“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 TRAVELLING FOLK:
TRAVELLING FOLK are quite common. They are of two kinds: Land travellers and River travellers. These people are merry, colourfully dressed, dishonest, and knowledgeable…they will cheat you, cure your wounds, and hustle you off to the cart of their oldest lady who will tell you something about the future you need to know.
I actually found this topic a little tougher (hardy har) than I thought I would, so this week I’ve only got three picks!
|Gyptians – The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Gyptians are a troublingly named group of people (clearly a riff on “Gyspsy” which is a slur for Romani people) who help Lyra in her quest. They are portrayed as brave, fair, and wise; it is the Gyptian wise man Farder Coram who first teaches Lyra how to read the Compass. Gyptians are famed for their annual gatherings of all the tribes in England where they discuss important matters of counsel and then celebrate by partying. Sounds pretty good to me!
|Rumancek Family – Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
The Rumancek family are Romani in origin and represent many of the characteristics of the “traveling folk,” most notably Peter Rumancek. Peter and his mother are con artists travellers, moving from town to town across the continental U.S. using their knowledge of supernatural creatures and phenomenon to their advantage. Certain members of the Rumancek family can tell fortunes and predict the future.Just as an aside: this book was terrible and the portrayal of the Romani made me uncomfortable.
|Tyrans – In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Wow, it was surprisingly difficult to find an example of “Traveling Folk” in a Tammy novel! But fret not, the Tyran people introduced in the Song of the Lioness series fit the bill. Tyrans are river folk who occupy territory just beyond Tortall, known for their willingness to trade…and their cunning ability to cheat their buyers.