Every Thursday, the Fantasy Review Barn is taking us on a journey through Fantasyland with their Tough Travel Guide. Today’s topic is shapeshifting.
SHAPESHIFTING is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a WOLF, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls, and cats are common too. In all cases the rule is that the shapeshifter cannont stay too long in animal form without actually becoming that animal.
My list doesn’t quite fit those requirements exactly, but these are the ones that occured to me:
1. Mercy Thompson (the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs)
Are we counting urban fantasy? I’m counting urban fantasy, because Mercy was the first character I thought of. She hangs out with a bunch of werewolves, as per usual in urban fantasyland, but she’s actually whats known as a skinwalker–she shapeshifts into a coyote.
2. Daine Sarrasri (the Immortals series by Tamora Pierce)
Here is where I commence to feeling awful, because this was one of the formative book series’ for me, and I’m not even sure I’m remembering it right (to the reread shelf!). Daine is able to communicate with all animals, and *if* I am remembering properly, she learns how to enter their minds and see through their eyes, but when she does so is in danger of getting stuck there.
3. Seregil & Alec (the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling)
Not properly shapeshifters at all, but I can’t include a list without my dear Nightrunners. The Oreska wizards have an inner nature spell that changes the subject, briefly, into the animal that matches their inner nature–Seregil is an otter, and Alec a stag. It’s the basis of the cutest scene in book one, and then turns around into one of the most heartwrenching scenes in book two.
4. The Stark kids (ASoIaF, George R. R. Martin)
This one has been a slow, slow burn, and as per usual in Martin’s world a lot is left unsaid, but I think its generally agreed upon by this point that all those Stark kids are wargs. Bran’s the one really learning about it, hanging around beyond the Wall turning into his own direwolf, but they all have a quasi-mystical connection with their wolves (even Sansa, who’s wolf is dead.) By the end of book 6, Arya’s training to become a Faceless Man and Jon Snow has warged into Ghost, so yeah: they’re all wargs.