Tough Travelling: Revolt
Welcome intrepid adventurers to Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide to Fantasyland!
That’s right, we’ve dusted it down and brought back this feature (created by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, revived by our friends over on Fantasy Faction, then dragged kicking and screaming to the Hive).
It is a monthly feature in which we rack our brains for popular (and not so popular) examples of fantasy tropes.
Tough Travelling is inspired by the informative and hilarious Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. Fellow bloggers are absolutely welcome to join in – just make your own list, publish it on your site, and then comment with the link on this article!
This month, we’re not actually going to take our inspiration from DWJ.
Instead, we’re going to take a look at revolts, rebellions, uprisings, resistance from stories written by BAME authors. We couldn’t find any of these topics in the Tough Guide to Fantasyland, but there is this entry on justice:
JUSTICE does not exist as such. In some CITIES there will be officials called Justices, but he
name means nothing. You will have to pay them and they will then sell you a favourable verdict.
Do not look for Justice even in the Court of a GOOD KING. With the best of intentions, the King
will be forced to judge against you and may even order you horribly executed. It is better to steer
clear of legal matters entirely.
A big thank you to Theo, Nils, Jonathan, Laura, James, and Beth for their recommendations…
The Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin.
The Broken Earth trilogy is a fantastic series and top of my list for re-reading just as soon as I get through this pesky TBR pile. The evocation of enslavement, prejudice and exploitation and a brutal literally earth shattering rebellion against the status quo is very powerful, yet it is also such a human story with Essun driven by emotions and motivations of motherhood. It is also, stylistically a fascinating series with its mix of first, second and third person.
Lost Gods and Pale Kings by Micah Yongo.
Yongo gives the reader a brilliantly described setting that feels like a combination of sub-saharan Africa and Arabia. The world is not so much in open rebellion as under existential threat, but the protagonists also face treachery within their own ranks as various political plots and machinations unwind.
The Kishi by Antoine Bandele.
One of the Hive’s SPFBO semi-finalists last year which caught a lot of favourable judge’s attention with its very different setting and the way it tapped into a different mythology for inspiration. Another society under threat but should the reader side with the rebels or the authorities.
Everfair by Nisi Shawl.
All about a multi-national resistance against Leopold II’s Belgian Congo, and with steampunk
Rosewater by Tade Thompson.
Tade Thompson – I’ve read Rosewater, not read the sequels but the original volume is very much about colonialism and its legacy
The Parables Series by Octavia E. Butler.
The Parables series is about rebellion in a racist, collapsing USA that feels very resonant today. This is a running theme throughout Butler’s work. She also wrote Kindred, in which a modern African American woman is transported back in time to witness the horrors of slavery and save her ancestors, and themes of slavery, rebellion and control run through the Patternist series.
The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson.
A brutal and utterly brilliant story that mixes folklore with a reflection on the legacy of slavery and racism facing African Americans throughout the history of the USA.
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson.
Rebellion against the forces of control in post-apocalyptic Toronto, with magic and Orisha.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter.
An African-inspired fantasy that depicts the story of the Omehi tribal warriors and their long-fought war against the savages known as the hedeni. This book is all about fighting oppression and gaining vengeance.
“If you’re not prepared to fight, you place yourself and everyone you love beneath the blades of others, praying they choose not to cut. I have felt the mercy of armed men and they will never find me helpless again.”
The Sword of Kaigen by M.L Wang.
A Japanese inspired fantasy, which centres around Misaki and her son Mamoru as they encounter a foreign invasion in their small secluded village, and are forced to fight against their enemies every step of the way.
Jade City & Jade War by Fonda Lee.
Ok so I’m stretching the theme of rebellions and uprisings here as these books have a strong focus on rival gangs and the control for Jade, as with Jade comes many powers. However on a broader scope the series is also about not allowing foreign invaders to take control of Jade mining, and distribution, as that is something which is so embedded in the citizens of Janloon’s culture it should remain within their control.
“No Peak defends and avenges our own. You wrong any of us, you wrong us all. You seek to war with us, and we will return it a hundredfold. No one will take from us what is ours!”
The Poppy War by R F Kuang.
Whilst on the one hand being influenced by/a retelling of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Nanjing Massacre in a secondary world fantasy setting, The Poppy War draws heavily upon rising up against oppression – from the individual with Rin rising up from her poverty-stricken roots, to the grander sweep of a nation refusing to be ground under the heel of their invaders.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart.
Although not out until September this year, The Bone Shard Daughter features a people under the heel of an Emperor consumed by his mastery of bone shard magic. Revolution is creeping through the Empire:
“Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.”
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark.
James: I just read P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout which is about a resistance more than a rebellion/uprising, but it’s definitely timely.
Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri.
I also thought of Tasha Suri’s Realm of Ash, which features quite a personal rather than populist rebellion (though it becomes a bit of both).
Next month, we’ll be looking at our favourite Beginnings in speculative fiction.
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