“One had a knife. But I had a staff and was trained to use it.”


Once again it’s time to go Tough Travelling.  So, don your jaunty cap and pack your spotted hanky because we’re off on our travels.  The Fantasy Hive are now hosting Tough Travel so don’t forget to head on over there and link up.  This month’s theme is:


Apprentices 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.

– Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland


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.


Vin – from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy.  Vin starts the novel as a street urchin but pretty soon becomes a trainee after her allomancy abilities are spotted by Kelsier.


Arya Stark from GRRMartin’s Game of Thrones – raised at Winterfell Arya moves to King’s Landing where, not content to play a typical role of the times she receives training in the use of a sword by Syrio Forel – not sure if that isn’t a bit cheeky as the training doesn’t last for too long – however, in a later instalment Arya travels to the House of Black and White where she trains to join the Faceless Men.  I figure she goes on the list.


Mia Corvere from Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight Chronicles.  Mia is apprenticed to the Red Church.  She will train and eventually join their deadly assassins – when hopefully she will have the opportunity to take the revenge she so badly desires.


Agnieszka – from Naomi Kovak’s Uprooted.  A small village protected by a powerful sorcerer.  Every ten years he chooses a female from the village to be his companion – – sounds a bit hideous but bear with me – anyway, after discovering that one of the girls in the village has magical ability he is forced to take her into his care and train her to the best of his ability.  And so Agnieszka becomes a trainee to the most cantankerous and rude sorcerer ever – which is why he’s known as ‘the dragon’.


Pyrre Lakatur – from Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn.  A fantastic character to read about indeed – not to mention utterly deadly after years of training.  Pyrre needs to pass one final initiation test before becoming a Priestess to the God of Death.



April’s topic is MOTHERS




‘Normally, I have a very sweet disposition as a dog…The tail I could live with. But the fleas? ‘


Once again it’s time to go Tough Travelling.  So, don your jaunty cap and let’s go and see whether Lembas Bread is all it’s made out to be because this month we’re looking at Elves.  The Fantasy Hive are now hosting Tough Travel so don’t forget to head on over there and link up.

This month’s theme … SHAPESHIFTERS.

“Shapeshifting is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a wolf, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls and cats are common too. In all cases the Rule is that the Shapeshifter cannot stay too long in ANIMAL form without actually becoming that animal and losing touch with her/his human thoughts.”

– The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

So many!  How to rein myself in – I thought I’d go for type of animal and see how many I can come up with.  Okay, in no particular order:

Coyote – Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs series.  A great series and a great character.

Wolf – werewolves, the more traditional animal that we expect to see in shapeshifter books – well, there are werewolves in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer or there’s Adam, Mercy’s partner and alpha of the werewolf pack in the Mercy series by Patricia Briggs.

Bird – Atticus from the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne can shift into the form of an owl – as well as two or three other animals.

Dog – Sirius Black from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series transforms into a large black dog.  Also, Sam Merlotte could also transform into a dog – usually a collie.

Dragon – two dragons immediately spring to mind.  One is from Kristi Charish’s Owl series – Mr. Kurosawa, who runs a casino in Las Vegas transforms into a red dragon. The second is from the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman but I can’t say more for fear of spoilers.

Kitsune (Fox) – Suzume Hollis from Generation V by M L Brennan transforms into a Kitsune.  She’s a brilliant character and I heartily recommend this series.

Bats/Rats and Mist – Dracula, who else!  Bram Stoker.

Bears – in Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series we are introduced to the Maghuin Dhonn – believed to be witches they can also shift into bears.

Finally: Mystique – can turn into just about anything:


Art by Mike Mayhew


This is it for me this month – stop on over to the Fantasy Hive and add your links to the shapeshifters you’ve come up with.


And in other news…


Hope you’re all making a great start to 2018.  I thought I’d do a quick post rounding up a few interesting blogging items that you all might like to see.

Firstly a new blog that you should take a look at –  The Fantasy Hive – a great collaboration of people with lots of interesting ideas – plus lets face it you can’t have too many people to discuss SFF with.  They’ve got off to a great start already.  If you enjoy taking part in Tough Travelling then please note this monthly meme has moved to The Fantasy Hive.  This month’s topic is elves and if you want to hook up the link is here.  You have the whole month to come up with your favourite elves.

Also, the FH have set up a monthly book club – the details are here.  I love the idea of this and I’m definitely joining in with this month’s book (The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan) as I already own a copy.  I think this will give me the extra motivation to read some of the books I’ve already bought and are currently stacked up on Mount TBR.  Check out the above link for upcoming months  and their book titles.

Which cover do you like best??  I’m going for the dark, moody version although clearly both are very good – because DRAGONS:

The New Year brings with it Vintage Sci Fi.  Established by the Little Red Reviewer a few years ago this is a great event that encourages us all to read and discuss older science fiction.  More information can be found here if you want to hook up and also for Twitter followers check out this and this .  Plus, Red Star Reviews are hosting a Dune readalong – details here.   Coincidentally, and if you love Sci Fi,  Vintage Sci Fi also runs at the same time as Stainless Steel Droppings Sci Fi Experience – the link is here if you want to take a look.  Neither of these are challenges – they’re very easy going, stress free, events and they have a cross over appeal – if you read a sci fi book that is vintage you can also post it for the Sci Fi Experience – voila.

The Bibliosanctum have posted an excellent piece with some upcoming 2018 book releases for the first few months.  Here is the link.  I’m very lazy and love it when people put together nice convenient lists – but beware: this post should come with a TBR health warning.

A link here to a readalong that’s due to start – Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7 by James S A Corey) – this is another sci fi book (so obvs if you join in you could post your review to the Sci Fi Experience!).  I wish I could take part in this because I love readalongs but I have yet to start this series and as this is no.7…….  If you’re uptodate then I would definitely encourage you to join in.  These are always great fun.


The SPFBO (Self Published Fantasy Blog Off) is into the final stage and all 10 finalists are  now selected – the books are here.  I’ll be posting about my next books very shortly.

Finally, here’s my favourite books from 2017 – if you want to link up then drop me your url and I’ll make a list.


Follow the spiders? Follow the spiders?


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:



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.

Oberon – from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  I love Oberon and the element of fun that he brings to these stories.


Dog – Poison City (Delphic Division #1) by Paul Crilley.  Dog is a spiritual advisor to London (Gideon Tau) who works for the Delphic Division police force – they specialise in the supernatural.  Dog is a snarky sidekick indeed.  Rude and usually a little drunk -he has a penchant for sherry.

poison city

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.

Samwise Gamgee – I will not explain this one.  If you don’t know then I can’t even look at you right now – ‘a promise is a promise Mr Frodo’.


Derrick – a honey loving fae type character who plays the snarky sidekick to Aileana in The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May.

Next month’s topic will be : ELVES  (Please note that from January 2018 The Fantasy Hive will be hosting this meme).



‘I am fire, I am death’


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:


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?

The quote: obviously I had to have Smaug – if Smaug wasn’t on this list then you might as well just call me a numpty and be done with it.  In fact, call me one anyway, but Smaug is on the list.  The end.

The Copper Promise (The Copper Cat #1) by Jen Williams.  I loved this book.  I loved this series.  Seriously, go and read these books.

My next series is all about the dragons.  Every sort of dragon, every species.  A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan. Such a good series:

Finally, I have to have A Game of Thrones – because, the mother of dragons:

a game of thrones

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