‘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 FAE.
Surprisingly not in the Tough Guide. How can this be? Fairies are a constant in the fantasy world and it is time they get their own week. Give us your Fae, be they sweet or nasty.
This week was HARD. I struggled to think of ANY examples at first, and then when I did I was hit with the realisation that, as a general rule, I’m really not a fan of fairies in fantasy. And so, my short and shamefully cynical list of fae follows . . .
(Suldrun’s Garden by Jack Vance)
The fairies in Vance’s Lyonesse are mostly random and irrelevant to the main story, featuring in useless sub-plots and functioning mainly as filler. Vance’s fae are often twee and Tolkien-esque, but can also be as gleefully dark as a Grimm fairy tale, occasionally featuring in storylines involving rapist ogres (as you do).
(The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Tom Bombadil. Tom f*cking Bombadil. I don’t even know if he’s a fae, but he’s frequently described as “merry” and he sings lots of annoying little songs, so he might be. His wife is called Goldberry and he apparently found her in a river or something, which means she’s probably a fae too. Meh, neither of them should ever have been included in this otherwise awesome book.
(The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss)
In the second Kingkiller novel, Kvothe crosses the boundary into the fae world and finds himself in the clutches of the legendary Felurian, becoming the first man to ever spend the night with her and live to tell the tale. I don’t recall the details, only that Rothfuss drags out their encounter for around two hundred pages, and that the pair spend a lot of time bathing naked in a pool, which involves repeated descriptions of Felurian’s breasts bobbing around like not-so-mystical buoys.
(Hogfather by Terry Pratchett)
The Hogfather is one of the most well-known mythical figures on the Discworld. When people stop believing in him, the enormous amount of stray belief now loose in the world causes previously non-existent creatures to spring into being, including the Verruca Gnome and the Hair Loss Fairy. The Tooth Fairy also features in this story, but she isn’t quite what you’d expect . . . Pratchett’s fairies are the only ones on this list I actually like. R.I.P Terry :(.
That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of BARDS, and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!