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. |
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. |
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. |
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. |
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. |
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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