Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed ASSASINS. This month’s topic is:
The Tough Guide assures us that HEROES are ‘mythical beings, often selected at birth, who perform amazing deeds of courage, strength and magical mayhem, usually against all odds.’ Furthermore, ‘if you get to meet a so-called Hero, she/he always turns out to be just another human, with human failings, who has happened to be in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, more likely)’.
HOWEVER. For good or for evil, some of fantasy’s most memorable Heroes are not human at all. Some look human, but aren’t. Others may look monstrous, but be ‘human’ on the inside. Others still never pretend to be anything other than what they are – and why should they? In nearly all cases, we are likely to Learn Something from them – usually that appearances can be deceiving, or that the concepts of both ‘Human’ and ‘Hero’ are entirely subjective’
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
This is another topic that I missed the first time round, therefore it is great to have another chance to have a go at it. Especially as I love a non-human hero…particularly if they are a cute, furry, talking animal! Here are a few of my favourites (this is by no means an exhaustive list…I could of gone on and on):
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
If you read this blog regularly, then you probably saw this one coming. I adore this book! Bilbo may look like a small human or child, but he is in fact a hobbit: small, curly-haired, pointy eared creatures, with big hearts and appetites to match. This little hero leaves his comfortable hobbit-hole for a magical adventure to claim back the dwarves’ long lost home from a dreadful dragon.
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Chief Mouse of Narnia is small, furry and rather cute, but don’t be fooled he is famed for his courage and deadly skill with a rapier. We first meet him in Prince Caspian, when he fights for the young prince and later in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when he travels with the now young king to the end of the world, where he bravely continues on alone to Aslan’s Country; the last big adventure.
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, we are introduced to his third new Professor of the Dark Arts: Remus Lupin. He is a clever, patient, compassionate and highly skilled wizard, however as a child he was attacked and turned into a werewolf. Yet he never lets this stop him. Instead using his curse to infiltrate a dangerous werewolf gang and he is selfless to the end.
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
Finally but certainly not least, we have Oy the talking billy-bumbler: a small, furry animal akin to a cross between a dog and a raccoon. We first meet him in the third book in the series, The Waste Land, where he quickly steals hearts. He is not just small and cute, but also fiercely loyal and will lay his life down for his friends. I so wish that billy-bumblers were real!
What non-human heroes can you think of? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.
Come back next month for: ADEPTS.