Tough Traveling: KNIGHTS


Tough Traveling is an interesting and thought-provoking meme started by Nathan @ Fantasy Review Barn: each week Nathan chooses a topic from The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, by Diana Wynn Jones, and challenges everyone to come up with a list of books featuring that trope.

Come join the fun!

This week’s topic is: KNIGHTS

Um. Noble rich people on horseback. Come on, you people know what knights are. (Topic provided by Mariam)

Well, we all know that knights have been idealized for centuries: some of them were rich and noble (both in lineage and character), but others were in the game just for the spoils, or other reasons. And some of them were not guys at all…  So, let’s explore the other half of the equation!

Brienne of Tarth (from GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire)brienne

The only surviving offspring of Lord Selwyn Tarth, and always more inclined to martial arts rather than the typical feminine endeavors,  she felt free to indulge in her desire to be fighting knight when her father gave up arranging a marriage for her, given the lack of interest shown by prospective suitors and Brienne herself. Her concept of knighthood is more idealized than the reality of Westeros affords, and she always clings tenaciously to the concepts of loyalty and honor, even when it means paying a stiff price for it.  Awkward and ungainly in appearance, she is nonetheless a fierce and determined warrior, the kind one would want at their side in a tight situation.

October Daye (from Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series)

The half-human, half fae private investigator living in San Francisco, she is also a knight, invested with this title by her liege lord, Silvester Torquill. She might not ride a horse and face enemies with sword in hand, but still – like a knight – she fights for those who can’t defend themselves, more often than not facing huge dangers and bodily harm, but always determined not to fail those who ask for her help.  She’s a hard-edged heroine with a well-hidden softer side, as her squire Quentin can undoubtedly witness.  If you need rescuing, Sir October Daye is the right one to call for help!

Boudica (historical/legendary)

Maybe not a knight in the true sense of the word, but she was indeed a warrior, queen of a Celtic tribe and leader of an uprising against the Roman occupation army. Keeping the enemy on its toes for a long time, she caused them to fall back and even to consider retreating completely from Britain.  Unfortunately, she was finally vanquished, but her name and actions inspired several legend and became a cultural symbol in the UK.

Monza Murcatto (from Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold)

Here I might be stretching a little the definition of “knight”, but Monzcarro “Monza” Murcatto is a soldier, tactician and fearless leader of her troops, who held her in high esteem: she is a mercenary in the employ of Duke Orso and she falls victim, together with her brother, to the Duke’s paranoia and thrown down a cliff to die. Surviving by pure miracle, she swears vengeance of the Duke and the people who aided and abetted his actions, and carries it on with ruthless efficiency.  Grimly determined, used to pain, uncaring of the scars that her life as a soldier and the attempted murder have left on her, Monza is an unusual heroine, not necessarily on the side of the “good guys”, but she’s certainly an unforgettable character.

14 thoughts on “Tough Traveling: KNIGHTS

  1. Oh, great decision, picking female characters only! 🙂 I only listed Brienne, but would have loved to do more. Boudica is a cool choice despite her fate!
    I have to read more of Abercrombie’s books – I just got Half the World in the mail and I can’t wait to start!


  2. Brienne of Tarth is a great choice. I’ve always seen her as the flip side of Jaime Lannister. Brienne being the true believer in the chivalrous code, while Jaime basically views it all as bullshit by this point in his life. Great interaction between the two as well.


  3. I haven’t read any of yours, though I think I’ll be reading the Toby Daye books one of these years – so many of my blogging friends love them. I included some female knights in my list, too – including Keladry of Mindelan, my favorite.


  4. I love Brienne as well because she’s such a rare commodity in Westeros, because she continues to hold on to her honor even as she gets educated to the ways of the world. I love her a Jaime’s relationship. I included Jaime on my list because I think he is the most complicated of the Knights – I wonder what he was like before he became the Kingslayer… Maybe not that different from Brienne?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right about Jaime before he became the Kingslayer: there are many instances where he seems to look on his more… innocent self with regret; and some of his actions – like saving Brienne’s life in the bear pit, or giving Tyrion a chance to escape – show that the “old” Jaime is still there, and wants/needs to come out. Brienne might just have been the catalyst that better-Jaime needed to recapture (at least in part) that lost integrity.


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