Each Thursday, our copy of ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
Today’s Tour Topic is… Fairgrounds
Fairground- This is like a MARKET, except it is much , much bigger and planted somewhere right in the middle of nowhere so that everyone can get to it. There will be rows and rows of TENTS and BOOTHS…
Well, this was a hard one this week, wasn’t it? Really had to rack my brain, but my trust in Jones tells me that if she says there are fairgrounds everywhere, damn it I will find them. And find them I did. Kind of rewarding to dig deep and find examples during a much harder tour stop than last week. Who agrees?
Anyway, I came up with a couple. So let’s go visit!
A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett- It is good to get Pratchett back on my list, almost felt like a traitor last week. And because the man is awesome he didn’t just give me one chance at a nice fair, though I eventually narrowed it down. I could have went with one in Wee Free Men, where brash young men take their sheep dogs out to compete at who is going to be the best. Well second best, as getting a slight nod from Granny Aching means more than anything else in these games.
But a fair in Lancre is the best fair of all. Don’t hold a play, because invasions of fairies often smart. And be careful of who you invite, vampires aint much fun either. But I have one specific fair in mind. A lot happened that year, though exactly what was needed to defeat the Hiver is lost on most the people who watched it happen. But you better believe they will always remember that year thanks to Petulia. The words, The Pig Trick.
Dragonsinger – Anne McCaffrey – Anyone else remember their first Gather? If it isn’t a fair nothing is. I remember following Menolly and Piemur around, looking to find a nice belt. The fight that broke out between a young noble as she accused Menolly of stealing her beautiful belt. The instant appearance of pissed off fire lizards. Ah, good times.
But mostly I remember bubbly pies. Glorious, delicious, bubbly pies. Think Piemur wants one?
Moth and Spark– Anne Leonard – What better place is there for a young prince to take a minor noble girl incognito for a little bit of naughtiness? You leave the castle and the guards behind, play a few games, see the sights, then find a hidden place and…you know. Tam and Corin were certainly well aware of what their plan was before heading to this fair and pulled it off to perfection. Bravo, young lovers, bravo.
Of course this fair didn’t just provide a loving tryst, there are also *gasp* fortune tellers at these things. Including the one you bring with you. Corin learns this, and spends a good portion of the book to come trying to figure out what a dragon coming out of a mirror is all about.
Dooby Dooby Moo – Dooren Cronin – A talking duck gets cows to sing Home on the Range, Pigs to dance (well, sleep through their dance number) and brings the judges to a standing ovation by singing Born to be Wild. All to win a trampoline at the county fair’s talent show while the farmer is off eating BBQ. A true modern fantasy classic. You will laugh. You will cry (especially after the twelfth time you read it that day). But you will not tell me this doesn’t belong on this list.
Blood Song – Anthony Ryan – Oh look, another one! What timing, because I just read this as I was prepping the post. This was a fair that had everything. Booths (our hero was hoping for a new pair of boots), entertainment (a puppet show!), and girls (I did 4-H for years and there was a reason the county fair was a highlight of the year). Oh, and pickpockets. And there was something else at the fair, what what it?
Oh ya, a glorious hanging for everyone to cheer at. Because who doesn’t enjoy a good hanging, amiright?
Join us next week as we explore… Hidden Kingdoms.
Hidden Kingdom. Usually reached through CAVERNS or after an arduous trek into the heart of the central masssif, this is often the object of the Tour QUEST…
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