Tough Travelling“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 DISGUISES:

Hiding in plain site?  Put on a disguise.  Often used to sneak into the evil lair.  For best results brain a guard and steal his; no one is tracking these things.

Oh this one was so fun! Lessons I have learned this week: apparently the clothes really do make the woman (and one man). Here are my picks for disguises:

 LeviathanDeryn/Dylan Sharp – Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


What’s a girl to do in alternate WWI when all she wants is to pilot giant dirigibles made from animal parts, but she can’t because sexism? That is a situation that’s just begging for a disguise. A disguise that I will argue, right here and now, is the best disguise trope in all of SFF. Girls dressing up as boys. BOOM! What could be a better disguise than ‘girl dresses up as a boy to prove that girls can do ALL THE THINGS’? Rhetorical question, nothing is better than that.

 Ms. Marvel: No NormalKamala Khan Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Kamala needs a disguise to prevent people from realizing that she’s been running around town fighting crime. Like any good superhero, she goes for “this eye mask totally conceals my identity, right guys?GUYS?!” look. Fun fact about Kamala’s disguise: her dress and pants outfit is reminiscent of a shalwar kameez, a very popular (and seriously fashionable!) style in South Asia and for many Muslim women around the globe.
The Bad BeginningCount Olaf – A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
While this series may not be fantasy in the traditional sense, it’s certainly fantastical. And it requires a certain amount of suspended disbelief, as fans are no doubt aware. Count Olaf is the central villain of these children’s books, a nefarious evil-doer whose ridiculous disguises somehow fool everyone but the Baudelaire siblings. My personal favourite was his “Coach Genghis” alter ego, a disguise consisting of a turban and a tracksuit. That’s it. Whatever, still better than Clark Kent.
Ani – The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleThe Goose GirlWhen Princess Ani’s identity is stolen by one of her maids, the Princess must assume the disguise of goose-girl (think shepherdess but with geese) until she can reclaim her position. Of course, this is one of those situations where your ‘disguise’ only works because you’re already a stranger…because there’s basically no attempt made to actually disguise yourself. When you take the Princess out of the gowns, she’s just a regular girl.


    • bookwraiths

    • 7 years ago

    Nice list. I need to try Ms. Marvel; I’ve read some good reviews of that series.

    1. I really liked it! Very cool to read a superhero comic about a Pakistani-American girl.

  1. Nice to see I wasn’t the only one who thought of Count Olaf for this challenge. He was one of the first people that came to mind probably because he had such ridiculous diguises that stuck with me.

    1. Right? How did no one but the Baudelaire’s see through his disguises?!

    • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    • 7 years ago

    Alternate WWI? Girl masquerading as a boy? Mmmm… Intriguing!!! 🙂

    1. It’s sooo good! Definitely the kind of series that starts out strong and ends epically, as well. 😀

  2. I like the sound of Leviathan!! We could probably have had a topic that was just girls masquerading as boys this week – I can think of Alanna of Trebond, Eowyn in LOTR, and Tamir in The Tamir Triad off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are tons more out there.

    1. I saw on Nathan’s post that someone suggested we do a week dedicated to girl disguised as boy books, so we may get a chance to show off some of our picks! If you’re ever in the mood for a clever and well-written YA novel, definitely pick up Leviathan. I love Scott Westerfeld!

  3. Ahh, yes, the girl dressed up as a boy! I have one of those on my list, too 🙂 I’ve been meaning to read Leviathan, you and other people have raved about it and it looks like a book that might just change my view of steampunk (so far, I haven’t had much luck with the genre).

    And yeah, the eye mask as a disguise – I watched most of Arrow (the TV series) and it’s ridiculous that people don’t recognise each other when they’re “disguised” with an eye mask and possibly a wig/hood. I mean, I’d recognize my brother’s voice even if I was blindfolded – don’t tell me you can’t tell who the Arrow is. Ugh.

    1. Steampunk can be very hit or miss. I’m so excited for Soulless to arrive at yours – although mild, it *does* have steampunk elements and I think you’re really going to like it! 😀

      LOL I had those exact thoughts about Arrow! My favourite is when he’s around his former lady love and she’s all “hmmm he seems familiar…nope, can’t place him!” URGH why??! Somewhat unrelated, but the costume department for Arrow is seriously on point. I’m not watching the show anymore but I follow a bunch of blogs that talk about fashion on TV, and Felicity’s looks come up all the time. I love her!

      1. I read Soulless, really liked it! I’ll probably be reviewing it soon-ish, I have to gush about Lord Maccon and I loved Alexia’s character!

        Ohh yes, I would steal all of Felicity’s wardwobe! Well, except her shoes, she wears the most ridiculously high heels and I can’t really handle those but still. Her dresses! Emily Bett (the actress) is so pretty, too, I don’t usually like blondes (gah, this sounds so stereotyped but it’s true!) but she’s so cute.
        Also: Oliver in a suit? Yum. Some of the hottest actors are Canadians, right? 😉

  4. I ADORE the cross dressing girl to boy trope SO MUCH. I will definitely be adding Leviathan to my TBR! I also need to get to reading Ms. Marvel!

    1. It’s SO GOOD! Honestly, it’s gotten to the point where a so-so book is elevated to “pretty good” if there’s a girl dressed as a boy (or vice versa, although that’s less common!). Ms. Marvel was really fun, I’d be interested to see what you think of it!

  5. I have been on the wait list for Ms Marvel for about six months. I don’t think the library is really goign to order this comic.

    1. Hmmmm…yeah, that’s unfortunate. Maybe you ordered it at a time when their graphic novel/comics budget was maxed out? Might want to ask someone at the library about that. It’s a good comic too, so the patrons at your library are missing out!

    • Lynn Williams

    • 7 years ago

    Count Olaf is a great choice – I completely forgot about the Lemony Snicket books.
    You know I think I have Leviathan but just haven’t had the time yet to read it – I must go and find it!
    Lynn 😀

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