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: Beloved Mounts
Of course Tolkien had to be my first source of inspiration, so here we go with SHADOWFAX, chief of the Mearas or Princes of Horses. His coat is silver-gray in daylight and next to invisible in darkness, and legend says he can understand human speech and run as fast as the wind. Given, albeit grudgingly, to Gandalf by King Theoden, Shadowfax was wild and untamed and suffered no rider, but the Grey Wizard succeeded in befriending him and making him a trusted comrade in the many battles fought during the War of the Ring. At the end of the Age, Shadowfax went with Gandalf across the water to the Undying Lands.
A more fantasy-oriented steed is TEMERAIRE, the dragon from Naomi Novik’s alternate history series. Hatched aboard a British ship that had captured its egg from a French vessel, Temeraire bonded with the ship’s captain William Laurence and they were both recruited by His Majesty’s Aerial Corps to battle against the Bonapartist army. Intelligent, well-spoken and fluent in English, French and Mandarin – this last unsurprisingly, since Temeraire’s rare breed of Celestials hails from China – Temeraire is a mix of childish innocence, deep curiosity and fierce loyalty, that quickly gains him Laurence’s affection and devotion.
And from the memories of my far-off youth here comes a THOAT: Edgar Rice Burroughs described these animals in his John Carter novels – they are eight-legged (on Mars many creatures have more than four) with a large, flat tail and an equally large mouth that practically cuts their muzzle in two. Slate-colored, with feet grading to yellow and white bellies, they are able to live off the moss growing on the surface of Mars: the smaller variety is as big an Earth horse, while the bigger one can reach 2,5 meters at the shoulder. Impressive…