Thursday, 23 April 2015

Tough Travels: The Ace

‘Tough Travelling’ is a weekly feature. Every Thursday I’ll be rummaging around in my memory to come up with various examples of commonly used fantasy tropes. Full credit goes to Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn for coming up with the idea: be sure to check out his blog!



This week’s topic is THE ACE.

Some people are just ridiculously good at everything. Be it magic, swordplay, or all of the above. THE ACE has no equal.


Kvothe

(The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss)

I imagine Kvothe will be on almost everyone’s list this week! Whether it’s magic, Naming, artificing, lute playing, yoga, sexing, being whipped, or pranking enemies, Kvothe the Bloodless would have us all believe that he is the best at everything and perfect in every way. Whether he is really an ace or just an incredibly biased and egotistical first-person narrator remains to be seen, but you have to admit he is pretty cool.



Jean Tannen

(Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch)

Not only is Jean Tannen an awesome bodyguard and occasional counsellor to his buddy Locke Lamora, but he’s also mega smart and is responsible for all the Gentlemen Bastards’ accounting. His deadly skill with axes, his badass-yet-nicest-guy-in-the-world persona, his mathematical skill, and his apparent, erm, proficiency in the hammock more than justify his place on a list of aces. (And as Lynn likes to say – never miss an opportunity to get Jean on your list!)



Durzo Blint & Kylar Stern

(The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks)

I couldn’t decide which of the above characters deserved to make it onto this list the most, so to make it easy I’ve included both. Durzo and Kylar are both assassins, or ‘wetboys’ as the most skilled ones are referred to in this series. Durzo is the most famous and skilled wetboy in the city, and Kylar follows in his footsteps as his apprentice. They are both insanely skilled with weapons and poisons and are highly regarded as the cream of the underworld, yet they are also skilled at mingling amongst the nobility. Also, they have magic, and are basically immortal. Or something.



The Red Knight

(The Red Knight by Miles Cameron)

The captain of an elite mercenary company, the Red Knight is much more than he first appears. He has the rare ability to use both Wild and Sun magic (most people can only use one or the other, or neither), is highly skilled in the use of various weapons, is an excellent horseman and an inspiring leader. He delivers killing blows to uncountable behemoths of the Wild, and is a pro at planning and conducting battles. Not to mention that he’s a mean hand with both a lute and a harp.



Quick Ben

(The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson)

I mentioned Quick Ben a few weeks back when we talked about Chess Masters, but he’s just so diabolically awesome in every way that I had to include him here too. Quick is a devastatingly powerful mage with possibly the most cunning mind of any character in the entire series. His plans within plans are often so convoluted that he is the only person who understands them. He has the magical ability of twelve mages put together, and even managed to outwit the master manipulator Shadowthrone, which takes some doing.



Jorg

(The Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence)

This is another one I also listed as a chess master, but couldn’t not mention this week too. Because there is nothing that Jorg Ancrath can’t do. At the age of ten he is quoting philosophy at his tutors and holding his own amongst a band of mercenaries. At the age of fourteen he is the undisputed leader of said mercenaries, as well as a king of the highlands. And by the age of eighteen he is leading an enormous force on a quest to save the world. He has no equal when it comes to the arts of weapons, technology, philosophy or politics, and is not afraid of playing dirty to get ahead in life.


That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of THE BIG CITY and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Review: 'Sourcery' by Terry Pratchett


Once upon a time, there was an eighth son of an eighth son who was, of course, a wizard. As if that wasn't complicated enough, said wizard then had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son . . . a wizard squared . . . a source of magic . . . a Sourcerer.



Sourcery is the fifth Discworld outing, and also one of my least favourites, although I did find it more entertaining than I remembered. A young but powerful child, Eskarina Coin is preparing to give the wizards of Unseen University the shock of their lives: for the first time in History, and against all the rules of the Lore, a girl a sourcerer has arrived in Ankh-Morpork, and her his presence is about to turn the conservative wizarding world upside down. The Discworld is suddenly threatened by ancient and devastating magic, with only the hapless Rincewind and his trusty Luggage there to prevent Trymon the sourcerer from unleashing the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions and initiating the dreaded Apocralypse.

As you can see, a large part of my problem with Sourcery is that it feels too much like a rehashing of both Equal Rites and The Light Fantastic, with nearly all its plot elements being ‘borrowed’ from one or the other. To be fair, in many respects it is better and more coherent (well, kind of) than either of those two books, yet it also suffers from many of the same flaws. For instance, it’s populated with unnecessary secondary characters who, although fairly likeable, have no real impact on the events of the story. It also follows the same routine as many other Discworld novels with regards to plot. There’s a nice quick prologue to set up the story, and then we’re thrown straight into events, which is great. Fast-paced and funny, saturated with chuckle-worthy one-liners, the first half of the story races by. From thereon in, however, it suffers from Pratchett-itis, as both story and momentum lose their thread and subsequently unravel in a series of pointless events and irrelevant sub-plots.

Nonetheless, as with most of the Discworld books, no matter how much mud there is there are still plenty of diamonds to be found. The sheer amount of throwaway comments, witty one-liners and godawful yet hilarious puns is, as always, thoroughly impressive; and I’m willing to overlook any amount of thin plot and mediocre characters for a book involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse getting drunk in a bar, having their horses stolen, and subsequently not turning up for their own apocalypse because they were too busy having ‘one for the road’.


3/5

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: 'The Red Knight' by Miles Cameron

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men - or worse, a company of mercenaries - against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he's determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it's just another job. The abbey is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can't deal with.

Only it's not just a job. It's going to be a war...



The Red Knight has been gathering dust on my shelf for a couple of years now, but I’ve always put off starting it because of how hefty it looks. However, I recently read a bunch of positive stuff about it, and since my reading mojo has been brilliant lately I thought now would be a good time to finally give it a go. I have to say I found it very underwhelming at first – in fact there were several occasions when I almost gave up on it – but it gradually picked up the pace as it went on, to the point where the second half of the book felt almost like a different, far superior book than the first half.

Firstly, it has to be said that The Red Knight is VERY slow in getting off the ground. I struggled a lot with the first hundred pages or so, finding the prose to be somewhat laborious and the descriptions of duels, complete with the names of guards and stances and such, to be pedantic and dull. In fact, the book didn’t really grip me in any way up until the 200 page mark; unfortunately by that point it already felt as though I’d ploughed through closer to 600, and so I didn’t really start to appreciate the book until quite a way after this. (I’m not sure if the fact that my copy is a trade paperback made it feel weightier than it really is.) However, I did start to enjoy it a lot more as the story progressed, and what begins as a slow introduction of multiple threads does build up to quite a climactic convergence towards the end.

The majority of The Red Knight’s story is set during a siege, which takes place over the course of a fortnight. The eponymous Red Knight and his company of mercenaries have been hired by the Abbess of Lissen Carak to provide protection for her nuns and to investigate the violent murders that have been taking place in nearby villages. It quickly becomes apparent that the murders are not isolated incidents: in fact, they herald an imminent invasion of Alba by an enemy host, and the Red Knight must use all his strength and cunning to defend the nuns’ mountain fortress against an incursion by the fearsome creatures of the Wild.

Despite the novel’s title, only around half the story is actually told from the point of view of the Red Knight himself. The rest of the book alternately follows a range of other characters, perhaps ten or eleven in total, in their own individual conflicts which ultimately become different strands of the main story. The regularly shifting POVs are jarring at first, particularly as each and every transition is heralded by the name and location of the next character, almost as though the author doesn’t trust the reader to keep track. There are also a few characters who felt superfluous to the story, such as Peter and Gaston, and I found myself impatient for their segments to end. The Red Knight himself is something of a mystery, and spends much of the novel nameless and faceless, which makes it hard to sympathise with him. However, hints about his identity are leaked gradually enough to keep the reader intrigued, and he becomes much more human and likeable as the main events unfold. As the story progresses and the reader becomes more familiar with the characters, the multiple POVS actually help to enhance the plot-driven story, giving it a cinematic quality so that you can almost visualise a Game of Thrones-style TV adaptation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The way the author uses multiple points of view to create epic convergences is strongly reminiscent of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. However, generally speaking The Red Knight reminded me more of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy in that the main character is more than he first appears, has fallen from high station, and leads a company of morally reprehensible men and women on a quest for glory. There are also clearly influences from the works of Tolkien, and the concept of the ‘Wild folk’ being kept from civilisation by a protective wall has the ring of A Song of Ice and Fire. Despite this, The Red Knight didn’t actually feel too derivative. In fact, what sets it apart from pretty much all other fantasy I’ve read is the fact that the characters fight in head-to-toe armour (or ‘full harness’) in the style of medieval knights, and the author makes a very big deal about this. Somehow the big battles feel all the more realistic when seen from the point of view of characters who have limited vision and are gasping for air due their obstructive helmet visors, and who are hit with multiple swords and arrows during a fight, surviving only because of their heavy armour. And the grim realities of battle are driven home that much harder by showing us thoroughly exhausted knights whose armour is so heavy and restrictive that it requires at least two people to equip and remove it, and whose muscles and joints hurt constantly from bearing its life-saving weight.

Despite the initially confusing multiple points of view, the entire story of The Red Knight actually takes place within a relatively small area of a single country. The author doesn’t feel the need to make vague references to hundreds of obscure places that will never be heard from again, instead concentrating on no more than four or five main locations. This, along with the pleasantly simple map at the beginning, is actually very refreshing. However, there were parts I had difficulty with. I found a lot of the battle scenes to be overcomplicated and confusing, particularly those towards the end of the book; and the way the author swaps out names and noun phrases also occasionally caused me some confusion as to who exactly was doing what, and led to me quite often having to go back and re-read entire paragraphs, especially at the beginning when lots of new characters are being introduced. I also found that there are numerous cases where character or place names are spelt differently throughout the book, sometimes even within the same passage (Sossag/Sassog, Qwethnethog/Qwethenethog/Qwethenog, Emota/Emmota, demon/daemon/deamon, etc.), as well as a surprising amount of general spelling errors, which I find disappointing in a professionally published novel. These inconsistencies and errors continued to repeat themselves throughout the book and became something of a distraction, as did one or two occasionally bizarre descriptive passages (the Queen had “lashes so long that she could sometimes lick them”? Eh?)

To sum up:  I found reading The Red Knight to be something of an uphill struggle, at least for the majority of its first half. Once I’d got the hang of it, I did become suckered in to the story, but I still wouldn’t describe any part of the book to be an easy read. However, The Red Knight compensates for its slow start by being packed with gritty descriptions and bloody action, and has an interesting take on the relationship between religion, magic and the fae. The book has the dubious achievement of seeming twice as long as it actually is, and yet I’m quite interested in seeing how the Traitor Son cycle continues.

3/5


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tough Travels: Awesome Displays of Magic

‘Tough Travelling’ is a weekly feature. Every Thursday I’ll be rummaging around in my memory to come up with various examples of commonly used fantasy tropes. Full credit goes to Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn for coming up with the idea: be sure to check out his blog!



This week’s topic is AWESOME DISPLAYS OF MAGIC.

Sometimes magic can be subtle. Who wants that? Big explosions or acts of creation, death and destruction or acts of awe-inspiring wonder. If your world has magic then why not show it off?



Pug Destroys the Arena

(Magician by Raymond E. Feist)

Pug is a magician, captured by invading enemy forces from another planet and forced to work as a slave for years before being taken away for magical training and having all his memories stripped from him. As he becomes integrated into his new society, his memories begin to reassert themselves, and so does his sense of right and wrong. He is forced to control his feelings and adapt to a society built on slavery, but seeing his former countrymen being slaughtered like animals for the entertainment of the masses is the final straw. At the Great Games, Pug demonstrates the true power of a ‘Great One’ by unleashing terrifying elemental forces that tear the arena to the ground, while at the same time delivering a thundering speech judging society for its collective crimes. The scene is even more terrifying when we see it again in the Empire trilogy, this time through the eyes of those desperately fleeing the devastation.



Kruppe Defies Brood

(Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson)

Kruppe is a small, fat, cherubic thief who cheats at cards, refers to himself in the third person and generally irritates everyone with whom he comes into contact. Caladan Brood is a 300,000-year-old barbarian warlord, with god-like strength and magic; he also carries the fabled hammer of the goddess Burn, which has the power to shatter mountains and re-awaken the Sleeping Goddess herself.  When Kruppe insinuates himself into a military parley with Brood, the short-tempered warlord finds Kruppe’s presence too frustrating to bear and strikes his hammer against the ground at his feet. The earth splits, the ground shakes and mountains crumble . . . and Kruppe stands amidst the destruction, untouched and smiling innocently. This is not the first clue that tells us Kruppe is much more than he appears.



Pug Travels Through Time

(A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist)

This mainly makes it onto the list because I was racking my brain for different types of magic other than just DESTRUCTION. In the third Riftwar Saga book, the magician Pug and his warrior friend Tomas find themselves trapped in time and space. In order to escape the trap they must send themselves back in time to the very birth of creation, and then move forward through time again to reach the point in which they left it. Bit confusing, and I honestly don’t remember all that much about it, but I remember it being very poetically described and pretty awe-inspiring. It also put me in mind of the scene from Magician where Pug stands on top of the tower in the City of Magicians and has the entire history of the planet unveiled to him I-MAX style, which is also a beautifully described example of awesome magic.


The Baby Discworld Turtles are Born

(The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett)

The first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, focus on the wizard Rincewind and his increasingly desperate quest to save the world. A deadly red star has appeared in the sky and is getting closer every day; while the ambitious wizard Trymon threatens to unleash deadly creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions in the name of personal ambition. Believing that the approaching star heralds the end of all things, the population of Ankh-Morpork riot against magic, and it’s all Rincewind can do to get to the Tower of Art before Trymon can read from the Octavo. After defeating Trymon, Rincewind reads the spell that will save the world. Much to his astonishment, the gigantic moons that encircle the red star crack open one by one, each hatching their own miniature version of the Discworld, all of which then follow Great A’Tuin away from the red star and off into the uncertain depths of space. It’s spectacular.


I also decided that I have to give a cursory mention to the Gedderone Fete in Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon. It’s the first true example of awesomeness in a series saturated with epic displays of magic, and I almost included it on my list instead of Kruppe. In the city of Darujhistan, shapeshifting dragons, fearsome demons, ancient tyrants and modern munitions conspire to turn the lady’s Fete into smoke and rubble, and it’s AWESOME.



That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of THE ACE and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: 'The Black Lung Captain' by Chris Wooding

Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest robberies seem to go wrong. It's getting so a man can't make a dishonest living any more.

Enter Captain Grist. He's heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey's help to get it. There's only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island, populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters.

Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey's never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there's something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it's going to take all of Frey's considerable skill at lying, cheating and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it...



It’s been a year since I read the first Ketty Jay novel, Retribution Falls, and to be honest I can barely remember a thing about it. I re-read my own review of the first book before starting The Black Lung Captain to try and refresh my memory, and came away with a vague impression of a fairly enjoyable story but with characters that fell sort of flat. Whether this is in fact true or not, I’m delighted to say that whatever misgivings I had about the first book, I thought the second one was bloody fantastic.

The Black Lung Captain immediately re-introduces us to the crew of the Ketty Jay doing what they do best: exhibiting a collective lack of morality whilst bumbling through a failed money-making mission, in this case being chased by an angry horde after robbing an orphanage. The book starts with a bang – an incredibly funny one – and continues in pretty much the same vein for the rest of the book. It’s action-packed and very fast-paced, and there is a lot of hopping about from place to place, as you might expect from a book about an airship crew. There are always good reasons for them to head to these places – usually because they’re either chasing something or running away from someone – and it keeps the story lively and the reader on their toes. The Black Lung Captain is also packed full of kickass aerial battles. Wooding never seems to run out of spectacular settings for them, whether it’s the middle of a thunderstorm on a pitch black night, or beneath a supernatural maelstrom in cloudy, frozen skies. With each battle you can virtually see the flash of the guns and hear the bullets ricochet off the ships, and it makes for a continually exciting read.

The thing that really makes The Black Lung Captain really come to life is the characters themselves, namely the crew of the Ketty Jay. Each and every member of the crew gets the page time they need to round them out and help the reader get to know them better, and there wasn’t a single character I disliked reading about – which is ironic, given that my main criticism of the first book was that the characters were two-dimensional. The author uses regularly shifting POVs within chapters, choosing to show events through the alternating viewpoints of the five or six main characters. This frequently provides levity in the midst of otherwise serious situations, usually due to the incongruity between many of the characters’ outlooks: for instance, during a dogfight with the enemy, the POV often shifts back and forth between shell-shocked, gibbering veteran Harkins, who is terrified of fighting, to the youthful daredevil Pinn, who is described as having no fear of death since he lacks the imagination to conceive of it. The shifting POVs are used to even better effect in depicting the rivalry between Harkins and Slag, the fearsome cat who dwells aboard the Ketty Jay. However, it’s Frey’s segments that pull the whole thing together and drive the plot forward, which is rather fitting seeing as he’s the one in charge. The unscrupulous, down-on-his-luck captain becomes something more than just a loveable rogue here, and his character arc is both rewarding and immensely entertaining.

Another real strength of The Black Lung Captain is in the interactions between the crew: they bicker and argue and sometimes don’t speak at all, and when they do it sounds coarse and sometimes unfriendly. But there’s also the casual and hilarious friendly banter, the gentle jibes, and the occasional rough and affectionate hug. Some lines actually had me laughing out loud, while there were also moments that almost had me in tears (there was one moment in particular involving Crake, who is also, incidentally, my favourite character). It’s realistic and funny and moving, and the relationship between Frey and his crew is pretty much the focus of the novel just as much as the events of the main plot are.

There’s not much more to say about this book. I loved the story, I loved the characters more, and I’m now officially in love with this series.

Also, when I grow up I want to be a Century Knight.


5/5

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Review: 'Before They Are Hanged' by Joe Abercrombie

Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.




There’s a pattern emerging here. Last year I read Half a King, the first book in Joe’s YA Shattered Sea trilogy, and it prompted me to re-read The Blade Itself, which was the first book in his First Law grimdark fantasy trilogy. I recently read the second Shattered Sea novel, Half the World, and once again there immediately followed an urge to return to the First Law trilogy.

Before They Are Hanged follows the events of The Blade Itself and continues storylines carefully set up in the first novel. All of the major characters from The Blade Itself return here, and leap off the page just as much as they did in the first book. Cynical Inquisitor Glokta and optimistic Logen Ninefingers in particular continue to stand out, with their beloved idioms and now-familiar catchphrases making the book feel like a reunion with old friends. It’s Joe’s ability to create vivid and unique voices for each of his characters that really makes his First Law books stand out, not only in the characters’ internal monologues but also in the flowing and fantastic dialogue. In fact, it’s almost shocking when you realise how much of the novel is comprised of just dialogue . . . and yet it never gets boring. I said in my review of The Blade Itself that it was easy to overlook the fact that there isn’t all that much actually happening, because the character-focused narrative and gripping internal monologues keep the pace flowing smoothly; and the same is also true of Before They Are Hanged.

In this second instalment of the First Law trilogy, our characters are spread far and wide across the known world. Glokta is investigating the disappearance of an Inquisition representative in the besieged city of Dagoska in the South; West is on campaign against the wild men of the North; and Bayaz, Jezal, Logen and Ferro have set out on a mysterious quest to the edge of the World to find a long-lost relic of enormous power. This means, of course, that the events here are on a larger scale than those of the first book; and yet the consistent focus on a small handful of characters gives the book a curiously intimate feel. The characters themselves develop much more noticeably here, and it’s fascinating to see them change in often unexpected ways, in keeping with the darkly cynical tone of the series. Joe is a master at pulling the rug from beneath the reader in terms of our expectations of both characters and events, and Before They Are Hanged is no exception.

4/5

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Tough Travels: Unique Flora


‘Tough Travelling’ is a weekly feature. Every Thursday I’ll be rummaging around in my memory to come up with various examples of commonly used fantasy tropes. Full credit goes to Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn for coming up with the idea: be sure to check out his blog!



This week’s topic is UNIQUE FLORA.

Due to my apparent lack of imagination, I’ve sort of narrowed the topic down from UNIQUE FLORA to INTERESTING TREES. I really need to start branching (heh) out from traditional fantasy if I want to make these lists more interesting in future.



Walking Trees

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

The Ents are some of the oldest creatures still to walk Middle Earth. Peaceful, ponderous, sentient tree-like beings, the Ents are mostly content to simply mooch about in their forests for hundreds of years at a time, occasionally holding the odd “Ent Moot”, a lengthy group debate in which it takes them an entire day just to exchange greetings with one another. They are slow to anger, but when finally riled up their wrath and strength is terrifying.



Talking Trees

(House of Chains by Steven Erikson)

Phyrlis is pretty unique. The Jaghut are an exceedingly long-lived race of tusked humanoid beings, locked in an eternal war against their immortal undead hunters, the T’lan Imass. Phyrlis was a Jaghut baby when the Imass murdered her mother and spitted baby Phyrlis on a spear driven into the ground. Instead of killing her, the spear, which was made of wood native to her region, absorbed what was left of Phyrlis’ life force and was itself reborn, growing into a tree around her just as Phyrlis grew into adulthood amidst the tree.



Creepy Trees

(The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss)

The Cthaeh (I think it was a tree?) is an omniscient being with the chilling power to see all possible futures. A thoroughly malevolent being, the Cthaeh knows all possible timelines for any given person, and will seek to drive them down the least pleasant one. Although it can’t affect events directly, the Cthaeh can manipulate those to whom it speaks in order to indirectly cause the largest amount of death and devastation. Also, apparently it bites.



Violent Trees

(Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

Come on, I couldn’t NOT include Rowling on this list. There are a few candidates from Harry Potter that I could have mentioned – the Mandrakes were actually the first that sprang to mind – but there is one that dominates the others. I’m talking, of course, about the Whomping Willow. The Willow pulverises anyone and anything that comes near it, including Ron’s dad’s flying Ford Anglia and Harry’s beloved Nimbus 2000 broomstick, severely denting the former and turning the latter to mulch. Originally planted to guard a secret tunnel entrance to a werewolf lair, the Willow is, in fact, Dumbledore’s terrifying interpretation of Child Protection.



That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of AWESOME DISPLAYS OF MAGIC, and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!