Today we have a guest post on animals in fantasy from Jennifer Priester, author of the Mortal Realm Witch series. Thanks to her, I’ve added about 15 books to my To-Be-Read list, and I hope you will too!
I’ve added links throughout the post. The links on author names to go the author page on Goodreads, where you can find reviews of the books as well as easily find other books by the same authors. The links on individual titles go to the Amazon page for that book. In the case of series, I’ve linked to the first book in the series (that’s also the case with the images). I love the cover art on these books. Animals make great cover models!
Animals in Fantasy
What is a Fantasy Animal?
When you think about animals in fantasy your first thoughts are probably animals such as dragons, unicorns, griffins, or other mythological creatures. While many good fantasy reads such as Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles, and his magic shop book, Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and Ken-ici Sakura’s unique Dragon Drive series include these types of animals, how often do you think of regular, commonly thought of animals being part of or being the full focus of fantasy books?
Animals and magic…A Very Good Combination
I think of these books often because my favorite subjects are animals and magic. I especially love it when the two combine; and because of this I also write about these subjects. While this post isn’t about the authors and books that have inspired me, many of these mentioned books and authors have had a large influence on me as a writer. Some of my favorite authors ,who write fantasy specifically about animals or write often from an animal’s point of view, can be found throughout this post. Besides being favorites of mine, all the books I mention are definite recommendations.
Michelle Paver is the author of The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series in which she often writes from the point of view of a wolf named Wolf, and the Gods and Warriors series in which she sometimes writes from the point of view of a dolphin. Michelle Paver’s books are both human and animal focused. Rather than from one viewpoint, her books are told from two. Sometimes the human, and other times the animal tells parts of the story. Whenever she writes from the animals point of view, it is very clear that she has a good understanding of the animals she writes about.
Wolves, Domestic Wolves, and 3 Other Animals
Dorothy Hearst is the author of The Wolf Chronicles series in which she writes from the point of view of the wolf Kaala, Kathryn Lasky writes from the point of view of the owl Soren in her series Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and that of the wolf Faolin in her series The Wolves of the Beyond. David Clement-Davies is the author of many animal fantasies including The Sight and its sequel Fell, both of which are told from the point of view of wolves, Fire Bringer is told from the point of view of a deer, and his other animal fantasy The Scream of the White Bears is told from the point of view of a polar bear. Richard Adams wrote two very distinct animal fantasies: Watership Down, told from the point of view of the wild rabbit, and The Plague Dogs, which is told from the point of view of dogs that escape a research center. Peter Howe wrote from the point of view of the stray dog Waggit in his books Waggit’s Tale, Waggit Again, and Waggit Forever.
From Cats to Dogs with Bears in Between
Erin Hunter writes three different animal fantasy series. The first is Warriors, in which there are several different series, super editions, guidebooks, short novellas and graphic novels all of which feature cats and their point of view. Depending on the book and series, some are regular cats, and others have special powers. The second series is Seekers. The first Seekers series is told from the point of view of four different bears, the brown bear Toklo, the white bear Kallik, the black bear Lusa, and the mysterious shape shifting brown bear Ujurak. The second Seekers series is also told by these same bears minus Ujurak. There are also graphic novels told exclusively by one the three main bears. Toklo and Kallik currently have their own graphic novel and Lusa’s has yet to be released. The third series is Survivors and is told from the point of view of dogs that have been brought together by an earthquake.
What Are Dogs For?
Did Dracula Ever Own a Rabbit?
James Howe’s animal fantasy stories often revolve around the vampire rabbit known as Bunnicula. Bunnicula was found by his current owners at the theater where the movie Dracula was playing. Bunnicula isn’t a blood sucking vampire; rather he sucks dry and turns all vegetables white. None of the stories are told by Bunnicula; instead, they are told from the point of view of the households other pets, the dog, Harold, and cat, Chester. However, their focus is on Bunnicula. In a later book, the dog Howie becomes a part of the series and adventures.
In total the main Bunnicula series has 7 books: Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Nighty-Nightmare, Return to Howliday Inn, Bunnicula Strikes Again! and Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow. Bunnicula also stars in another 6 book series for younger children titled: Bunnicula and Friends. Harold and Chester have a 5 book series, also for younger children, titled Harold & Chester, and Howie is the star of the 6 book series: Tales from the House of Bunnicula.
A Familiar Adventure
Adam Jay Epstein’s three book series: The Familiars is told from the point of view of the cat Aldwyn and his friends, the frog Gilbert, and blue jay Skylar, all of which are on a quest to save their humans, who are wizards, from a familiar gone bad.
Magically Created Animals
The books told from an animal’s point of view tend to be my favorites, but sometimes, although told from a human’s point of view, the animal is still much of the books focus. Some of these books include: The character of Simber from Lisa McMann’s series The Unwanteds. Simber is basically a stone statue of a Cheetah that is alive because of magic. In the Sabrina the Teenage Witch series by various authors, Sabrina’s familiar, the talking black cat Salem who was a human warlock before an attempt to take over the world got him turned into a cat as punishment, is a highly important character to the series. Salem actually was so popular of a character that he eventually got his own book series for younger readers, in which he gets to tell stories from his own point of view, called: Salem’s Tails. Salem also played a big role in helping me create my own familiars for my Mortal Realm Witch series. Two of my familiars, Trillman and Sampson were highly inspired by this cat!
The Genius Dog, the Dog That Can Fly, and the Raccoon?
Other animals with large focus in human told stories are: the dog in Vivian Vande Velde’s book, Smart Dog, the ghost dog and the living dog in Peg Kehret’s Ghost Dog Secrets, the dog in Leigh Treseder’s My Dog Can Fly, and Roderick the raccoon in the Bone: Quest For the Spark trilogy, based on Jeff Smith’s Bone series, by Tom Sniegoski.
Animals With Small Roles That Make a Big Impact
Other times, in fantasy, the animals play very small roles, yet always manage to stand out as my favorite characters. Some of these animals include: Will’s dormouse in the W.I.T.C.H. book series, Appa the flying bison, and Momo the lemur-bat in the Avatar: the Last Airbender books, and the unique cow in A.D. Elliott’s book, The Remarkables.
Animals Are Popular
As you can clearly see, there are many books in which, aside from Simber, Appa and Momo, commonly thought of animals, become huge characters and very important ones in many fantasy books no matter how much or little focus is put on them. Sometimes the animals originally meant to be side characters even become as popular, or even more, than the humans! Why is this? I don’t know, but at least I’m not the only one who always notices and loves animal side characters!
Because I Can’t Resist Mentioning My All Time Favorite Animal Character!
One other book I feel is worth mentioning, before wrapping up this post, is an animal book based on a human told fantasy classic. This is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as told by Carla Jablonski. This book is part of the Wishbone: The Early Years series, in which it is book #2. In this book, a Jack Russell Terrier, Wishbone, imagines himself as the main character.
I Would Read Them…If I Hadn’t Already!
These books vary greatly in age level, from young readers in second grade, to middle graders, and to YA and adult, but all of them are good fantasy books that in which I consider the animals to be the stars. If you love animals in fantasy as much as I do, many of these books are worth checking out to either read for yourself, or, for the younger age level ones, to younger readers if you have any.
Some Fantasy Book Reviews (The Books, Not the Book Reviews!)
I have also reviewed some of the above books. While at some point in time all reviews will be posted to my blog, www.animalsandmagic.wordpress.com, you can read them right now on Goodreads by following the links below. My reviews of the books are also on Amazon, but always appear on Goodreads first, often as soon as I finish reading the book.
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #1, Wolf Brother: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/524927468
Waggit’s Tale: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/494825469
A Dog’s Purpose: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/494808811
The Remarkables: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/596053000
About Jennifer Priester, the Author of this Blog Post
I am the author of the uniquely written Mortal Realm Witch series, as well as other, yet to be published, books about animals, the relationships between humans and animals, magic, the supernatural, and superheroes. I love animals and have owned many both past and present. Currently I have a Chihuahua called Taco, two Mini Rex rabbits known as Chibi and Kojikaki, and a 10 year old Goldfish that I won at a carnival called Pumpkin. I also have many animal friends. Both my pets and the animals that I’m not lucky enough to own have inspired many stories and those that have can be found in their own section on my website called Meet the Anipals.
Where to Find Me and Information About My Books
Currently I, my books; including free stories, my anipals, and more can be found in the following places:
The Mortal Realm Witch website: www.mortalrealmwitch.com Includes information on me, my books, my anipals, my characters including fun character interviews, some free to read stories and more. Also, coming soon are the websites: www.ammoonlightcreations.com and www.jenniferpriester.com.
Where to Find My Books and a Free Book My Characters Are Featured In
Amazon Link to book one in the Mortal Realm Witch series, Mortal Realm Witch: Learning About Magic: http://www.amazon.com/Mortal-Realm-Witch-Learning-About/dp/193878300X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355409857&sr=8-1&keywords=mortal+realm+witch+learning+about+magic
Barnes and Noble Link to Mortal Realm Witch: Learning About Magic: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mortal-realm-witch-jennifer-priester/1111957728?ean=9781938783005
Smashwords Link to The Battle of Ebulon, in which characters from across the Mortal Realm Witch series took part. Also includes some of my other characters from another book. Most of the characters that took part in my section of the book, Entry Point 12, were magical animals and animal superheroes, although there were a few human witches, superheroes, and a warlock as well. Due to the fact that you must be over 17 to download this book, which is free, I am making my section available as a free eBook and PDF download on the Mortal Realm Witch website: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/325102