Creatures not of our world or even our plane of existence, perhaps living in another dimension. Preferably, though not required, with tentacles.
There has to be somewhere in Fantasyland where everyone comes together. All roads lead to Rome after all. A place where traders prosper, politicians scheme, and criminals thrive.
It’s Friday! Would you like to spend some time being a nerd on the internet instead of doing whatever else you should probably be doing? If so, here are some links I enjoyed this week!
- Filed alongside ‘women are too hard to animate’ under ridiculous justifications for not having female player characters: ‘Final Fantasy XV Director says an all-male-party makes the game “more approachable”‘.
- Also via The Mary Sue, ‘They Are No Men,’: Six of Tolkien’s most badass women who aren’t in The Lord of the Rings.
- My fave Naomi Alderman discusses her experiences in the tech industry: ‘The women I pretend to be‘
- Recommend your favourite writers at FantasyCafe for ‘Women in SF&F Month‘
- Strange Horizons SF Count 2014, which looks at numbers of POC and women who write and review science fiction.
- What video games can teach us about ethics and conformity (mild spoilers for The Walking Dead Game): ‘If you didn’t kill that zombie, maybe I won’t either‘
- A new Tumblr helps victims of sexual violence avoid triggering material: ‘Is there rape in it?’
Some people are made to give orders; others are made to make sure they are carried out. Be it through muscle or guile there are just some people you don’t want to hear are looking for you.
Butler, Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)
Artemis Fowl might be a criminal mastermind, but he’s also 12, so his threats don’t always carry a lot of weight. Fortunately for him, he has Butler (both his name and his position). Aside from his general buttling duties Butler assists Artemis with threatening, cajoling, or intimidating anyone he deems needs it… and occasionally, utterly decimating them with his brute strength, superior marksmanship and military tactics. This book was a childhood favourite of mine, but even rereading as an adult the chapter where Butler slowly and systematically takes out a troll with the combination of a mace, a Sig Sauer, an old suit of armour, and his bare hands is still one of the badass things I’ve ever read.
The Witch-King of Angmar, The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
Sauron had a lot of great enforcers, but the Witch-King specifically is both the creepiest and the most memorable for me. The Witch-King is here for two reason for me; one is that he and his ringwraith compatriots spawned a whole bunch of very similar-sounding enforcers in the fantasy genre. How many times do you pick a fantasy book and a dark cloaked figure on a horse is after them? The other is that Eowyn killing him was and still is my favourite part of the books (“But no living man am I! You are looking upon a woman… Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”)
The Steel Inquisitors, Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
These agents of the Lord Ruler are tasked with keeping order and hunting down dissidents. Their powers include things like super strength, moving metal with their mind, the ability to foresee their opponents moves in battles, and being virtually immortal due to their healing capabilities. Basically, they are really, really hard to kill. Their powers come from the metal spikes protruding from their bodies – most disturbingly, driven into their eyes and coming out through the backs of their heads:
Also, I’m now 2 for 2 for including characters with metal driven through their heads on my lists… You’re welcome.
Root, Person of Interest
I watched the entire four seasons of POI in the last three weeks all because of Amy Acker-as-Root, so I’m compelled to throw this one. The Machine is, obviously, a machine – it cannot actually do anything at all, and relies entirely on having an enforcer. And it couldn’t have chosen a better option than Root, who has no compunctions about cheerfully coercing, blackmailing, torturing, poisoning, murdering, or otherwise incapacitating anyone the Machine might need taken care of. She is utterly devoted to it (“her,” as she would say), plus she is a manipulative cyborg hacker turned contract killer who can and will destroy your life as easily with her computer as with her trademark dual-wielded pistols.
And honourable mention to practically half the cast of A Song of Ice and Fire: Brienne, Gregor Clegane, Sandor Clegane, all the dire wolves (except maybe Lady), Bronn, Barristan Selmy, Ramsay Bolton, etc….
Check out other bloggers’ choices here!
Just today I came across this great feature Tough Traveling at Fantasy Review Barn, which explores favourite tropes of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Such a great idea! I’ve thrown down a couple of my favourite fantastical steeds off the top of my head for this week, and I’m hoping to start joining in the fun on a regular basis.
Bill the Pony, The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
When I think of fantasy mounts, the first ones that come to mind are those of Tolkien, primarily Shadowfax and the beautiful horses of Rohan. But then I remembered Bill the Pony, faithful steed of Samwise Gamgee and truly the most beloved of mounts. Seriously, is there a more heartbreaking moment than Sam saying goodbye to Bill outside of Moria? I don’t think so. Bill the Pony: ultimate badass, tenth member of the Fellowship of the Ring, and true hero of The Lord of the Rings.
Drogon, A Dance with Dragons (George R. R. Martin)
So this is a fairly liberal interpretation of ‘mount’, since Daenerys rides him only once, very briefly. BUT it was so epic that it definitely deserves an entry on this list. I know I can’t be the only one hoping that if/when Dany finally gets to Westeros (probably 10 books from now) Drogon and Dany will have become a fantastic dragon-riding team raining death and destruction down on everyone.
The Bog Unicorn, Dragon Age Inquisition
I remember when it was announced that Dragon Age Inquisition would feature mounts. I was so excited! And then that one of preorder bonuses would be a mount that was…. a unicorn! What?! There are unicorns in the world of Dragon Age?! And I imagined myself riding around Thedas on a gleaming, sparkling unicorn, daisies sprouting under her hooves, adoring townspeople cheering us as we went about righting wrongs and destroying evil.
And then I saw the Bog Unicorn:
That’s right, this “unicorn” is a rotting undead horse corpse with an old rusted sword driven through its head.
Best unicorn ever.