‘I am Groot..’

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It’s time once again to go Tough Travelling with Fantasy Faction,  On the first day of each month, with a pre arranged theme in mind, we will all come up with out own individual selection of books that take us travelling through the tropes of fantasy.  This month’s theme: Non-Human Heroes (I used restraint for this one – I could have had a very, very, very long list!

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.

Orc – well, half orc – the Jackal from Jonathan French’s : The Grey Bastards: Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster.  Definitely a non human hero in my book!

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Coyote – Mercedes Thompson – ‘Mercedes is a Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Her Native American heritage has gifted her with the ability to take the form of a coyote at will’.  Mercedes is a great character who has really developed throughout the series.  Definitely a keeper.

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Dog – Sirius Black – Harry’s Animagus godfather who escaped from Azkaban. Old friend of James and Lily Potter, shape shifts into a large black dog.  J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

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Gargoyle – from Emma Newman’s Split Worlds – the gargoyle hosts the soul of Max the Arbiter – made of stone he’s jam packed with feelings.  And, he’s just so lovely.  Everybody should have a gargoyle.

Unicorn – Ayla Nightshade from A F E Smith’s Darkshade series.  A shapeshifter flying unicorn no less.  A great series so far with more yet to come.

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Fae/Changeling – October Daye from Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series.  I love this series – it’s packed with all sorts of fae, Tybalt for example – king of the cat court no less.  October is a fantastic character and definitely runs into trouble without hesitation to try and rescue others.

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Spider – yes, spider’s can be heroes – and by way of proof I give to you Charlotte – of E B White’s Charlotte’s Web.  She totally saves Wilbur’s bacon – I went there. *sorrynotsorry*

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Golem – Task is probably one of the most unlikely heroes ever.  A golem created to be used in war.  Ben Galley’s Heart of Stone.

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I will leave it there – I had a fairly ridiculously lengthy list but decided to hold back.

‘The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client.

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The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.’

It’s time once again to go Tough Travelling with Fantasy Faction,  On the first day of each month, with a pre arranged theme in mind, we will all come up with out own individual selection of books that take us travelling through the tropes of fantasy.  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).

Apart from the opening title (taken from Leon) I’ve gone with a cast of female assassins:

Nona – from Red Sister, (book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence.  Nona is only a young girl when she is taken to the Convent of Sweet Mercy to train as an assassin, but don’t let her age lull you into a false sense of security – Nona has a bloody history in spite of her young years.  This is a great coming of age story with a strong cast of characters told in Mark Lawrence’s highly discernible style and set in a harsh world.

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Mia Covere – from Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles #1) by Jay Kristoff.  Again, Mia is a young protagonist when the story begins and similar to Nona 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.

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Katsa – from Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore.  In the world created here some people are born with certain skills – these people are known as gracelings.  Katsa seems to have been graced with the gift of killing which has led her to be used by her uncle, the king, as his own personal hit woman.  If Katsa comes to visit then your days are numbered.

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Rhisia Sen -from Assassin’s Charge by Claire Frank.  This was one of the finalists from the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  Rhisia, also known as the Reaper’s Bride, is arguably the best at what she does.  When she is offered a very lucrative purse for a job she grabs the chance thinking that this will be her last hit.  Unfortunately, when Rhisia eventually locates her target she discovers that even she has boundaries – and killing a young boy it not something that she can do.  Her new found conscience means that she herself is now on the ‘most wanted’ list and so her only hope is to take the boy and try to keep them both alive.

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Another very recent read:

Pyrre – from Skullsworn by Brian Staveley.  Pyrre is a devotee of the God of Death – not yet a priestess the book tells the story of her trial in which she must complete a number of objectives dictated by an old song.  For this, strangely enough, Pyrre will have to fall in love.  This is a great story with a fantastic setting.

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Finally, lets finish with this character from SinCity (a series of comics by Frank Miller): Miho – often referred to as ‘Deadly Little Miho’ because of her lethal ability with twin Samurai swords.  Assassin and enforcer for Old Town.

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Next month’s theme will be non-human protagonists – get your thinking caps on now.

‘Wait till they get a load of me!’

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This week, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, Nathan is taking us travelling once again through the tropes of fantasy.  This week the topic for discussion is:

TRICKSTERS

A great prank is always amusing.  Many an adventure start with a well placed trick.  They are even more amusing when performed by those with god like powers.

  1. Gods: Loki – I guess this is the most obvious choice but it’s also the first that sprung to mind.  The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
  2. Fae: Puck – Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream ‘Now, when thou wakest, with thine own fool’s eyes peep.’
  3. Animal: Coyote: thinking of two series for this one, Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.
  4. Vampire: Greyfriar from the Vampire Empire books by Clay and Susan Griffiths.  Greyfriar disguises himself as a human!
  5. Magician: The Weasley twins from Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Pair of pranksters.
  6. Human: again, two for this one: Locke Lamora from Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard series and the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Pirates – you just can’t trust ’em.
  7. Shape Shifters: Kitsume called Suzume – from M L Brennan’s Generation V – Suzume is actually a fox who can shift into a human form.  She has a great sense of humour and is always pulling tricks!

I leave you with a little rhyme from a fairytale character trickster:

“Tomorrow I brew, today I bake,
And then the child away I’ll take;
For little deems my royal dame
That Rumpelstiltzkin is my name!”

‘All’s well that ends well…’

This week, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, Nathan is taking us travelling once again through the tropes of fantasy.  This week the topic for discussion is:

PEACE AT LAST

Life in Fantasyland is often hard but even the hardest fought battles can come to an end.  The good guys win, the quest is over, evil is gone.  Yes, the land can finally know peace when the protagonist reach their goal.

Peace at last – okay, I think I’ve gone with a lot of fairly obvious choices here but..  Also, given that we’re talking of endings here there could be potential spoilers lurking below.  Beware!

  1. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – I simply had to go there.  The ring has been cast into Mount Doom and there is simply no way for Sauron to recover from this one.  Peace at last has come to Middle Earth.
  2. JKRowling’s Harry Potter – he who shall not be named is finally gone.  And didn’t they all just go on and live happily ever after!
  3. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis – the White Witch is dead, Narnia is no longer living in perpetual winter and all the little critters that were turned to statues, including his good self Mr Tumnus, have been restored to life. Good times.
  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – in which, thankfully a terrible apocalypse is prevented – at the very last minute!
  5. The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence.  Not to give too much away, maybe not an all singing and dancing, happy bunnies bounding through the fields type of ending – (SPOILER) not if your name is Jorg anyway, but, certainly a peaceful ending in terms of necromancers and armies of the dead being thwarted at the last minute!
  6. The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum – okay, maybe the woman in the pointy hat with the green tinged skin wasn’t too happy at the conclusion of this story but the Munchkins were throwing a party!
  7. Bear with me with this one – I am Legend by Richard Matheson – okay, the protagonist is due to meet a sticky ending – but – SPOILER – in a land now overrun by vampire type creatures, where he is the only human, he has in fact become the bogeyman and by killing him the vampires can finally live in peace.
  8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  No explanation needed.

That’s it for me this week.

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius

This week, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, Nathan is taking us travelling once again through the tropes of fantasy.  This week the topic for discussion is:

MILITARY GENIUS

Let’s face it.  Fantasy life is often a life of war.  One can only hope to serve under a commander who has some clue what they are doing.

So my choices this week:

Kaladin from Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings and Words of Radiance – I did think about going for Dalinar but I think Kaladin showed his skill when he joined the bridge crew and managed to not just train them into the ways of staying alive but also to make them feel more positive.  Gone from strength to strength.

Rig Black from Erin Lindsey’s Bloodforged.  Wow, can this guy form a good battle plan or what – risky, but good!  The Bloodforged is the second book (the first being Bloodbound and they’re both very readable.

Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich from the Thousand Names by Django Wexler.  This character really is a military genius – but maybe he’s not all he seems.  Or maybe he’s more than he seems!

Merros from James A Moore’s Seven Forges and Blasted Lands.  Merros starts out as a soldier but pretty quickly rises through the ranks to become General.  He becomes responsible for training up the gone soft Fellein army.  Year’s of peace have left the army in poor shape and with an army marching on their doorstep they need a good leader.

Reva from Anthony Ryan’s Tower Lord – really comes into her own in this story and helps to form a plan to defend the city.

General Anhalt from The Vampire Empire series by Susan and Clay Griffiths.  Cool headed and incredibly correct – a great character to have on your side when the vampires are swarming!

That’s it for me this week

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

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