Every Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.
This week’s subject is “Loyal Mounts”:
I could have stuck with The Belgariad and mentioned Errand’s mount, Horse, but we’ll expand out a little. The Elenium was Eddings rewrite of the Belgariad, following the exploits of the erascible Pandion knight, Sparhawk. Faran was Sparhawk’s warhorse, a foul-tempered beast that has a tendency to bite and step on the toes of his grooms. He behaves well for Sparhawk, however, and likes to show off when in formal barding. It’s later revealed that the only reason Faran is so nasty is to please Sparhawk. Smart horse.
In memory of Terry Pratchett, I had to include Death’s steed. After trying out a skeletal horse and a fiery horse and finding them unworkable (setting things on fire and the like), Death decided to go with this an ordinary, living horse and named him Binky because it is such a nice name. Binky is pure white, leaves a trail of glowing footprints in his wake and can also fly, but is otherwise just a friendly, normal horse. Although he is mortal, when he is in Death’s realm he doesn’t age. Binky has also been a favorite of Death’s granddaughter, Susan.
I can’t say enough about Temeraire. The titular dragon from Naomi Novik’s acclaimed historical fantasy, which reimagines the Napoleonic Wars complete with dogfighting dragons, is unswervingly loyal and fiercely protective to his rider, Captain William Lawrence. In fact their relationship is so much more than a mere rider and his mount – Temeraire and Capt. Lawrence are the closest of friends ever since Lawrence witnessed Temeraire’s hatching from an egg. Indeed, their friendship is the glue that makes this series so appealing.
Sam Gamgee really loved Bill. He bought the old pony from the treacherous Bill Ferny when the hobbits’ ponies were stolen in Bree, growing attached to the loyal mount as they journeyed to Rivendell with Aragon. Bill didn’t make the whole journey, however, fleeing when the company reached the Mines of Moria. He didn’t disappear though — he returned to Bree and gave bold accounting during the Scouring of the Shire, kicking Bill Ferny while the hobbits fought to free the Shire from Saruman.
After having to skip Ann McCaffrey due to faulty memory last week, the wife advised I’d better catch up. So I did a little skimming and Wiki-ing to refresh my childhood memories of Pern. The last Queen Dragon of Pern, this beautiful gold dragon is impressed to the headstrong, rebellious Lessa. But the girl and dragon are denied their opportunity to show their strengths —flying and fighting were for men, women’s place was studying and breeding. Of course Lessa and Ramoth prove the men wrong, mastering space and time as they save Pern from the deadly threadfall.