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.
20th November, 2014 – MISSING HEIRS
MISSING HEIRS occur with great frequency. At any given time, half the countries in Fantasyland will have mislaid their crown princess/prince.
I have to admit this is not my favorite topic. Missing heirs is one of those tropes that I personally do not dig. But let us see if I can find some diamonds in the rough.
SHAPECHANGER (CHRONICLES OF THE CHEYSULI) by JENNIFER ROBERSON
In this first installment of the Cheysuli series, the land of Homana is still ripping itself apart in a racial war between the “normal” humans and the “shapechanger” Cheysuli. They reason for this genocide is the disappearance of the King’s heir with his liegeman, who happened to be a Cheysuli. The fact that the heir was missing of her own free will didn’t stop daddy from hunting the shapechangers to near extinction.
But now, something is about to change, because the daughter of the missing heir has been found. A fact that begins the generational prophecy which will either destroy or save both the land and the Cheysuli people.
I can’t call this anything other than light fantasy with a touch of romance thrown in, but even with that being said, Chronicles of the Cheysuli was a good read back in the day. And it definitely has a decent twist on the “Missing Heir” trope.
Buy Shapechanger’s Song (Chronicles of the Cheysuli, Bk. 1: Shapechangers and Bk. 2: The Song of Homana) at Amazon.
THE MALLOREON by DAVID EDDINGS
This is the sequel to David Eddings’ much loved YA fantasy The Belgariad. In the previous series, Garion had slain the evil God Torak, fulfilled an ancient prophecy, married Ce’Nedra, and been crowned King of the West. The trumpets sounded, and our heroes walked off into the sunset to live happily ever after. But wait, Mr. Eddings needed to write another epic fantasy saga. What to do? Hey, I know, how about we pretend Torak wasn’t the only evil god out there and that Belgarion was not the only person who had a prophecy written about him. Problem solved. Roll out The Malloreon.
And, yeah, you guessed it, the whole plotline was set up by an evil dude stealing Garion’s heir, who happens to be a baby and his only child.
Obviously, Mr. Eddings never went far from the old fantasy tropes to get his next story idea. But you know what, The Malloreon was still great fun, especially for a Missing Heir story.
Buy The Malloreon, Vol. 1 (Books 1-3): Guardians of the West, King of the Murgos, Demon Lord of Karanda at Amazon.
THE LOST PRINCE (THE DARK BORDER #1) by PAUL EDWIN ZIMMER
“Were it not for the awesome power of the Hasturs, the creatures contained by the dark border would overrun mankind. As humans reeled from the constant onslaught only to rebound, the darkness searched for another path to victory. It stole a princeling and raised him in Shadow, teaching him how to command the living and the dead, how to usurp his brother’s throne through magic, and how to turn humans against themselves. And then it sent him home…” — Back Cover Description
And no, I didn’t read the Spanish version of the book. This is just the only image of the book I can find online large enough to actually be seen. Never say that I don’t go the extra mile for my readers. 🙂
Buy The Lost Prince (THE DARK BORDER, VOLUME 1) at Amazon.
ICEFALCON’S QUEST (DARWATH #5) by BARBARA HAMBLY
“While chaos reigned in the Eastern Lands, the Keep of Dare stood as a bastion against war and bandits and the spawn of unnatural sorceries. Then twin blows rocked the citadel: the fearsome Alketch army mounted siege, even as young Prince Tir was snatched from the heart of the Keep. Behind the terror was the depraved, hook-handed general Vair na-Chandros. He had learned that the royal child possessed forbidden wisdom: a secret with which the bloodthirsty Vair intended to conquer the world.
One single man posed a threat to Vair’s vaunting ambition: the legendary warrior known as the Icefalcon. Banished by his own people and scorned as a barbarian by others, only he could hope to free the boy from Vair’s clutches. With his sister Cold Death–a sorcerer whose magic was as sharp as her tongue–the Icefalcon embarked on a dangerous mission of rescue and redemption.
Braving nightmare demons and the endless hordes of Vair’s inhuman soldiers, he shadowed Vair and his small captive beyond the reaches of the known world. And when the boy led Vair to the forgotten Keep of the Shadow at the End of Time, the Icefalcon would face his greatest battle . . . for his prince, for his honor, and for all eternity.” — Book Jacket Description
Not the best of the series, but it still is an entertaining “Missing Heir” fantasy.
Buy Icefalcon’s Quest at Amazon.
PRINCE OF DOGS (CROWN OF STARS #2) by KATE ELLIOTT
Sanglant is known as the Prince of Dogs, but he is actually King Henry’s bastard son; though believed dead by all who could succor him, he is being held captive in the city of Gent by Bloodheart, the Eika warlord. Cursed by his mother’s blood with an inability to die, he struggles to maintain the last shreds of his sanity in the hope rescue may yet come….
While the book doesn’t revolve around our “Missing Heir” (There are numerous other characters and plot lines going on in this epic fantasy), Sanglant and his undetermined fate is always close to the core of the tale. Plus, did you see that cover. How could I not put that dude and his dogs on a “Missing Heir” fantasy list?
Buy King’s Dragon: Crown of Stars #1 at Amazon.
NINE PRINCES OF AMBER (AMBER #1) by ROGER ZELAZNEY
I thought that I would end on a high note with a book that uses the “Missing Heir” trope in a completely unexpected way. Here Corwin awakens in a hospital unable to remember who he is or where he came from. But while he doesn’t have a clue who he is, others seem to know him very well, and as he plays along with them, desperately hoping to find clues to all the blanks in his memory, he begins to slowly learn that he might be one of the sons of Oberon, King of Amber, and the rightful successor to the crown in a parallel world!
Great book one. Loved the way the author set this whole “Missing Heir” trope up and developed it.
Buy The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) at Amazon.
So those are my choices, how about yours?
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY BEST OF FANTASY LISTS.
Garion! That’s his name. I was thinking of Eddings when coming up with my post, but it’s been so long since I’ve read him, I couldn’t remember enough details to include it.
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I don’t know how you do it – really I don’t. Every week you manage to come up with a list of books the like of which I’ve never heard. I suppose I’m a bit of a newbie to fantasy!!
Well done – again!
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Oh, man, I love these covers! 🙂 I haven’t read any of these books but they seem awesome – at least visually!
Reading through the other examples of this trope, I kept thinking, ‘But where’s Nine Princes?’ Glad you included it. 🙂
Prince of Dogs has one of the worst covers I have ever seen. I was embarrassed when I was reading it to carry it around.
Hambly is well respected yet all I know her for is the horrible Star Wars book she wrote.
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It was a horrible cover. The whole series had bad covers. But it was a time of bad covers, in my opinion, so I try to be kind.
As for Hambly, her fantasy got weaker and weaker as she kept writing, but for a light read, you can’t go wrong with Darwath or Sunwolf or Dragonsbane. You should breakdown and try one when you are relaxing at the beach or something. 🙂
“The Lost Prince” cover is Italian.
Parlo agli due lingue. 😉
Ah, thx for the correction. As you can see, I have no linguistic abilities besides putting my foot in my own mouth. 😛
I knew it would come in handy one day. Been waiting years for this moment. Haha.
You always have some interesting choices. I haven’t read a lot of older fantasy, maybe that’s why I haven’t heard of a lot on this list! 😀
It just comes from being the oldest fantasy fan in the room. I’d gladly trade any “ancient knowledge” I have to be twenty again. 🙂
I love Kate Elliott! Haven’t read her Crown of Stars series though…I need to get on that! One of the things that always strikes me when I read your lists is how many books David Eddings has written. Seriously though…the man’s written a small library.
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