Tough Traveling: FAE


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: the FAE

Surprisingly not in the Tough Guide.  How can this be?  Fairies are a constant in the fantasy world and it is time they get their own week.  Give us your Fae, be they sweet or nasty.

This week’s Tough Traveling was indeed a tough one… Thankfully Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series came to my rescue as the only repository where I could draw some fae information from.

In McGuire’s narrative, the fae coexist with humans who are unaware of their presence since they disguise their true form with magic: one of the tell-tales of the use of magic, for those who are able to recognize it as such, is the smell that accompanies its use and is always distinctive for each individual, usually mixing two scents – as, for example, musk and pennyroyal.

Pureblood fae often mate with humans and any child born of the union is a changeling, like October Daye: further dilution of fae blood can happen when those changelings mate with other humans, and the fae look down on these people with varied degrees of scorn that are inversely proportional to the quantity of fae blood they possess.

Well, nobody said the fae are fair….


Dochas Sidhe (Amandine, October Daye’s mother)

They practice blood magic, i.e. they are able to retrieve people’s memories from their blood, even when the subject is dead.  October Daye, even as a changeling, has this ability, though it requires a huge expenditure of energy and leaves her with painful headaches.   Her mother Amandine, as a full fae, is also able to change the balance of someone’s blood, which means she can turn a changeling into a complete human or a complete fae.

Daoine Sidhe (Sylvester Torquill, October’s liege lord)

They are at the top of fae society, those possessed with unsurpassed beauty and power, the descendants of Titania. They possess blood magic as well, but only in the sense they can access other people’s memories.

Cait Sidhe (Tybalt, king of cats)

Shapeshifters who can either appear as human or cats, they hold a separate court from the other fae and follow their own laws, especially where succession is involved: this requires a bloody fight, where the strongest win and end up holding power.   One of the most interesting details about Cait Sidhe is that their court does not possess a precise location and can be reached only by traveling through the Shadow Roads – passages between realities, or universes – where there is no air and it’s deadly cold.

Selkies (Connor O’Dell – Toby Daye’s former love interest)

They are skinshifters—which means they can shift from seal to human and back by wearing on or removing their skin, and they never stray too far away from the sea, their preferred habitat. The skins are passed on through generations at the death of a Selkie.

Tuatha de Dannan (Sir Etienne – Sylvester Torquill’s majordomo)

Teleporters, i.e. fae who can move their bodies instantly from one place to another, sometimes bringing others with them. A very useful talent…

And last but not least…

The Luidaeg a.k.a. the Sea Witch

One of the firstborn offsprings of Oberon and Maeve, two of the highest rulers of faerie (together with Titania), she was tied to the sea and its creatures and she does indeed live near the seashore: she can either appear like an old woman or a young girl and she sports a rough, brittle temper that can hide inscrutable depths – not unlike the sea.  She’s one of McGuire’s best creations and a wonderful character that always reserves great surprises.

10 thoughts on “Tough Traveling: FAE

  1. That’s an impressive array of fae for one source 😮 I always liked selkie stories, I like Scottish fairy tales in general, but selkies always came with a bit of tragedy.


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