Although several fantasy B words resonate with me, that which calls strongest to me today is BARD. Perhaps it’s the siren call of song winding through my senses after an evening singing with the Soulsongsters. Or maybe it’s a hangover from my first D&D character, Silver the Bard, who only survived two sessions.
Bard: A poet, traditionally one reciting epics and associated with a particular oral tradition. (Synonyms: poet – minstrel – singer – songster)
Bards can be found all through fantasy, the more interesting ones often performing songs for a night’s lodging… or using their gifts to infiltrate a king’s hall for a spot of spying. Most fantasy worlds rely heavily on oral traditions, so it follows naturally that bards play a significant role. They have the responsibility and desire to document major events, as well as the thrill of connecting with an audience through their music or voice.
I have a story idea involving a bard bouncing around my head actually. One day I might get around to writing it.
Memorable fantasy bards (or minstrels) that come to my mind are Collan from Melanie Rawn’s The Ruins of Ambrai, Starling from Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, Seregil from Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner books, and Ammar from Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan.
Honourable B word mentions go to:
- Beasts — all manner of which can be found in fantasy
- Berries — a food trope probably bordering on cliche, but why should berries be mocked when our characters do have to forage and find something to eat?
- Bastards — definitely a fantasy cliche these days, especially if he/she turns out to be heir to the throne
- Battles — The cornerstone of most epic fantasy, from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire). The sword in ‘Sword and Sorcery’…
- Bow (and arrow) — One of the most prevalent weapons in fantasy, and who’d want to live without them?
- Brashen from Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders books and Bilbo from Tolkien are my iconic B characters
And finally, a couple of other fantasy B words synonymous with fantasy and its characters in particular.
Brave: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
Burden: A load, especially a heavy one.
I think it’s fair to say the above definitions are the understatements of the year when it comes to true fantasy epics. Just think Frodo Baggins…
Thus ends my tribute to the letter B in fantasy. I look forward to hearing all your suggestions in the comments for B words I might have missed.