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.
30th September, 2014 – MONSTERS
MONSTERS are likely to lie in waste areas, caves, and old ruined cities. You can usually detect their presence by smell.
Wow, monsters are so . . . like a decade ago. I mean, fantasy these days focuses more on three dimensional characters shaded all in grey, not evil monsters, so this category is going to force me to dig deep (or broadly interpret the definition) to actually find some “monsters” that fit that description.
Yeah, this is a movie adaption. Of a movie that was not particularly well loved when it was released in the early 1980s, but one I always enjoyed for what it was: a fast paced, fun, adventure story.
So, anyway, this story focuses on . . . yeah, you got it, a dragon!
More specifically, the quest to find a particular dragon, kill that dragon, and survive the process.
And, for those that are interested, this dragon is a true monster. There isn’t any goodness or misunderstanding or justification for his killing, pillaging, destruction, and eating of maidens. Nope, he is a smelly dragon who hides in his lair, only venturing out to lay waste to the puny humans who are good for only one thing — eating!
Buy Dragonslayer at Amazon.
This novel has an abundance of “monsters” scattered throughout its pages. We have the protagonists of the story, the Iron Wolves, who are some of the grimmest grimdark heroes I’ve encountered. Their numbers including a pit fighter, drug addict, serial killer, and child molester/torturer. And then we have the antagonists in the tale who are more traditional monsters called mud orcs, raised from the mud pits by vile, blood magic, and their companion soldiers in the dark army labeled “splice”, which is a fairly adequate explanation for what they are (a forced melding of human and animal into one physical creature.) Leading the orcs and splice is Orlana the Changer; a strange, inhuman villainess who eats human flesh one moment before satiating her sexual appetite on a man slave, literally eating him alive as she spread her taint within him. Lots of “monsters” here — though they don’t live in caves.
Buy The Iron Wolves: Book 1 of The Rage of Kings at Amazon.
Set after the end of the Darwath trilogy, this story sees the world growing colder, and the survivors of the rising of the Dark attempting to rebuild their civilization (albeit on a smaller scale) in a harsh, new land. Now, though, they find themselves facing a new menace as the ice that is creeping down from the north has awoken an ancient force determined to freeze the globe in a perpetual winter. And with a near indestructible weed beginning to grow in the fields, monsters begin to appear outside the Keep of Dare . . . as well as inside it, the hardships of the survivors of the Dark only grows worse!
Thought I’d add a different sort of monster with this one.
Buy Mother of Winter (Darwath) at Amazon.
The Black Company (well, what remains of it, anyway) are sent out by Lady to investigate a mysterious black castle that seems to be organically growing in a small seaport far to the west. The residents of this castle are hooded monstrosities who pay for any corpses delivered to them and will give extra money for anyone brought to them still alive!
While the story doesn’t focus solely on these monsters and their business at the dark castle, I still thought their role in this tale was central to the whole book. Plus, they are just really creepy, intriguing monsters.
This is not one of my favorite fantasy books. For the reasons why read my review HERE .
Be that as it may, the author has some pretty cool monsters in the ghuls.
These zombie-like creatures come in all shapes and in numerous forms. Each different ghul having specific powers at its command. While zombies by another name at first glance, they shape up into far more than just that.
Of course, we don’t actually see much of the ghuls, but when we do, they are interesting.
Buy Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms) at Amazon.
The monster in this story is obviously the dragon, right?
Well, it is, sort of. But Ms. Hambly does something really cool in this Tolkien-inspired adventure of a group of dragonslayers, she turns the dragon into something more than just an evil beast.
Back when this one was first published, I had personally never seen a story that did that. Normally, we had good guys versus evil monster, and that was that. But Dragonsbane did the ol’ switcharo, creating a really memorable monster.
Buy Dragonsbane at Amazon.
Okay, the “wolves” are not the traditional fantasy monster, but they are “monsters” who ride into the Calla on their fierce steeds, stealing children and striking the fear of god into all the residents. And they appear from a mysterious land across the river where an ominous mountain stands.
Sounds like some pretty cool monsters to me.
For all these reasons — and the fact this was the last Dark Tower novel that I actually liked — these monsters have to be on my list.
Buy Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, Book 5) at Amazon.
How can any monster list be complete without Smaug the Magnificent?
As he himself says:
“My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
Sounds like one bad monster to me, so the ultimate dragon is on my list.
Buy The Hobbit at Amazon.
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