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Create Your Own Familiar

We've been traveling around the country visiting schools and at each one the students have created their own Familiar Story.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#8 Flotsam and Jetsam vs. #9 Argo

First, yesterday's results: In the tightest first round match-up yet, Crookshanks and Iago were all tied up going into the final hours of voting. But it's Iago who is moving on, with 57% of the votes.

Hogwarts Regional
Round One

#8 Flotsam and Jetsam




vs.

#9 Argo



Tale of the Tape

Talents

Flotsam and Jetsam - spies, minions

Argo - can sense danger, issues commands to other horses

Advantage: Even

Breed

Flotsam and Jetsam - moray eels

Argo - palomino horse

Advantage: Argo

Loyal:

Flotsam and Jetsam - Ursula

Argo - Xena

Advantage: even

Bottom Line:

A real toss-up. Flotsam and Jetsam are two of the meanest familiars around, but Argo could prove to be a dark horse in the tourney. Your vote will decide!

Tomorrow: We unveil the Elite 8 and kick-off with our first second round match-up.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

#7 Crookshanks vs. #10 Iago

First yesterday's results: In the biggest blow-out yet, Pantalaimon scored 85% of the vote, easily moving on to the Elite 8.

Middle-earth Regional
Round One

# 7 Crookshanks



vs.

#10 Iago



Tale of the Tape

Talents

Crookshanks - highly intelligent, can sense untrustworthy people

Iago - mimicry, high intelligence

Advantage: even

Breed

Crookshanks - cat

Iago - Scarlet macaw

Advantage: Crookshanks

Loyal

Crookshanks - Hermione Grainger

Iago - Jafar

Advantage: Crookshanks

Bottom Line:

It would seem foolish to bet against one of the Potter kids, but Iago should at least be able to keep this first round match-up interesting. In the end, though, Crookshanks should prevail. Don't forget to vote!

Tomorrow: The final first round match-up, as #8 Flotsam and Jetsam battles #9 Argo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

#6 Pantalaimon vs. #11 Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars

First yesterday's results: Pyewacket prevailed with a comfortable 71% of the vote.

Middle-earth Regional
Round One

#6 Pantalaimon



vs.

#11 Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars



Tale of the Tape

Talents

Pantalaimon - shapeshifting

Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars - imbue the witches with supernatural powers

Advantage: Pantalaimon

Breed

Pantalaimon - snow white ermine, moth, wildcat, mouse

Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars - grey cat, toad, and owl

Advantage: Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars

Loyal

Pantalaimon - Lyra Belacqua

Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars - Macbeth's sisters

Advantage: Even

Bottom Line:

The edge has to go to Pantalaimon. Although the shapeshifting familiar is taking on three formidable opponents, it would take a big upset to keep Lyra's companion from moving on to round two. But your vote decides!

Tomorrow: #7 Crookshanks vs. #10 Iago

Sunday, March 28, 2010

#5 Pyewacket vs. #12 Morgan Le Fay's Raven

First, yesterday's results: Salem gave a familiar smackdown to the Winged Monkeys, winning with 80% of the vote. That means half of the Elite Eight has been decided, with #1 Hedwig, #2 Shadowfax, #3 Archimedes, and #13 Salem moving on.

Hogwarts Regional
Round One

#5 Pyewacket



vs.

#12 Morgan Le Fay's Raven



Tale of the Tape

Talents:

Pywacket - wingman, cupid

Raven - bringer of death itself

Advantage: Raven

Breed:

Pyewacket - Siamese cat

Raven - black raven

Advantage: Even

Loyal:

Pyewacket - Kim Novak

Raven - Morgan Le Fay

Advantage: Raven

Bottom Line:

An interesting battle between love and death... but in the end, Pyewacket should prevail. Your vote will decide!

Tomorrow: #6 Pantalaimon vs. #11 Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars

Saturday, March 27, 2010

#4 Winged Monkeys vs. #13 Salem

First, yesterday's results. The Sweet Sixteen turned sour for Fawkes, as Archimedes won with 66% of the vote.

Hogwarts Regional
Round One

#4 Winged Monkeys



vs.

#13 Salem



Tale of the Tape

Talents:

Winged Monkeys - obey commands, act as Wicked Witch's henchmen

Salem - mentor, trouble maker, megalomaniacal ambitions for world domination

Advantage: Winged Monkeys

Breed:

Winged Monkeys - monkeys

Salem - black cat

Advantage: Winged Monkeys

Loyal:

Winged Monkeys - Wicked Witch of the West

Salem - Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Advantage: Winged Monkeys

Bottom Line:

Good familiar vs. evil, and unfortunately evil has the upper hand here. The winged monkeys should have no problem taking out Salem, but if earlier comments on the blog are any indication, Salem has a surprisingly strong fan base. Vote now!

Tomorrow: #5 Pyewacket vs. #12 Morgan Le Fay's Raven

Friday, March 26, 2010

#3 Archimedes vs. #14 Fawkes

First, yesterday's results: With an overwhelming 75% of the vote, Shadowfax has eliminated Mister.

Middle-earth Regional
Round One

#3 Archimedes



vs.

#14 Fawkes



Tale of the Tape

Talents

Archimedes - wise, noble, and dependable consigliere

Fawkes - rebirth, healing, teleportation

Advantage: Fawkes

Breed:

Archimedes - owl

Fawkes - phoenix

Advantage: even

Loyal:

Archimedes - Merlin

Fawkes -Albus Dumbledore

Advantage: even

Bottom Line:

Perhaps the most compelling of all the first round match-ups. Archimedes may be one of the classic familiars of our time, having assisted none other than Merlin, but Fawkes, while lesser known, possesses truly awesome talents. The edge may go to Archimedes , but don't be surprised if we see our first upset of the tournament. Be sure to vote!

Tomorrow: Back to the Hogwarts Regional for a familiar showdown between #4 Winged Monkeys and #13 Salem.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ARC (Adam)

Today, I received my first ARC. That's Advanced Reading Copy for all of you (who like me three weeks ago) never heard of ARCs. And now that I have it, I find that the last thing I want to do with my Advanced Reading Copy is read it in advance. In fact, I don't want to read it at all. Bound and beautiful, I don't even want to crack it's spine.



Instead, I will keep it on my shelf. A high shelf out of reach of my three-year-old's hands. Maybe, even hidden, where my wife couldn't accidentally bend a corner or crease a page.

Better yet, I'm going to dip my ARC in bronze or gold. Any one of the precious metals.. doesn't matter which one as long as its shiny.

Perhaps a museum would be interested in storing it behind bullet-proof glass. Does the Smithsonian have middle reader fiction within its marble walls? Maybe not.

ARC... no, I will call mine a AFC. Advanced Framing Copy.

#2 Shadowfax vs. #15 Mister

First, yesterday's results. Despite some early support for Lockheed, Hedwig pulled away and won with 77% of the votes.

Middle-earth Regional
Round One

#2 Shadowfax



vs.

#15 Mister



Tale of the Tape

Talents:

Shadowfax - comprehends human speech, runs faster than the wind, possesses extraordinary courage

Mister - 30 pound cat, exceedingly loyal

Advantage: Shadowfax

Breed:

Shadowfax - descendant of the greatest horses of Middle-earth

Mister - exceptionally large gray tomcat

Advantage: Shadowfax

Loyal:

Shadowfax - Gandalf

Mister - Harry Dresden

Advantage: Shadowfax

Bottom Line:

A total mismatch. Shadowfax should have no problem moving on to the next round, save for a shocking upset. But it's up to you. Be sure to vote if you disagree!

Tomorrow: We stay in the Middle-earth Regional as #3 Archimedes faces off against #14 Fawkes. Should be a very interesting match-up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

#1 Hedwig vs. #16 Lockheed

Hogwarts Regional
Round One

#1 Hedwig



vs.

#16 Lockheed



Tale of the Tape

Talents:

Hedwig -- delivers letters even though no specific address is given, hunts mice, frogs and rats, fully understands Harry, and to some extent vice versa.

Lockheed -- flies, breathes fire with extreme intensity, and understands human speech.

Advantage: Lockheed

Breed:

Hedwig -- snowy white owl

Lockheed -- alien dragon

Advantage: Lockheed

Loyal
:

Hedwig -- Harry Potter

Lockheed -- Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat)

Advantage: Hedwig

Bottom Line:

Despite Lockheed's potential physical advantages on paper, the intangibles are certainly in Hedwig's favor. Heart, integrity, and loyalty would all seem to give Harry's pet owl the upper hand in this showdown. If you were to ask yourself who you would want as your familiar, isn't the answer simple? Be sure to vote!

Tomorrow: The results of Hedwig vs. Lockheed are announced, and we breakdown the first match-up from the Middle-earth Regional: #2 Shadowfax vs. #15 Mister.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Middle-earth Regional

If you've been following the NCAA March Madness Tournament, you know that it is down to the Sweet Sixteen. And that's where Familiar Madness begins! 16 familiars vying for the crown of all-time great familiar.

Yesterday, we announced the Hogwarts Regional's 1st Round match-ups. Today, it's the Middle-earth Regional's match-ups. The winners will be up to you.

Middle-earth Regional




2. Shadowfax
15. Mister

7. Crookshanks
10. Iago

6. Pantalaimon
11. Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars

3. Archimedes
14. Fawkes

Tomorrow: The Madness begins!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Familiar Madness: Hogwarts Regional

If you've been following the NCAA March Madness Tournament, you know that it is down to the Sweet Sixteen. And that's where Familiar Madness begins! 16 familiars vying for the crown of all-time great familiar.

Today, we announce half the 1st Round match-ups. Hogwarts will be hosting this side of the bracket, while Middle-earth will be the site of the other regional. The winners will be up to you.

Hogwarts Regional



#1 Hedwig
#16 Lockheed

#8 Flotsam and Jetsam
#9 Argo

#5 Pyewacket
#12 Morgan Le Fay's Raven

#4 Winged Monkeys
#13 Salem

Tomorrow: We announce the Middle-earth Regional.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Next Harry Potter

If you’ve written a book (or aspire to some day), there’s one thing more than any other that you wish for. Not a Pulitzer prize or a Caldecott medal or even the respect and adulation of your peers. No, you want your book to be “the next Harry Potter.” Yes, those four words will anoint you and your book into a world of fame, fortune, bestsellers, and hit movies.

And here’s the great thing, it really doesn’t matter what your book is about. As long as it has words and sentences on pages, you’ve got a chance to be the next Harry Potter. It doesn’t need to have a wizarding school, Muggles, or lightning bolt scars. It doesn’t even need magic. Heck, it doesn’t even need kids. Sure, sometimes the comparison makes sense. “Percy Jackson” is sort of like Harry Potter with togas and Greek Gods. “Eragon” is kind of Harry Potter with dragons. “Incarceron” is apparently Harry Potter in a magical prison world. “Charlie Bone” is Harry Potter in a special school with kids who have magic powers. Okay, well maybe that one just is Harry Potter.

Then there are those books that start to stretch the comparison a little. “The 39 Clues.” Hm, it’s got some kids on an adventure. “Twilight.” Well, Harry Potter does have a werewolf in it. And Robert Pattinson was in both movie adaptations.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Huh? That doesn’t seem similar at all. He’s just a normal kid in middle school doing absolutely nothing extraordinary. Does being the next Harry Potter just mean selling lots of books and having movies made out of them?

“The Da Vinci Code.” Now this is just getting ridiculous.

One of our personal favorites: “The Lord of the Rings.” Yes, people were actually saying that “The Lord of the Rings” could be the next Harry Potter. Can’t you imagine J.R.R. Tolkien sitting in his North Oxford home back in 1937, smoking his pipe, and dreaming that one day he could be the next J.K. Rowling?

But being the next Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling is hardly a bad dream. It’s a great dream. A dream that has filled the head of most every writer, including ours. But let’s face it, the likelihood of that happening is very slim. So we would be content just being the authors of “The Familiars,” a fantastical adventure about three animal companions forced to go on a quest of their own when their wizards get kidnapped.

Allow us to indulge as we share with you what one early reviewer said of our book: “Kids who love animal stories, fantasy, adventure, and good-humored friendship will love ‘The Familiars.’ This fantastical trilogy might just be the next ‘Harry Potter.’”

Actually, that last part does have a nice ring to it.

You can follow us on Twitter @the_familiars, join the Familiars fan group on Facebook, or pre-order THE FAMILIARS on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fawkes

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

16. Fawkes – Dumbledore’s pet phoenix



“Fawkes lived with Dumbledore at Hogwarts Castle for a large part of his life. Being a phoenix, Fawkes periodically dies by bursting into flames and is then reborn from the ashes. Fawkes also possesses several other remarkable powers; his healing tears, his ability to carry heavy weight with remarkable grace and strength, and also can teleport at will.” (Wiki)



Immortality, healing abilities, teleportation. Not to mention that his tailfeather was the magic ingredient in Harry Potter’s wand. Uh-oh. Looks like we might have saved the best familiar for last.

Monday: Half the First Round match-ups are announced! Be sure to tune back in after the weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lockheed

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

15. Lockheed - an alien dragon that is the longtime companion of Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), a member of the X-Men



"Lockheed looks like a small European dragon about the size of a cat. He has purple skin, sharp claws and teeth, two small, curved horns protruding from the back of his head and wings that enable him to fly. He can breathe fire with extreme intensity and is a surprisingly formidable combatant for his size. He is also an empath which allows him to understand human speech. He is able to speak English as well, but rarely does so." (Wiki)



Kitty Pride may not be a wizard, per se, but her relationship with Lockheed is virtually symbiotic. This interstellar dragon may be an unconventional familiar, but when going up against Magneto and Galactus, you can't be picky where your magical pet comes from!

Tomorrow: Only one more familiar left to announce. Who will it be?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with LJ Boldyrev

Come check out this interview we did to learn more about The Familiars!

Mister

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

14. Mister - the tailless cat of Harry Dresden, a wizard who works as a private investigator



Mister is an exceptionally large gray tomcat - about thirty pounds all in all - who lives with Harry. He was rescued by Harry after a dog (or car) had torn off his tail; he hates both. He comes and goes as he likes from Harry's apartment, but has clear affection for his rescuer. Dresden notes that Mister is the only being that he has encountered which, when viewed with Wizard's Sight, appears exactly as it does when viewed normally.

Only two more familiars will be joining the Madness! Is there anyone you've been waiting to see?

Tomorrow: Superheroes have familiars, too. Find out who.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Familiars Guest Blog on KarinLibrarian

Come check out our guest blog on Karin Librarian's website!

Macbeth's Sisters' Familiars

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

13. Graymalkin, Paddock, and Harpier - the familiars of the Three Witches in Macbeth



The three witches contributed to Macbeth’s boldness, overconfidence, and destruction, aided along the way by their familiars. Greymalkin is the witches' attendant, a gray cat. Paddock is a toad. The familiar of the third witch is Harpier, an owl. These three devils in disguise imbue the witches with supernatural powers that enable them to lead Macbeth to his demise.



As the witches say in the play, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." Is three company or a crowd for these evil animal companions?

Tomorrow: Meet the feline familiar of a modern day wizard detective.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Familiars on NovelNovice

Come check out this great series of interviews on NovelNovice! They will be featuring The Familiars all week!

Salem

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

12. Salem - the familiar cat of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch



"Despite Salem's megalomaniacal desires for world domination, he is generally portrayed as having a good heart and being a loyal friend to Sabrina. He generally served two roles: one as a mentor for Sabrina, as she found it easier to go to him with her messier problems, or the trouble-maker, such as convincing Sabrina to use magic to solve her problems, which generally ended up putting Sabrina in even more trouble than before." (Wiki)



Although he was motivated by his greed, ambition, and most of all, hunger, Salem cared deeply for Sabrina, as any worthy familiar would. Granted, being the loyal animal companion of a suburban witch doesn't quite compare to venturing through Camelot or Middle-earth, but some might say assisting a 16 year old girl is even more terrifying.

Crookshanks, Pyewacket, and now Salem. Which cat would you want as your familiar?

Tomorrow: To be a familiar, or not to be a familiar. That is the question.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Iago

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

11. Iago - Jafar's pet Scarlet macaw, an intelligent parrot that can perfectly mimic any voice.



In "Aladdin", he mostly does Jafar's dirty work and comments on the action, oft times with angry, sarcastic ranting. But don't mistake him as mere comic relief. There's a reason Iago shares his name with one of Shakespeare's most morally corrupt figures. He is a duplicitous accomplice in crime, aiding Jafar in his evil schemes against Aladdin and the Genie.



Heroes may get the glory, but villains always have more fun. Where do you rank Iago against other familiar baddies? If you were a magician up to no good, would you want him at your side?

Tomorrow: Meet a cat whose pastimes include lint spotting, chasing yarn, and plotting for world domination.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Morgan Le Fay's Raven

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.


10. Morgan Le Fay’s Raven

Traditionally said to represent death itself, the black raven assisted the evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay in her conflicts with the Roundtable. Arthurian legend deems this dark witch and her villainous familiar enemies of the land.



Morgan Le Fay’s raven paved the way for other evil avian familiars that would follow, like Maleficent’s raven, Diablo, and Jafar’s talking parrot, Iago.



Could Merlin’s familiar, Archimedes, take down Morgan Le Fay’s raven in a talon-to-talon fight?

Tomorrow: We let a familiar out of the bottle, so to speak.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Argo

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.


9. Argo - a palomino horse, which happens to be the cavalry horse of Xena, the warrior princess.



Argo has the magical ability to sense danger and issue commands to other horses. Ridden by Xena across the fantastical lands of Ancient Greece, Argo was a hooved Hercules, a God among horses.



Little else is known of this Amazonian familiar, which only grows her legend larger.

Tomorrow: We travel to King Arthur’s Court to meet the familiar of a powerful sorceress.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

8. Flotsam and Jetsam - Flotsam and Jetsam are the minions of the sea witch, Ursula, in Disney's "The Little Mermaid."



Named after the driftwood wreckage of a boat or ship, Flotsam and Jetsam are a pair of moray eels who frequently “speak in unison, finish each other's sentences, and intertwine their bodies, almost like they're the same entity, divided into two. Often used as spies, the pair (like evil twins), each had a glowing eye (one for right-sided, the other for left-sided), that they used to allow Ursula to see anything in their vicinity. Ursula would remain in her lair, working from behind the scenes, and watching everything from her crystal ball.” (IMDB)



Two of the meanest of the mean, these evil sidekicks give familiars a bad name… in a good way. They’re double the trouble, and a force to be reckoned with if you’re sporting flippers, not feet. Any poor, unfortunate soul who crosses their path should swim for the surface, as Ursula is never far behind.

Who do you think are the most ruthless Disney henchmen? Could F and J make a run in this tournament? How far?

Tomorrow: Take a ride atop the steed of an Amazon warrior princess.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pyewacket

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

7. Pyewacket – the Siamese cat familiar to the witch played by Kim Novac in the 1958 movie Bell Book and Candle.



“Novak plays Gillian Holroyd, a Greenwich Village Witch who wants ‘something nice for Christmas,’ so Pyewacket brings her a mortal man, Shep. When Gillian cannot get through to Shep, she sends Pyewacket after him. On several occasions Shep is pursued by this cat, who always seems to find him, magically appearing on his shoulder.” (myhappylaptop)



Pyewacket is clever, obedient, and best of all, helps her witch get her man! All’s fair in love and war, even for a familiar. A cat who can help snag Jimmy Stewart can’t be too bad.

Does your pet – cat or dog – help you find love? If so, maybe you have a familiar and didn’t even know it. And since love conquers all, maybe Pyewacket can take this tourney one heart at a time.

Tomorrow: Meet a pair of evil minions sure to make anyone seasick.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crookshanks

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

6. Crookshanks - the pet cat of Hermione Granger.



Hermione buys her familiar from a shop in Diagon Alley out of sympathy, as nobody wants him due to his squashed-looking face. Crookshanks is half Kneazle, an intelligent, cat-like creature who can detect when they are around untrustworthy people, explaining his higher than normal cat intelligence and stature. (Wiki)



Perhaps less well known than his familiar counterparts at Hogwarts (like Hedwig), Crookshanks possesses perhaps the most acute talent of them all. Both reflecting and complimenting the best qualities of Hermione, this magical cat is a familiar that should not be taken lightly.

If you were a wizard or witch at Hogwarts, which familiar would you want following loyally at your side: Hedwig or Crookshanks?

Tomorrow: All's fair in love and war, even for a familiar.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pantalaimon

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

5. Pantalaimon – Lyra Belacqua’s shapeshifting animal companion



“Lyra's dæmon, Pantalaimon, is her dearest companion and the embodiment of her soul. In common with all dæmons of children, he can take any animal form he pleases; he first appears in the story as a dark brown moth. He changes into many forms throughout the series, ranging from a dragon to an eagle, but his favorite forms are a snow-white ermine, a moth, a wildcat, and a mouse.



His ermine form is his favorite form while sleeping, and the color of his fur depends on his mood. As a wildcat, he is described as appearing ‘lean, rugged, and harsh.’ He often becomes a mouse when he is shy or scared, and will often go into Lyra's pocket in this form. When he takes the form of a bird, he is generally noted as becoming a goldfinch, an eagle, or an owl.” (Wiki)

One word: shapeshifter. A unique talent among familiars, and a pretty versatile, awesome one at that.

If you could shapeshift into anything, what would it be? How do you think Pantalaimon will fare in the familiar showdown?

Tomorrow: We return to Hogwarts and meet a Muggle-born’s familiar.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Winged Monkeys

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

4. Winged Monkeys – the intelligent, winged minions to the Wicked Witch of Oz



Best known from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” the Winged Monkeys obey commands, but do not speak. When Dorothy and her co-horts go in search of the Witch, she sees them coming, and so sends the Winged Monkeys to bring them to her. They kidnap Dorothy and dismantle the Scarecrow. (Wiki)



Unlike the first three participants in the Familiar Madness Tournament, the Winged Monkeys represent our first villainous animal companions. Ruthless and loyal, these flying primates served the Wicked Witch no matter how nefarious her plans.

Did the Winged Monkeys terrify you as a kid as much as they did me? Or did you secretly root for the bad guys?

Tomorrow: We meet a moth, a wildcat, and a mouse, all in one familiar.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Archimedes

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

3. Archimedes - the owl familiar of Merlin, the wizard, in T.H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone.”



It is fitting an owl was chosen by Merlin as it is viewed as a wise and noble creature. Archimedes often acted grouchy and was generally disagreeable with Merlin's plans. However, he always came through when needed. He even protected and guided Arthur when Merlin was absent.



Always a curmudgeonly companion, Archimedes offers Merlin intelligent, philosophical arguments, helping the great magician see the world differently. In the kingdom of Camelot, Archimedes soars the sky, seeing the world from his birdly vantage point, untethered by the boundaries confining humans.

So far, we have introduced you to the familiars of Harry Potter, Gandalf, and Merlin. Who do you think is the coolest wizard to be the animal companion of?

Tomorrow: Monkey see, monkey do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shadowfax

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

2. Shadowfax - the horse of Gandalf, aka "the lord of all horses"



A descendent of the greatest horses of Middle-earth, Shadowfax was capable of comprehending human speech and was said to run faster than the wind. Shadowfax also possessed extraordinary courage. "Gandalf described Shadowfax as a horse that might have been from the earliest time of the world. No man had ever ridden him before. By day his coat was like silver, by night like unseen shade. His footsteps were light, and not even the horses of the Nine were his match for speed or stamina." (Valarguild)



That's a pretty hardcore familiar if you ask me. Powerful, brave, and beautiful. Shadowfax aided Gandalf, one of the wizard titans of literature, in battles small and great, helping seek the One Ring and save Middle-earth.

Can any familiar challenge Shadowfax in this tournament? Who gets bigger familiar points: the animal companion to a wizard or witch at Hogwarts, or one in Middle-earth? Tell us what you think.

Tomorrow: We meet another magical owl, one not named Hedwig.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Familiar Madness - Hedwig

In the spirit of March Madness, here on the blog this month we will be holding the first official Familiar Madness Tournament. 16 of the all-time great familiars from literature, film, and television will face off in a single elimination tourney to decide who is the greatest of them all.

Today, we begin counting down the 16 participants.

1. Hedwig - Harry Potter’s pet Snowy Owl and magical familiar.



A gift to Harry on his eleventh birthday, Hedwig provided Harry with message and package carriage and loyal companionship. Hedwig could deliver letters even though there was no specific address given, and she hunted mice, frogs and rats. It is implied that Hedwig can fully understand Harry, and to some extent vice versa. (Wikipedia)



Though Hedwig’s talents are simple, she is the very definition of a familiar: magical, loyal, and always on Harry’s shoulder. She was the animal companion to one of the greatest wizards in popular culture history, never failing to dutifully assist Harry no matter how dire or dangerous his task.

What do you think of Hedwig as a familiar? Would Harry have been the same wizard without her? Where do you rank Hedwig in the great pantheon of magical animal companions?

Tomorrow: We visit Middle Earth and meet the lord of all horses.