Tough Traveling – Orphans

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? ORPHANS

No one in Fantasyland amounts to anything if they still have both parents. Rule number one. Thanks to Stephanie for the suggestion (and let us all be surprised together that it isn’t in the Tough Guide).

OK, since this is such an easy week I decided to give myself another criteria. I am shunning the boys such as Fitz, Kvothe, Locke and Harry Potter in favor for all the girl orphans out there! They are just as important and just as parentless, so here it goes:



Karen from Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear 

Karen may have grown up as an orphan, but she didn’t let that hold her back! She found a place in Madame Damnable’s high end bordello. She is resourceful and quite bright and makes sure that being an orphan and a woman does not hold her back or destroy her dreams. You have to love Karen for being such a strong character.





Cithrin from The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

Cithrin is an orphan who was taken in by a banking house. Being intelligent and raised in a bank, she has a serious head for money and business. By a strange turn of events, she finds herself alone on the road with an incredible amount of wealth (the bank’s treasury).  She’s young, she’s placed in extraordinary circumstances and she has to grow, adjust and learn to survive.






Orphaned Girl from Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman

We don’t know her name when we first meet her, but she definitely plays an integral part of the story. Thomas, a fallen knight that has been traveling with some quite despicable brigands. But then he meets a girl; an orphaned girl living alone with her father’s corpse. But, something about this girl is different. She sees things and knows things that are beyond explanation. I absolutely love the dynamic between Thomas and this girl.




Spring from Age of Iron by Angus Watson

Another mysterious girl on the road? Don’t mind if I do! I have to include Spring, even if placing it right after Between Two Fires, they sound eerily similar. Dug is a “down on his luck mercenary” heading to join an army. He happens on Spring, a young girl, alone and scavenging a battlefield. Dug, being the good guy that he is, just can’t seem to leave her. And, once again, something about Spring hints at her being more than she seems.




Melanie from The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

I won’t say much about this one. All we know is Melanie is kept in what seems almost like an orphanage. Where kids all have rooms to themselves and have classes everyday. But, what makes it different is these kids are all under armed guard and restrained (strapped down to wheelchairs, one strap for the head and a strap for each arm and leg) whenever they are not alone in their cells.




Sofia from Irenicon by Aidan Harte


Sofia. She is the last living heir to what has been the most powerful family in Rasenna. When she comes of age in the not so distant future, she is will become Contessa of Rasenna. A powerful position, and Sofia has a powerful personality to go with it. She is a very independent, strong willed character that will fight to find a way to accomplish what needs to be done, and do it. She’s not going to wait around to be saved, she is not going to hide behind a title, she’ll get her own hands dirty and take on problems herself.






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