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 TOWERS:

TOWERS stand along in waster areas and almost always belong to Wizards. All are several storeys high, round, doorless, virtually windowless, and composed of smooth blocks of masonry that make them very hard to climb.

Here’s what I came up with!

SquireBalor’s Needle – Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce

The highest tower in the royal palace of Corus, Balor’s Needle is 100 feet tall and primarily used by court mathematicians. At the very top of the balcony there’s a balcony accessible only by a rusted metal staircase -the tower has fallen into pretty serious disrepair. Kel must face her greatest fear (heights!) when she is forced to scale the tower to rescue a friend.

Book of a Thousand DaysThe Tower – The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

In this retelling of the little-known folk tale Maid Maleen (made famous by the brothers Grimm), Dashti gets more than she bargained for when she accepts a job as a maid to the Lady Saren. When Saren refuses to spurn her betrothed for her father’s preferred suitor, he banishes Dashti and Saren to a tower far beyond the city limits. Saren will either marry the man her father has chosen, or she – and Dashti – will remain locked inside the tower for seven years. Added points for non-Western setting!

The Scroll of YearsHangnail Tower – The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich

While the Hangnail Tower isn’t the most splendid or even the tallest tower in Palmary, it is the most forboding. It is home to the kleptomancers, dark wizards who rule the city through their human vassals. Perhaps even more (in)famous than the kleptomancers are the Goblin librarians, catalogers and protectors of the famed Goblin Library at Hangnail Tower. Persimmon Gaunt asks her lover Imago Bone to steal back her volume of original poetry from the Goblin Library and complete chaos ensues. It’s wonderful.

CastleTower at Caer Colur – The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander


When Princess Eilonwy is forced to abandon Taran and his quest so she can train to be a “proper lady,” she is understandably furious (kind of her default setting, actually). But etiqutte lessons aren’t the scariest thing about Castle Caer Colur – that award goes to Queen Achren, an evil sorceress who wants to harness Eilonwy’s magic and turn her into a puppet. Like all evil sorceresses, Achren locks Eilonwy away in the tallest tower of the castle. It’s here that Taran finds her and the pair unleash some serious whoopass.