Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Tough Travelling hosted by Fantasy Review Barn.

Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is BELOVED MOUNTS

A combination of suggestions from several people, as it seems many want to talk about the various animals that people in fantasyland ride. So be they horse, bear, or other let’s talk about favorite rides.

Nightrunner and the other wolves: In the Elfquest comic each member of the Wolfriders tribe is bonded to a wolf. Nightrunner is the young chief Cutter’s wolf. The wolves aren’t sentient or exceptionally intelligent, “just” animals. Of course, they live far shorter lives than elves and so each elf bonds with many wolves during his or her life. We get a short, touching scene when Nightrunner leaves Cutter for the last time.

Temeraire from Naomi Novik’s fantasy series and his friends. Ah, dragons! One of my favorite fantasy creatures! Most of the dragons in fantasy are sentient, such as in the Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books or in the Dragonlance books. Many of them aren’t mounts, of course.

Thoats from Edgas Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series come in two different flavors: the fierce warrior Tharks ride huge and nasty tempered war mounts and the red Martians a smaller breed. Both types have eight legs and are steered with telepathy. I don’t think we ever learned any of their names, though.

Pegasus, the original flying horse whose master, Bellerophon, needed magic to tame him.

Iorek Byrnison from The Golden Compass is a war bear and not usually a mount but he let Lyra ride him.

Goliath, the lovely black warhorse of Etienne Navarre, one of the heroes of the movie Ladyhawke. Fantasy is of course full of horses from Lord of the Ring’s Brego and Shadowfax to Talat the old warhorse in Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown.

A steampunk book.

Publication year: 2013
Format: ebook

The second book in the Drifting Isle Chronicles and part of the Storybundle’s Steampunk bundle. All of the books are written by different writers. They happen in the same city but have different main characters.

Caspar Goldstein is the heir to Goldstein Industries but much to his father’s dismay, he has no interested nor talent to become a businessman. Instead, he loves to race steampowered cars and has a talent for that. More than anything, he wants to win the Autocarriage Cup. But during a qualifying race for the Cup, Caspar sees one contestant deliberately crashing into his best friend’s car. Angry, Caspar deliberately collides with the troublemaker in turn, almost totaling his own car. His friend, Lukas, breaks his leg and is out of the races. Caspar is bruised and has a concussion but is still able to race, if his aunt Hildy can repair the car. But soon he has bigger problems than the Cup.

Clara Koh is Caspar’s assistant and also Hildegar Goldstein’s friend. She also helps Hildy with her secret project. Hildy has gotten her hands on a new substance which is called black mercury and is testing it. Everyone else thinks it’s a waste product but Hildy thinks that it can be used to increase engine performance. She’s invented the first flying machine, the autogyro, but it doesn’t fly very far. When Hildy wants to test black mercury in her autogyro, Clara won’t let her do it alone. Together, they find out that Hildy is correct: black mercury does enhance the autogyro’s engine remarkably. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the media or by mysterious people who want the secrets of black mercury for themselves.

Hildy and Clara make the historical first flight to the floating island, which is right above the city of Eisenstadt. However, they don’t have the time to explore it any further but return almost immediately. The authorities ban the use of autogyros and are sending their own expedition which is shown in the next book, The Machine God.

Clara and Caspar are the two POV characters in the book and they’re very different. Clara is very practical and level-headed woman, to the point that even she herself wishes she could be more spontaneous, while Caspar is a spoiled man who has never taken any responsibility for anything. They bicker a lot but they clearly like each other a lot and Clara spends a lot of time worrying about Caspar.

This was a quick, fun read with plenty of action. I liked the secondary characters a lot. Hildy is an inventor and almost reckless in testing her inventions. She’s also frustrated because she’s under that thumb of her brother Max, who leads the Goldstein Industries. She’s doing secret projects in order to get enough money to make her own company. Her other assistant, in addition to Clara, is Til, a huge but gentle mechanic always looking out for her. And then there are the pigeons. In this world, pigeons can talk and Minnie is Clara’s companion. Min tends to speak before she thinks – and she mostly thinks about food. She and the other pigeons are a great comic relief and also dependable companions.