Witches in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Witches. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The artwork is The Wyrd Sisters by Paul Kidby.

Wyrd Sisters artwork
1. Granny Weatherwax
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
This no-nonsense witch is the unspoken leader of her community of witches, and probably even the most powerful witch in Discworld. She’s awesome and I love her. She just might be my favourite witch in literature.

2. Tiffany Aching
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany is the main character of her own series of YA witch novels set in Discworld. Through the books, she is learning how to be a witch, and growing into her role as the defender of her village.

3. Professor Minerva McGonagall
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
My favorite witch and teacher in the Harry Potter universe, Prof McGonagall is a seriously powerful witch who specialises in transfiguration. She also has a sense of humour, though it is often hidden behind the respectable veneer.

4. Courtney Crumrin
From the Courtney Crumrin graphic novel series, by Ted Naifeh
This loner kid doesn’t get the awards for being the most loving people person, but she does manage to save the day on multiple occasions. Despite her cynical attitude, Courtney is still often surprised by the unfairness and everyday, practical cruelty of adults.

5. The White Witch
From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
An awesome, striking antagonist, the White Witch has made it eternal winter with no Christmas in Narnia. She also turns people into stone statues, so you wouldn’t want to mess with her. My favorite part from the book, animation, and BBC series as a kid was when the Witch conjures up the hot drink and Turkish Delights for Edmund.


There are some wonderful witches in fantasy. Those who didn’t quite make the list were Thessaly from the Sandman graphic novels, as well as Lettie Hatter and the Witch of the Waste from Howl’s Moving Castle. There must be tons of others whom I’m forgetting.

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Towers in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Towers. These towers can be tricky places to visit, since a lot of them are either hidden or in ruins. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The picture of Barad-dûr is from Tolkien Gateway.net.

Towers
1. The Tower of Joy
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
The tower where Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna, died under mysterious circumstances. Eddard had the tower torn down, though, so you can’t actually visit it on your tour of fantasylands nowadays.

2. The Tower of the Hand
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
A bit more recently important tower from the ASoIaF universe is, of course, the Tower of the Hand. It is very pleasant and richly furnished, but must not be a very cheery place, considering that most of the King’s Hands seem to have met a bad end.

3. The Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth
From the Dragonlance universe
The Tower of Wayreth makes another appearance on these lists. This is where the Test of High Sorcery takes place. The tower can be quite tricky to visit, since it changes location, and only shows itself to the people it chooses.

4. The Tower of High Sorcery at Nightlund
From the Dragonlance universe
Another tower from the Dragonlance universe, this is where Raistlin Majere sets up shop with his apprentice, Dalamar, in Dragonlance: Legends. This one used to be The Tower of High Sorcery at Palanthas, but bad things happened. The tower is still standing, but it is an empty shell, and I would not encourage you to tread inside.

5. Barad-Dûr
From The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Dark Tower is a fortress in Mordor. From its highest tower the Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth. Again, a historically important tower, now only ruins.


None of these towers are very happy places – I think being, at the least, a bit gloomy is a prerequisite to being a tower in fantasy books. Can you think of a cheery tower from a fantasy book?

Magical Schools in Fantasy

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Invisible College. I chose to highlight all kinds of magical schools, since I could think of only three that are hidden in some way! All the links take you to GoodReads. The picture of Hogwarts is from Harry Potter Wiki.

Hogwarts
1. Unseen University
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
I love how institutionalized these wizards are! Well, they are mostly old men who are very set in their ways. Once in a while, though, a newfangled type of magic or wizard makes its appearance, and the staff has to deal with some changes. While the university is called Unseen, it’s not actually hidden. It’s in Ankh Morpork, and the core part of it is a tall tower, so it’s pretty difficult to miss.

2. The Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth
From the Dragonlance universe
I have to admit that it’s been a long while since I’ve read a Dragonlance novel, so I can’t remember if the Tower was actually the place were the mages studied. Well, at least they went there to take the Test of High Sorcery. There are other towers, too, but Wayreth’s is the only one in “modern day” Krynn that still holds the Test (it’s the place where a certain Raistlin Majere took it). It is also a hidden tower, which can appear in different locations, only showing itself to the people it chooses. All the Towers of High Sorcery are surrounded by a magical forest of their own, through which only mages can find their way.

3. The University
From The Kingkiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss
The University that Kvothe attends is a huge complex with a lot of different fields of study. It has its own campus and shops, and is basically a mini-town. It’s a place of higher learning, and not only for magic: you can study medicine, languages or mathematics. Then there are the magical fields of study, like Sympathy, Alchemy and Naming. There is some pretty weird staff on board, and you’d better not get on their bad side. This university isn’t actually hidden, but it is pretty hard to get into, especially if you do not have a rich backer.

4. The School for Wizards on Roke
From the Earthsea Cycle, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Again, another fantasy book that I read so long ago, that I can’t remember much about the school itself. Ged studied here in A Wizard of Earthsea. It is situated on an island that is protected by magic, which makes its impossible to travel there if you are not welcome.

5. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
You can’t leave this one out. We’d all want to visit it, right? Along with the Tower of Wayreth and the school on Roke, this University is actually hidden, at least from Muggles. There are also magical schools in other countries than Great Britain, like Beauxbatons in France, and Durmstrang in Bulgaria.


Which of these schools would you most like to visit? I think the University from the Kingkiller Chronicle might be the safest choice if you don’t want a magical accident to befall you… but I’d still like to visit the Unseen University, although I think the accident rate is pretty high, there. And of course I’d visit Hogwarts, because, come on.

Hidden Kingdoms in Fantasy

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy. This week’s tour topic is Hidden Kingdoms. Not all of my choices are strictly speaking kingdoms, but let’s take a look at some of my favourite secret, magical worlds in fantasy!


1. The London Below
From Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
In the tunnels of London Underground lies a hidden kingdom of Rat-Speakers, Black Friars, Velvets, and angels. You can go visit the Floating Market (if you know where it is) or the real Earl’s Court held in a train car (be polite to the Earl), but remember to watch your steps on the Night’s Bridge, and to always mind the gap.

2. Narnia
From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
Narnia may not strictly be a hidden kingdom, but in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the entrance to the world is hidden inside a wardrobe, so it counts. There’s fauns, talking animals… Not everything is fun and games, though. Beware of the White Witch. And try not to become the ruler of Narnia while you visit – except if that is what you want, of course. It could be your very own hidden kingdom!

3. The Wizarding World
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
The whole wizarding world is a hidden world existing right under our noses. In Great Britain, there’s the one and only Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the famous Diagon Alley in London, as well as many villages populated only by witches and wizards.


I hate to use the Harry Potter books again, but I seriously couldn’t come up with any more hidden kingdoms! Weird, huh? One would think there were a ton of them around in fantasy books! I probably forgot some really obvious ones.

Have you visited all these hidden kingdoms? What is the tourist attraction you’d most like to visit in these worlds? Tell me in the comments! I’d really like to take a look at Narnia’s famous lamp-post, myself!