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This is not an April Fools’ Day trick. Tough Travelling is back!

Since April, at the start of every month Fantasy-Faction has led you (yes, YOU!) on a tour of the fantasy genre. From high to low, from classics to new releases, from epic to urban; each month, we’ve guided you in search of a different trope, theme or cliché. Lest we become lost, we’ve been referring to The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones.

The topic this month is Snarky Sidekicks, and here’s our list!

Hogfather (cover)Albert
(Hogfather by Terry Pratchett)

Death takes it upon himself to fill in for the Hogfather and deliver presents to the children of the Discworld. Who better to accompany him on his mission than his grumpy, immortal, ex-wizard butler Albert? Albert cheerfully ‘helps’ Death by drinking the sherry and eating the pork pies left out by hopeful children, and by offering optimistic yet snarky advice such as, “Never say die, master!”

Midnight Tides (cover)Bugg
(Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson)

Another master-servant dynamic here. Bugg is the manservant of one of my favourite fictional creations: Tehol Beddict. Tehol is an amazingly funny and likeable character on his own, but with Bugg to bounce off, he’s just perfect. The relationship between the two is both giggle-worthy and heartwarming. Bugg is a brilliant blend of deadpan and sarcasm, is possibly the worst cook/housekeeper in the history of fiction, and is actually much more than he appears to be.

Darkhaven (cover)Naeve Sorrow
(Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith)

“I come in peace,” Sorrow drawled, offering him the knife hilt-first. “This was just in case I met anyone I didn’t like on the way.”

Hard, hilarious, and notoriously unscrupulous, Sorrow is (for me) a highlight of the entire Darkhaven series.

Before They Are Hanged (cover)Jezal
(Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie)

Jezal dan Luthar is technically a main character rather than a sidekick, but his sneering demeanour and cutting remarks earn him a solid spot on this list. Much of Jezal’s snarkiness is present in his internal monologues rather than in his dialogue, but he exudes enough of it to irritate everyone around him and rub them up the wrong way. Cocky prick.

Prince of Fools (cover)Jalan
(Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence)

Jalan Kendeth is always at the ready with a cutting comment or clever witticism. As with Jezal’s inclusion, I’m cheating a bit here, since Jalan is actually the main protagonist rather than the sidekick.

Or is he?

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. MartinBronn
(A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin)

Some of my favourite scenes in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series are those involving Tyrion and Bronn. Tyrion himself is possibly one of the snarkiest characters in fantasy fiction, and his pairing with Bronn is a delight to read. Bronn’s brutal honesty, along with his sarcasm and prolific use of casual swearing, makes him one of my favourite sidekick characters of all time, and the portrayal of him in the TV adaptation is a beautiful thing to see.

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Readers, writers, bloggers – we’d love it if you blogged your own lists, and then added the links below! Don’t have a blog? Join in in the comments! Let us know which snarky sidekicks we’ve forgotten! Which ones would you least like to have your life depend on at a trial? Are there any that – shock, horror! – ignore the Guide completely? Let us know in the comments!

Starting next month (on January 1, 2018), Tough Travels will moving to The Fantasy Hive.


By Laura M. Hughes

Laura lives under the grey, pigeon-filled skies of northern England, where she also writes for When she isn’t absorbed in Dragon Age, raving about the #SPFBO or working on her first novel, you’re most likely to find her trying to convince unsuspecting bystanders to read The Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you’ve any queries, or just want to talk fantasy, Laura always encourages like-minded folk to seek her out on Twitter @halfstrungharp. Anyone interested in hiring her to edit or proofread a manuscript can check out her rates, services and testimonials at

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