‘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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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!