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 “The Weasel”:
Silk is one of my favorite characters in fantasy. Period. Master thief, acrobat, spy, genius businessman, deadly with a dirk, full of snark. And with a long nose and weaselly demeanor. Never haggle with him, he will always get the best of you, even if he lets you think you got the best of him. He’s loyal to Belgarion and his Queen Porenn but really he’s only interested in adventure and trade as a game to see who amasses the most money. And he’s always the winner.
Okay, this Weasel really doesn’t do anything. He’s in the opening scene of the first Discworld novel, staring over the burning city of Ankh-Morpork, betting with his partner Bravd the Hublander over which building exploded. Alas, he never appears again (at least not in any “Discworld” novel I’ve read), but he does show Sir Pterry’s debt to the next entry…
The original weaselly sidekick. The Grey Mouser was an orphaned magician’s apprentice with deadly skills with his dirk (Why do weasels always carry dirks?). Along with the Northern barbarian Fafhrd, the Mouser adventured in the great city of Lankhmar (an influence on Ankh-Morpork?). The two lifelong friends relied on their wits as much as their steel, and became prototypes for generations of fantasy characters.
The weaseliest of weasels, Cugel the Clever is the hero (?) of two of Jack Vance’s “Dying Earth” novels. We meet him trying to steal from a powerful wizard’s home, and when he is captured he is banished to the farthest end of the world to fetch a magical artifact. Along the way home, he lies, cheats, scams, kills and mostly fails at exacting revenge on Lucounu, the mage who banished him. Thoroughly unlikeable, his outrageous antics are still incredibly entertaining.
The best president the galaxy ever had, because he was so effective at attracting attention away from the real power, the two-headed, three-armed Beeblebrox is also one of the galaxy’s greatest weasels. Along with his girlfriend Trillian, he stole the prototype of the revolutionary spaceship, Heart of Gold, picking up his semi-cousin Ford Prefect and the hapless Arthur Dent along the way.
James Bolivar diGriz — The Stainless Steel Rat
by Harry Harrison
Another of my favorite characters (I love the Weasels). “Slippery Jim” diGriz is another archetypal classic. A brilliant thief and con-man (and inspiration for Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora) the Stainless Steel Rat operates in a future where crime is all but eliminated through mental conditioning. Captured by the Special Corps, an organization of ex-criminals working for the government, he, along with his wife and twin sons, now ostensibly works for the government helping in sensitive situations where law and order can’t solve the problems.