Tough Traveling – People on Boats
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? PEOPLE ON BOATS
Grab a map of Fantasyland and you are sure to see there is water. Of course not everything important is going to happen on land, right? Sometimes people actually have to get on a boat and hit the water. Where, being fantasyland, anything can happen.
Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb
This one has to top my list, because not only are the people on the ships characters, the Liveships are actually sentient and are characters as well. (side note, there are also pirates, lots of fun on the water in this series!)
The magic of the liveships is fascinating. Pretty much, they are crafted from wizardwood and are terribly expensive. Trader families from Bingtown work deals with the people from the Rain Wilds to own and operate them. The cost is heavy and impacts generations. But what they get is a ship that becomes alive/sentient. A ship that can know their thoughts, desires, understand the currents and crew in ways no mundane ship could. The ship has the ability to make everything easier. But part of how the ship works is through a deep connection with the owning family. The ship needs this connection to be sail, to function and to be happy. And by the same connection, the family also forms a strong bond with the ship. It is not just a tool or method of travel, a way to ship good, the ship is like such a close member of family that is seems an extension of them. Ships all have their individual personalities which are determined greatly by their connection with family and their experiences in their early years.
Day Four by Sarah Lotz
I had never considered a boat as a setting for a horror book before. And now I can’t fathom why there are not more. This book is full of all types of people, passengers and crew, and potentially a few ghosts?? This cruise is anything but mundane! And is nothing I want to be a part of!
This is a ghost story set on water in a cruise ship full of obnoxious strangers (and coworkers if you’re staff). But even before you get to the supernatural parts, I was already creeped out by the characters. There are some seriously messed up people aboard, and honestly, those that aren’t creepy are just rude and annoying.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Yarvi, the second son to a king, turned to books and learning growing up as a result of a disability. After tragedy strike, Yarvi finds himself as a slave, a rower on a boat. The crew and setting are wonderful. You definitely get a feel for life at sea, doing nothing but rowing. Yarvi uses his intelligence and wit to survive, along with some solid determination. Also, the character called Nothing is quite intriguing.
This book features some of my favorite pirates in history. Here’s a hint why: there are some seriously bad ass women pirates! I was skeptical when I saw the setting for the Gentleman Bastards, but wow! This book, with it’s life on ships, and pirates, battles, hijinks, etc. is intense fun!
The House of Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey
Clarice’s goal is to travel far and wide, earning a name for herself with duels so she might come back and teach others the sword as a renowned swordmaster. To best achieve this and have the greatest opportunity of success, she decides it would she should travel as a man. So, she sets out as “Clarence” and eventually finds herself aboard a ship, with high hopes and an excited anticipation of adventures to come. And adventures, she has!
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
So, I’m not sure river boats are what came to mind when people heard this topic. Pirates? Yes! Riverboats? Not so much. But this book had amazing atmosphere, and life on the riverboats was a huge part of that. So, riverboats and vampires, that’s what this one’s about.
ASoIaF by George R. R. Martin
There’s actually a good number of boats in ASoIaF. There’s the Onion Knight, pirates, the battle at the Blackwater. Arya’s voyage to Bravoos. But, I just can’t not go with the Ironborn from the Iron Isles. They pray to the drowned god. They look down on those fools who live on land. They take “salt wives” to keep them company at sea while away form their “rock wife”. These people are insane for their lives on the water.
War was an ironman’s proper trade. The Drowned God had made them to reave and rape, to carve out kingdoms and write their names in fire and blood and song. ”
– Theon Greyjoy