Animal companions (especially talking ones) is a favourite trope of mine. Its almost guaranteed to get me to try a book. So here are five books (or given they are all Fantasy books – mostly series) that I’ve loved which include animal companions.
Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell
Magic is a con game.
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…
A great story with a twist on ‘magical coming of age’ Kellen is a great lead character but it’s Reichis the Squirrel Cat who really steals the show here, he’s sarcastic, grumpy and somehow still loveable.
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Young Daine’s knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine’s talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.
I’ve loved these books for years. Maybe a bit of a cheat as Daine has lots of animal companions due to her ability to speak to animals of all kinds. Although her relationship with her horse is lovely it’s Kitten the dragon who sticks out for me.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
It isn’t often that dragons are overshadowed in a book – especially one that has different kinds of dragon and a huge one on the front cover. However for me the stand out animal companion of ‘Priory’ was Aralaq the giant talking Mongoose-like creature.
Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall
Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a Pegasus, a Griffin, a ravenous Hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.
So when Volke stumbles across a Knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the Knightmare knows a terrible secret….
A new find for me (thanks to a The Write Read’s Blog Tour) I loved this book and the multitude of magical creature companions it contains.
Jinxed by Amy McCulloch
Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.
Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.
OK – I’m cheating a little here as Jinx is very advanced tech rather than a flesh and blood animal but he still absolutely deserves a place on this list. A great story with strong characters and girls excelling in STEM subjects, I adored this book.