Tough Traveling: Moms


The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan oReview 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 (and inspired by) 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.

This week’s tour topic is: Moms

Everyone has a mother. Including people in fantasyland. Just in time to be slightly early for Mother’s Day.

Mogsy’s Picks:

Yes, everyone has a mother so mothers are everywhere in Fantasyland, which is why I saw this week as a great opportunity to talk about only books I don’t think I have featured before for Tough Traveling, because otherwise my list will be too long (but that gif was just too hard to pass up). Wishing my co-bloggers Wendy and Tiara as well as all you moms (and mom figures) out there a Happy Mothers Day this Sunday!


Dark EdenDark Eden by Chris Beckett

Some mothers are the revered matriarchs of an entire people. About 160 years ago, five humans were stranded on a lightless planet. Three left on their damaged spaceship to seek help, while two of them, Angela and Tommy, remained behind to wait for rescue. Angela is long dead now, but Family still reveres her and calls her the “Mother of them all” because every man, woman and child on Dark Eden is descended from her and Tommy.

An Ember in the AshesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

There are loving mothers, and then there are mothers like Elias’s. Also known as the Commandant, Keris Veturius abandoned her son to the desert as soon as he was born, and Elias was raised by the tribes who found him and took him in. Instead of being happy to see him again, the Commandant was furious and filled only with hatred when Elias was brought to the Empire’s military academy to train as a soldier.

Nice Dragons Finish LastNice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Then there are the mothers who show tough love. Bethesda the Heartstriker is a prolific dragon, having spawned more clutches than any other female. Like all dragons she can be cold and brutal, but she that doesn’t mean she’s incapable of showing affection to her favorite offspring. Too bad protagonist Julius isn’t one of them. After twenty-four years of watching him hide out in his room in the mountain, Bethesda has finally had it. Sealing him in human form, she banishes her son to the hostile territory of the Detroit Free Zone to fend for himself.

5ff04-voyageofthebasiliskVoyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Isabella knows that her maternal instincts have never been strong, and in her world that’s not something easy for a woman to admit. For a long time, her son Jake also served as a reminder of her late husband, and she found it hard to engage with the boy. But as Jake grows, Isabella’s feelings toward motherhood begins to change. In Voyage of the Basilisk, she brings her son with her on her latest research expedition. Over the course of the journey, she starts to appreciate him as a strong and intelligent young man with his own hopes and dreams.

Karen MemoryKaren Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Sometimes, a mother can be anyone who takes care of her own. Based on the real historical figure of 19th century Seattle’s Mother Damnable (real name Mary Ann Conklin), Madame Damnable runs a hotel and high-class brothel in the frontier town of Rapid City. She may run a tight ship, but no one better mess with her girls because as a mother figure to them all, she’s got each and every one of their backs.

Broken MonstersBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Speaking of which, you do not want to mess with Layla either, because her mother Detective Gabriella Versado will come down hard on your ass if you even think about harming her baby. The precocious teenager is sometimes more than Gabriella can handle though; her work keeps her away from home a lot, especially with the entire police department busy trying to catch the “Bambi” killer.

0cbc6-astraAstra by Naomi Foyle

In the world of the Gaia Chronicles, it’s very common for the woman whose biological DNA you share, the woman who gives birth to you, and the woman who raises you to be three different people. In this novel, the protagonist Astra receives help from her “Shelter-Mother” Hokma to avoid getting the Security Serum, a shot that would make her the subject physically stronger but would also make them more obedient and alter their personality.

Wendy’s Picks

Often times in fantasy, we find mothers fulfilling very tragic tropes. Some are driven to madness–in Disney fairy tales, mothers are most often dead or dying, sometimes replaced by a woman intent on destroying the mother-figure image. Fortunately, as Mogsy’s gif points out, no matter how crazy or dead fantasy mothers happen to be, their love for their children is absolute.

tumblr_nj6bdvEpEI1qfmwdio1_r3_400Morrigan – Dragon Age

At times, her reasoning and her ambition might make you question Morrigan’s motherliness, and her surliness might have some believe her unfit for the role at all. But when her son is threatened, there is nothing she won’t give to protect him. Morrigan’s greatest wish is to be for her son what her mother was not for her, but perhaps she has misunderstood Flemeth’s goals all this time.

Mystique – X-Men

Alone and crying, afraid of what she had just done, a little girl named had no where else to turn. That was when Raven Darkholme found her. Granted, there’s a lot of questionable manipulation and a goodly amount of evil involved in the relationship Mystique built with her foster daughter, Rogue, but Rogue has, depending on the current canon, managed to forgive her mother.

Rogue and Mystique

And now a little something heartwarming from my youth:

Tiara’s Picks

Mother The Crow

bd259-annaMrs. Lowood (Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake)

Having a son who’s determined to be a ghost hunter like his deceased dad would probably make most moms lock up their sons and throw away the key, but Mrs. Lowood knows that she can’t stop Cas’ destiny. Instead, as a white witch, she uses her powers to aid her son in any way possible while allowing him space to become the great hunter she knows he will be. They share a powerful, close, respectful relationship that isn’t seen much in YA books these days.

WitchMorgause, Queen of Orkney (The Witch in the Wood/The Queen of Air and Darkness by T.H. White)

“Indeed, they did love her. Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically—to those who hardly think about us in return.”

Morgause is the mother to four of King Arthur’s greatest knights–Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Agravain. One of whom would leave to his eventual downfall. Morgause is a fair-weather mother, loving and ignoring her sons in equal measures, as they try to do things to impress her. One minute she’s brushing them away with a wave of her hand, and the next she is nothing short of a loving, doting mother. Her sons suffer serious mommy issues because of her fickle nature.

superduperAuntie Sis (The Boys by Garth Ennis)

In Ennis’ world of The Boys, superheroes lead double lives of debauchery and terror including their women heroes. The exception to this rule is Auntie Sis who has been tasked with looking after a group of superheroes with special needs.  Mom isn’t always defined by someone who gives birth to her children. Auntie Sis is a genuinely beautiful, loving person who tries to make each of her kids feel special despite their “disabilities.” Having lost her own parents when she was young, she treats each of her charges as if they were her children and will turn into a mama bear quickly if someone tries to hurt her kids.


Saga1Alana (Saga by Brian K. Vaughan)

Alana is an ex-soldier who fell in love with her enemy and prisoner of war, Marko, after bonding over books. Now, they’re on the run from a government that would see them hang just because they love one another. With a new baby to care for, Alana is willing to do anything to protect what’s hers.

Alana 1

PrincelessQueen Ashe (Princeless by Jeremy Whitley)

Queen Ashe is the mother of Princess Adrienne, the princess who eventually saves herself. While her mannerisms point at her being all about the traditional roles of princes and princesses, as the story progress her attitudes seem to shift ever so slightly as her children become everything they’re not supposed to be. Regardless, she loves them whether they fit their roles or not.

Princeless 1

HQv1Harley Quinn (DC Universe)

Harley may be a bit of a nutcase herself, but it’s very clear she didn’t leave her daughter because she didn’t love her or because she chose Joker over her daughter. She left her daughter because she knows her lifestyle isn’t the ideal for a child, that she isn’t in the mental position to care for a child, and you can tell from these panels that decision tears her apart. It’s easy to say what a parent should do to be a better a parent but sometimes, the best parenting decision is to allow your child to be with someone you know will provide a loving and safe place for them. As a former child whose own parents made such a decision, trust me when I say this is a very personal and painful decision for parents, but I understand that they did this out of love because they felt they couldn’t give me the stable home my grandparents could. In various comics, Harley shows quite a soft spot for children.



46 Comments on “Tough Traveling: Moms”

    • She was one of the first people to come to mind. I know she wasn’t in the comics long, but I really loved her characters because there were SO FEW actual good characters in that book, and she was one of them. I probably could’ve made a list compromised solely of comic moms.


    • I tried to include moms from many walks of life, and Madame Damnable I had to have on this list, because the mom figures in our lives are important too 🙂


  1. Hmmmmm, that mother-son “bond” will be interesting to witness when I read AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. My copy arrived this week, so I’ll read it soon.

    I was trying to think of mothers in SFF novels I’ve read… but it seems like a lot of the characters I’ve read about are orphans, or their parents simply aren’t in the story for one reason or another. But if I skip the Big Ones, here are a few I can remember:

    – Yelena Zaltana meets her birth mother in Maria V. Snyder’s MAGIC STUDY.
    – There’s a lot of discussion about mothers in Kristin Cashore’s FIRE, from Fire’s deceased mother to Queen Roen’s relationship with her sons Nash and Brigan, to Fire’s wobbling between having children and not.
    – In Ursula K. Le Guin’s TEHANU, Tenar from THE TOMBS OF ATUAN “adopts” a scarred little girl she names Therru, but Therru is much more than the human she seems to be…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m familiar with UKLG’s Tenar, but the others are still on y TBR list. I really want to get around to Magic Study soon, but I’m in the middle of trying to get some of the ARCs I have out of the way.

      Liked by 1 person

        • That one is on my TBR, too. I think I added both of them at the same time. I want to say they’re available on Kindle Unlimited, which is a godsend. LOL.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Personally I found the mother-son “bond” in AEitA to be one of best aspects of the book. I’ve never met a YA villain like the Commandant, she was so evil but probably one of my favorite characters! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have Gabi from Broken Monsters on my list as well. And I NEED to start reading Marie Brennan’s series. I bought Saga simply because she’s breast feeding her baby on the cover, how can you not love that???

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I thought of Gabi I also remembered Vic from NOS4R2 who was an amazing mom out to protect her child too, but I think I’ve used that book too many times in my TTs – but my point is though yeah, there are some fantastic heroic mom characters in horror/thrillers genre!


  3. When I think about moms, the first book coming to my mind is by Kelly Gay or chickit lit books by Lisa Lutz or Janet Evanovich but that’s something else.


  4. Currently listening to Nice Dragons Finish Last, and Bethesda has definitely made an impression. She’s not the most nurturing person, is she? Alanna is of course amazing (questionable parental choices in Vol. 4 aside), and Queen Ashe is a great pick too! I’ve only read the first volume in the Princeless series so I’ve gotta catch up on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All my favorite moms come from comics books, but I couldn’t overwhelm people with all the comic books. I would’ve had people like Scarlet Witch, Martha Kent, Queen Hippolyta, Bianca Reyes, etc. It would’ve been crazy. I have a think about parental relationships in books and comics. LOL.


  5. Graphic novels are not exactly my cup of tea, but I saw something very interesting in you examples that piqued my curiosity so I might try to get out of my comfort zone… 🙂

    And great choice with Mother Damnable: I like that lady quite a bit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t often recommend mainstream DC or Marvel comics for people who don’t read comics, but may want to dabble. Indie comics like Image who produces Saga and Rat Queens, which are excellent comics, are where I normally tell people to start if they’re interested. Um, The Boys, which is by Dynamite I believe and I used it as an example, too. I don’t recommend that to many people. I liked the comic for it’s commentary on the “goody, goody” hero, but it takes superhero tropes and makes them very violent and disgusting as a way of Ennis being showing that superheroes can’t all be good and abuse of power would probably be a thing. But I highly recommend Saga. It’s strange, but fun. Same with Rat Queens.


      • I started reading comics in middle school and I too cut my teeth on Image comics before moving on to the superhero stuff! Great to see some good things don’t change with time. I also love Vertigo stuff, I think it was BKV’s Y the Last Man that made me check out his Runaways, then Runaways that made me check out the rest of Marvel, then Marvel made me check out DC. And then I went broke, lol.


        • I mentioned in another comment that some of the Marvel/DC imprints are pretty good, especially DC’s Vertigo. But that’s a very good way to start moving from indies to mainstream. I find I’m moving in the opposite direction. Mainstream girl moving to indies because the stories are getting to be fantastic. LOL.


          • These days I tend to buy only indie stuff too. I just can’t get sucked into mainstream again, 1) I just don’t have the time to read everything when all their universe events tie across multiple titles and 2) $$$$$! Come to think of it, I did most of my Marvel/DC reading when I worked at a comic store where I frequently and unashamedly sampled the goods behind the counter during breaks, lol.

            I’ve got Rat Queens coming now, as well as Sex Criminals vol. 1 because Wendy raved about that one. This weekend I plan on getting some of those read, as well as finally catching up with Saga vol 4 which has been sitting on my dresser since release.


  6. Keris sounds like a piece of work. I gathered the world in that book is inspired by Rome but this sounds more like Sparta!
    As for Harley Quinn – I haven’t read the comics but I think you’re right in saying that good parenting sometimes means not sticking with your child if that harms them. It would absolutely kill me to do that myself but I’m learning not to judge other parents for their decisions… Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harley’s story hits me very personally because my parents allowed my grandparents to raise me, and that was the absolute best decision they made. As an adult now, I know the decision tore my mother apart. We had a heart to heart about this last year, but I was never angry with her or my father for that decision. It was the best decision. I was happy. I was loved. I turned out to be an awesome person. They weren’t in the position to be the parental figures I needed when I was very young, and I’ve let them know that I don’t hate them for their decision. I respect and appreciate that, despite how hard it was, they knew what was best. They’re still my parents. We have a good relationship now. I don’t begrudge them anything.


      • My brother raised his kids with my mom, including the daughter he adopted from his now ex-wife. It was a fight then, but now their mom has come to a place where she realizes that this was the right decision and is thankful that it happened. Sometimes, being a mom means letting go, although people had initially told her that was the wrong thing to do because society’s rules.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I tend not to read comics, because in the past I haven’t enjoyed them as much as other media (games and books, mostly!)… but every week you guys are an excellent reminder of all the great stories and characters I miss out on by not reading them. I think it’s quite possibly time to try and fix this deficit in my nerd credibility. Alana sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely don’t recommend mainstream comics for people who might not be into them. That means that no, as much as I love DC and Marvel, I don’t normally recommend them for new readers. I recommend indie brands like Image who produce Saga, Rat Queens, Chew, etc. They’re coming out with some really great books. Boom Comics and Dynamite are too close behind. They made great comics geared towards adults with various themes that readers can appreciate outside of the normal stuff you read in DC and Marvel. And even DC and Marvel have special imprints that are trying to get more into stories outside of their superhero things.


  8. I’ve been intrigued by the mother in An Ember in Ashes since I first read about the book! I’ve read mixed reviews about the book though. I’ve not read a lot of the others either and I particularly want to get to Saga and the Marie Brennan series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I highly recommend Saga. I didn’t even think I was going to like it when I first read it. I avoided it for so long, but I ended up with the first issue for free during one of Comixology’s free comic book deals, and I was like: “Well, I’ll try it.” And then after I read it, I was like: “WHERE IS THIS THE REST OF IT? I NEED MORE!” It’s a strange book but so endearing.


  9. Pingback: Tough Travels – Mums | Paper Wanderer

    • That is! ❤ The Crow.

      I liked that, too. She was the same ol' Morrigan, but you could tell she had such a soft spot for her son. Loved it.


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