TOUGH TRAVELING — TOWERS

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.

28th of August 2014 – TOWERS

TOWERS stand along in waster areas and almost always belong to Wizards. All are several storeys high, round, doorless, virtually windowless, and composed of smooth blocks of masonry that make them very hard to climb.

Can’t think of an easier fantasy trope to explore, so here are my picks.

THE TWO TOWERS by J.R.R. TOLKIEN
THE TWO TOWERS

Can you start a fantasy list about “tower” novels without beginning with this classic? I can’t anyway, so that is why the second part of the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy sits at the top. Without a doubt, “towers” plays a major role in the narrative, as the plot revolves around Frodo and Samwise’s struggle to reach Mordor, destroy the One Ring of Sauron and thus the lord of the Tower of Barad-dur. Meanwhile, though, the rest of the Fellowship find themselves embroiled in the machinations of Saruman, who resides at his impregnable Tower of Orthanc. While I know that picking this book is no big shock to anyone familiar with fantasy, I could not see anyway I could do this list without, at least, tipping my hat to the master and his vision of wizard towers.

THE IRON TOWER TRILOGY by DENNIS McKIERNAN
THE DARK TIDE

This is the ultimate Lord of the Rings clone. It is so close to Tolkien’s masterpiece in characters, plot, and tone that you will almost think you are reading the War of the Rings over again and then getting to read a sequel. And that really, really annoys people, which is perfectly fine. However, I loved Lord of the Rings as a 1980s teenager and never wanted it to end, so after I’d read all Tolkien’s other books about Middle-Earth, this filled the void in my life with another epic adventure about a Dark Lord in an Iron Tower trying to destroy the heroic free people of the world. While it might not be completely original, it does have a wizard tower in it. See, it is right there in the title.

THE VANISHING TOWER by MICHAEL MOORCOCK
THE VANISHING TOWER

This novel continues the adventures of Moorcock’s most famous character: Elric of Melnobon and Moonglum, his sidekick of the moment. Since it is a collection of stories (as are most of Elric’s adventures), the novel consists of three semi-connected tales, beginning with our albino hero finishing up some things from the previous book before being pulled into more travels and more adventures. Like all Moorcock’s stuff, there is lots of magic, plenty of meddling gods, a team up with some other incantations of the Eternal Champion (Corum and Erikose this time) plus a tower with a mesmerized sorceress who needs saving. Yeap, tower right there. Read it and see.

THE SILENT TOWER by BARBARA HAMBLY
THE SILENT TOWER

Published in 1986, this novel features Antryg Windrose: a renegade and insane (supposedly) wizard who is locked away in the Silent Tower to keep him from being able to use his magic. But (unbeknownst to his captors) while he can’t use traditional magic, Antryg can still open the “Void” and travel to other worlds. This leads our escaped wizard to Earth, where he meets Joanna Sheraton, a computer programmer in Los Angeles, who he summarily kidnaps and takes back with him to his world. Thereafter, Antryg and Joanna travel through the wizard’s country trying to find evidence that Suraklin, an executed evil wizard and Antryg’s former master, is behind the magical disturbances in the world as well as the rise of Abominations across the countryside.

A bit out-of-date in its references to dot-matrix printers and DOS programming, but The Silent Tower is still a decent fantasy novel and the beginning of a series. Plus, it has a tower in it.

THE TOWER OF FEAR by GLEN COOK
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Here, a reader is transported to the City of Qushmarrah, where the people are not a happy group. Ever since the physically short and militarily methodical Herodians conquered them, the residents of once mighty Qushmarrah have held their breath, waiting for the evil wizard Narkar’s tower, above the city, to open up and spew out its vileness; the foul sorceries within driving the hated invaders from the land, even as their former tyrannical leader returns from the grave and reascends his unearthly throne. However, not all of Qushmarrah’s residence would welcome the bloody return of Narkar, and so the city sits on a powder keg, waiting for one spark to ignite a conflagration.

Great standalone fantasy story. I won’t even mention what it has in it.

TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER by TAD WILLIAMS
TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER

Amazon description:

A novel of vast scope, detail, and complexity, To Green Angel Tower is the momentous tour-de-force finale of a ground-breaking series. Replete with war, deception, adventure, sorcery, and romance, To Green Angel Tower brings to a stunning and surprising conclusion Tad Williams’ monumental tale of a magical conflict which fractures the very fabric of time and space, turning both humans and Sithi against those of their own blood.

I read this book so long ago that I only vaguely remember it, but I do recall that a tower was involved in the finale. Plus, it has tower in the name, so it goes on the list.

THE DARK TOWER: BOOK VII by STEPHEN KING
THE DARK TOWER

The quest for the Dark Tower is ending!

All the weary miles, endless deaths, heroic stands, and lost loved ones is finally coming to an end for Roland Deschain of Gilead and his ka-tet.

And the weary but dedicated fan can finally savor that ending. An ending that will somehow, someway tie up all the loose plots and cause all their frustration about the years between novels, the endless lore changes, the confusing multiverse, and even Stephen King writing himself into the story to disappear from their minds.

Or maybe not. Can’t say that I enjoyed the conclusion to this epic fantasy series, but at least, we finally got to the Dark Tower and found out what it concealed.

THE BLACK COMPANY by GLEN COOK
theblackcompany

The Black Company is a band of mercenaries, always looking for work. Soulcatcher is one of the “Ten-Who-Were-Taken” that help The Lady rule a continental empire. (An empire which they have forged anew after spending a great deal of time imprisoned in barrows after their ancient defeat by the White Rose.) Now, though, the rebels in the north say that the White Rose has been born anew; their armies have turned into limitless hordes; their magic seemingly overpowering; and unless their drive toward Charm can be stopped, it seems like back to the barrow for the bad guys. But, Soulcatcher has hired the Black Company, and with their help, things might not turn out the same way for the “bad guys” this time.

Book ends with a huge battle at the Tower of Charm. Tower, see. You doubted me for a minute, didn’t you?

THE WALLS OF AIR by BARBARA HAMBLY
THE WALLS OF AIR

Three thousand years ago, the monstrous Dark sprung from loathsome underground lairs to destroy most of humanity. Somehow, the ancients drove back the black tide and slowly rebuilt the world. But now, the Dark have arisen again!

In the once mighty Kingdom of Renweth, a few thousand people hide inside the ancient fortress Keep of Renweth, protected by the mightiest wizard of the world: Ingold Inglorion. But even here, behind obsidian walls formed by the magic and science of the ancient ones, Ingold despairs of being able to hold out against the Dark for long, and so, desperate to find some way to save his world, the wizard and his apprentice, Rudy Solis, set out across the continent to the City of Wizards at Quo. If there is any way to stop the Dark, Ingold knows it will be within the tower of wizardry there, hidden behind spells of concealment and protection that even the Dark could not breach.

Yeah, I know this one doesn’t have tower in the name, but the main character is trying to get to a wizard tower. Object of the quest is there, so it is on the list.

RIYRIA CHRONICLES and RIYRIA REVELATIONS by MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
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crowntower-2-5
Well, these series definitely have towers in them.

In Chronicles, our heroes cut their teeth as partners in crime while attempting to break into The Crown Tower: The impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable treasures. And Hadrian and Royce might actually be able to break into it IF they don’t kill one another first.

In Revelations, our dynamic duo find themselves confronted by Avempartha, which is an ancient elven tower that now holds a deadly creature. Naturally, Hadrian and Royce wind up having to deal with the “monster” with their usual witty banter and derring-do.

Definitely two great series — especially for my list on fantasy TOWERS.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY BEST OF FANTASY LISTS.

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26 Responses to TOUGH TRAVELING — TOWERS

  1. I haven’t read or have forgotten a lot of these. Awesome for completing the Dark Tower series though, I really wished I liked the first book enough to continue with it, Gunslinger wasn’t for me but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on account of everyone always saying how amazing the series is.

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  2. lynnsbooks says:

    This is an excellent list – for one moment there I actually thought you were going to have a full list with the word ‘tower’ in all the titles.
    I really have to read the Dark Towers but I did get put off by people saying the first one wasn’t too good – in fact one person told me I could probably skip the Gunslinger but it feels naughty to do that! Plus it’s only a fairly small book, so….
    Lynn 😀

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  3. A great idea for an article, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the inclusion of my books in it. My daugher is always pointing out that my books seem to have a lot of towers. In Crown Conspiracy there is Archie’s tower Riyria scale at the start of the book, then Arista’s booby-trapped tower. Of course as you mentioned Avempartha is a tower and then some. Later on there is the tower of Drumindor. And of course in The Crown Tower … there is… well the crown tower?

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    • Bookwraiths says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

      I initially was going to put “The Crown Tower” on my list as well then decided to focus on thetower that seemed more like a wizard tower. I know that Avempartha is not technically a wizard tower, but it has all the wonderful fantasy elements of one. So I picked it instead.

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  4. Great list! I really need to read both Hambly and Moorcock. And Dark Tower. Your post this week is a tour through the books I really should read. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Maija Reads says:

    I have to admit that I’ve only read The Two Towers from these books. Barad-dûr and Orthanc are just such cool & imposing tower names. The Gunslinger is sitting on my shelf unread, and I’ve read some earlier Elric short stories. It’s a nice, long list that you came up with!

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  6. I read The Gunslinger years and years ago; I liked it but for some reason or other I never continued on with the Dark Tower books. Would you recommend the series? Stephen King and I have a love/hate relationship.

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    • Bookwraiths says:

      I personally enjoyed the series until the last two books, but the conclusion just didn’t satisfy me. So if you enjoy the journey more than the destination, I’d recommend Dark Tower. Otherwise don’t invest the time.

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  7. I am completely awed by your list. You actually managed to list down so many books that are obviously about towers. I swear I don’t have that many books that are about towers. Gunslinger, I am familiar because one of my bested buds is a die hard King fan but I never considered picking it up.

    As for LOTR, I’ve read the trilogy plus The Hobbit. It’s one of my first pick for this week’s Tough Travels but not so sure if I’m going to participate as I have so little to share and I think everyone’s already familiar with them. Orthanc and Barad-dur are definitely unforgettable towers. 😀

    And as for your other books, they are all new to me. Just checked the Tower of Fear and The Black Company on Goodreads. Oh my, the Black Company is actually 11 books. It seems like a very good series but 11 books…? Uhmn…..

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nathan says:

    You have some older reads on your list most weeks; I sure appreciate that. I didn’t get into fantasy until a few years ago and missed a lot of these classics. Slowly I get to them in between other reads but darn, wish I had read them all. Wastrel is also good for that when he makes the comment rounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is an excellent comic by Schuiten & Peeters called the Tower: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tower-Stories-Fantastic-Series/dp/1561630705 . It’s might pricey, though, as it seems to only exist as a collector’s item! Still, if you get your hands on it, I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

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