Saturday, April 1, 2023

The "Band of Brothers" in Fantasy #3 -- Celebrating "The Scooby Gang"


Currently, I'm featuring the "band of brothers" in Fantasy fiction. Initially, I looked at its mythic and historical origins, then at at how it's evolved in the genre, particularly through formative works such as The Lord of the Rings and David Gemmell's Legend.

The Last Kingdom's shield wall.


I also mentioned that the band's sibling, the "Scooby gang", is equally integral to the wider Fantasy landscape -- and today I'm taking a closer look.

While there's an exception to every rule, the "band of brothers" very often begins as a group of disparate individuals and personalities, forged into a brotherhood by adverse, and extreme, circumstances.

The Scooby gang, on the other hand, usually starts off with friends or acquaintances, who gather up other like-minded buddies along the way. And while the stakes may be high, they're usually not quite as grim, dark, and "fate of worlds"-centric as for the "band" -- although as mentioned last month, that can change, as it did for Harry, Ron, and Hermione (plus sidekicks) over the course of the Harry Potter series.

Scooby gangs frequently star in YA fiction -- and a recent favorite is Rupa and her fellow ghoul and ghost-hunting friends in Tendai Huchu's Edinburgh Night series. A Scooby gang also features in TJ Klune's The House in The Cerulean Sea, where the group of children who are also supernatural beings are integral to the storytelling.

Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb series is another that contains an assorted group of (at-heart) friends cutting a rapier-wielding swathe across a universe of necromancers and undead legions. 

The series has strong elements of "caper" storytelling, too, where the band-of-(mostly)-buddies ribbing each other, but also having their pals' backs, is essential to the adventure. And of the lighter style of quest-journey, where a wisecracking band-of-buddies are often key to the storytelling.

We see both traditions in The Hobbit, where Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves are far closer to a Scooby gang than a "band of brothers." Their quest, particularly Bilbo's designated role as thief, has "caper" elements. And although the journey has scary moments, their adventures also have plenty of humor.

The four hobbits in The Lord of the Rings, who are also friends, may start in a similar way to The Hobbit, but the story quickly gets much grimmer and darker. So by the time the fellowship is formed, it's definitely in "band of brothers" territory.

In terms of other more recent works, Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora is also a dark tale -- but the the titular Locke and his Gentlemen Bastards are a band of confidence tricksters, playing a multi-sided game of doublecross, theft, and vengeance. While the "band-of-buddies", who are also "brothers", is the heart of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys.

Speaking of ravens, not all Scooby gangs are human -- as demonstrated by Cinrak the Dapper and her swashbuckling rodent shipmates, who (aided and abetted by shorebound pals) sail the high seas in AJ Fitzwater's charming piratical adventure. 

Not that Scooby gangs and bands-of -brothers are an either-or option, when all's said and done. They exist on the same spectrum, so it's not unusual to get a group of characters that blend the two. Ash and her friends, in AK Wilder's Amassia series, are a great example of this. They've grown up together, studying and training, and that camaraderie and banter infuse their relationships. 

Their quest journey, though, quickly becomes one of alarms and high adventure, in which not only romance but dangers abound, and the fate of the world is definitely at stake. So I suspect they're well along the path to becoming a fully fledged band-of-brothers, as well as buddies!


About the Author:

Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, and lover of story. With four books published to date, she is currently completing the final instalment in The Wall Of Night series.

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we.


Previous Posts:

February: Honing in on 2021Celebrating the "Band of Brothers"
March: Celebrating the "Band of Brothers" in Fantasy #2

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