I’ve been a bit absent on the blogging front this month for all the usual end-of-year reasons (including trying to finish a draft of a novel-in-progress), but I plan to get stuck back into the regular posting at the start of the New Year. Since it’s the final Tough Travels of 2017, however, I thought I’d make an effort to fit one in before then!
This feature was originally created and run by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Laura Hughes at Fantasy Faction, but it will move to The Fantasy Hive next month. Inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s humorous classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month it puts the spotlight on a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.
This month’s theme is snarky sidekicks:
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.
Sidekick characters aren’t always a hit with me – perhaps I’ve seen too many annoying animal sidekicks in Disney films, but I’m a little suspicious of any character that slides too easily into the stereotype. HOWEVER, a truly witty, snarky, and loveable sidekick can definitely win me over. So here are my four favourite snarky fantasy sidekicks:
I’ve mentioned Sabriel a few times already for this feature, but I have to mention it again, because Mogget is probably my all time favourite snarky sidekick. He’s a dangerous Free Magic Being bound in the form of a cat by a magical collar and bell.
There’s a wonderful tension with his character, because even though he usually plays the helpful, cynical sidekick (in his deceptively cute cat form), he is often pursuing his own devious schemes, and persuading people to remove his collar and free him. For many of the books, you never quite know whether he is good or evil… but you fall in love with him anyway.
Sevro (Red Rising)
I know the Red Rising saga is generally considered more science fiction than fantasy (it’s in the YA dystopia vein), but I love this sidekick so much I had to include him.
When we meet Sevro is smelly, dirty, vicious, half-wild and constantly underestimated by most of the people around him… and to be honest, I don’t think this changes much over the course of the series. Nonetheless, he still manages to become one of the most compelling, interesting and likeable sidekick characters I’ve ever come across.
Jean Tannen (The Lies of Locke Lamora)
Jean Tannen might be the muscle that Locke Lamora relies on when his clever words aren’t enough to get him out of trouble… but Jean is much more than a protector or intimidator. He’s the guy who picks Locke up and gets him back on track when he’s in a self-pitying slump, reigns in his manic behaviour when he gets too wound up in his mad schemes, and keeps him grounded. He’s also a constant source of colourful insults and foul-mouthed amusing snark. Most importantly, he’s an unfailingly loyal friend… in fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a sidekick quite so loyal as Jean Tannen.
Liraz (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favourite YA fantasy romance series. The main character’s best friend Zuzana is perhaps a more obvious sidekick choice, but since she was one of the only things I didn’t like about this series (in fact, she’s probably an example of the kind of snarky sidekick character I don’t like), I’m focusing on Liraz instead, who I loved. She is one of the love interest’s (her brother’s) sidekicks – a powerful and brutal angel, and a soldier who always does her duty no matter how grim it might be – but when her brother falls in love with an enemy, we come to see that Liraz has a well-concealed softer side.
For links to more Tough Travelling posts, or to join in yourself and see next month’s theme, check out the host page on Fantasy Faction.
And if you have your own favourite fantasy sidekick, feel free to mention them in the comments!