Every Thursday, Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn hosts a weekly party where blogs set out with Diana Wynne Jones’ hilarious book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel in hand to explore all the tropes from their favorite stories. So sit back and enjoy the fun.
18th June, 2015 – PEOPLE ON BOATS
Grab a map of Fantasyland and you are sure to see there is water. Of course not everything important is going to happen on land, right? Sometimes people actually have to get on a boat and hit the water. Where, being fantasyland, anything can happen.
Well, nothing is coming to mind. Going to have to dig deep for this one.
THE IRON SHIP (THE GATES OF THE WORLD) by K.M. McKinley
A world dominated by the Great Tide. A savage rising of the ocean that is becoming greater and greater. Whole islands composed of float stone that rides upon the crests of the deep. And a new world of science striving to conquer the waves for humankind.
To do this, several people devise a clever joining of metallurgy and magic to create The Iron Ship. A monstrous thing of metal powered by magical engines, deemed to be powerful enough to evade the enormous sea monsters of the ocean and crack through the ice which surrounds a southern land never explored, allowing its ancient ruins to be examined. For the educated are beginning to wonder if some strange event is about to be unleashed upon the world, and somehow, someway it will involve the Great Tide!
Buy The Iron Ship at Amazon.
This portal fantasy finds Wally Smith’s spirit transported to another world and placed into the body of a renowned swordsman, then tasked by a goddess to accomplish a quest. It sounds like pretty standard fantasy stuff, I know, but it really was a great series. Be that as it may, the reason it is on this list is that the whole civilization Wally finds himself among is built around a mighty river; the people rarely ever leaving the confines of their ships and boats nor building their settlements away from its shores. Honestly, most of the story takes place on ships or the docks beside the river.
Buy The Reluctant Swordsman (The Seventh Sword) at Amazon.
This second installment of Lord Grimdark’s YA grimwhine series sees a cast of new character join the familiar faces from book one. Once they get together, they soon embark on a journey of epic proportions across the face of the world, traveling by longboat. Now, I admit that being on this “boat” isn’t the main focus of the story here, but it definitely is the setting for much of the story and the catalyst for much of the action. Plus, I really love that cover. I mean, how could I not find a way to include it on here.
Buy Half the World (Shattered Sea) at Amazon.
This science fiction/alternate time stream series is based around the premise that a WW II destroyer gets sucked into an alternate reality, where humans never evolved but two other life forms have. These species now exist in a state of perpetual warfare, and the crew of the USS Walker finds herself in a position to change the outcome of this conflict by the application of its steam power and modern weaponry. But should they? And if they do, how will it help them in returning to their own reality? But no matter what, they are people on a boat in a land which seems more fantastical than any they could ever have imagined.
Buy Into the Storm (Destroyermen) at Amazon.
This fifth book of the Chronicles of Narnia is based upon the travels of King Caspian and his friends into the east upon the mighty ship Dawn Treader. Yes, much of the action and adventures take place off the ship when our heroes disembark at various islands that they encounter, but really this is a story about an ocean exploration. So in my mind, this book is all about people on a boat, having a grand adventure at sea, so it will be resting at anchor right here on this list.
This retelling of the Trojan War by one of the masters of fantasy adventure has its triumphs and its failures, but one thing it excels at is portraying the ancient Greek affinity for the sea and displaying how the Aegean was their highway. Indeed, much of the action in this opening volume of the Troy trilogy occurs during the sea voyage to Troy by the main characters, displaying that the warriors of this time were really people in boats.
Buy Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy Trilogy, Book 1) at Amazon.
This second volume in the Krondor’s Sons series spotlights Prince Arutha’s youngest son, Nicholas. During his coming-of-age tale, a reader is sent on a grand sea adventure that is as much swashbuckling pirate fun as it is regular Feist fantasy. Sure, not all of the story is set aboard ship, but the whole point of the story is that Nicholas turns into the King’s Buccaneer and that, my friends, is close enough to warrant entry upon this proclamation.
Buy The King’s Buccaneer (Riftwar Cycle: Krondor’s Sons) at Amazon.
What do you have when you send a whiny leper, his almost lover, and a multitude of giants on a voyage to find the Staff of Law? Yeah, that is right, you have a lot of people on a boat. Not something that thrilled me very much when I read this one many years ago, but then again, it fit into the overarching story of Thomas Covenant so I made myself grin and read it.
Buy Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1) at Amazon and begin your adventures with the most famous fantasy whiner ever!
Okay, what books did I miss?