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.
16th July, 2015 – EXTREME CLIMATES
Perhaps the handsome prince lives in a castle surrounded by green countryside and sunny days. The rest of the land is forced to deal with freezing cold, searing heat, and every other extreme climate mother nature can throw at you..
Easy one. Here are my picks.
Can anyone think of another speculative fiction series that relies so heavily on its environment as does the scifi classic Dune?
Neither can I. Honestly, the desert planet of Arrakis, its sand worms, the priceless spice of the desert, and the hardy Freeman who inhabit its waterless expanse are as much the star of the show as Paul and all the rest of the characters. So, naturally, I have to start any list of this sort with Dune!
Buy Dune at Amazon.
In the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Land is introduced as a living, vibrant place with a life all its own. But as the second chronicles starts, Covenant returns to the Land and finds that everything has changed!
What this reformed (Well, sort of) leper discovers is that thousands of years have passed, the Earthpower is gone, and the people of the Land are afflicted with the Sunbane: an unnatural cycle whereby each day is alternately rain, desert, pestilence or unnatural fertility that destroys everything in its path.
Sounds pretty extreme to me, so it is on the list.
I really hate to even think about this novel. I read it years ago when I had not been a father very long, and so this tale of a father attempting to take care of his son after a horrible apocalyptic event has turned the world into a dead, desperate place hit me hard. When I finished it, I really felt like I’d been hit by a baseball bat in my gut. Be that as it may, this tale revolves around the extreme conditions that now engulf the world and make life nearly impossible on the earth.
If you are brave enough, buy The Road at Amazon.
“Winter is coming!” It is the phrase that continues to warn a reader of the horrible things that are to come in the series, as if the routine killings aren’t vicious enough, but it also clearly illustrates that Westeros is a land of extreme climate changes. Years of endless summer. But occasionally, there comes an era of endless winter, where vile things hunt the living and seek to blot out all life!
Isn’t it about time for the next book in this series?
Oh, we have to wait until the tv series ends. That is cool, I guess.
Buy A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) at Amazon.
Having just finished this interesting scifi-mystery told in verse, its unique world was very much in my mind, so I had to include it on this list of extreme climates.
At least for me, Vox’s situation as a world orbiting a sun that burns without light was amazing. A whole civilization that lives in complete darkness, because light bulbs are so precious that only the rich can afford them, and this has caused people to turn to the use of Prometheus, liquid light, to give themselves the illusion of living in a world of shiny sunlight!
It really is a unique story with an amazing planetary climate of complete darkness.
Buy Dark Star at Amazon.
This fantasy series begins with a group of explorers traversing an inhospitable land of ice and sand that is appropriately dubbed the Blasted Lands. And as the first two books in the series continue, the significance of this land becomes more and more apparent until it seems that the Blasted Lands and its people hold the keys to the world’s shadowy past and its very uncertain future.
While I know that the Blasted Lands do not necessarily describe a world-wide climate condition like in Dune, I still thought it was so important to the story as a whole that it warranted inclusion of this list.
Buy Seven Forges: Seven Forges, Book I at Amazon.
At first glance, this portal fantasy about an apocalyptic rising of the Dark in the land of Darwath doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with extreme climate, but it actually does. You just don’t realize it unless you read the whole trilogy, where it is slowly and masterfully revealed.
I really wish I could explain to everyone why the Darwath series has to be on this list of extreme climates, but if I did, I’d ruin one of the best surprises of the whole series. So you guys are just going to have to trust me that extreme climate change is absolutely a central focus of this series.
Like Dune, this is a book where the climate of the world (Narnia here) is an important element in the overall plot of the story. As the picture to the right shows, in C.S. Lewis classic fantasy that extreme climate condition is a perpetual winter, which has encased Narnia in a cold that has existed for generations.
Indeed, once Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy get to Narnia, everything they do revolves around finding a way to break the White Witch’s curse that has brought the eternal winter to the land. So, yeah, that means this book is definitely on the list.
This ongoing series began with its main character, Blaine McFadden, being convicted of a crime and banished to a prison at the edge of the world. Once there, Blaine finds he has entered a land of near eternal winter, where the harshness of life makes survival almost impossible for the few hardy folk who cling to the coast of Edgeland.
While later books in the series shift the focus away from Edgeland to the more temperate regions of the world, I felt like the cold and harsh climate was such an integral part of this novel that it really warranted inclusion on this list.
Buy Ice Forged (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga) at Amazon.
Whether it be the burning desert planet of Tattoine, the frigid ice of Hoth, the steamy jungles of Dagoba, the verdant forest world of Endo, the metal plated surface of Coruscant, the molten lava of Mustafar, this series is all about extreme climate conditions all the time it seems. So much so, that I couldn’t really pick just one, so I decided to lump them all in together.
Buy The Star Wars Trilogy, Episodes IV, V & VI at Amazon.
A whole land ruled by one man. A world where ash falls from the sky in a never ending sprinkle. So much of the stuff blankets the ground that it has to be constantly removed day after day. And everything in the world has a perpetual gray, or dirty, cast to it.
And if the ash wasn’t enough, at night a cloud of mist obscures everything. A mist that is haunted by creatures out of a nightmare that are said to feed on living!
Sounds pretty damn extreme to me.
Buy Mistborn: The Final Empire (Book No. 1) at Amazon.
This Lord of the Rings clone (It really doesn’t pretend to be anything else.) is an epic fantasy where a dark lord is attempting to conquer the world. The first step in his plan is to send forward a wall of darkness that covers the land, making it easier for his night loving minions to swarm over the free people of the world.
I also need to mention that once the darkness descends the weather also goes crazy. Ice, sleet, snow, rain as well as areas where the land is like a tundra.
Buy The Iron Tower Omnibus (Mithgar) at Amazon.
In this sprawling fantasy series, Jordan and Sanderson introduce readers to several very extreme environments. The two that stand out in my memory are the Aiel Waste and the Blight.
The Aiel Waste is a fantasy version of Dune (At least, in my eyes) with a waterless desert, fierce tribes of desert folk, and hallucinogenic herbs used in tribal rituals. Okay, okay, there aren’t any sand worms, but I bet Jordan trid to think of a way to include them. 🙂
The Blight is a Mordor-like place of evil, which spits out its vile denizens to terrorize the world, and seems to grow and expand as it corrupt the land near it.
I’m sure I’m forgetting other examples of extreme climates in this one, but that is all I can recall at this time.
Buy The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) at Amazon.
A world where evil entities have crossed the fabric of the universe, conquered huge swashes of the world, and begun laying it waste, corrupting the very earth and turning the land into a poisonous desert of vile red dust where no living things can survive. Only the eternal vigilance of a race of immortal wizards (Hasturs) has contained the Dark Ones to the lands which have already fallen to them. Fighting along side these wizards are every man and woman of the world; each willingly pledging their service to defend the Dark Border, where the magical towers of the Hasturs hold back the vile magic of the Dark Things and their evil minions. Every day, the war goes on. An eternal conflict that will never end until the world itself ceases to be!
Can’t get much more extreme than that.
Buy The Lost Prince (THE DARK BORDER, VOLUME 1) at Amazon.
This fantasy/scifi genre blender by one of my favorite authors features a world where winter is coming. (And Cook coined the phrase decades before George R.R. Martin!) A winter so severe that it will send the people of the land to the brink of extermination, where they will resort to cannibalism to survive! Unless someone can determine a way to avert said disaster.
The story that develops probably has less to do with the extreme climate than others on this list, but it is still at the core of everything which happens in this trilogy. Plus, I always have to find a way to get Cook on these lists.
Buy Darkwar at Amazon.
A world where the gods have been killed by a cabal of wizards and still lie dying upon the earth, where they landed as they fell from heaven. And as these divine beings breath their last breaths, the world slowly dies, turning into an uninhabitable wasteland, which grows worse and worse every year, no matter the efforts of its people.
Not sure if that description warrants this series inclusion on the extreme climate list, but it is my favorite of the moment, so I’m including this kick ass grimdark on here anyway.
Buy The Grim Company at Amazon.
This is a fantasy series set upon a world where its sleeping god-creator lies just under the surface. His eternal sleep marred by nightmares that play out in reality upon the world itself. A situation which has caused the land to be disrupted by extreme conditions where whole sections of the planet will complete dissolve and reform before its denizens eyes. Forests will vanish to be replaced by deserts. Mountains become plains. Nothing ever seems to stay the same forever, because the sleeping god’s dreams come alive on the world he dreamt into existence.
Buy The Nameless Dwarf: The Complete Chronicles at Amazon.
A world (or worlds, if you will) that has moved on. This has resulted in weird permutations in reality. Deserts, technological ruins from other worlds, and vanished lands appearing and disappearing before the Gunslingers eyes as his travels take him ever closer to the Dark Tower!
Yeah, I know there isn’t any rhyme or reason for the extreme climate shifts in this series, but it was all frustrating fun from beginning to end — even if King did write himself into the damn story.
Buy The Gunslinger: (The Dark Tower #1)(Revised Edition) at Amazon.
While this series starts off in the (then) modern world, it quickly expands into other worlds that run the gamut from the beautiful forests and mountains of Amber to the vile, fiery lands of Chaos. In between those two are numerous weird worlds with extreme climates to numerous to detail here.
Okay, maybe, these alternate world aren’t truly extreme climates, but it is my list, so I’m going to push the boundaries a bit every now and then, which means Amber is on here. 🙂
So what did I miss?