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.
This week’s topic is TRAVELING FOLK
TRAVELING FOLK are quite common. They are of two kinds: Land travelers and River travelers.
These people are merry, colourfully dressed, dishonest, and knowledgeable…they will cheat you, cure your wounds, and hustle you off to the cart of their oldest lady who will tell you something about the future you need to know.
Tough week this time around, more than once I was skimming books to figure out actual names. I took the traveling traders path for the most part, be interesting to see where others went with this one.
Edema Ruh– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss –Travelling folk, known as entertainers but barely tolerated in most towns. The land’s language has several insulting terms based around their name. And of course if something goes wrong there is one marginalized group of people who will quickly have a finger pointed in their direction.
The Name of the Wind is a book that really doesn’t follow the faux-Europe path in most cases but the Ruh do have a pretty specific inspiration. I shan’t insult my readers by assuming they can’t figure the reference out on their own.
Mage’s Blood by David Hair – Ok I am the laziest man alive but come on, these books are a thousand pages each. I honestly can’t remember what the Romani like people are called in this one. But The Moontide Quartet is unapologetic in its Earth allusions so of course there is a wandering tribe that is marginalized and does its best to survive in a hostile land. This will be a pattern.
Zoons–Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett- Travelling traders who roam the rivers trading, we first meet the Zoons when young Esk sneaks aboard on one of their vessels. Unique to the land because they have absolutely no ability to lie or detect untruths; every word is taken quite literally. Should be a hell of a disadvantage but luckily they have an honored position for those who are born a bit different.
Liars are honored in Zoon society because they are the ones who give their people a chance. Esk helps them out for a short time, especially when people want to pass off pretty glass as something else entirely.
Hey a group that isn’t completely marginalized. Perhaps a new pattern?
Tuatha’an – Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan – I only read Eye of the Word so someone else can tell me if the tinkers (had to look up the Tuatha’an name, only remembered them as tinkers) show up in the rest of the series. But true to the pattern they are often accused of theft, not thought of well in the larger community, and generally get the short end of the stick.
Hey Wheel of Time fans, do they ever find their lost song?
Ryn– New Jedi Order – Space traders who are considered…. You know what. It doesn’t fucking matter. Because the whole New Jedi Order has been thrown out of canon and therefore doesn’t exist. So just ignore this last example if you will.
Join us next week as we look at KINGS
KINGS come in four kinds: Puppet Kings, Bad Kings, Good Kings (rare), and Long Lost Kings.
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As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!