR to a Kingdom.

Phèdre nó Delaunay – Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Originally trained in Naamah’s arts Phedre becomes a trainee or apprentice to Anafiel Delaunay de Montrève.  Along with Alcuin Phedre will learn a number of things, including languages and the art of being covert in preparation for becoming a spy at court.


Why is everyone so serious all the time?  Perhaps they need a friend that is there with a quick bit of wit to liven up the day… even if the day is looking to quickly turn to blood.

Reiches – a squirrel cat from Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger series – I love this critter. Not everybody understands him but he’s definitely snarky and it turns out he loves a hot bath with buttery biscuits on the side.



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).

Mia Covere – from Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles #1) by Jay Kristoff.  Mia is a young protagonist when the story begins and she attends a school for assassins where staying alive is the most important lesson of all. Mia can use the shadows to cloak herself in darkness and in fact the shadows themselves provide her with the constant presence of a companion – a cat she calls Mr Kindly.  To be clear this book is not a YA novel – there is plenty of bloody violence and other material that would be unsuitable for younger readers so don’t be misguided by Mia’s age or the school type setting.  Hogwarts this isn’t.

Grim from Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier.  At the start of the story Blackthorn, wrongly imprisoned, escapes prison with one of her fellow prisoners – Grim.  This is a great book and all about new beginnings.


The good fight.  Casting off the chains of tyranny!  No one in fantasyland refuses the call of the good fight.  And what fight is more important in fantasyland than FREEDOM?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – in which a teenage boy called Darrow tries to help his people break free from their lives as miners and almost slaves to the richer upper echelons of society known as the Golds.  I wondered if this one really counted – as it’s not really the bigger battle in the first book – it’s more about infiltration.  But, ultimately it is about the good fight.


Dead Gods

Fantasyland had gods, right?  And now they are dead.  Dead Gods are not forgotten though, often they are still just influential to the land as they were when living.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris – in which ‘Ragnarok’ is brought about by the Gods trying to avoid fate. Told by the trickster Loki.  Few Gods will survive in this retelling of Norse mythology.









28 Responses to “TTT : Favourite Fantasy Tropes”

  1. lifewithallthebooks

    This is a fun list! Fairgrounds can be so creepy! 😊
    My TTT:

    • @lynnsbooks

      – Yes, probably because they make me think of clowns!
      Lynn 😀

  2. confessionsofayareader

    Snarky sidekicks are the best! Great list!

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Ah, Father Chains….!!! 🙂

  4. evelynreads1

    Pirates and snarky sidekicks are THE best!
    Great list!


  5. Redhead

    great list! I love snarky side kicks!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Plus banter – I should have added banter – Scott Lynch would be the king of that particular example.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Tammy

    Love this list, I love many of these too. Snarky sidekicks is a good one!😁

  7. sjhigbee

    What a wonderful list! Kushiel’s Dart is one of those books I want to get hold of – I loved her Miranda and Caliban… And the snarky sidekick, oh yes, while I wouldn’t want Reichis as MY companion, he’s marvellous fun to read about. The other is Skull in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co, which I’ve just finished and feel a bit desperately sad about… It was so much fun – I hate it when wonderful series end.

    Thank you for sharing:))

    • @lynnsbooks

      And Jim Butcher also has a skull in his Dresden series -although technically the skull is really just the habitat.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Oh yes – Bob! I’d forgotten about dear old Bob…

  8. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I tackled mine a little differently today, because I feel like I’ve made a favorite tropes list before…might be deja vu from our tough traveling posts though, there were so many I loved from those and here as well 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I loved TT – I cheated and just went and looked at a bunch of my old posts for this weeks theme but I loved your take and it really does demonstrate what a popular trope – books within books is.
      Lynn 😀

  9. mervih

    Great list. I love many of these troupes as well. I also really enjoyed the Tough Travelling posts.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – so sad those posts came to an end. They were always such a lot of fun and I just really enjoyed reading everyone’s take on the topics.
      Lynn 😀

  10. PerfectlyTolerable

    Great list!!! I love combos of these too .. like the lady assassin with her sword and snarky sidekick ❤

  11. waytoofantasy

    Yes, I am with you on pretty much all of these. I LOVE a girl and her sword. 😉
    Blackthorn and Grim is my jam, Marillier writes just the kind of stories I love — that theme of new beginnings — you nailed it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I definitely need to read more Marilier – I love her writing, just need to make more time.
      Lynn 😀

  12. jessicabookworm

    Aw, I really miss the Tough Travelling fantasy meme! Great idea to pick categories from it, Lynn 😀

  13. LizScanlon

    Ah, assassins and snarky sidekicks- my favourite! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s