Tough Travels: Extreme Climates

tough travels

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!

Well, we’re doing some serious travelling this week, looking for EXTREME CLIMATES: Perhaps the handsome prince lives in a castle surrounded by green countryside and sunny days. The rest of the land is forced to deal with freezing cold, searing heat, and every other extreme climate mother nature can throw at you.

Sadly, this week marks one of the few occasions where I didn’t manage to stuff The Lies of Locke Lamora onto the list!! *wails in despair* Or maybe I just need to re-read the books? Oh, well…


As usual, I couldn’t resist ordering my list into sections!

Hot (otherwise known as deserts):

  • The Aiel Waste from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Rand goes there and has a wonky experience that possibly involves some hallucinogenic substances (I really don’t remember the details) but the whole place is a huge desert where the Aiel people, who are fierce warriors, spend the majority of their time.
  • Planet Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune. This is my husband’s addition for this week (OK so he helped with the other entries, too, but I read all of the other books, while I haven’t read Dune yet). He tells me it’s a planet that’s a desert but there’s a really rare spice available – and that’s it, he won’t tell me anything else because he says I should read the book. Hmph.

Cold (otherwise known as places where fur is worn on a daily basis):

  • jon-snowThe Wall (and everything beyond it) from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and FireLook, I like the rugged, furry-mountain-man look as much as anyone but does Jon Snow’s fur have to match his hair? *POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD* And while I didn’t read the last book, I watched the TV series and dammit, George, but I’m seriously thinking of quitting your show. What the hell is going on? I do believe 90% of the original POV characters are now dead?
  • This northern region from Joe Abercrombie’s Half a KingAfter Yarvi and some of his fellow shipmates escape the slave galley of Shadikshirram (I think that’s how her name is spelled, I can’t check because I’ve loaned the book to a friend), they have to trek through a winter wasteland.
  • Svalbard from Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights. That’s where Iorek lives, I think, and Lyra has to go even further North in order to save the snatched children from the horrible fate that awaits them at Bolvangar. Ugh.
  • Narnia during the White Witch’s rule from C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeYeah so I guess Mother Nature sometimes steps back and allows others to take over – an evil witch in this case.

Toxic (otherwise known as places where the air is toxic and so on):

  • The Blight from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. OK so I’m including the same series twice but to be fair, it’s about 7 times as long as the others so I think I’m good. I don’t really know if the Blight is a climate as such but it has been slowly eating away at the good lands and weird stuff happens there, so I’m counting it. Poor Lan.
  • mordorMordor from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Ahh, the words that launched a thousand memes. Mordor is so evil and dirty that the air is poisonous, it’s hot, and I don’t think any plants or animals live there – the only creatures that are able to survive it are the orcs, no? But Frodo and Sam venture there anyway and nearly perish in the process.
  • The Arena from Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire. This is an example of a man-made climate: the organizers of the Hunger Games are nasty, nasty creatures and have created a sort of a rain forest that also has a toxic fog creeping though it for about one hour a day. The rest of the Arena is equally deadly, what with a tsunami and the hot weather and all.


So, would you travel to any of these places if you had a chance?

And tell me – would the world end in fire or in ice? ;) (Or are you convinced we’re facing a different sort of Armageddon?)

I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • bookwraiths

    Some great picks this week. I especially loved the way you broke your list up.
    As for how the world will end, who knows really. When I was a kid all we ever worried about was nuclear armageddon, then it changed to global warming and just the other day I read the next ice age will be upon us by 2030. It will end how it ends I guess.

    • Nuclear armageddon?! Wow, that sounds sinister. I mean, not that the current news feeds don’t terrify me…
      Ha, I actually read a book (After the Snow, it’s a ya dystopia and quite ok) several years ago that made me go check out the web for info about how to survive in extremely cold weather – aka the ice age :D It’s set during the next ice age and I spent an afternoon googling stuff like “how to set a rabbit snare” and “how to prepare squirrel meat” (I’m not even kidding, I’m really easy to freak out, apparently).

  • Maraia

    Hmm, I actually don’t think I would travel to any of these places. Would you?

    I think the world will end in flames or floods, depending on where you live.

    The Watergivers series by Glenda Larke would fit well into your “Hot” category, since it’s all about a harsh climate that doesn’t have enough water. :D

    • Wellll…. If I had to choose, it would be either the Aiel Waste because if I survived Morocco, I could probably handle this desert – and the Wall because it’s so impressive but I’d need be really careful about the skeevy characters of the Night’s Watch. Nasty.

      Hm, yeah, floods sound about right. I mean, the sea would have to rise A LOT for it to flood Ljubljana, but by the time that happens we’d probably have a serious immigrant situation on our hands. (It’s not that implausible, this scenario…)

      • Maraia

        I actually haven’t read Wheel of Time. I am interested in the series, but not in the excessive number of books. Are they worth it? Where did you go in Morocco? I was also in Morocco, but I didn’t make it to the desert.

        Floods are really scary. I used to naively think they weren’t that big of a deal, but when I lived in upstate New York, my city had a major flood, and it was insane. I still can’t believe how much the water rose or how much damage it did. Everything was destroyed, and a thick layer of mold was left in its wake. That would really be an unpleasant way to go. I don’t think fire is any better, though.

        • Umm well I got stuck with Book 6 of WoT – it’s a REALLY long series. And pretty LOTR-derivative at the beginning, just a warning. It’s classic epic fantasy written by a white man, if you get what I’m saying… But it gets better with each instalment, I just have to get back into it after a really long pause, which will probably involve some rereading…

          I went to Morocco with my parents in high school so it’s been a while but we did a pretty big tour of the major cities (I liked Fez the best, I think, and Marakech, of course, but Casablanca was a letdown) and we also went to the desert, which I enjoyed a lot but was also slightly incapacitated by a rather violent stomach bug, eugh. I would like to go again sometime, especially after working on Daughter of Smoke and Bone ;) I’d take an empty suitcase and come back with silk scarves and silver bangles and tea. Mmmm :)

          Ugh, that flood sounds awful! I’ve never had the misfortune to experience it though there was some pretty bad flooding in the recent years in other parts of Slovenia.

          • Maraia

            Hmmm, maybe I’ll pass, then. :D

            Yes, I would like to go again as well! There’s so much more to see, and it’s one of my favorite places I’ve been. Did you go on a camel ride in the desert? I also went with my parents when they came to visit me during study abroad. I started out in Fez, which I LOVED, then went to Meknes to visit the ruins (hated Meknes, because my dad and I also got sick), spent a few wonderful days in Chefchaouen (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), and flew out of Tangier, which wasn’t fantastic. I’d love to go to Marrakesh, but I’m really only interested in Casablanca for the mosque. Did you go to a hammam? My mom and I went to a locals-only one in Fez, and I’ve never been as clean in my life. I think about it all the time, haha.

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    I never thought about including toxic wastes!! It was a *brilliant* addition to this week’s theme. Just brilliant…

    • Thanks, Maddalena! :)
      I find poisonous air and face-melting fumes to be delightful, don’t you? ;)

  • I love that you categorize your lists! Great call on Arrakis! It’s a perfect entry and it didn’t occur to me at all though I have read the book.
    Finally, I was JUST spoiled on the thing you refer to in your GOT entry and I was completely aghast. If anything happens to Arya mortality wise? I will not be responsible for my actions.

    • Thanks :) You know, I even gave the list-making bug to my husband, we got the Wunderlist app and now make lists for pretty much everything. It’s becoming a joke, really.

      Yeah I’m seriously thinking about quitting the whole series because DAMN. Jon?!?!? Again, my husband (he seems very present this week though he’s unaware of it, probably) has a theory that this is only temporary (Melisandre’s there…) so I’m willing to give GRRM another chance to make things right.

  • I would love to visit The Wall! But just visit… for like a day… and maybe pee off it too, like Tyrion XD

    • Haha :D
      Well peeing off the Wall would be *slightly* more difficult for me (especially with the creepy characters of the Night’s Watch present – *shudder*) but I’d definitely try to spit as far as I could. Not as cool but still pretty awesome :)

  • Digging the separated categories. Well done.

    • Thanks, Nathan :) I couldn’t resist.

  • I’ve always been incredibly fascinated by icy climates, especially those that are fictional – I can recall many a lazy afternoon spent immersing myself in the forests of Narnia! And it’s so interesting to think about the thematic implications of ice – in the case of Narnia, it implies evil, hatred, cold-heartedness, but I would absolutely love to read a book that perhaps uses ice for good instead. So many possibilities!

    • Oh, that’s a good point! Why is cold always a bad thing? (I like it because it kills off bugs which means we have normal-sized insects instead of tropical giants *ew*). If you think of an example, let me know! At most, I can think of characters enjoying the snow in contemporaries (like skiing and such) or being inside, sipping tea while it snows outside – but nothing really focuses on the icy weather. Hmmm…

  • You do totally need to read Dune :) It’s a great book, though I haven’t read any of the sequels. But it’s all political and has great characters and yeah… it’s great. There are also two mini-series that Syfy and while some parts of them are pretty good – some parts are lacking…

    • Ahh yeah, I know :) And I’ll get to it eventually! We even have a copy at home, it’s been watching me from the shelf for a while now.
      Those sand worms, though… scary.

  • Lynn Williams

    Great list. I think I forgot more than I ever knew this week! At least that’s how it felt. I like your breakdown.
    Lynn :D

    • Thanks, Lynn! :) I always feel the same when I’m reading other people’s lists with Tough Travels – but that’s the beauty of it, remembering forgotten books, right?

  • If I had to visit one of these places, it would be Narnia. Nothing really terrible can happen in a children’s book, right? Right? :)
    Great job! Toxic category is especially good.

    • Thanks, Mervi! :)
      I’d go to Narnia to meet fauns but I’d pass the Witch’s castle, thank you very much. Being turned into a statue doesn’t sound all that appealing.