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 PETS:

Everybody needs somebody to love. And the best companionship doesn’t always come from the same sentient group, does it? Be it furry or scaled, large or small, sometimes an animal companion is the best thing a person can have. Thank you to Nathan’s wife for this week’s topic!

I love this topic! I’m an animal lover and I’m always envious of characters in fantasy novels who can communicate with their pets. I chose a mix of pets, ranging in species and abilities. Some are just regular animals in a crazy world while the others are special snowflakes in their own right!

WolfspeakerSkysong / Kitten – The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce

Daine, the protagonist of the Immortals series, is a wild mage who can understand animals. Her bond with other creatures leads to her adopting a baby dragon named Skysong, whom she nicknames Kitten. Like all dragons, Kitten’s colour changes with her moods and she can speak. Ultimately she’s more like family than a pet!

The GatheringKenji – Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong 

Maya is another animal lover protagonist, with a passion for treating animals evident in her relationship with her rescue dog Kenji. Kenji is loyal, protective, and shares an unexplainable bond with Maya. While Maya can intuitively understand animals more than normal humans, she cannot verbally or telepathically communicate with Kenji (or other animals).

Rosemary and RueCagney and Lacey – October Daye series by Seanan McGuire 

Toby Daye’s cats are named Cagney and Lacey (hehe), and like their namesakes they are trouble makers. While the cats do have some sort of alignment with the fae Court of Cats occupied by the Cait Sidhe (cat shapeshifter fae), but they aren’t fae themselves. They are regular cats so Toby can’t understand their thoughts but the Cait Sidhe can.

Knife of Never Letting GoManchee – The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

This series is seriously brilliant and one of the best aspects is the relationship between protagonist Todd and his dog, Manchee. Todd is able to communicate with Manchee two ways: by talking and telepathically through the Noise. The Noise is a disease that impacts men and animals in the new world (space!), one that enables people to see and hear thoughts. Manchee uses the Noise to tell crude jokes and he’s so full of heart. Love you, Manchee!


  1. Oh, man, how did I miss Manchee!? He was the best dog ever. Whenever I see a shaggy, silly-looking dog, I point and squeal (quietly, decorously, to my husband): “Look, Manchee!” I read this series in translation (it’s translated really well), so I don’t know exactly how his poop comments sounded in English, but they were great in Slovenian.

    1. Manchee is seriously the best!!! And scatological humour must be universal, because his poop jokes are HILARIOUS in English, too! I also point out cute puppies (and babies!) to my guy…but sadly it’s not that decorous 😉

    • Lynn Williams

    • 7 years ago

    Well, I haven’t read any of your books this week. I’ve been wanting to read something by Seanan McGuire – where do you recommend starting??
    Lynn 😀

    1. Oooohh, questions questions. Personally I think it’s all about your mood: if you want a typical UF set up with a feisty character, then go for Rosemary and Rue, but if you want something lighter (and hysterical!) than Discount Armageddon is great.

  2. I think that would be my superhero power if I had to pick one – being able to communicate with animals! I haven’t read any of these but now I want to because prominent pets! I’ve heard a lot of great things about The Knife of Never Letting Go and now that I know there’s a cool doggie, I am so reading that!

    1. YES sign me up with your superhero firm because I would be all about that power! Yaaaay more love for Patrick Ness and The Knife of Never Letting Go! It’s such a cool and unique book, and the sequels are just as good.

    • Bob Milne

    • 7 years ago

    Does it show my age at all that I get the Cagney and Lacey reference? 🙂

    1. Psssssshhh not at all, it just shows that you’ve got excellent taste in cop shows. 😉

  3. I read none of those. I have checked out Rosemary and Rue a couple times and not gotten to it, does that count?

    1. Nope, sorry! You might like Rosemary and Rue, it’s a little bit different than your typical UF fare.

  4. I will have to look these up.

    1. Do it! I especially recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go, it’s truly a great book.

  5. I totally forgot about Maya’s dog!

    1. KENJI! He’s the star of the show…a lot better than Rafe, that’s for certain. 😉

  6. I reaaaally need to read Seanan Mcguire’s work!

    1. Yeah girl, get on that! 😀 She’s got such a great sense of humour.

    • Windsprite

    • 7 years ago

    Oh, how could I forget the knife of never letting go? But probably it’s too long ago since I’ve read it 😛

    1. Looks like someone’s due for a re-read! 🙂

  7. October Daye has cats? Okay, I am seeing a trend here, looks like an overwhelming number of female UF protagonists own cats, more than any other pet! I am looking forward to starting that series (it’ll happen this year, I swear!) 🙂

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. She’s actually kind of a cat lady tbh, at least at the beginning of the first book. Girl’s got like no friends. Kinda sad really. Yeah yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it! 😉

  8. I love animals in fantasy books. That’s probably why all of my made up stories have them. Pierce has been on my want to read list for years. Nice choices. Manchee is the only one here that would’ve made my list. (But I didn’t get it done in time) I hated The Knife of Never Letting Go for making me love him!

    1. Me too, I’m such a sucker for animals! YES Molly, you need to be reading Tamora Pierce. I’m her #1 book pusher, haha. Manchee…I’m still not over it. Why are the story arcs for so many animals characters in fantasy novels so tragic?!

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