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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: BELOVED MOUNTS
The Lord of the Rings brings us one of the coolest horses to ever grace the page, a noble steed that not even the horse-riding tribes of the Rohirrim were able to tame. Shadowfax was, however, tamed by Gandalf and served as his brave, noble, steadfast steed from then on.
While unicorns are often portrayed as pretty, magical creatures, Mercedes Lackey has an awesome tendency to elevate them to another level. In her Heralds of Valdemar books, unicorns are magical Companions who choose the human ride to whom they'll bond. In The Last Herald-Mage Series it is Yfandes, a caring and protective unicon, who chooses Vanyel and serves as his loyal Companion.
In The Obsidian Trilogy (co-written by Lackey with James Mallory), the unicorns are smaller, almost pony-sized steeds who abhor the touch of a demon, are most comfortable around virgins . . . and are general smart-asses. When Shalkan rescues Kellen from the Outlaw Hunt, Kellen finds himself bound to both the unicorn and celibacy for an entire year.
Kristen Britain's Green Rider series brings us Condor, the mount of Karigan G'ladheon, the Green Rider at the heart of the series - although she simply calls him Horse. Condor is a Messenger Horse from the Wanda Plains, one of the magical beasts that somehow know when a Rider need a new mount. Tall, long-necked, and long-legged, Condor bears the scars of serving its first rider, F'ryan Coblebay.
There are only two horses who appear in every book of theWheel of Time series. The first is Bela, the shaggy brown mare owned by Tam al'Thor, ridden most often by Egwene al'Vere (including a dream version), and Mandarb, the highly trained warhorse ridden by al'Lan Mandragoran. Bela is a placid, but loyal beast who really doesn't really seem like much, but who does get to be a hero in the end. Mandarb, on the other hand, is a living weapon who is a hero throughout the series, earning his fair share of scares in the process.
A similar warhorse is found in A Song of Ice and Fire - Stranger, Sandor Clegane's warhorse. Strange is a massive, savage, black warhorse that violently lashes out at anybody who tries to get near, but who is a gentle companion to Sandor. Whereas Mandarb simply meant 'blade,' Stranger is named for the god of death and outcasts, a name that has specific meaning to Sandor.
The Stormlight Archive offers us the Ryshadium, another breed of horses who pick their riders. The fact that Dalinar and Adolin have their own Ryshadium mounts is a source of rage and frustration for Sadeas, who has never been similarly chosen, and who cannot buy himself such a horse. Dalinar's horse is a black beast by the name of Gallant, while Adolin's is a white stallion named Sureblood. These horses are strong enough to bear the weight of a Shardbearer, and smart enough to communicate with them, even obeying commands during the heat of battle.