Sorry for the suuuuper late Twin Thursday! I meant to do this one last week, and then, well, life. Never fear, though, I’m back on schedule. Sort of. Still trying to finagle work and writing and the upcoming Camp NaNo. But that’s neither here nor there.

For this week’s Twin Thursday, Rachel and I are looking at animal companions. Be sure to head over to Undivinelight and check hers out!

For this one, I’m going to be looking at two animals in particular, both from Tamora Pierce books. The first is Peachblossom, Kel’s horse from the Protector of the Small series, and the other is the hound Achoo from the Beka Cooper books

The primary thing that makes both of these animals stand out to me among the dozens of other animal companions that I’ve read over the years is that they are both distinct characters. Neither of them speaks–even though talking animals are a thing that exists in Tortall–but they don’t need words to have personality on the page. Even without Kel or Beka extrapolating on what their animal may be thinking or feeling, the reader knows. It’s in the way Peachblossom stamped a hoof or clicked his teeth, or Achoo sneezing when she picks up the scent. They’re not just a utilitarian dog or horse, and it shows.

Growing from that, they’re not just a decorative part of the story. They have an effect on the plot and the way it unfolds. I never got the feeling that, well, Kel needs a horse, so here you go. Think Bill the pony from The Lord of the Rings. It makes sense that the hobbits would have a pack animal on their journey, so he’s thrown into the story for a hundred pages or so and then vanishes. Peachblossom and Achoo, on the other hand, are part of the experience of their stories. For example, when Kel is insulted, Peachblossom comes to her defense and attacks the boy bullying her. That scene is still one of my favorites in all of Tortall.

And the last thing that makes these two characters memorable to me–because, really, they are characters, not just props–is that I have an emotional investment in them. I care about their safety, and I worry for them when bad things happen around or to them. This is probably the biggest defining factor of a successful animal companion to me: do I care about them? Am I impacted in some way by them?

 

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2 thoughts on “Characters Done Right: The Animal Companion

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