Tough Travelling: Apprentices


Welcome to Tough Travelling – a monthly feature created by Fantasy Review Barn and hosted by The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month we set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Apprentices |

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 told. 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.

The Tough Guide To Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones


| Apprentices from A to Pprentice |

Fantasyland, with its myriad worlds, lands, kingdoms and hovels, really does have a rather narrow career path for those wishing to earn a living. Under the careful guidance of their master, the next generation learn new skills and prepare for the discovery that they are in fact the chosen one.

With more apprentices inhabiting the world of fantasy than I’ve had hot dinners, we’re spoiled for choice with this week’s Tough Travelling. 


| 1. |

Reaper’s Apprentice

Mort

Mort by Terry Pratchett

In a dramatic case of interfering parents inadvertently altering the fabric of reality, Mort is taken to a job fair by his father in the hope that he would land an apprenticeship. Believing his son to have become apprentice to an undertaker, Mort has in fact scored a far more interesting position, and soon finds himself collecting souls under the tutelage of Death himself. 

| 2. |

Wizard’s Apprentice

Pug 

The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

From humble beginnings as a kitchen boy in Crydee, Pug, on his day of Choosing (whereby teenage boys are selected by craft masters to become their apprentices) is discovered by the magician Kulgan. Sensing potential in the boy (but not quite sensing the right amount), he takes him under his wing to begin his training in magic.

| 3. |

Super Crime Fighting Wizard’s Apprentice

Peter Grant

The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Threatened by a life behind a desk, Constable Peter Grant is rescued from eternal inaction by Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale. And Nightingale just so happens to be a wizard. Taking Peter under his wing, Nightingale begins tutoring him in the weird and wonderful world of magical crimes.

| 4. |

Thief’s Apprentice

Locke Lamora

The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora and his fellow Gentlemen Bastards were once apprenticed to Father Chains, a priest of the Crooked Warden, the god of thieves. Under Father Chains’ tutelage, they were trained in the art of deception; becoming accomplished liars, masters of disguise, and con-men with the most impeccable taste in fine cuisine. 

| 5. |

Assassin’s Apprentice

Azoth

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

Orphaned as a child, Azoth is taken – or rather forces himself – under the grim wing of Durzo Blint who agrees to train him in the arts of the ‘wetboy’. Despite this strangely coined term, Azoth is not trained as either a bed-wetter or a male prostitute, but as a completely bad-ass assassin who blends magic and martial skill to become a deadly human weapon. 

Who would you like to be apprenticed to? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the The Fantasy Hive and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Shapeshifters


Welcome to Tough Travelling – a monthly feature created by Fantasy Review Barn and hosted by The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month we set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| 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

A common theme in the world of fantasy, shapeshifting is rarely confined to those either blessed or cursed with turning into a wolf at the light of a full moon. With a list of possible forms as long as a book, and more rules, spells and amulets than you can shake a wand at, this week I bring to you:

| Unlikely Shifters of the Shape Variety |

| 1. |

Lupine

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

One week out of four under the influence of the full moon, Lupine has the misfortune of not turning from man to werewolf but from werewolf to wolf-man. His sudden onset baldness and temporary sprouting of two human (or is that wolf-man?) legs renders him somewhat deficient in the trouser department and subject to charges of indecent exposure on an all too regular basis. Such is life in the Big Wahoonie.

| 2. |

Beorn

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Beorn is a skin-changer who can change at will into the form of a great black bear. Despite his ferocious appearance and incredible strength (and not only when in bear form), he is unquestionably wise and compassionate, risking his own life for the sake of others and opening his homestead up to a menagerie of animals, dwarves and wandering wizards. Some might say, however, that his most particular talent is his ability to convince so many domesticated animals to do his housework for him.

| 3. |

Poledra

The Belgariad by David Eddings

One might be mistaken in thinking that the wife of Belgarath and the mother of Polgara was in fact a human sorceress quite capable, like her husband, of transforming into a wolf at will. However, Poledra was in fact a wolf who, after watching Belgarath shift into various animal forms in the early days of sorcery, thought she might just try it out herself. Evidently she succeeded.

| 4. |

The Kandra

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

The strength of the Kandra is their ability to assume the likeness of any creature upon consumption and digestion of their body. The most skilled of their kind can manipulate and change the likeness of these ‘true bodies’ to suit their purposes, using as little as a skull to create a working form. Needless to say, with their superior skills in stealth and impersonation, your mother, your great aunt Sue or your miniature poodle Jasper might not be quite what they appear…

| 5. |

Ululenia

Rogues of the Republic by Patrick Weekes

Ululenia is a unicorn who just so happens to inhabit a world where unicorns have the ability to shift into any form they desire. Ululenia, whose form is always snowy white, has a preference for assuming human shape in order to seduce hapless virgins to their ultimate bliss. And her talents don’t end there – you can add mind reading, nature magic, general badassery and a glowing horn to the mix.

Who, or what, are your favourite fantasy shapeshifters? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the The Fantasy Hive and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Tricksters


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| 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.

Apologies for the sporadic posting, I’ve just started a new job so I’m still settling into the routine! This week’s Tough Travelling is looking at the conmen, pranksters and cardsharks who make a habit of turning up at opportune moments to deplete you of your possessions, your sanity and, more often than not, your dignity. In no particular order, here are this week’s five (or seven) troublemakers:

| 1. |

lotr
Merry & Pippin

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

| 2. |

Fred & George Weasley

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

| 3. | 

Mat Cauthon

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

| 4. |

Wit (or Hoid)

The Stormlight Archive (or the Cosmere) by Brandon Sanderson

| 5. |

Locke Lamora

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

Who are your favourite Tricksters? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Military Genius


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| 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.

The borders of Fantasyland are rife with change and often contested, and whether by army, Barbarian hoard or a swarm of pixies, war is inevitable. This week’s Tough Travelling will look at those soldiers and strategists, generals and geniuses, and talented tacticians for whom war is their bread and butter. In no particular order, here are the five warriors whose swords should be pointed firmly at the enemy.

| 1. |


Dalinar Kholin

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar Kholin is the Highprince of War – a brilliant military leader and skilled tactician whose prowess in battle has earned him the name The Blackthorn. Sure, he might prefer to kick back with the The Way of Kings  and live a more peaceful existence these days but in the heat of battle you sure as hell want to be anywhere but near his Shardblade.

| 2. |

Monza Murcatto

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

The Snake of Talins, Monza Murcatto, is one woman you want at the head of your army – because if you can’t see her she might just have a sword at your back. A ruthless leader and brilliant tactician, she has fought her way to the top, and whether by organised armies or mercenary warband, Monza Murcatto will have victory.

| 3. | 

Tywin Lannister

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

The Head of House Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, Warden of the West, Hand of the King, Saviour of the City, and Lord of the Dance… Through political manoeuvres and military might, Tywin Lannister has fought his way to the top, crushing those who oppose him and leaving severely depleted armies in his wake. This is one Lannister (of many) who you do not want to be indebted to.

| 4. |

Stenwold Maker

Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

War Master of Collegium and Spy Master General, Stenwold Maker has stumbled from victory to victory all in the guise of an academic. When war threatens  the Lowlands, Stenwold will bluster and blunder his way to the top, whilst his people look on with awe and admiration. Where he sees a fortunate turn of events, others see a brilliant leader and an outstanding tactician. Some guys have all the luck.

| 5. |

Toot-Toot

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

But nothing says War Master so much as a dew drop faerie the size of a coke bottle with hair like dandelion fluff and an insatiable hunger for pizza. Founder of the Za-Lord’s Guard, Major General of the Za-Lord’s Elite and commander over a swarm of little folk; if you find yourself on the wrong side of Harry Dresden, be prepared to be impaled on a myriad of small sharp instruments.

Which characters in Fantasyland would you put at the head of your army? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: The Good Thief


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| The Good Thief |

Sure they may pocket things that don’t belong to them.  And yes, anything that can be wiggled loose isn’t really locked down and may be fair game to them.  And if they put half of their intelligence into legit trades instead of long cons they would probably be pillars of fantasyland’s community.  But damn it, some thieves are still good people.

Fantasyland is filled to the brim with liars and cutthroats, murderers and rogues, but no ne’er-do-well is so beloved as the humble (or not so humble, as the case may be) thief. With a surfeit of thieves *cough* Skyrim *cough* to choose from, here are this week’s five fabulous filchers:

| 1. |

Magician
Jimmy the Hand

The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

Jimmy the Hand is an exceptional thief whose nimble fingers have picked many an unsuspecting pocket. With a talent for making strange (and distinctly royal) connections, Jimmy is a good egg who is, despite his apparent kleptomania, determined to do the right thing – even if he has to pay the price. In later life he is sure to be known as Jimmy the Foot, for being such a goody two-shoes!

| 2. |

Locke Lamora & Jean Tannen

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

The infamous Locke Lamora and his loyal sidekick Jean Tannen started off their dastardly (Gentleman) bastardly lives under the watchful eye of Father Chains. Known to have pulled off some of the most audacious cons to be found between the pages of a book, they revel in schemes and plots which earn them wealth, a lack of health and a whole host of trouble. But no one does it quite like The Thorn of Camorr.

| 3. | 

ADSoM

De(Lila)h Bard

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Lila Bard is a cross-dressing, knife-wielding, pick-pocketing ferocious female with piratical aspirations and an appetite for adventure. She’s also the most wanted thief in all of (Grey) London. Fortunately for those her cross her path, Lila is all about making her own choices, and if she chooses to help you that’s damn well what she’s going to do.

| 4. |
Retribution

Darian Frey

Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

Darien Frey is the Captain of the Ketty Jay – pirate, smuggler and thief, womaniser and general rogue; he and his crew make their living smuggling contraband and raiding airships – and there’s nothing quite like an air-heist. Except when it all goes tits up of course. Frey may be somewhat deficient in having ‘a good name’ but he’s sure as hell going to stop it from getting any worse.

| 5. |

riyria

Royce Melborn & Hadrian Blackwater

The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

Royce Melborn could walk through the shadows and slit your throat whilst Hadrian Blackwater lops off your head with one of his many, many swords; they’re not fussy who they work for and they’re as likely to stab their clients as they are their mark. Luckily for many a poor unsuspecting bastard, Hadrian Blackwater has conscience enough for the both of them, and no matter how much they rail against it, they always do the right thing.

Yes, I know that was seven (safecracking sneak-thieves?) but it’d be cruel to split them up. Like taking candy from a baby or Gandalf from his beard comb.

Who are your favourite thieves in fantasyland? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Creative Cursing


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Creative Cursing |

New lands, new languages, new things to cuss out.  Nobody in fantasyland cusses in quite the same way though; each world has its own way to yell at the world.

Ahh when it comes to inventive cursing, you could do much worse than delve into a fantasy novel. Who knew the creators of entire worlds would love coming up with new ways to berate, insult and abuse beloved characters so much. If you’re looking for a new way to curse or exclaim at your loved ones, then look no further than:

| 1. |

HP
Merlin’s Beard!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

| 2. |

DR
Blood and Ashes!

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

| 3. | 

wok
Storm It!

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

| 4. |


Gritsucker!

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

| 5. |

lotr
Witless Worm!

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Are there any other insults from fantasyland which should have made the list? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Well Travelled Roads


Tough Travelling 2Join me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Well Travelled Roads |

Rare is the fantasy adventure that stays close to home. Most require a long adventure down some well travelled roads…

There’s one place which will undoubtedly crop up numerous times in this week’s Tough Travelling – Middle Earth. Though there are countless other roads, paths, ways and trails across innumerable worlds in fantasy fiction, this week I’ve decided to start off and remain in Middle Earth to take a journey across its most travelled roads. This week I bring to you:

| A (Tough) Traveller’s Guide to the Roads of Middle Earth |

| 1. |

The Great East Road

From Tower Hills travelling east through The Shire and Bree to Rivendell

Originally thought to have been a Dwarven road running from the Iron Hills in the east to the Blue mountains in the west, there is still much to see and enjoy along The Great East Road. We start our journey at Emyn Beraid, or Tower Hills; a hilly range upon which Gil-Galad built three glorious Elven towers. These White Towers were a site of pilgrimage for the Elves and once housed one of the infamous palantír. A donation is not compulsory but is advised when visiting.

From here we journey eastwards through The Shire where travellers are sure to enjoy all the home comforts and famous spirit of Hobbit hospitality in the fair towns and villages which mark the route. Those who wish to visit The Green Dragon or The Ivy Bush should take the turn towards Bywater and from there can also reach Hobbiton.

Continuing along The Great East Road we meet the Brandywine River which can be crossed by the Bridge of Stonebows, to take us just north of Buckland. Avoiding the Barrow-downs to the south we make our way east to Bree, a bustling town of Hobbits and Men situated at the intersection of The Great East Road and The Greenway. No trip to Bree would be complete without a visit to The Prancing Pony, where visitors are encouraged to stop for refreshment.

As we continue our journey, travellers are reminded to don their insect repellent as we pass just south of the Midgewater Marshes. From here we have spectacular views towards the old Dúnedain fortress of Weathertop and the distant Weather Hills. We cross the River Hoarwell at ‘The Last Bridge’ on the final leg of our journey to the hidden valley of Imladris, where we will meet our journey’s end at the “Last Homely House East of the Sea”, Rivendell.

| 2. |

The Old Forest Road

From Rivendell through the High Pass and Mirkwood to the River Running

Travellers who find themselves at Rivendell may continue along The Great East Road and meet up with the Old Forest Road at the borders of Mirkwood. Leaving Rivendell, we venture north east towards the High Pass, or the Pass of Imladris, in the Misty Mountains. This pass, under which unlucky tourists would find Goblin-town, is prone to orcish blockades. Travellers are urged to carry a weapon and to remain vigilant at all times.

Emerging west of the Misty Mountains, our journey continues along the road to the Old Ford which crosses the River Anduin. A simple ford is all that remains of the stone bridge which once spanned the river so prepare to get your feet wet! Look to the north for views of the Carrock and Mirkwood, once Greenwood the Great, can now be seen in the distant east.

Crossing through open countryside, the route meets the Old Forest Road at the borders of Mirkwood. Travellers intent on visiting Beorn’s house should turn north midway between the ford and the forest. Just north of the road’s entry point into the forest is Rhosgobel, the home of Radagast the Brown.

The Old Forest Road is treacherous – overgrown, disused and a favourite haunt of Goblins – and covers more than two hundred miles. Impassable marshes have formed at the eastern end of the path so travellers wishing to go further must skirt either north or south of these to emerge from the forest. Those wishing to travel to Esgaroth, or Laketown, and thence to Dale and Erebor should skirt north of the marshes and follow the River Running northwards where it meets the Long Lake and Esgaroth.

| 3. |

The Greenway

From Fornost Erain, or Deadman’s Dike, through Bree to Tharbad on the Greyflood

The Greenway was once part of the North-South Road, a great highway which once ran from the capital of Arnor, Fornost Erain, to the capital of Gondor, Minas Tirith. The Greenway is now a somewhat overgrown and grassy road which in later years was much travelled by the Black Riders in their hunt for The One Ring.

We begin our journey at the ruins of Fornost Erain, which is now more commonly known as Deadman’s Dike, a popular spot for intrepid archaeologists. After a thorough exploration of the ruins our route takes us southwards through Bree-land into the lively town of Bree, where travellers are encouraged to stop for a pint of ale and a good dose of town gossip.

As we leave Bree our tour takes on a rather ominous air as we travel through Andrath, a narrow defile between the Barrow-downs to the west and the South Downs to the east. It is here that the Witch-King of Angmar, known then as the Black Captain, once established a camp. Travellers are encouraged to stay on the path and to not venture into the Barrow-downs which are known to be haunted by Barrow-wights.

As we travel south another road meets The Greenway; travellers wishing to return to The Shire may take this road to Michel Delving and there meet The Great East Road. Continuing along The Greenway we travel through fenland to approach our destination – the ruins of Tharbad which once forded the River Gwalthó, or the Greyflood. The bridge is ruined and impassable and the Greyflood may only be crossed at the traveller’s own peril.

| 4. |

The Old South Road

From Tharbad on the Greyflood through Dunland and the Gap of Rohan to the Fords of Isen

Adventurous travellers who have managed to cross the Greyflood at Tharbad, much like Boromir on his journey from Gondor to Rivendell, can now begin the next leg of the journey on what was once the North-South Road. Travellers are likely to require either a change of clothes or medical attention at this point.

South of the Greyflood, The Greenway becomes the the Old South Road and from here travellers can enjoy the glorious views as we pass west of the southern Misty Mountains through Dunland, a sparsely populated area mostly inhabited by herdsmen and hillmen. The terrain through Dunland is hilly and travellers are advised to wear sturdy walking boots.

After more than one hundred and fifty miles of hillwalking we begin to approach the Gap of Rohan, an opening which runs between the Misty Mountains to the north and the White Mountains to the south. Travellers wishing to travel to Isengard may do so by turning north before crossing the River Isen. Those wishing to take the next leg of the journey on The Great West Road may cross at the Fords of Isen.

| 5. |

The Great West Road

From the eastern bank of the River Isen through Rohan and Gondor to Minas Tirith 

Our journey starts just south of Isengard, on the eastern bank of the River Isen on the next stage of the ancient North-South Road, The Great West Road. From here we will travel just north of the great fortress of Helm’s Deep before continuing along our path towards Edoras, the seat of the Kings of Rohan. Travellers who wish to take a tour of the Golden Hall of Meduseld or take the Paths of the Dead will have to leave The Great West Road here.

Continuing our journey, we travel along the footings of the White Mountains, which lie south of our trail, before meeting the River Glanhir. This marks the border between Rohan and Gondor. From here we travel through Anórien, otherwise known as the Sun-land, where the loud rush of the River Anduin can be heard even before the great island fortress of Cair Andros appears on the horizon. The dark mountain range seen in the distance is in fact the border of Mordor – the Mountains of Shadow.

As The Great West Road passes south west of Cair Andros, the road curves south. Here travellers are urged to stop and take in the first and utterly spectacular views of our destination – Minas Tirith. Continuing down the road we arrive at the city itself where visitors are wined, dined and treated to the favourable hospitality of the people of Gondor. Travellers wishing to extend their journey may take the South Road to the great city and port of Pelargir or alternatively make their way east to Osgiliath and thence on to Mordor. Guided tours of Mordor are available by request through Orcish Outings Ltd. 

An epic journey cannot be had without some well travelled roads, which are your favourites? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: A Lady and her Sword


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| A Lady and her Sword |

Fantasyland is full of threats.  A lady and her sword can keep those threats at bay.

Who doesn’t love a good sword-wielding, blood thirsty heroine? Sadly, as I looked through my bookshelves, I came to the realisation that there aren’t half as many as I thought. So in no particular order, here are this week’s five females who wouldn’t hesitate to stick you with the pointy end.

| 1. |

bsc
Monza Murcatto

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Monza Murcatto, The Snake of Talins, is a ruthless fighter and brilliant tactician. This is not a woman to cross unless you are armed to the teeth and preferably have an army at your back.

| 2. |


Tynisa

Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Tynisa Maker is a brilliant duelist turned deadly weaponsmaster who cuts through men like a scythe through wheat.

| 3. | 

lotr
Eowyn

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the woman who would not be left behind. Disguised as a man, Eowyn rides into battle to draw swords against the terrible Witch-King of Angmar.

| 4. |

got
Arya Stark

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Arya Stark, less concerned with courtly appearances and feminine past times, learns to wield a blade under the tutelage of master sword fighter, Syrio Forel.

| 5. |

s
Sabriel

The Old Kingdom by Garth Nix

When the dead start to rise one could do worse than calling on the Abhorsen who, armed with a sword and a set of bells, sends the dead back to rest.

Are there any other sword-wielding women who should have made the list? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Portals to Another Land


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Portals to Another Land |

Fantasyland often has some unique entry points; not every traveler is born within its boundaries.  It is a regular event for someone from a non-magical place to suddenly find themselves in this world of dragons, magic, and danger.

After quite some time searching, it appeared that most of my favourite portal books were those from childhood. So this week I’ve gathered five of my childhood favourites. These are the stories of portals and time-slips, of nightmarish creatures and dangerous worlds, of brave children and unwitting adults. These are the five I’ve read countless times over the years.

| 1. |

ElidorElidor

by Alan Garner

The four Watson children enter an old and abandoned church in search of a football when one by one, they disappear through a heavy iron-ringed door. A door which leads to the world of Elidor, a dark and dangerous kingdom almost entirely fallen to evil.

| 2. |

AliceAlice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass 

by Lewis Carroll

Alice finds herself on all sorts of adventures after making her way down a rabbit hole and finding herself in Wonderland. It certainly doesn’t stop her from making her way through a looking-glass mirror.

| 3. | LionThe Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

After being evacuated from London, Lucy Pevensie is exploring her adopted home when she finds her way through the back of a wardrobe into the world of Narnia. One by one, the disbelieving Pevensie children follow Lucy through the wardrobe to discover a world frozen in deep winter and ruled by the dark and terrible White Witch.

| 4. |TMGTom’s Midnight Garden

by Philippa Pearce

When Tom Long goes to stay with his Uncle Alan and Aunt Gwen in an upstairs flat of a large house with no garden, he finds himself transported to the past every night when the old grandfather clock strikes 13 and the back door opens onto a magical garden.

| 5. |MoondialMoondial

by Helen Cresswell

After being sent to live with an elderly aunt in the country, Minty finds herself transported to the past every night by a strange moondial in the garden; a past where she must help the ‘lost souls’  of former residents find peace.

What are your favourite portal books? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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