Tough Travels: Minions

It’s tough travelling time again! This feature was originally created and run by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Laura Hughes at Fantasy Faction. 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 minions:

Minions of the DARK LORD can be male or female, though he tends to favour males (who seem to be more susceptible to the Evil One’s wiles). They can take many forms: BAD KINGS, ENCHANTRESSES, HIGH PRIESTS, EUNUCHS, DUKES, REGENTS or WITCHES. Additionally, there are the non-human minions, such as ORCS, TROLLS, GOBLINS and random OTHER PEOPLES . . . not to mention MUTANT NASTIES, carefully selected MONSTERS, UNDEAD, and DEMONS.

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Books That Made Me Cry: Fantasy, Sci-fi and Dystopian Tearjerkers

Last week I mentioned some reasons why movies are usually bigger tearjerkers than books for me. However, there are still several books that have prickled my eyes or had me in tears, so today I thought I’d pay tribute these emotional tales.

Before I begin: this list will include SPOILERS. Discussing the sad moments in books necessarily involves mentioning character deaths and tragedies, and while I’ll try to keep it vague, I can’t promise I won’t give away too much. So if you haven’t read one of these books and don’t want a key plot point revealed, I suggest skipping the second paragraph of each section. Continue reading

Are They Really Dead? 5 Kinds of False Deaths in Fantasy

When a favourite character dies in a fantasy novel, movie or TV show, our sense of sadness or shock is often tempered by that niggling question that immediately presents itself… are they really dead?

And we can’t be blamed for asking it. Continue reading

What Did Tolkien Think of Fantasy Fiction?

We all know J.R.R. Tolkien wrote fantasy fiction. He was the brilliant mind behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a creator of intricate and enthralling new worlds, and one of the founding fathers of the genre. You can rarely talk about fantasy fiction without mentioning Tolkien… but I think his skill in writing fantasy was not the only thing that made him the legend he is today.  Continue reading

History in the Potterverse and Other Magical Worlds

If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, the name Bathilda Bagshot might be familiar to you. You may even recognise her as the author of Hogwarts, a History, a book to which Harry’s friend Hermione regularly refers in the series. Whenever the characters need to know something about the ancient castle they go to school in, Hermione is there, spouting “historical” facts from Bagshot’s work to help them solve their problems.

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Learning a Fantasy Language? Apparently There’s an App for That

I work part time at an institute that runs classes in a whole range of foreign languages. Real-world languages, that is – like French and Arabic and Japanese. On our feedback forms at the end of each course, we ask students to suggest any new languages that they would like us to offer in the following year. One day a colleague came to me, confused, with a feedback form in hand, and asked:

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The ‘Ye Olde’ in Epic Fantasy: 6 More Archaisms and Why Authors Use Them

Last week I listed some English archaic forms often seen in epic fantasy novels: things like “here be dragons” and “unsavoury louts they were” and “prithee”. This week I’m continuing with a few more ‘ye olde’ words fantasy authors like to throw into the mix, as well as having a look at why they do it.

So without further ado, and again with the help of Susan Mandala’s Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Question of Style, here are the remaining 6: Continue reading

Does Loving Epic Fantasy Make You a Monarchist?

Okay, admittedly that seems like an odd question. But if you’ve ever stopped to think about the attitudes to royalty presented in fantasy stories, particularly epic high fantasies, it’s not so absurd. There is a very obvious bias toward royalty, and the idea that a person born into a role is the most rightful and qualified person to perform that role. Continue reading

Talking Trees… and Other Sentient Vegetation

I have a friend who cannot stand talking trees in fiction.

Talking animals are fine, and she’s happy to accept a whole range of other incongruous fantasy logic (for example, werewolves that turn back into humans and still have their clothes on). But trees that talk, or walk, or are in any way sentient? She finds them stupid. And a bit creepy.  Continue reading

The Taboo on Killing the Villain

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but every time the hero spares the life of the dastardly, evil villain, I roll my eyes. Even when I was a kid this annoyed me.

Don’t get me wrong, in the real world I’m no fan of vigilantly justice, or the death penalty. I don’t think random good Samaritans should be offing people because they decided it was the right thing to do.

But in the fictional world, when the ass-kicking, world-saving, all-round nice guy or gal battles the evil villain, and finally gets the chance to end their reign of terror once and for all… and they let them live??  Continue reading