Tough Travels is a monthly meme, re-ignited by Fantasy Faction and now hosted by The Fantasy Hive, 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 MENTORS. This month’s topic is:
‘Elves claim to have been the first people in Fantasyland. They are called the Elder Race. They did not, they claim, evolve like humans, but sprang into being just as they are now.
The Elves’ claim is borne out to some extent by the well attested fact that their flesh is less gross and substantial than that of humans.
‘In looks, Elves are taller and more slender than any humans, and very beautiful. Most of them appear youthful.
All Elves feel themselves superior to humans and make it very clear that they do not operate by human rules. This is true, in that many of them can do some MAGIC.
If you meet Elves, expect to have to listen for hours while they tell you how great numbers of their race have become so wearied with the thinning of the old golden wonders that they have all departed, departed into the West.‘
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
I apologise in advance that this is going to be a bit of a Tolkien fest! Due to the fact that I found it almost impossible to think of elves that weren’t from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. So lets explore the elves of Middle-Earth, as well as two non-Tolkien elves I managed think of, for some sort of balance:
- Legolas – First up from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings we have Legolas, who is a prince of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. Like many of his brethren he is tall and fair, with keen eyesight and hearing. He is also a master bowman. But rather against Woodland Elf nature he travels widely and becomes good friends with the Dwarf Gimli.
- Galadriel – Second from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings we have Galadriel, who alongside her husband, Lord Celeborn, rules over and protects The Golden Wood. Like Legolas she is tall and fair, but she far surpasses nearly all her other brethren in age, beauty, wisdom and power. Basically she is brilliant…a bit scary… but brilliant!
- Elrond – Next from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit we have Elrond the Half-Elven Lord of Rivendell, which is a hidden river valley located at the base of the Misty Mountains; known to many a weary traveller as ‘The Last Friendly Home’. Elrond is tall and dark, and is of a great age and wisdom. Unlike the Woodland Elves, Elrond and his people are far more welcoming of others races.
- Rivendell Half-Elves – My final Tolkien entry in this list, has to be the beautiful, merry Half-Elves of Rivendell; who little Bilbo fell so in love with in The Hobbit, as they played music, sang and danced, and swam in the streams and pools. If I could go to Middle-Earth that’s where I would go. Later, in The Lord of the Rings, all the elves get a bit too serious and melancholy for my liking.
- Dobby – Now from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series I bring you a very different type of elf: Dobby the House-Elf! Breaking elf conventions completely, Dobby and his fellow House-Elves are small, wizened magical creatures, who work devotedly for their masters. Poor Dobby was in servitude to the cruel Malfoy family until Harry helped to free him.
- Prince Nuada – Finally this list wouldn’t be complete without a bad elf, so here is Prince Nuada from Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). Nuada’s race, modelled on the Daoine Sidhe from the Hellboy comics, are tall, very pale and unusually striking. An ancient, once proud people forced underground by the greedy human race, for which Nuada seeks revenge.
Do you like my choices? Can you think of more elves I should check out? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.
Come back next month for: SHAPESHIFTERS.