Tough Traveling: Invisible Colleges (Or Hard-to-Reach/Difficult to Gain Admission)

The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information. Compulsive list-maker that I am, I’m very excited to take part!

This week’s tour topic is: Invisible Colleges

Invisible College is used for training WIZARDS and usually occupies a prim site in some major CITY…

But Nathan has taken pity on this week and made things a bit easier, opening up the topic to any school in fantasy that is difficult to reach or gain entrance to. Thank you, Nathan! Because I was starting to get a little nervous here…

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Let’s see how many weeks the Harry Potter books will show up in these Tough Traveling posts! Again I’m choosing another book from the series I haven’t done yet though, because while obviously Hogwarts is the obvious one here, I picked Goblet specifically since it’s the first book to also feature students from other wizarding schools around the world. Who can forget Krum from the Durmstrang Institute or Fleur from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, competitors at the Tri Wizard Tournament. Just like Hogwarts, I assume these wizarding schools are also cloaked in some way or are located in some remote place.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Every child in Gavaldon knows the story of the School for Good and Evil. Two children are kidnapped from their homes every four years, never to be seen again. One child is always beautiful and good, the other one an outcast and strange. They say a mysterious schoolmaster takes them to this fabled and magical place where storybook heroes and villains are made. The “good” kid gets to take classes in Princess/Prince Etiquette and Animal Communication while the “bad” kid gets dumped in classes like Uglification, Death Curses and Henchmen Training. (Review)

Academ’s Fury by Jim Butcher
The Academy is the foremost school in Alera. To attend, prospective students would have to be able to afford the fees or find a patron who would support them. In the first book, Furies of Calderon, the main character Tavi’s life’s dream was to study here, and in the end is granted a scholarship. In Academ’s Fury, Tavi learns the lesson of “Be Careful What You Wish For” when he realizes the cruel and petty ways at the Academy, but he’s stuck here for now.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Continuing with the theme of “protagonists who desperately want to get into a particular school of magic but can’t”, we have sixteen-year-old Joel Saxon who more than anything wants to be a Rithmatist — but because a tragedy made him miss his inception ceremony, that path is closed to him forever. Being the son of the school’s chalkmaker, Joel was still able to attend the prestigious Armedius Academy, but he must watch with envy from afar as the chosen Rithmatist students get to study the magical art of creating chalk-drawn lines, circles and figures called Chalklings. (Review)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
“The University! I had come to think of it in the same way most children think of the Fae court, a mythical place reserved for dreaming about. A school the size of a small town. Ten times ten thousand books. People who would know all the answers to any question I ever asked.” Well, Kvothe does eventually get his wish and attends the University, under extraordinary circumstances — his young age was factor, and the University ended up paying him to attend rather than the other way around. So, maybe GETTING in for him wasn’t an issue, but STAYING in certain was. He constantly had money issues and struggled to pay tuition, and he was always on the verge of being kicked out due to his penchant for getting into trouble.

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