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!


24 comments:

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    1. Heh, thanks. I was worried I was discriminating against other kinds of flora - 'rights for the shrubs!', and all that - but it seems to have gone down quite well. :)

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  2. Phyrlis - very nice, I didn't even think of that one!

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    1. Thanks! I admit, I had to search the Encyclopaedia Malazica in order to properly explain why she existed, despite having only read House of Chains a couple of months ago. :D

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  3. Good ones! I love sentient trees. I don't think I have a single tree on my list though!

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    1. I'm actually surprised by how many more sentient trees I keep thinking of even now the list is done!

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  4. "the Willow is, in fact, Dumbledore’s terrifying interpretation of Child Protection." Hahahaaaa.

    Come to think of it, Harry staying with the Dursleys was also Dumbledore's idea of child protection too. He really wasn't very good at that sort of stuff.

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    1. He really wasn't, was he? Honestly, this should be a theme on TT. 'Examples of Dumbledore being horrifically unsuited to working with children.' Let's not forget the Goblet of Fire fiasco, or the fact that, of all the DADA teachers he PERSONALLY hired AND lived with for months on end, one turned out to be Voldemort in disguise, the next one was an incompetent, another was a werewolf, yet another was a Death Eater in disguise . . . etc . . .
      Makes one wonder how he got the Headmaster's job in the first place.

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  5. I was so sure that so many people were going to pick the ents and the whomping willow? How can you not. They are some of the best examples of flora in books! I haven't read Erikson or Rothfuss yet, but I do have some of their books coming up, so this definitely made their books seem even more appealing. The Cthaeh sounds terrifying and amazing!

    Tiara @ The Bibliosanctum

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    1. The Cthaeh was about the only interesting thing about Kvothe's 200 page romp in Fairyland! Don't let that put you off, though, the rest of the book is pretty good, and the first one is amazing. :D

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  6. Haha, so cool that you went with the tree theme! :)
    Ohh, I forgot about Harry's Nimbus. The poor broom. Some of Dumbledore's decisions are really questionable. If I was a parent of a kid who went there... I'd probably be really happy and try to visit all the time.

    The Cthaeh (HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THAT??) was one creepy tree. It makes for a perfect choice, of course. Poor Kvothe (but he was warned about it, wasn't he?).

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    1. "If I was a parent of a kid who went there... I'd probably be really happy and try to visit all the time."

      Haha, yeah, me too. Anything for a chance to get inside those magical walls. Although, on second thoughts, I might just be overcome with jealousy and refuse to even look at my child again.

      No idea how you pronounce Cthaeh - I sort of just skim over the word. In my head it sounds like someone mumbling 'cfler'. And yes, silly old Kvothe knew exactly what he was getting into! :D

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    2. This pronunciation thing is so often a problem with fantasy. I usually just skim-read the names (like you said) but then I try to either write them down for a review, or I'm discussing the book with my husband who reads a lot of fantasy, and I'm stuck with whatshisnameagain. I wish fantasy authors would just... I don't know, name everyone Fred :D That would make things simple for me.

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    3. Or become very confusing. ;D

      I don't really know anyone in 'real life' who reads the same books as I do, so the pronunciation isn't something I have to think too much about. I do like to try and have a go at doing it properly, though.

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  7. Loving your tree theme - I was trying to think of the name of the Willow tree in Pocahontas but then thought I'd just leave it - basically too lazy to go and figure it out.
    Lynn :D

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    1. Haha, I was going to write a reply along the lines of "it's probably something unimaginative like 'Old Woman Willow'", when I decided to Google it. And guess what? She's called Grandmother Willow. :D

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  8. Theme week! My very favorite kinds.

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    1. Yeah, it seems that 'lack of varied options' can just as easily be turned into 'awesome theme week'! Who knew? :D

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  9. Nice, I love the choice of trees for a themes and the outlining of their different, ah, personalities :D

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Haha, thank you! For some reason that always happens when I'm feeling a bit sarcastic, as I often do when writing entries about my beloved Harry Potter. :D

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  10. I always thought the Ctaeh just was something inside the tree... I don't know, but that's what it seemed to me.

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    1. You're probably right. It's been a while since I read the series, and I wasn't sure whether the Cthaeh was a tree, a snake, or a spirit-type thing. Ah well. :D

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  11. Lmao. Okay, I think your list is my favorite of all of this week's posts.

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