Tough Traveling: Witches
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: Witches
Witches are special and probably at least the equal of wizards.
First off, there’s something important to point out about the witches of fantasy: most often they fall into two categories: hags, or seductresses (or both), and, unlike wizards and warlocks, their male counterparts, witches often don’t get the opportunity to ever be considered one of the good guys, and they have to prove themselves equal to, if not more powerful, rather than be accepted as such, unless they are evil. Hell, even this category description doesn’t give them much credit…
Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
“Witch women are known for their ability to ensnare the minds of those they encounter, and for their unusual affinity to the magic of visions and prophecy.”
Shota is the witch that even wizards fear. Though she is sometimes referred to as a sorceress, her powers lie in illusion–the ability to delve into the mind and provide that which one most desires or fears.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
Reviled as a maegi by the Dothraki, Mirri Maz Duur uses blood magic to curse Daenerys Targaryen and her fledgling family. In a plot twist that increasingly makes me feel like GRRM has no clue what to do with his story anymore, he introduces another maegi, Maggy the Frog, who offers Cersei Lannister a prophecy that drives her to madness. And, followed as a priestess of the red god, R’hllor, Melisandre is considered a shadowbinder. She can summon shadows to do her bidding, and also likes to play with fire and blood.
The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
Fearing that he will lose Leia to a handsome prince in a political marriage, Han carries her off to a planet where they meet the “Force Witches,” women who have delved into the dark side of the Force, but may not necessarily be evil, in spite of their veiny purple faces.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Jadis was born before Narnia, and, as the White Witch, rules it with an icy fist, blanketing the realm in an endless winter–and she would have kept ruling it too, if it weren’t for those pesky Pevensie kids.
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Adarlan’s Assassin almost met her match when she crossed Baba Yellowlegs, a former queen of the Ironteeth Clans. Believed to have died out, the Ironteeth have, in fact, gone into hiding, with some, like Baba Yellowlegs, plying their services as fortunetellers in circuses. For the right price….
Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider
Flemeth has many names, but most often, she and her daughters are referred to as the Witches of the Wilds. Weavers of powerful magics, her daughters, of whom we have met only two, can do many dark things, but their mom? Well, she can turn into a dragon….
Looks like Wendy’s got things covered! Since there’s certainly no shortage of books with Witches this week, I’m going to forgo the more obvious choices and chime in with a few titles I haven’t featured before in previous Tough Traveling lists.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
All you have to know is that this series has been described as “Twilight with witches”. Instead, I’m going to share a story here of why I decided to read this book. You see, I’m a big fan of Jeremy Irons. So big a fan, that I suffered through the two-hour train wreck that was the movie adaptation, just because he was in it. Out of morbid curiosity, I picked up the book afterward to see how it compared. (Verdict: the novel was perhaps just a smidgen better.)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
There were so many things about this book that rubbed me the wrong way, but hey, its about witches (look, look, it’s even in the title!) The story boils down to romance between the main character who is a witch and her centuries-old vampire lover, brought together by a mysterious manuscript she uncovered from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian Library. There’s also this wacky weird gene theory to try and explain witches’ powers which honestly made no sense at all.
Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
The first book of the second “follow-up” trilogy to Carey’s original Phedre trilogy in her wonderful Kushiel Universe series, Naamah’s Kiss introduces us to Moirin of the Maghuin Dhonn. Known as a “bear witch”, her mother’s line possess certain magical druid-like powers.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Speaking of misunderstood witches, The Mists of Avalon retells the magical legend of King Arthur through the eyes and lives of the women who helped bolster Camelot’s rise and facilitated its fall from behind the scenes. Throughout history, Morgaine, the daughter of Igraine and Gorlois and half sister to King Arthur has often been portrayed as a witch or powerful sorceress.