TOUGH TRAVELING — NORTHERN BARBARIANS

tough-traveling

Every Thursday, Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn hosts a weekly party where blogs get to follow along with Diana Wynne Jones’ hilarious book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel listing their favorite books with a particular fantasy trope. So sit back and enjoy the fun.

10th July, 2014 – Northern Barbarians

For those unfamiliar with the fantasy trope “Northern Barbarians”, these characters dwell in the snowy art behind the northern MOUNTAIN range. They are very barbarous and tend to kill strangers on sight… It is not certain what their females do. So without any further explanations, here is my favorite Northern Barbarians in fantasy!

1. Conan of Cimmeria by Robert E. Howard
conan-the-cimmerian

I mean, when anyone says northern barbarian in a fantasy story can they be talking about anyone except THE northern barbarian? Not in my world, anyway. Conan is the ultimate northern barbarian. The Cimmerians live across the mountains from the civilized world, raid and pillage their neighbors, are ferocious warriors, and have no problem killing strangers on sight. Plus, Conan is the most ferocious of the bunch, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. All others barbarians are merely a pale reflection of the original Northern Barbarian!

BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON

2. Bragi Ragnarson of Glen Cook’s Dread Empire series
AN ILL FATE MARSHALLING
As a mere youth, Bragi and his brother crossed the southern, snow covered mountains of his homeland to reach the civilized lands of the south. There their fearsome battle skills led them to become mercenaries. Through countless battles and numerous years, Bragi cut a swarth through the civilized kingdoms in war after war until finally he was able to become a king in his own right. He is tall, blonde, muscular, virile, and loud and boastful, but he is also loyal to his friends, surprisingly clever, and attempts to be a decent ruler. Without a doubt, Bragi is a northern barbarian, and his presence helps to bring the Dread Empire series to life.

BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON

3. Wulfgar of R.A. Salvatore’s Legends of Drizzt Do’Urden series
228647
Wulfgar, son of Beornegar, is Mr. Salvatore’s northern barbarian. He is a hero of Icewind Dale and one of the Companions of the Hall along with Drizzt Do’Urden, Catti-brie, Regis the halfling, and Bruenor Battlehammer. Wulfgar is tall, muscular, blonde, and wields a battle hammer into combat along with wearing his horn helmed. I mean, sure, he was raised later in life by a dwarf and somewhat civilized by the experience, but the guy never outgrew his barbarian heritage and later goes back to become chief of his people. I’m not sure his tribe lived over the northern mountains from Icewind Dale, but they did from all the more civilized kingdoms of the Forgotten Realms. Close enough for me to list him here.

BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON

HONORABLE MENTIONS

1. Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert E. Howard
kull-atlantis
Another barbarian from Robert E. Howard. In many ways, Kull was a mirror of Conan, but they were also different, especially in Kull’s tendency to be more introspective about life. Also, where Conan was from the frozen north, Kull was from the barbarian isle of Atlantis and crossed the ocean to the civilized kingdoms of his time. Since that did not fit the “Northern Barbarian” trope, I did not include him in the list, though I can’t think of many characters who fit the “noble savage” better than Kull.

BUY THE BOOK ONE AT AMAZON

2. Barak of David Eddings’ The Belgariad
651240
Barak is a huge bear of a man (Those who have read the story will get the joke. Ha ha) and a berserker. He is chief of his clan and captain of his own “viking” long ship. The land he hails from is the Kingdom of Cherek, which is in the north and is both mountainous and snowy, and in many ways, Cherek is a barbarous place. The simple fact of the matter is that Barak is a thinly disguised Viking, and since I wasn’t sure if that was “Northern Barbarian” enough, I decided to include him here on the honorable mentions list.

BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON

3. Viridovix the Celt by Harry Turtledove
THEMISPLACEDLEGION
The Videssos Cycle is where Mr. Turtledove portrays the fun loving and hard fighting Celt named Viridovix. He is originally from pre-Caesar Gaul, and in many ways he is a classic barbarian. But Gaul (modern France) is not in the snowy north, and Viridovix did not seem barbarian enough – though, like I mentioned, he behaves very much like a semi-civilized Conan or Kull or Wulfgar. So he lands at number 3 on the honorables list.

BUY BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES AT AMAZON

When I first read this week’s trope, I got excited. There had to be dozens of northern barbarians in my favorite books, but as I started trying to find them all, I discovered that there wasn’t as many of them as I initially thought, and not all of the “noble savages” I did find really fit the description of northern barbarians. So here I am with just 3 Northern Barbarians and 3 Almost Northern Barbarians. So please, please give me the names of some others, so I can read about them.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY BEST OF FANTASY LISTS.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Lists, Tough Traveling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to TOUGH TRAVELING — NORTHERN BARBARIANS

  1. Mogsy says:

    Haha, heck yeah Conan should be #1. I think it’s possible that Howard might even have been the one who started the northern barbarian archetype with Kull and Conan.

    Like

  2. lynnsbooks says:

    Wow, this is such a good list! I actually haven’t read Conan which is proving very popular this week – in fact I’m not familiar with any of these – I need to get on with my fantasy reading!!!
    Lynn 😀

    Like

  3. Conan indeed! Think someone else listed that one as well. You’ve got quite a few oldies on here – Pawn of Prophecy ahh feeling the love.

    Like

  4. Damn it, how did I forget Conan?! I haven’t read those books but I at least know of their existence! Actually, I haven’t read any of the books on this list…gotta step up my game! I need more epic fantasy under my belt if I’m going to keep up with this meme.

    Like

  5. Nathan says:

    As much as I love The Black Company for some reason I have read no other Cook. I really should fix that.

    Like

  6. Whoa, you wrote two lists and I barely wrote one! Dang. Sadly I haven’t read any of these…I clearly need to get on that epic fantasy bandwagon ASAP.

    Like

  7. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING – PRINCESSES |

  8. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — SAVING THE WORLD |

  9. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — QUEST OBJECTS |

  10. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — NECROMANCERS! |

  11. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — SHAPESHIFTERS |

  12. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — TOWERS |

  13. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — TYRANTS |

  14. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — COMPANIONS |

  15. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — WITCHES |

  16. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — TURNCOATS |

  17. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — DARK LADY! |

  18. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — DESERT NOMADS |

  19. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — ELVES |

  20. Pingback: TOUGH TRAVELING — MONSTERS |

  21. Pingback: Best of Fantasy Lists |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s