PLEASE NOTE: I'm rarely active here anymore, but please feel free to follow me on Goodreads, where I post regularly.
These are the chronicles of a book addict, a photo junkie, and an aspiring author, rewriting the very fabric of reality one page (and one snapshot) at a time. From the strange to the unusual; the abandoned to the abnormal; the haunted to the historic; the supernatural to the surreal; the forests of dark fantasy, the cemeteries of gothic horror, and the post-apocalyptic ruins of science fiction are the landscapes of my imagination.
Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.
This week’s tour topic is: MONSTERS
Once again, we have to go back and start with the classics, particularly Tolkien. Between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings you've got Smaug the Golden, Gollum (or Sméagol), the Balrog, Shelob the giant spider, and the Ringwraiths (or the Nazgul). So many contemporary authors have been influenced by those monsters, either paying them homage our outright following upon Tolkien's legacy.
R.A. Salvatore is one of those authors who have paid homage to Tolkien's creations, with his greatest monster being Lolth, the Spider-Queen. To be fair, Lloth was created by Gary Gygax as a monster of Greyhawk,but it's Salvatore who made her his own and made a character out of her through The Legend of Drizzt. The entire underground city of Menzoberranzan is dedicated to her worship, complete with a spider-shaped building where her priestesses are trained, called Arach-Tinilith.
This may be stretching the definition of fantasy a bit for some, but I'd argue that Stephen King's Dark Tower Saga is one of the defining fantasy epics of our generation. As for monsters, King is certainly generous with them, offering up Shardik the mechanical, malfunctioning, insane bear who guards the beams; and Blaine the Mono, the sentient, insane, murderous monorail that tries to hurl the ka-tet to their doom;
As far as current fantasy sagas go, the corelings (or demons) of Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle are one of the most intriguing and most menacing monsters around. Rising each night to feast upon humans, the each have their own strengths, based on the element from which they arise - water, rock, fire, clay, snow, wind, and more. Of them all, the rock and fire demons are by far the most fearsome, although the mimic demon has a creepiness of its own.
Finally, sticking with the them of current fantasy sagas, I'm not sure there's a monster more interesting, more fearsome, and more imaginative than the Chasmfiends of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive. Fifty-foot long crustacean-like creatures, they scrape their way through the chasms of the Shattered Plains, requiring entire armies to subdue them and harvest the gemhearts inside.