Tough Traveling – Witches

September 18, 2014


Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn is the mastermind of Tough Traveling. What’s Tough Traveling? Pretty much, it’s a weekly feature on Thursdays where we dig around to come up with examples of common tropes in fantasy, using Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as our inspiration and guide. Nathan has invited one and all to join in the fun, so feel free to come up with your own lists and add the link on Nathan’s weekly post, which will also contain (unleash) the next weeks theme. So let the fun begin …

This weeks theme? WITCHES

Witches are special and probably at least the equal of WIZARDS.

Right, so I don’t know how many of these qualify as witches really. Just because they are a magic user and female, does that make them a witch? Seems kinda stereotypical and sexist, but looking at my list, I am definitely guilty. (Although, I KNOW I have read a book with male witches, or at least one male witch. Just for the life of me can’t remember what it was.) Or if others label them as a witch, even if that’s not how they see themselves does that count? Some of my choices are likely tenuous, but I didn’t want a list of the Harry Potter cast, so this is what I came up with:


300px-John_Picacio_Melisandre_of_AsshaiRed Witch (Melisandre) from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

She may call herself a priestess, but when it comes down to it, she’s basically a witch. And a witch that is capable of doing and conjuring some rather disturbing things. She may seem a bit evil, but if you had a choice, you just might like having that power on your side. Problem is, I think she pulls all the strings and is actually the one in control. This is one where she does not refer to herself as a witch, but others (who fear her) do.


eternal_god_of_darkness_by_reynaile-d57ivkkBondsmagi (The Falconer and Patience) from The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch

Ah, yes, nothing could possibly go wrong when all your magic users come from one place. And what makes a witch more scary? Being seriously messed up in the head, ala The Falconer style. I can’t remember if anyone referred to the bonds magi as witches, but I’m including them. They seem kinda witchy to me. And there’s men included with this entry!



902715-2Bethod’s Witch from The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

Without her help, the Barbarian King would have been much less powerful without his witch at his side. I’m not sure if she has a name, just know that she was there making things harder for Logan and easier for Bethod and the Feared.




373090-MJinna the Hedge Witch from The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This hedge witch befriends dear ol’ Fitz and foresees something in his future. Ofcourse, this gives Fitz something to stress and ponder over as he tries to work out the exact meaning. And she has a hilarious cat. Love when we get to hear the inner thoughts of a feline character.



WordsRadianceEndpaperDetalleShallan Davar from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

They may not call her a witch, but Shallan’s abilities to Soulcast and lightweave certainly make her powerful! Imagine being able to create illusions just by sketching them! Sounds amazingly witchy to me.




20646731Lilia’s Mother (the Blood Witch) from Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Nothing says creepy like a blood witch. Although in this, she is a maternal figure and somehow, not at all creepy. It helps we see her through her daughters eyes. But with the right amount of blood to draw on, Lilia’s mother is incredibly powerful.



  • Danya @ Fine Print September 18, 2014 at 8:26 am

    There are a surprising number of male witches in YA actually! I’ve only read one of the books on your list (ASoIAF) but everyone’s been talking my ear off about Robin Hobb lately. And I do love witches…so maybe I should get on that. What title would you recommend as a place to start, Lisa?
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Tough Traveling: WitchesMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Definitely read Hobb (even though the witch I mentioned is a small secondary character in the third trilogy! 😉 )
      And Assassin’s Apprentice (first in the Farseer Trilogy) is where you need to start.
      Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…Tough Traveling – WitchesMy Profile

  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum September 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I think you did excellent by thinking outside the box, though! To me, this week was a showcase of sorcerer women, so everyone on your list definitely qualifies. I must also have a horrible memory because I’ve read everything here except for Tawny Man, but other than ASoIaF none of them occurred to me 😛
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  • Wendell September 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Totally forgot out the blood witches from The Mirror Empire. Some really great choices by the way.
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  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) September 19, 2014 at 12:01 am

    AAAAAAAAAHHHHH. How did I forget Bethod’s witch? Perfect addition to the list. I admit, love the Melisandre art you picked.
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  • Anne @ Lovely Literature September 19, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I wanted to cosplay Melisandre for SDCC, but I was the only person in our group not able to get a pass. Still bitter about that. Would have been awesome.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 19, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Ahh … that’s two bad. I would love to make it to SDCC too, (and Melisandre cosplay would be amazing), but its sooooo far away! I rely on living vicariously through others. 🙂
      Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…Tough Traveling – WitchesMy Profile

  • Carmel @ Rabid Reads September 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Kelley Armstrong witches are the first ones that popped into my head even though they aren’t my favourite, but admittedly they have grown on me over the years. Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan from THE HOLLOWS is probably equally, if not even more well-known, especially considering that that series just ended.
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  • Anya September 21, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Haha, there are a lot of witches by ability but not name in fantasy it seems ;-). I agree that all these characters are basically witches even though they just have magic powers and no label most of the time. I wonder why female magic users aren’t called witches in fantasy these days….
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