This summer, for a limited time only, my brother and I have collaborated to open the Literary Fantasy World Tour Company just for you! Check out our newest tour offerings below!
Tour Option 6: Mossflower Woods
Tour guide: Matthias
(Redwall by Brian Jacques)
For those looking for a relaxing setting, go no further than Redwall Abbey. It is a peaceful refuge in Mossflower Woods welcoming to all travelers no matter what type of woodland creature you may be. Matthias, a restless young mouse, will make an excellent guide around the abbey. He can show you the abbey’s exquisite tapestry work and the artifacts like the sword and shield of the legendary founder of Redwall, Martin the Warrior. Spend evenings taking part in one of Redwall’s famously lengthy feasts. Excursions from the abbey include visiting the Church of St. Ninian, or the quarry where the sandstone came from that gave Redwall its name. Both of these can prove to be quite dangerous, as traveling hordes of vermin can sometimes make the woods unsafe. Rest assured that the walls of the abbey are quite capable of holding off invaders and there are plenty of friendly creatures in the area as well. Shrews, squirrels, and hares will all gladly lend a paw. The abbey will always welcome return visitors, and for those wanting to go further afield, pay a visit to the stronghold of the Badger Lords, Salamanderstron.
Tour Option 7: England, Norway, and Jotunheim
Tour guide: Jack
(The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer)
This tour will start in a small village on the northeast coast of England in the year 793. Jack, an 11 year old local boy, will show you around. We have lined up a local bard to entertain you for an evening before we take you board one of our Viking cruise ships and set out for the rest of your captivating trip. You will sail through Scotland and Norway with our experienced captain, Olaf One-brow. During the voyage you’ll make stops for slave trading and pillaging settlements. Once in Norway, see the royal court of Ivar the Boneless. We remind visitors to follow local customs, as the consequences for transgression can be quite severe. Travel on to Jotunheim, realm of the trolls. Watch out for dangerous wildlife along the way, including dragons and troll bears. At Jotunheim, explore hidden valleys which contain surprising fauna, and the ice palace of the troll queen. If you’re in luck, the Norns, beings responsible for fate, will stop by for a game of chess. Also visit the famed Mimir’s Well. Be warned however, any who wish to take a drink and gain knowledge from the well must first sacrifice something. Your tour will end with a cruise back to England.
Tour Option 8: England, Treasure Island
Tour guide: Jim Hawkins
(Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson)
In addition to our trekking tours and farm stays, we offer a wide wide selection of cruises. For those looking for a tropical getaway, set sail aboard the schooner Hispaniola to Treasure Island. Before boarding the ship you will be put up for a few nights at the Admiral Benbow Inn on the west coast of England where you’ll meet a few of its colorful tenants. Your tour guide, Jim Hawkins, the innkeeper’s son, is a brave young man, if not a little impulsive at times. You’ll be transported from the Inn by carriage to Bristol where you’ll meet your ship. Rest easy knowing the ship’s crew is eager to take you for a ride. Foremost among them is our chef, Long John Silver. If you’re feeling a little peckish between meals, grab an apple from the barrel conveniently located on deck and catch up on the latest gossip. When you reach our tropical island destination, you’ll have plenty of time to go ashore and explore, meet local islanders, and stay a few nights in provided accommodations. You’ll also be able to go for an evening cruise and join in on an organized day hike. This tour is sure to keep you excited and surprised at every turn.
Know Before You Go:
Redwall by Brian Jacques, published in 1986, has all the adventure of high fantasy, just with anthropomorphic woodland creatures. Redwall’s talking animals are reminiscent of those found in Lewis’s Narnia. Redwall, however, has none of Lewis’s allegory, which is ironic because the Redwall series is set in an abbey. Jacques’ lighthearted tone and use of small animals keep the series acceptable for younger readers, while maintaining the adventure, fighting, and character deaths found in more mature stories like Tolkien. Though well written, some may find Jacques’ series becomes formulaic if read all together. As Jacques developed his fictional world, he made a few subtle changes between his first book and the rest of the series. For example, the first book alludes to the animals living in a world with humans, but in later books, the animals appear to exist in their own world.
Of all the books on this list, The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer may be the least well known, but it earns a spot for its ability to blend fantasy, mythology, and history. While Tolkien and his followers drew inspiration from Norse mythology, Farmer goes right to the source. Instead of making up her own fantasy world she uses the mythical land of Jotunheim, one of the nine realms of Norse mythology. She also uses well known legends, such as Beowulf, and real historical events, such as the Viking raid on the monks of Lindisfarne, as the context in which she places her story. Because of this, The Sea of Trolls has two maps, a real one of northern Europe, and another of the Norse mythological realms. Through this, she teaches the reader about the clashing cultures and beliefs in northwestern Europe at the start of the Viking era.
There is perhaps no more famous map in literature than the treasure map of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, published in 1883. Its legacy over all modern pirate stories is undeniable. Tropes like “X marks the spot”, pirate slang, peg legs, and the much feared Black Spot all come from Treasure Island. Disney’s popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise contains numerous references to Treasure Island, including even the title of one of the films, Dead Man’s Chest. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan series even references characters from Treasure Island by name. Treasure Island, however, was by no means the first popular pirate novel. Stevenson drew inspiration from contemporary pirate stories as well as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719. For example, Robinson Crusoe is about a man marooned on a tropical island, this plot device also occurs in Treasure Island.
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