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. |


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. |

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. |


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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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Complete Series I Still Haven’t Finished

Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!

| Top Ten… Complete Series I Still Haven’t Finished |

This week’s Top Ten focuses on finished series I still haven’t completed. These series are the ones I am really enjoying and should really really have finished by now… but I haven’t! As usual, there’s always too much to read and too little time! For shame! Looking through my bookshelves I realise I have far too many of these so perhaps I’ll make a new monthly goal to finish a few! For this week’s Top Ten I’ve stuck to fantasy (and there are definitely more in other genres) which leads me to one conclusion – I better get reading! In no particular order, here is the rundown:

| 1. |


Traitor Spy Trilogy

by Trudi Canavan

I’ve loved every book Trudi Canavan has written (and I’ve read) but The Traitor Queen is still sitting on my book/floorshelf waiting to be devoured! And then there’s Thief’s Magic! Oh dear… Trudi Canavan is an author I’d recommend in a heartbeat so I feel quite ashamed that I’ve still not finished this series.heart

| 2. |


The Belgariad

by David Eddings

I’m rather a latecomer to the work of David Eddings having only read the first three books in The Belgariad this year. As soon as I started them I knew I would have loved the work of Eddings when I was younger but even as an adult I was verily entertained. I will be reading the final two as soon as possible… here’s hoping my supermarket starts selling them off for £1 again!heart

| 3. |


The Twilight Reign

by Tom Lloyd

The Stormcaller was lost on my bookshelf for many a year until it was dusted off the other month. This was a great read which I wish I’d remembered sooner. I cannot wait to read the rest of this series.heart

| 4. |


The Farseer Trilogy

by Robin Hobb

Ah Robin Hobb, master (or mistress, if you so wish) of everything. I really need to finish this trilogy because everything Hobb writes is utter and complete perfection. Must read as soon as possible!heart

| 5. |


The Broken Empire Trilogy

by Mark Lawrence

Amazingly awesome start and then… I forgot! King of Thorns is sitting in sight and I just keep forgetting to pick it up next. For shame indeed! I will get round to it. I will!heart

| 6. |


The Old Kingdom/Abhorsen Series

by Garth Nix

Having read the first three in the series quite some time ago (along with the short stories) I thought it was a series complete! But no! Clariel appeared last year and has promptly been added to my to-read list. Sneaky Mr. Nix, very sneaky!heart

| 7. |


The Earthsea Cycle

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin is another author who I arrived at late. This year I’ve read A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan and will endeavour to read the rest of The Earthsea Cycle in due course! I’m almost certain I own them all too.heart

| 8. |


The Inheritance Cycle

by Christopher Paolini

I read Eragon when it first came out but cannot for the life of me remember whether I read Eldest too. In any case, I barely remember what happens so Eldest will be read next… just in case… and hopefully I won’t leave it another ten years before remembering… again.heart

| 9. |


The Magicians Trilogy

by Lev Grossman

I didn’t even realise this was a trilogy until this year! Completely forgot about it! I enjoyed The Magicians and can’t even remember hating Quentin despite his repeated appearance on last week’s top ten. I shall add the next two to my shopping list immediately.heart

| 10. |


The Wheel of Time

by Robert Jordan [ & Brandon Sanderson]

So so SO many books! Lord of Chaos awaits my attention and from there I still have an enormous chunk to go. The first five are brilliant. Fingers crossed for the rest.


What about you? Which series do you still have to complete? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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Tough Travelling: Labourers

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.

| Labourers |

Not everyone can be a Prince.  There is only room for one Queen.  A few spoiled nobles can sit around and play cards.  But fantasyland can’t build its own castles and roads, nor can it plough its own fields, nor cook its meals.  Someone has to do the hard work.  And often, as a reward of course, these labourers get pulled from their hard but simple life into a bigger plan.

This week I’m going to looks at a character type that occurs again and again in fantasy fiction. They may not fit the role of protagonist but they make a pretty damn good supporting character. They’re sturdy, strong and reliable and know how to use weapons like… well like they make them! Yes, I’m talking about the humblest character of all, the…

 | Blacksmith |

| 1 |


Perrin Aybara

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

A hammer wielding blacksmith warrior? What’s not to love?! Whisked away from his life as a blacksmith in Emond’s Field for many an adventure, Perrin prefers to bash people with a hammer because it sheds less blood than an axe… too kind Perrin, too kind.

| 2 |


Barkus Jeshua

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Barkus has a natural, though some would say dark, affinity with metal and though he can wield a sword like nobody’s business, his large and sturdy forge-forged frame makes him a perfect man mountain for unarmed combat.

| 3 |



The Belgariad by David Eddings

Steady, strong and reliable, Durnik is the atypical fantasy blacksmith. An honest hero, he finds himself on an adventure because he’s too kind and caring, and his strength and prowess at killing those pesky villains is always used with the greatest reluctance.

| 4 |


Llaw Gyffes

Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell

And what list of fantasy blacksmiths would be complete without a wrongly accused man on the run? Llaw Gyffes is a blacksmith come reluctant outlaw who is thrown into a life of rebellion and adventure and must lead his people to freedom. He’s not too bad with a sword either.

| 5 |



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

Ahh Gendry, a young, strong and simple blacksmith sucked into a world of bloody adventure for a mere circumstance of birth. But never fear! You can still get your custom made bull, goat or horse headed helmet, for the Known World is saturated with blacksmiths!

Are there any other blacksmiths in fantasy fiction that float your boat?  Or can you think of any other labourers who unwittingly find themselves on an adventure? 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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