It’s Thursday again so I’m participating in the Tough Travels meme which is hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn. These posts are fun explorations of common tropes in fantasy, (sometimes) inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Join me in the search for examples of this week’s topic – and don’t forget to check out other people’s lists, they’re wonderful and my TBR pile grows every week because of them!
It appears Mother’s Day is coming up in the US, so we’re looking for MOMS this week. While we celebrated Mother’s Day back in March in Slovenia, this topic is dear to me because I’m a new mom (since September) and I’m still trying to figure out what this means, exactly. I suspect this will be a life-long process…
Anyway, these examples include both great characters and some particularly nasty ones – in terms of their personalities. I’m wary of judging them as mothers, because it’s difficult to say what “good parenting” is – is it really wrong to do absolutely everything for your child? Probably, but there are people who would argue with me on this. I tried to sort them a bit – based on how they are portrayed – we’ll see how that goes!
Absent mothers – either dead or missing or just plain disinterested in the lives of their children.
- Lily Potter, Harry Potter’s mom. She sacrificed herself and died for her infant son, which vanquished Voldemord’s power. Ah, the mother who sacrifices herself. What a common trope! Too common, if you ask me – how often do we get dads perform similar selfless acts?
- Katniss’s mom from The Hunger Games – after the death of her husband, Katniss’s mom sunk into a deep depression, forcing Katniss to provide for her family, especially her younger sister, Prim. I didn’t really like how this was portrayed – while it’s dreadful that Katniss had to hunt and that they nearly starved to death, depression isn’t something one embraces willingly.
- Jocelyn Frey, Clary Frey’s mom from The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Jocelyn drinks this potion that puts her into a coma and is then kidnapped by her crazy husband, leaving Clary with no clue what is happening – because Jocelyn has been hiding her true heritage from her. SURPRISE! This was a supremely bad idea since the heritage came and bit Clary in the butt.
- Laurian, Kvothe’s mom from The Kingkiller Chronicle – she was beautiful and had an amazing voice, but I particularly liked her wit and the affection she showed her son and husband.
Rather average, well-adjusted mothers – I have no idea how to phrase this without using the word “normal” which is so problematic sometimes but you know what I mean, right? There aren’t that many of them that I could remember!
- Catelyn Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire – well, before she… ummm… met her very weird fate, she was as good a mother and person as she could be considering she lived in a world where everyone conspired to kill off all her children – and her husband.
- The Golden Queen, Yarvi’s mom from Half a King and Half the World – not the most affectionate of mothers, true, but she did care for her son and I liked how she ruled her financial empire.
- Queen Kettricken, Prince Dutiful’s mom, from The Farseer trilogy (and subsequent books) by Robin Hobb. This one was my husband’s addition to the list – I only read the first trilogy so I really only experienced her as a wife and queen but I liked her immensely as a character.
- Molly Weasley, mother of seven Weasleys, from Harry Potter – she was always portrayed as this (stereo)typical stay-at-home mom, always washing socks and listening to cooking advice on the radio, but in Deathly Hallows, and especially in the Battle of Hogwarts, she shows her badass self!
Batshit crazy mothers – those who are just plain bad people, and would probably would have been nasty even without kids.
- Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire – OK, so she is definitely one of those “I did everything for my children” types. But was it really necessary to kill so many people while you were taking care of your precious golden-haired babies? She’s a wonderfully complex character, Cersei, but I wouldn’t want to cross paths with her.
- Lysa Arryn from A Song of Ice and Fire – another example of Martin’s weird mothers. Throwing people through a hole in the floor so they plummet to their deaths is a favourite pastime of this neurotic, delusional lady.
- Penryn’s mom from Angelfall – weeeelll, this one really is mad. OR IS SHE??!! She certainly feels crazy, what with the gruesome corpse-mutilating and collecting rotten eggs and whispering to the demons. But she has her lucid moments and she’s probably the most scary when she makes sense.
If you want more reading about moms in SFF, I think this week-long event on Book Punks should be interesting!
Tell me, which mothers would you add to my list?
Do you disagree with my sorting?
I’d love to hear from you! :)