Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tough Travels: Pets


‘Tough Travelling’ is a weekly feature: every Thursday (hopefully!) 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 PETS.

Everybody needs somebody to love. And the best companionship doesn’t always come from the same sentient group, does it? Be it furry or scaled, large or small, sometimes an animal companion is the best thing a person can have.


I struggled this week. I really did. I only managed four entries, and two of these are from the same series. Shame on me! In my defence, there were a few candidates that I considered but ultimately rejected – such as Nighteyes the wolf from Robin Hobb’s Farseer, and the wolf from Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song, and the wolf from John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen, and- you get the picture. It seems that, in fantasy, animals are often elevated to a status far above that of ‘pet’, and I’d like to use this as my official excuse for the following paltry list. 



Hedwig, et al.

(Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling)

Technically they’re ‘familiars’ rather than pets, but in the Potterverse you can’t call yourself a proper wizard without one. School rules limit the familiars to owls, toads or cats, which is why Harry has a snowy owl named Hedwig, Hermione has a huge ginger monstrosity of a cat named Crookshanks, Ron has a little fluffball owl called Pigwidgeon, and Neville has an escape artist toad named Trevor. However, everyone knows owls are the most useful, since they hunt their own food as well as carrying your mail.


The Scorpions

(House of Chains by Steven Erikson)

In the fourth book of my favourite series of all time (have I ever mentioned that?), Sergeant Strings and a few others in the Malazan army decide to relieve the boredom of a desert campaign by arranging a scorpion-fighting contest. Three squads participate, each squad choosing a different breed of scorpion and ‘training’ it for the fight. There’s the In-Out Scorpion, which the soldiers nickname Clawmaster; the Red-Backed Bastard, nicknamed Mangonel; and the underdog of the bunch, the tiny Birdshit scorpion named Joyful Union. Suffice to say that this doesn’t end well for any of the scorpions, nor for the animal-loving soldier named Bottle.



Slag

(Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding)

A few people mentioned Slag a couple of weeks ago in the Snarky Sidekicks week, and so I’m glad to be able to borrow their idea and include her here. Slag is, of course, the Ketty Jay’s resident feline. She’s ruthless, independent and largely indifferent to the plight of her human shipmates . . . as most cats generally are.




Bhok’arala

(The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson)

Bhok’arala are small, intelligent monkey-like creatures, and largely feature in the presence of the High Priest of Shadow, Iskaral Pust, who they worship like a god. As the Malazan Encyclopaedia explains, “They follow him about, mimic his actions and leave him offerings often consisting of scrounged materials or bodily wastes. Pust is severely annoyed by the creatures and frequently is driven to bouts of madness by their attempts to please or mimic him. In a comical satire of the relationship between gods and their worshippers, the bhok'aral are, of course, unable to fathom the disdain Pust shows for them, nor understand any of the commands or insults he delivers to them.”


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

15 comments:

  1. I have a feeling we'll be seeing Hedwig around a lot this week - but somehow I completely forgot her. And you know, now that you mention it there really are a lot of wolves as pets/sidekicks in fantasy!

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    1. And yet, despite my wolf-centric intro, I somehow forgot to include the direwolves from ASoIaF. Doh! :D

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  2. Ew, scorpions! I'm not a huge fan of poisonous critters :D
    Aren't all cats ruthless? I really like them but I'm not sure they're ever really *tame* in the way that dogs are!
    My favourite owl was Pig, because he's so silly!

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    1. Pig is the cutest little thing isn't he? :D

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  3. I think we could have done an entire post on Harry Potter - because there are all sorts of pets that Hagrid had!
    Scorpions - shudder!!!
    Lynn :D

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    1. We could have done our own version of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' - it would have been amazing! :D

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  4. I do love Hedwig and would kind of love a pet owl tough I doubt they'd be as cooperative as the owls in HP. I've not read the Malazan books but would like to. From a pets point of view they sound pretty fascinating!

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    1. Yeah apparently owls are one of the dumbest birds and therefore the hardest to train. Must have been a nightmare on the set of HP! Personally I wouldn't fancy the droppings or the dead mice. :D

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  5. Damn, I forgot all about the scorpion fighting. Nice one!

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    1. I figured they definitely count as pets since the soldiers get so attached to them. :D

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  6. Slag. Oh Slag is the best character in the series. I forgot to include Slag. Curse you for out thinking me!

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    1. Yeah, but you remembered Greebo, so we're about even I'd say. :)

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  7. Harry Potter definitely has some great pets in there!

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  8. What a strange list... I know none of them except of Hedwig and the others :P

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  9. I love your list this week! I love learning about new books. Besides Harry Potter, I haven't read any of these...but I'm taking notes. Slag especially looks awesome, why haven't I heard of it before this?

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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