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 ORPHANS

No one in Fantasyland amounts to anything if they still have both parents.  Rule number one.  Thanks to Stephanie for the suggestion (and let us all be surprised together that it isn’t in the Tough Guide).

Kind of a depressing list this week, but at least most of these orphans turned out okay. Also, shoutout to my favourite orphan of all time, Anne Shirley! I had an intense obsession with Anne of Green Gables as a kid…#CanadianThings

 Storm FrontHarry Dresden – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher


First his biological parents, then his foster father…Harry’s just got the worst luck when it comes to parental figures. Of course, his “second orphaning” (if you will) is a little more complicated than the first. Whatever, Justin had it coming.

Skinwalker Jane Yellowrock – Jane Yellowrock Series by Faith Hunter
After magically slipping into the body of a mountain lion to avoid a traumatic childhood incident, Jane emerges many years later as a 12 year old girl with few memories of her previous human life. Although we’re not certain how long she shared a body with the mountain lion, Jane guesses that it could have been as long as 100 years. Her parents, whoever they were, are long dead when she rejoins the human world.
BittenElena Michaels – Women of the Otherworld/Otherworld Universe by Kelley Armstrong
Orphaned as a young girl, Elena is soon shuffled into the foster system. After a series of truly horrible foster families, Elena strikes out on her own for university…where she meets someone who’ll change her life forever. Her traumatic memories of foster care undoubtedly fuel Elena’s drive to be a wonderful parent, righting the wrongs of her past.
Harry_Potter_and_the_Chamber_of_SecretsTom Riddle/Lord Voldemort – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I bet you thought I was going to pick Harry, didn’t you? No way, his orphan story is boring compared to Voldy’s. I mean, stealing from the other kids at the orphanage? Terrorizing them? Creeping the hell out of the staff? That’s classic! Unlike all my other picks this week, here’s one orphan who never really made good.


  1. Voldy 😀 He’d hex you for calling him that, you do know that, don’t you? 🙂 Ugh, he was such a creepy little kid.

    Ok that Skinwalker thing sounds terrible! I thought she “slipped into the lion’s skin” like WEARING a pelt or something, but this is worse, isn’t it? Is the book any good?

    1. HA, I know! 🙂 I stole the nickname from A Very Potter Musical. Have you seen it? So hilarious and weird and awesome. I think the full version is broken up into parts on youtube.

      The book is SO COOL! There’s a ton of Cherokee and other Native American lore/mythology/cultural elements incorporated into the story (the MC is Cherokee). She’s a total badass and has a very different tone from many other UF narrators – not quite as snarky or fly-by-the-pants, more calculating. Reading book 2 now and really liking it!

  2. And Neville! A whole story of orphans!

      • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

      • 7 years ago

      Neville’s parents aren’t dead 😉

      1. Not dead, but definitely worse for the wear…sad face. #ThanksALotVoldemort

      2. Oh ya. You are correct.

  3. What an interesting premise for Skinwalker… that sounds kind of awesome.

    Oh Voldemort. The one orphan you never feel sorry for.

    1. Skinwalker is SO COOL! I’m shocked by how few people have heard about it/read it. Definitely recommend. Yeah…Voldemort. Not great at parties. 😉

  4. Elena! Great choice. And another orphaned Harry — but not the obvious one. Well done!

    1. Thanks, gotta rep my girl Elena (and Canadian media!). Harry x2, didn’t even notice that! 🙂

  5. Excellent choice on Harry and Jane! I didn’t even think of them! This was a really great list.

    1. Thanks Tiara! Harry snuck up on me when I was brainstorming, but I’ve got Jane on the brain since I’m reading book 2 right now. Love those books! 😀

    • Lynn Williams

    • 7 years ago

    Ohh, nice going with Butcher – never thought of Dresden at all! Orphans seem to be a plenty don’t they!
    And, of course, Voldemort – I had Harry. I never even thought of Voldemort – how bad is that – probably because you don’t have sympathy for him.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Thanks! I felt very sneaky getting Harry D in there. HA, good point on the lack of sympathy for Voldemort. Maybe orphans who killed their own parents should be a category.

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    • 7 years ago

    Ha ha! I love your Voldemort pick over HP!

    1. Haha, thanks! I was definitely patting myself on the back for that one. 😉

  6. Harry D. was my first pick as well:). I am also a big fan of Anne and am oddly watching right this moment an episode of Longmire guest starring Megan Follows. I’ve never heard of Skinwalker and it sounds really fascinating! I also appreciate the choice of Voldemort – very nice!

    1. Yeah, TT twin pick! 😀 Anne is so great, I love reading/watching about all her ‘scrapes.’ Megan Follows was on Longmire? I’ve been meaning to check that show out…definitely have to now! Skinwalker is SUCH a cool book, I recommend it if you’re ever in the mood for urban fantasy.

  7. Harry Dresden is a great pick – I don’t know why I didn’t think of that, considering his life with Justin and the girl he grew up with (her name escapes me at the moment) was such a huge part of his life. And he’s got such an interesting background too.


    1. The whole ‘double orphan’ thing seemed like a good fit for this week, depressing as it is for Harry. I’m so behind on those books…kinda par for the course with long-running UF series, honestly. And I believe her name was Elaine!

    • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

    • 7 years ago

    YES we both got Voldemort! 😀
    Never heard of Yellowrock, but that cover for Skinwalker is seriously badass.

    1. YES, he’s such a great pick for this week, the evil little toad. I’ve been praising Skinwalker up and down in these comments, but it’s so deserving of all that love. If you’re in the mood for a gritty urban fantasy I highly recommend it! 🙂

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