Welp, two days late, and probably more than a few pennies short, but I’ve (tried to) put together a list of books which feature each of the #WyrdAndWonder mascots. Here we go!
Here there be Dragons . . .
Admittedly, this should be the easiest one. Most classic fantasy is imbued with a dragon of some sort. I’ve even written about a few myself in my own fiction for #Smaugust (HYBRID probably has the most to actually do with a dragon, though RESCUE is probably my fav).
So when picking a favorite dragon story, I was honestly faced with too much choice, as opposed to not enough (the same thing that causes you to scroll through netflix for an hour but never actually pick anything even though everything looks pretty good).
But I couldn’t bring myself to recommend the classic (if wonderful) uses of the trope because anyone reading this has probably already read those works and doesn’t need my help to remember them or enjoy them (though shared reading history is kinda the point of this whole thing in some ways)
Anyway, if you haven’t already, please check out The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson. Essentially, this book takes all the myth and legend which surrounds these fabled creatures, and tries to sort the facts from the fiction. Only Dickinson doesn’t try to tear down our hopes of dragons ever being real, but instead tries to figure out how the could be real and what strange accidents of science and ecology would have to align in order for them to exist at all. It’s quite a bit of fun. Plus it has beautiful pictures!
Fiery Feathers . . .
Of course, next on our list, is the Phoenix! These fiery birds are most well known from Ancient Greek folklore and myth, although the Greek’s themselves seem to think the bird’s origin came from Ancient Egypt. Legend says that these birds live long and prosperous lives in paradise before eventually traveling to the mortal realm to perish. But do not weep at this majestic creature’s passing for it will be back with us shortly, resurrecting itself with fire and flame before returning home to paradise.
My own history with these creatures seems even harder to pin down than the origins of this fascinating myth. Probably the representation I’m most familiar with comes from Harry Potter (although which book I’m not quite sure). I’ve seen some other posts, mentioning a Phoenix sighting in R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. While the phoenix does have a pretty critical role in that story, it’s somehow the thing I remember least about the book.
Other than that? It’s just fiery birds which are often Phoenix-like, but never the genuine article. For instance, Russian fairy tales and folklore tell of жар-птица, or The Firebird, which was used to excellent effect in Katherine Arden’s The Girl in the Tower, or the Persian Simorgh, which we see in S.A Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy.
Right now, I seem to be more interested in analogues of the Phoenix myth, but I’m sure I’ll swing around back to genuine phoenixes again soon (especially now that I know they possibly have Egyptian origin).
Fly like the wind Shadowfax . . .
Ugh. If only Gandalf’s horse had just sprouted wings right then and there . . .
Anyway, I am even less prepared to recommend books featuring Pegasus or any flying horses for that matter because, believe it or not, I don’t believe I’ve ever actually read a book with Pegasus, or a flying horse character (friend’s WIPs don’t count here until they’re published! Chop chop hahah).
I’m assuming these awesome creatures will play a big roll in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series? I have not read these yet but I seem to be finding more and more reasons to everyday. Sorry this category is kinda a bust.
(Side note, this doesn’t mean I’ve consumed zero media that’s contained a flying horse. Favs off the movie list are baby Pegasus from Disney’s Hercules, and Swift Wing from the Netflix reboot of She-Ra. Also I want to apologize for the absolute brutality wreaked on Pegasus during God of War 2. Griffins are real bastards)
From my books surcease of sorrow . . .
Crows be a dime a dozen these days in fantasy, and with their prevalence come a host of different meanings and interpretations, but Ravens . . . Ravens usually only mean one thing. Bad times ahead.
It’s no different in Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower only, this raven is so much more than an obnoxious birb squawk squawk squawking on heaven’s door (think I’m starting to mix up my references a bit). This raven is a literal god. I won’t spoil much more because I hope you’ll check this one out. I absolutely LOVED Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (and the other Ancillary books), and this foray into fantasy, while admittedly not on that level, is still one of my fav raven stories of all time. Please go check it out and lets talk in the comments. K thanks!
“We come, brother.”
Wolves are always such an interesting addition to fantasy stories because there’s so much that we take into our interpretations of them. They’re dangerous, intelligent, wild, but also seemingly tamable and loyal. Worthy of our respect. Man has had a history with wolves longer than any can remember and it seems a bond as well.
Perhaps my favorite depictions are those in which wolves are somehow partnered with humans, but not dominated by or viscous towards them. The Wolfbrothers from Wheel of Time (which I quoted above) are a great example of this.
Also, though it’s been years since I read it so my mind is a little fuzzy, I believe so are the wolves in the book An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear. After all, looks like the first book in that series is called Companion to Wolves. I think I may have to go back and take another look at these!
We did it!
Thanks all for coming on this ride with me. What’d you think of this list? Please let me know in the comments!
Until next time!
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