Tough Travels: Disguises

tough travelsIt’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!

This week, our search will be all the more difficult because we’re looking for DISGUISES: Hiding in plain sight? Put on a disguise. Often used to sneak into an evil lair. For best results brain a guard and steal his; no one is tracking these things.


As much as I’d like to pretend otherwise, most of the Fantasyland seems to don disguises when they’re up to no good. They’re either stealing stuff or trying to murder people – but sometimes they’re also trying to save the world. You never know in Fantasyland.

  1. darker-shade-magic-schwabLila Bard from V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of MagicIn Grey London, Lila Bard is a thief – but everyone’s out searching for a hooded man, not a 17-year-old girl! She occasionally dresses up as a gentleman, too, so she can steal from the upper classes. The girl has style! :)
  2. Locke, Jean and the whole bastard crew from Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. I know, you’re probably sick of me trying to stuff the gentleman bastards on another list but they fit so well! Whether these guys are playing wealthy merchants or pretending to be priests, they know their disguises. They take care of everything from clothes, hair colour, accents, mannerisms.
  3. assassins-apprentice-robin-hobbFitz from Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s ApprenticeIt’s been a while since I read this but my husband reminded me of Fitz’s profession – he’s an assassin and spends quite some time disguised – it’s easier to kill people this way, apparently. Who knew?!
  4. Arya Stark from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The girl spends half the time disguised as a boy in order to escape the wrath of the Lannisters (and everyone else trying to murder her). Dressed in filthy rags, she travels the seven kingdoms (and beyond). Poor child.
  5. Frodo and Sam from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the RingsI got this idea from Nathan’s prompt itself – and I’m really not sure whether this only happens in the movies or in the book as well, but Sam and Frodo spend some time in Mordor dressed as little orcs, since moving about as hobbits would have resulted in their being eaten, probably.


Which master of disguise have I forgotten to add to my list? 

And are they changing their appearance for good or bad purposes?

Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • I happen to think it is cool to stuff one author’s books onto a list week after week. In fact, I think I should do it too!

    • I thought you did that already with Pratchett? :) But his work is so vast – and I’m always sticking to Lynch’s three books. Well, next week’s topic certainly looks like I’ll be able to include them again!

  • Forgot about Fitz! Good call :)

    • Thanks, Jenn! I have to continue with Hobb’s books, I loved what I’ve read so far but never seem to find the determination it takes to tackle one of her 3000-page trilogies :)

      • Haha I hear you! I similarly only read the first Fitz trilogy and I enjoyed, but the knowledge that there are soooo many other trilogies to get through in his story if I want catch up is a bit discouraging… I think that’s primarily why I have’t picked up any since then.

  • Maraia

    Oh no, I can’t remember if Frodo and Sam dressed up in the books, either. That’s embarrassing. Considering how obsessed I used to be with LOTR, I should really know that. (I still love LOTR, of course, but I no longer dress up as the characters for Renaissance Faires or buy all the action figures, haha.)

    Locke and Jean were the first ones that came to mind. All of these posts are making me want to re-read the first book! Except I don’t know if I could handle the ending a second time around.

    I can’t think of too many other masters of disguise. One is Moon from the Raksura series, which I know you haven’t read, except most of the disguising happens before the books actually take place, so I’m not sure it counts. There’s also a character in Glenda Larke’s Isles of Glory series who fits, but you haven’t read that one, either. In both cases, the disguises are used for survival, rather than specifically good or evil purposes. Oh, and I guess disguise is a major theme in The Orphan Queen. I think there are a lot more YA fantasies that utilize the master of disguise trope.

    • YOU DRESSED UP AS LOTR CHARACTERS?!? That’s awesome! Which character? And you have Renaissance Fairs? How cool. I’m thinking about dressing the kiddo up as a hobbit once he’s old enough to toddle around :)

      I’m thinking about re-reading all three books before Thorn of Emberlain comes out – but they’re a massive undertaking.

      I completely forgot to include polyjuice potion – I can’t believe it since I was in the middle of re-reading HP and the Chamber of Secrets O_o Silly brain.

      • Maraia

        PLEASE DRESS HIM UP AS A HOBBIT AND SEND ME PICTURES. My friend with a 19-month-old always talks about that but hasn’t done it yet. But yes, my friends and I made dresses (okay, my mom made mine), put on fake elf ears, the whole works. I had a Galadriel one (didn’t look anything like the movie) and two Arwen ones (the 2nd one came out really well. It was her coronation dress). I’ll send you a picture by email if you want! My friend also made both of us the leaf broach and Arwen’s butterfly broach, AND she bought us Legolas’ knives. The Renaissance Faire is a lot of fun. If you’re in the States, you should go to one. :)

        If you don’t want to read them, you could either audiobook them or at least read the Recaptains summaries. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing, since they’re so long. I’m more worried about The Kingkiller Chronicles, actually, because they’re also really long but not on Recaptains.

        Oh! That seems so obvious now, but I didn’t think of it either, haha.

        • YES photos please. :)

          I’ve been thinking about listening to audiobooks but I think I tried The Lies of LL once and didn’t like the narrator too much. Maybe I need to try again. Recaptains! I always forget that’s an option.

          • Maraia

            I will find some!

            Recaptains is amazing. I don’t know what I did before I discovered it. That’s too bad about the Locke Lamora narrator. I’ll have to listen to a sample and see what I think. I’ve started listening to my audiobooks so sped up that it almost doesn’t matter what the narrator sounds like, haha.

  • Arya is my favorite! I can’t wait to see what happens with her in The Winds of Winter.

    • Yeah! And I want to know what Nymeria’s been up to :)
      Thanks for stopping by, DJ!

  • Arya Stark is a great choice! She’s so bad ass and resourceful. Definitely my favorite form that series. And you know I fully support The Gentleman Bastards showing up anywhere, anytime. Carry on.

    • I love Arya, too! But Sansa’s been growing on me. Stark girls are awesome, I think Ned would have been proud :)

  • Great list! I forgot about Fitz but it’s been so many years since I read the books that maybe I can be forgiven.
    Yes, Frodo and Sam dressed up as orcs in the books, too.

    • Ah, thanks for clearing that up :) I’ve seen the movie too many times (though I read the book 6 times at least so I don’t know what happened… I have this weird mash-up story in my mind, I think).
      I forgot half of what happened to Fitz, too, but my husband has a monster of a memory so he helps out :)

  • Lynn Williams

    I love the inclusion of the GBs – plus they’re perfect for this week.
    I forgot about Frodo and Sam – I like to try and include the Lord of the Rings wherever possible.
    Lynn :D

    • I think every Tough Traveler has one (or two) authors we love and try to fit onto every list :) And it’s true that some authors just use ALL the tropes!