Thoughtful Thursday: Eye of the Tiger

Back in the day when I played D&D, one of my favorite characters was a gnome druid. She planted a grove in the back of a wagon that was pulled by her companion dire badger. Sometimes she would ride the badger, and the badger would fight with her in combat. It was awesome.

Yes, my dungeon master was… flexible… when it came to the rules.

In last week’s comments we started a discussion about pets in fantasy books, and were hard pressed to come up with many examples. While this is probably due to the adventuring lifestyle being hard on four-legged friends, a lot of fantasy books feature telepathic animals. Horses, dragons, cats — all have been central players in fantasy literature. My first foray into fantasy literature as an adult was Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen and I wanted a Companion with all of my teenage girl heart. To have a best friend forever and ever is something any teenage girl would identify with. My sister wanted a dragon, but I wanted a Companion, and then I wanted one of the hawks from the Hawkbrothers, mostly because the Hawkbrothers had cool outfits and hair.fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews And lived in trees.

Did you ever fall in want with an animal from a fantasy book? What was it about the animal that mesmerized you? And is it just me or are we about due for a revival in the telepathic bond-creature storylines?

Let me know in the comments and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks!

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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  1. I always enjoyed Loiosh in the Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust! “You’re pretty smart for a mammal, boss.”

  2. One of my earlier sci/fi fantasy loves was Andre Norton, whom I read and reread tirelessly. I wanted any of the animals from the Beastmaster books, and I seem to vaguely recall a few others books with pets. Wow–and trying to recall that just yanked up some more: The Rock of Three Planets (which wasn’t a pet rock but something cooler), the beast in Star Beast.

    And I’m not sure if I wanted “an” Otak from the Earthsea trilogy, but I certainly wanted “that” Otak, poor little guy.

    And I wanted Shadowfax of course. And Asfaloth. And Snowmane. And good ole’ Bill the Pony. So I’ll need me a stable for the LoTR horses . . .

  3. In J.V. Jones’ Sword of Shadow’s series, a warrior race called the Sull, have horses that take several generations to breed and are just cool-as-heck. They are war horses that are especially adapted to the wintery climate, and can do things like “ice-dance” -cross ice-covered lakes or rivers, sensing where the ice is thick enough to bare their weight.

    But as far as single pet-type animal that comes to my mind; there was this big ol’ cat that hung around the bar of a seedy back alley pub of the Maze in Sanctuary -the city in the Theives’ World series. I think the bar was called the Broken Sword or something like that. Anyone remember that cat? Not sure what about it stuck in my mind except that I thought it was really cool.

  4. SandyG /

    I’ve always wanted a Dust Bunny from the Harmony books by Jayne Castle. They’re cute and fuzzy and eat pretzles most of the time but don’t get them mad.

  5. Well, like I said on the other thread, I’m a hellhound girl. I want a dog like Runt in Amber Benson’s Calliope series, or Sir Pup in Meljean Brook’s Demon Angel. Then again, I have a rottweiler, and I joke that she is my own personal hellhound. She just hides the horns and the two extra heads really well. ;)

  6. Or maybe a wolf. I want Jon Snow’s Ghost from Song of Ice and Fire.

  7. I wanted Jon Snow’s wolf, too (second animal I thought of), but mostly I want a big wildcat. I can not remember right now who had a big cat….

    At our zoo in Jacksonville, FL, we have a big black panther in a natural looking environment (stream, rocks, trees). I could watch him for hours — he is so awesome! I want to take him home.

  8. I thought of Beastmaster, but I think I’d like the animals from Catseye by Norton. And yes, I want a dragon, but one of the little fire dragons not a great big one.

    Bit cats have always fascinated me. Watching Disney with the kids I always wanted Belle’s library and Jasmine’s pet tiger. Telzey Amberdon’s pet TIck-Tock is the only big cat pet that I can recall.

    A Dust Bunny would be good. I don’t like pretzels much, so it could have mine.

    Kat Richardson’s character has a pet ferret. Not sure I would want one though.

  9. As I stated last week, I absolutely loved Nighteyes from Robin Hobb’s Assassin Apprentice series – a telepathic wolf! It doesn’t get any cooler than that. What I fell in love with was the wolf’s bemused and logical attitude.

    I also mentioned the shepherd dog in John Flanagan’s Ranger Apprentice series. That dog was awesome because it was ranger-trained, and it curled up and rode on the saddle of the packhorse when the snow was deep. It was also part of the main character’s act – he disguised himself as a minstrel and the dog would take verbal cues to interact and amuse the listeners. But the dog is only in a couple of books.

    Speaking of Andre Norton, in Quag Keep, which is about a bunch of D&D players that actually become their characters, one of the main characters was a wereboar berserker that had a pseudo-dragon familiar. I really liked that little dragon, but I don’t remember specific details as to why – I’d have to do a re-read…


  10. I loved the Pet from Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite The Sun. A six-legged fluffy thing with orange eyes, it was shoplifted on an idle impulse by the book’s teenage narrator. At first they hate each other, but gradually and grudgingly they grow close.
    More terrestrially, I completely adored pony books when I was a kid because of the relationships the characters had with their four-hoofed friends. Still do.

  11. Jon Snow’s wolf was a good one! Wish I’d thought of that..
    I actually got to go hiking with a wolf once. It was an experiance I’ll never forget.

  12. Brian, I loved that wolf, too. He was really cool. That series made me cry and a lot of that had to do with that wolf!
    One of my 12-yr old son’s best friends has a wolf.

  13. The Fantasizer /

    Fitz Chivalry Farseer’s wolf from the assassin books by Robin Hobb. Something about wolfs gets to me. Sharing one’s thoughts with a wolf and having it as a travel companion, is a very entertaining concept for me.

  14. Joe57 /

    One of my first experiences of reading fantasy was R.A. Salvatore’s Halfing Gem. Drizzt’s magical panther Guenhwyvar was the coolest thing ever to me back then. A loyal companion who kicks ass in a fight.

  15. Kitten/Skysong from the Immortals series by Tamora Pierce. (My first pick would have been Ghost, but he’s been named numerous times, so I go with my second favorite fantasy pet :D)
    I remember reading Daine’s books and thinking how cool it must be to have a baby dragon as a pet. And not like Dany’s dragons in ASOIAF, but a really cute dragon that you can actually cuddle :D
    And another one of Pierce’s pets… Faithful. I normally really don’t like cats, but I wouldn’t mind one like Faithful :) He has real character.

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