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.
In honor of Mother’s Day, this week’s subject is “Mom”:
Moms 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.
Another 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.
Coraline’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.
The 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
Our 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).