Tough Travels – Shapeshifting

Tough Traveling jpegEach 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 SHAPESHIFTING

SHAPESHIFTING is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a WOLF, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls, and cats are common too. In all cases the rule is that the shapeshifter cannon stay too long in animal form without actually becoming that animal.

I suspect this may be the easiest list for participants since we covered Dark Lords. Can’t wait to see if I was right, hoping for some real diverse lists this week. Let’s get to it!

Zamia BadawiThrone of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed- As far as I know the Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)only shape shifter on the list whose abilities are affected by menstruation. Obviously lunar cycles are often tied to shape shifting but usually in forcing the change, not stopping it. So Zamia was a girl who was exiled from her clan but can turn into a lion. But not while menstruating.

That is really all I remember about her. This was a book in which I loved the main character but thought his sidekicks, Zamia included, really fell flat. Still, I would read the next book in the series so perhaps this lioness will get a little more life in the future.

(Spoiler)Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – Ah ha, not going to tell you (and not just because I don’t remember how to spell that character’s name). But I promise you there is a pretty cool, nearly indestructible, lion shifting human prowling around and doing some awesome things.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville #1)Everyone Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn – Yes Kitty is a werewolf but we can talk about them in a little bit. What I liked about the mythos in Vaughn’s series is there can be a were ANYTHING, as long as it is a mammalian carnivore. Mostly we see wolves and the occasional jaguar (Note, I first saw a were-jaguar in The Black Company by Glen Cook). But anything goes, which leads to a cool encounter with a were-sea lion at one point. Ya. Guy turns into a sea lion. Wicked ain’t it?

Werewolves – How the hell could I do a list about shape shifters and not actually talk about the most commonly used example? I did my best to avoid using them too often because I could make a novel length list with examples; readers of urban fantasy could give Wheel of Time a run for its page count.

But which one to pick? I honestly have no idea. Some candidates would be as follows. Kalix from Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar because a dangerous to her friends and deadly to her enemies teen runaway with serious depression issues made for one of the most unique reads I have ever read. Angua from Discworld because she is awesome enough to know we are all someone’s dog. Or maybe everyone from the Western continent in The Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney; a land filled with exiled werewolves looking to take over everything is pretty damn cool.

Madam MimThe Sword in the Stone – Magnificant, MARVALOUS, mad…Madam mim. Admit it, that wizard’s duel is one of the coolest scenes in Disney history.


Join us next week as we look at TOWERS

TOWERS stand along in waster areas and almost always belong to Wizards. All are several storeys high, round, doorless, virtually windowless, and composed of smooth blocks of masonry that make them very hard to climb.

As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!