“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!
PRINCESSES come in two main kinds:
2. Spirited and wilful. Spirited Princesses often disguise themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms.
Finding princesses for the first category was pretty difficult, but that wasn’t surprising given that I usually pass on books were the princesses aren’t spirited and wilful. So this week there will be one princess from the first group, and three from the second. To the list!
|Princess Buttercup – The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern
Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Princess Bride, but Buttercup is kind of a wimp. Like, hello, your guy is going mano a mano (clawo?) with an ROUS and all you do is stand there? At least let loose some ear piercing shrieks, for god’s sake. The second Humperdink elevates her from farmer’s daughter to princess she loses her edge. In fact, the more I think about it, Buttercup doesn’t have much of a personality.
|Princess Raisa – The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
As heir to the Queendom of the Fells, Princess Raisa is one of “the most powerful and the least free” people in her nation. But that doesn’t stop her from getting into all sorts of trouble, including exploring secret passage ways, impersonating a servant, and falling in with a street gain. Raisa belongs to the Gray Wolf line of queens, a line of women known for their romantic entanglements and dalliances. That’s one of the coolest things about her: she kisses all the boys and doesn’t lose her head about it. And there isn’t one character who calls her a derogatory name because of it. Whether that’s because Chima’s created a matriarchal world or because Raisa’s a badass whose peers fear her is up to you. Personally I think it’s a little from column a and a little from column b. Look for my review of this awesome book this weekend!
|Princess Cimorene – Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
One of the most charming princesses on this list, Princess Cimorene HATES being a princess. She flouts convention at every turn, choosing adventure over propriety. Princesses don’t fence, learn Latin, or master cherries jubilee – it simply isn’t done! Except that Princess Cimorene does do these things, and more. She escapes an arranged marriage to a ridiculous man by running off to become a dragon’s princess; rather than wait to be captured by a dragon, Cimorene finds one herself. And that’s what really makes her such a star: Cimorene takes matters into her own hands and becomes an important player in her own story. Take that, Buttercup!
|Princesses Sarai and Dove – Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
Leave it to Tamora Pierce to write about the most spirited, wilful, and freaking awesome princesses. Sarai and Dove are twice royal, as their Luarin (white) father belongs to the reigning nobility and their Rakka (indigenous) mother was a descendant of the Copper Isles’ original royal family. That’s right – they’re mixed race women with considerable power in a fantasy novel. Let that sink in for a second. As if that weren’t enough, these sisters also embody female empowerment. Sarai is a masterful swordswoman and even fights to the death to protect her family. The younger, more sedate Dove is a strategic genius, expertly navigating murky political waters. Her quiet composure and desire to protect the Rakka people from growing racial tensions makes Dove the most politically savvy princess I’ve ever read about.