Tag Archives: harry potter

What If Gilderoy Lockhart from HARRY POTTER Was An Evil Genius?

Sometimes characters are inspired by something or someone, and sometimes a resemblance is pure coincidence.

I’ve blogged previously about how the hero of the Seven Circles of Hell series, Alloran, was inspired by the character Monk Markham in K.E. Mills’ Rogue Agent series. Monk is always pushing boundaries – and gets away with it. So I said what if he didn’t? And that was poor Alloran’s sorry origin.

His nemesis, Ladanyon, is a little different. Nobody inspired him as such – he just sprang into being from my brain.

But ever since he did, he has always reminded me of Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter. Not the incompetence, and not his bumbling nature.

No, Ladanyon has that same smile Lockhart is so famous for (with a similar effect on the ladies) and he has the same huge ego.

Ladanyon – Artwork by Worlds Beyond Art

What he’s got that Lockhart doesn’t have is what makes him truly frightening. Ladanyon is not merely competent at what he does, he’s excellent, and what he does is research. Finding new magic and new ways to do things. In fact, he’s second to none except Alloran. Which is kind of the problem…

Because – ego! Ego does not like to be second to anyone. Ladanyon’s ego can’t even accept the limelight knowing that someone else could steal it from him merely by raising a hand.

Yes, Ladanyon is what you get if you take Gilderoy Lockhart and add one part brilliance and one part evil.

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I Say Gryphon, You Say Griffin – Mythical Creatures of the Sky


Welcome to my third instalment about mythical creatures. The first two are here, on dragons and fantastical horses. Today we’re looking at the fearsome beasts populating our fantastical skies. 

If you’re a fantasy writer you probably spell this ‘Gryphon’. 

Is there a fantasy writer alive who can resist the lure of replacing an ‘i’ with a ‘y’ or an ‘f’ with a ‘p’? It just looks so much more mystical! I’m guilty as charged, so I am here to introduce you to the gryphon (or griffin, maybe griffon, if you’re nota fantasy writer!).

The gryphon has the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The gryphon inherited a certain amount of status from the traditional belief the lion was king of the beasts. As such, the gryphon was considered powerful and majestic and itself a king of creatures. It was also the symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.

Traditionally, gryphons were found guarding treasures and priceless possession. That’s some heavy duty guard dog! 

Gryphons appear in a number of fantasy books but the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Mercedes Lackey’s ‘Valdemar’ books. Oh yeah… and those weird War of Power books. That was possibly a genre confusion between ‘fantasy’ and ‘erotica’. 

Sphinx – Greek not Egyptian!

In the Greek tradition, the sphinx is part lion, part woman and part eagle. Yep, always a woman. Sorry guys, you lucked out on this one, no lion and eagle bits for you! The sphinx has the head of a  woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird and was the guardian of the city of Thebes. Visitors were only permitted to pass after they answered this riddle:
 “Which creature in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?”
If you didn’t give the right answer, the sphinx strangled and devoured anyone who couldn’t answer the riddle. Eww! Certainly discourages hasty answers. I wonder how long you could think about it and if you could just decide to leave instead of answering?

The riddle was ultimately answered by Oedipus. Apparently devastated, the sphinx threw herself from a high rock and died. Seems a bit strange for something with wings, but it’s preferable to the alternative ending, which is she devoured herself. Double eww!

The death of the sphinx was followed by the rise of the new Olympian deities.

I can’t think of a book I’ve read with a sphinx, but I’ve got one featuring in my book The Blood Infernal. They also cropped up in some of the really old Dungeons & Dragons computer games, the Forgotten Realms ones I think. True to form, they asked riddles!

Phoenix – Holy Smoke!

The phoenix is a bird described with colourful plumage and a tail, most traditionally, of gold and scarlet (like Fawkes in the Harry Potter movies). Some legends describe the tail feathers as blue, green or purple, but really red and gold makes more sense. It fits with the fire theme, yeah? It’s so important to make an impact! The phoenix also has a beautiful song.

The phoenix lived anywhere between 500 – 1000 years before bursting into flame. OK, it builds a nest first, and then ignites. Close enough! It burns to ash and a new phoenix is born (or reborn) from the ashes (or sometimes an egg). I’m not sure why the nest is important. Legends differ as to whether the new phoenix is the offspring of the old phoenix or the old phoenix itself reborn. If the latter, this is one immortal bird!

The phoenix appears in Egyptian and Greek legends, but is described differently. To the Egyptians it was a stork or heron type bird, to the Greeks a peacock or eagle. In Greek tradition, the phoenix lived next to a well (in Phoenicia… surprise surprise). Each dawn it would bathe in the well and the Greek sun god, Helios, stopped his chariot to listen to the phoenix sing. Naturally, his chariot was the sun… your preferred vehicle of choice is the sun too, isn’t it? No? Time for an upgrade, Helios style!

Fawkes of Harry Potter fame is likely the most well-known phoenix currently, but phoenixes also appear in many other fantasy books. 

Hippogriff – Is That A Hippo Griffin Hybrid?

Actually the hippogriff has nothing to do with hippos! Supposedly it was the offspring of a gryphon and a mare (female horse). That tends to make it a little rare since gryphons look at horses more as, well, lunch than lover! Interestingly, it’s been suggested this gave rise to the expression  “to mate griffins with horses” – or in modern language, “pigs might fly!”. 

It probably comes as no surprise, then, to know the hippogriff was a symbol of impossibility and love. Oh… how sweet.

Hippogriffs do all right for themselves, apparently being faster, stronger and smarter than their fathers (sorry guys, looks like Mum holds all the cards in this one!) and able to travel at the speed of lightning. On the other hand, hippogriffs were easier to tame than gryphons, I guess because they were half domesticated animal to start with. I want me a hippogriff!

The most well-known hippogriff of the moment is Buckbeak from Harry Potter. I can’t think of another book featuring a hippogriff, but they also appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons computer games. 

What mythical creature would you like to see in future instalments? Or do you have a burning, unanswered question about a mythical creature? Let me know in the comments!


Photography by Erin Janssen Photography © 2012

You can find other posts in mythical creatures series here – Dragons, Fantastical Horses, Mythical Creatures of the Sea – Part 1 and Part 2, and Spirits of Inland Waterways

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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Fantasy Horses – Gypsy Gold Does Not Chink or Glitter

Fantasy Horses

My post on the types of ‘so-called’ dragons and other fantastical reptilian creatures was well-received so I thought I’d do a series of posts devoted to the various traditional creatures of fantasy. If you missed it, please do stop by A Dragon By Any Other Name.

This is the second post of this series, devoted to fantastical equines of all kinds. I admitted to being a crazy dragon lady. I’m also a little bit of a crazy horse lady. Of course, it’s much easier for me to find a horse to ride than a dragon, although I think I would prefer the latter. Some of the horse’s fantasy cousins, though, are not so easy to find. 

So here are the equines of the fantasy world!

Gypsy Vanner

Yes, the good old horse often features in fantasy. It is a common means of transport, often the fastest short of magic. For some fantasy cultures, the horse is of pre-eminent importance. As the Claddagh Gypsies of Galway, Ireland, say Gypsy gold does notchink and glitter…it gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark” and this is often true of many fantasy cultures as well. Check out this Gypsy Vanner horse! I. Want. Of course if I had one, it would need to be my gold because I would sure be poor. To import one of these to Australia will set you back about A$20,000. It’s a little cheaper to buy one here but we don’t have many breeders yet. 


Traditionally depicted as a horse’s body, with a spiralled ivory-type horn, hairy fetlocks, cloven feet, a beard and a lion’s tail. Surprisingly, it was very difficult to find a picture of this old-school type unicorn (hence the slightly cartoony image we have here). 

Traditional unicorn in the heraldic style
The unicorn has more recently morphed into a more typical horse, with a horn on its head. Sometimes the beard or the cloven hooves remain, and often the hairy fetlocks – after all, feathers on a horse’s feet are beautiful! Just check out the feathering on the Gypsy Vanner above! I wouldn’t want to be washing it though… The lion’s tail often seems to be ditched in favour of a more traditional horse’s tail. I suppose it makes the unicorn more aesthetically pleasing. 

Traditionally unicorns were always white, associated with purity and thus could only be lured by a virgin. These days you will often find black unicorns as well. I admit to being partial to this variety. Pretty…
Belief in unicorns was widespread among historians, alchemists, writers, poets, naturalists, physicians, and theologians until the 19th century. As such it was a part of their natural history and not mythology! It was described as an extremely wild woodland creature. 

Its horn, and the substance it was made of, is called alicorn and was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. Alleged alicorns were probably the tusks of narwhals.

The unicorn is depicted in heraldry in its traditional form. It was popular from the 15th century. Though sometimes shown collared, it is more usually with a broken chain attached, showing that it has broken free from its bondage and cannot be taken again.

White and black unicorns feature in Terry Brooks’s ‘Kingdom of Landover’ series. 

More modern unicorn

A horse with wings. Also usually white but now also seen in other colours and varieties. I even found a paint Pegasus while looking for this picture. The fantasy pegasus is based on the Greek myth of Pegasus, who was a winged divine horse, usually white in colour. He was sired by Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by Medusa. Pegasus is a friend of the Muses – and perhaps, therefore, also a friend to writers? He can be my friend!

Pegasus was captured by the Greek hero, Bellerophon. Pegasus allows Bellerophon to ride him to defeat the Chimera (the subject of a later post). Later, while trying to reach Mount Olympus, Bellerophon falls off Pegasus’s back and Zeus transforms him into the constellation Pegasus. 

The plural of pegasus (in the fantasy context obviously, because there was only one Pegasus) is pegasi.

I have used pegasi in my book The Blood Infernal. They are in fact genetically corrupted horses. For the most part their wings are stunted and they are flightless. Pure horses have almost ceased to exist and their bloodlines are jealously guarded. The Rohmani (descendants of our Romany) have traded their gypsy horses for flighted pegasi and breed and own some of the most amazing flight-capable pegasi. 
Winged unicorn

Kind of self-explanatory. Typically modelled on the horse-like unicorn, not the heraldic unicorn. As far as I know this one has no mythical origins beyond the fact it is a fantastical hybrid of the mythical Pegasus and the unicorn. She-Ra, Princess of Power, rode Swift Wind, who was a flying unicorn. I desperately wanted one of these when I was a little girl!

Disturbingly, a Google search of ‘flying unicorn’ produced a search result I didn’t know, could have done without knowing, and which certainly isn’t suitable for this blog or any conversation involving children’s cartoons. 
Winged unicorn

A human/horse hybrid, featuring the body of a horse and a human from the waist up. The centaur is the subject of Greek and Roman mythology. The exact origins of the myth is unknown but the most common theory is that the idea of centausr originated when the Greeks, a non-riding culture first encountered nomads mounted on horses i.e. that to such a non-riding culture, horsemen would appear as a hybrid man/horse creature. A similar misapprehension by the Aztecs about Spanish horsemen has been historically reported. 
Male and female centaurs

Female centaurs appear later in Greek mythology. The proper term for a female centaur was Kentaurides and they rate a mention in Shakespeare’s King Lear. 
The starsign, Sagittarius the Archer, is represented as a centaur. When Chiron, the centaur, was mistakenly killed by Hercules, Zeus gave him this place among the stars. Centaurs feature in Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. 

I have also used centaurs in my book The Blood Infernal. They live in an isolated forest and only appear to come in the female variety. I basically took the mermaid myth – often there are no mermen and mermaids capture sailors in order to make more mermaids – and used it with centaurs. There is a reason, being that it challenges the protagonist’s prudish ways and beliefs. 

While I don’t have as many unicorn statues as I have dragons, I admit to owning a few. People just seem to keep buying this stuff for me… Honest! Now I just need to add a Pegasus and a centaur….
The obligatory dragon…

You can find other posts in mythical creatures series here – DragonsCreatures of the Sky, Mythical Creatures of the Sea – Part 1 and Part 2, and Spirits of Inland Waterways

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!