Tough Travels is a monthly meme 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 ELVES. This month’s topic is:
‘Shapeshifting is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a wolf, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls and cats are common too. In all cases the Rule is that the Shapeshifter cannot stay too long in ANIMAL form without actually becoming that animal and losing touch with her/his human thoughts.’
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
As soon as I saw this topic my mind was racing with lots of possible were and magic shapeshifters from many different books. So this is not a Tolkien fest like my last post on elves, although I must admit my first thought was of Middle Earth:
- Beorn – First up, from The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien, we have Beorn, the last Skin-changer. He lives an isolated life in the northern Anduin valley, caring for his animals by day as a tall, powerful man and patrolling the woods for goblins by night as a giant, black bear. That peace is shattered with the arrival of Gandalf, a hobbit and a band of troublesome dwarves!
- Remus Lupin – Next we have my favourite Hogwart’s professor, Remus Lupin, from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Since childhood Remus has been afflicted with lycanthropy, but he has not let it hold him back and with the support of his best friends, James Potter and Sirius Black, he became a good, clever wizard and professor.
- Count Dracula – Now not such a good guy is Count Dracula, the titular character of Bram Stoker’s classic novel. If being an ancient, powerful vampire wasn’t bad enough, he can also transform into a large dog, a wolf, a bat and a fog or mist! There really is nowhere to hide, although if he really looked like Gary Oldman… I may not resist too hard 😉
- Mystique – Another shady character I’ve chosen is Mystique from the X-Men comics and films. Mystique (born Raven Darkholme) is a powerful mutant with superhuman flexibility and agility, and the ability to alter the formation of her cells to look like practically anyone! She uses her abilities ruthlessly to exact her revenge on her perceived enemies of mutants.
- Animagus – Finally we return to J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series for an Animagus: a witch or wizard who has learned the skill to morph into an animal at will. The training process is long and arduous, and potentially very dangerous. Impressively, school friends James Potter (stag), Sirius Black (dog) and Peter Pettigrew (rat) secretly became Animagi to support Remus Lupin during his uncontrollable, full moon transformations.
Do you like my choices? Which shapeshifters would you have chosen? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.
Come back next month for: APPRENTICES.