“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!
This week’s trope is CURSES:
CURSES are long-standing ill-wishings which, in Fantasyland, often manifest as semi-sentient. They have to be broken or dispelled.
This was an easier week because curses are the kind of trope that shows up in every subgenre of fantasy. Notice the two UFs I managed to sneak in there! Here it is folks:
|Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Curses are an important part of the magical system in The Dresden Files, and they’re front and centre in Fool Moon. In this book, Harry has to contend with a family line that’s been cursed to have its members turn into Loup Garou, or crazy super-charged werewolves during the full moon. Actually, Harry himself is also cursed: he’s been cursed to die alone. Harsh.
|Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
When Ella was a baby her fairy godmother gave her the “gift” of obedience, foolishly thinking that someone who always obeys would be a sweet and happy child. Turns out that being forced to always do what you’re told doesn’t always work out well – especially when you’ve got some nasty stepsisters to contend with!
|A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
When he’s about to be executed, that jerk Rickard Karstark let’s out a death bed curse of sorts. He tells a certain King in the North “Kill me and be cursed.” Guess that one came to pass…Nope, still not over it.
|The Curse Workers series by Holly Black
This UF series is based on the concept of curse workers, a very rare type of magical ability that allows people to curse others through skin contact. “Working” is illegal and many who do so belong to crime syndicates, like young protagonist Cassel. His family’s abilities include luck working, death working, and emotional working (making people love/hate/fear without their consent).
Honourable Mention: Angel/Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Angel gets slapped with a curse when he tortures and kills a beloved daughter of a powerful Gypsy clan. His curse? A soul. Now he must relive all his sins and feel remorse for them. His curse is eternal guilt, and if he were ever to have a moment of happiness then he’d lose his soul and become his evil alter-ego Angelus. I’ll never forget how destroyed I was when Angelus showed his vampy face.