Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tough Travels – Monsters

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour topic is: MONSTERS

MONSTERS are likely to lie in waste areas, caves, and old ruined cities. You can usually detect their presence by smell.

Once again, we have to go back and start with the classics, particularly Tolkien. Between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings you've got Smaug the Golden, Gollum (or Sméagol), the Balrog, Shelob the giant spider, and the Ringwraiths (or the Nazgul). So many contemporary authors have been influenced by those monsters, either paying them homage our outright following upon Tolkien's legacy.




R.A. Salvatore is one of those authors who have paid homage to Tolkien's creations, with his greatest monster being Lolth, the Spider-Queen. To be fair, Lloth was created by Gary Gygax as a monster of Greyhawk,but it's Salvatore who made her his own and made a character out of her through The Legend of Drizzt. The entire underground city of Menzoberranzan is dedicated to her worship, complete with a spider-shaped building where her priestesses are trained, called Arach-Tinilith.


This may be stretching the definition of fantasy a bit for some, but I'd argue that Stephen King's Dark Tower Saga is one of the defining fantasy epics of our generation. As for monsters, King is certainly generous with them, offering up Shardik the mechanical, malfunctioning, insane bear who guards the beams; and Blaine the Mono, the sentient, insane, murderous monorail that tries to hurl the ka-tet to their doom;




As far as current fantasy sagas go, the corelings (or demons) of Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle are one of the most intriguing and most menacing monsters around. Rising each night to feast upon humans, the each have their own strengths, based on the element from which they arise - water, rock, fire, clay, snow, wind, and more. Of them all, the rock and fire demons are by far the most fearsome, although the mimic demon has a creepiness of its own.



Finally, sticking with the them of current fantasy sagas, I'm not sure there's a monster more interesting, more fearsome, and more imaginative than the Chasmfiends of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive. Fifty-foot long crustacean-like creatures, they scrape their way through the chasms of the Shattered Plains, requiring entire armies to subdue them and harvest the gemhearts inside.

16 comments:

  1. The Spider-Queen was a cool monster. I've not read all of Salvatore's books, but I've read most of the Drizzt series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She was very cool, wasn't she? Probably my favourite part of the Underdark.

      Delete
  2. Sentient Monorail? I enjoyed sentient trains in Half-Made World. ALmost enough to make me try King again (but I wont, because I really have not enjoyed King).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Waste Lands was definitely one of the high points in The Dark Tower, with the only way to defeat Blaine being to stump him with a childish riddle.

      Delete
  3. How, and I should say HOW! did I not think of Stormlight Archive!!! I really need to read Dark Tower. Great choices! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those chasmfiends were interesting in the first book, but really came to the forefront during the latter half of the second book.

      Delete
  4. Completely forgot about Blaine the Mono. Great pick there. Glad to see we keep thinking alike each week. Makes me feel I'm not totally out of the loop with my reading. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blaine is a classic, isn't he? I think part of the reason I didn't like Wizard and Glass so much was that nothing could compare to The Wastelands.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Start with Icewind Dale - that's where it all begins.

      Delete
  6. Ha, I was just thinking I haven't been seeing corelings on many lists and here it is! Very nice variety of monsters here, from mechanicals to giant evolved chasmfiends.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to be fair to all - an equal opportunity monster speciest. :)

      Delete
  7. I'm with Lisa - how did I forget Sanderson. Kicking myself over that! I loved that book. LOVED. IT. Great list.
    Lynn :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - it was actually the first monster I thought of. :)

      Delete
  8. Seriously can't believe I didn't pick a single Stephen King book. The Dark Tower series are the very best King books out there, and I agree, a defining epic fantasy indeed! Dying to read those Sanderson books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Randal Flag would be his most epic villain, but Blaine screams monster to me.

      Delete