Tough Traveling — Mom


tough guideEvery 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.

In honor of Mother’s Day, this week’s subject is “Mom”:

Polgara — Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

queen of sorceryMoms are an important part of the Belgariad, specifically the lack thereof. And whenever someone is lacking a mom of their own, Polgara is there to step in. She’s not the biological mother to any particular character in “The Belgariad”, but she’s a surrogate to most of the characters. From her orphaned great-to-the-nth-power grandson Garion, to Garion’s bride Ce’Nedra, Polgara provides motherly comfort, protection and advise throughout the series. And when Garion is kidnapped by the Serpent Queen Salmissra, Polgara goes full-on mama bear, storming Salmissra’s palace and leaving a trail of fire and bodies in her wake.

Molly Weasley — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

deathly hallowsAnother mom you don’t want to fuck with. Sure, she spends six books doddering around, making tacky sweaters and fussing over her troop of children and Harry. Sure, she’ll fire off a howler when she’s upset, but mostly she’s just sweet, eccentric Mollywobbles. Put one of her kids in danger, however, and she’ll avada kedavra your ass. And the fact that it was Bellatrix LeStrange that she took out in the Battle of Hogwart’s makes her badass-dom all the more delicious.

The Other Mother — Coraline by Neil Gaiman

coralineCoraline’s regular parents are boring, wrapped up in their lives and not paying much attention to their daughter. But while exploring their mysterious new house, Coraline finds a locked door that leads to an alternate house, populated by her Other Mother, who is just like her real mother, only paler, thinner and with buttons for eyes. Life is better with Other Mother, but things don’t seem quite right, especially when Other Mother wants to sew buttons on Coraline’s eyes.

Grendel’s Mother — Beowulf

Beowulf-mech..inddThe original fantasy monster mom. Grendel is terrorizing Heorot, the hall of King Hrothgar, whom the warrior Beowulf slays. But the epic poem doesn’t end there, as Grendel’s mother, the “monstrous hell-bride” of Cain attacks the King’s hall. Beowulf must face the maternal monster, following her trail of carnage to the water’s edge. Upon entering her watery lair, he finds a magic sword and slays her as well. There’s more to the poem, including a dragon, but Grendel and his mom are probably the bulk of what you studied in school.

Morgan Le Fay — Excalibur

morgana 2Our journey into the roots of fantasy continues with the beautiful, evil witch queen from Arthurian legend. The illegitimate daughter of Arthur’s mother Igraine, Morgana studied magic under Merlin, whom she would later betray. And in true Lannister tradition, Morgana seduces her half-brother and gives birth to the evil Mordred. She loves her son, however, raising Mordred to foil the Knights of the Round Table, and eventually challenge his father for dominion of England.

The Queen of the Night — The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

And for my opera-loving wife, the wicked Queen from Mozart’s famous opera. The mother of the beautiful Pamina, she appears before her daughter, knife in hand, demanding Pamina kill the rival magician Sarasto in the powerful aria “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart). 

—Michael Senft

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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12 Responses to Tough Traveling — Mom

  1. mervih says:

    Morgan Le Fay is an excellent choice! And Grendel’s mother is so obvious I can’t believe I forgot her.


  2. Ooh, Coraline, great call! The Other Mother is creeeeeeepy. 😀


  3. Oh, some nice picks – especially Morgana. I’m afraid I went with some of the worst examples, although I did manage one heroic mom.


  4. Tammy says:

    Ah, Molly Weasley! I was only looking at fairly recent reads for my list, so I didn’t even think of her.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. digitaltempest says:

    Oh god, I love Die Zauberflöte. Next to Mozart’s Requiems, it’s my absolute favorite. Lovely pick. The rest of your mothers were great picks, too. I’m not familiar with the first mom, but I’ll fix that by adding to the neverending TBR pile.


  6. There’s a great deal of love for Mrs. Weasley going around this week, and I think it’s more than deserved! Great choice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Molly Weasley is incredibly popular this week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kaja says:

    I think Molly Weasley made most of our lists!
    And great pick with Grendel’s mother, of course monsters have mothers, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. lynnsbooks says:

    I love your Morgan Le Fay inclusion. Great pick.
    Lynn 😀


  10. Jenn says:

    Ok, the Queen of the Night is my favourite example I’ve read this week! It never occurred to me to use opera… and it has so many of the absolute worst mothers ever! There’s Bellini’s Norma who spends most of the opera trying to decide whether she wants to commit infanticide or not….. and Herodias in Strauss’s Salome, who is positively delighted about her daughter asking for the head of John the Baptist. SO MANY IDEAS. This is great!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. rudejasper says:

    Other Mother is a fantastic choice! Coraline is such an interesting contemplation on childhood and family. I also adore Mrs. Weasley:)!


  12. Nathan says:

    That is a hell of a list. The other Mother especially is one I would have completely missed. I think Mrs Weasley was the most popular this week, mostly on the strenght of ‘Not my daughter, bitch.’


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