‘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 SNARKY SIDEKICKS.
Why is everyone so serious all the time? Perhaps they need a friend that is there with a quick bit of wit to liven up the day; even if the day is looking to quickly turn to blood.
I found myself struggling a little with this week’s topic, perhaps because I used quite a few potential entries in the Companions week, so I’ve had to use a few of my usual fallbacks . . .
(Hogfather by Terry Pratchett)
This one sprang immediately to mind since I watched the TV adaptation of Hogfather over Christmas (for, like, the fifteenth time). Aside from Susan, the main protagonist in Hogfather is Death, who takes it upon himself to fill in for the Hogfather and deliver presents to the children of the Discworld. Who better to accompany him on his mission than his grumpy, immortal, ex-wizard butler Albert? Albert cheerfully ‘helps’ Death by drinking the sherry and eating the pork pies left out by hopeful children, and by offering optimistic yet snarky advice such as “never say die, master!”
(The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson)
I know, I know, I can’t go a single week without mentioning this series, but given the topic I couldn’t resist mentioning Bugg. Bugg is the manservant of one of my favourite fictional creations ever: Tehol Beddict. Tehol is an amazingly funny and likeable character on his own, but with Bugg to bounce off, he’s just perfect. Bugg is a brilliant blend of deadpan and sarcasm, is possibly the worst cook/housekeeper in the history of fiction . . . and is, actually, much more than he appears to be.
(The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie)
I know Jezal dan Luthar is technically a main character rather than a sidekick, but I feel that his constantly sneering demeanour and cutting remarks have earned him a place on the list. Much of Jezal’s snarkiness is present in his internal monologues rather than in his dialogue, but he exudes enough of it to irritate everyone around him and rub them up the wrong way.
(Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence)
Jalan Kendeth is always at the ready with a cutting comment or clever witticism. I’m cheating a bit here, since Jalan is actually the main protagonist rather than the sidekick . . . but he’s so damn snarky. And Prince of Fools could have just as easily been written with Snorri as the main character and Jalan as the sidekick, so there.
(A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin)
Some of my favourite scenes in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series are those involving Tyrion and Bronn. Tyrion himself is possibly one of the snarkiest characters in fantasy fiction, and his pairing with Bronn is a delight to read. Bronn’s brutal honesty, along with his sarcasm and prolific use of casual swearing, makes him one of my favourite sidekick characters of all time, and the portrayal of him in the TV adaptation is a beautiful thing to see.
That's it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of Messiahs, and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!