Fantasy’s best pets, familiars, and animal companions

December 3, 2009 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

ArgoTorchWhen you were little, did you imagine having a mysterious animal who would love and protect and understand you? A horse to carry you away from your problems, a dog to guide you through the forest, a cat who was really a familiar?

In the world of fantasy books, films, and television shows, that’s very often exactly what animals turn out to be — magical beings, or at least those with mysterious powers to help and shield us.

Brent Hartinger at takes a look at some of fantasy’s most memorable pets, familiars and animal companions, including one of my favorites, Xena’s horse, Argo, from the television series Xena: Warrior Princess:

Xena is no ordinary warrior — so why should she have an ordinary horse? Sure enough, hers is extraordinarily intelligent, sensing danger, responding to a number of different commands, being able to command other horses, and even once enduring having been turned into a miniature version of herself. Speaking of which, is Argo male or female? While referred to as “boy” in earlier seasons, she is eventually identified as female (and was usually portrayed by a mare). The horse died during Xena and Gabrielle’s Ares-induced 25-year sleep in the ice-cave, but gave birth to a daughter, Argo II, who, remarkably, had all of Argo’s abilities.

Incidentally, did you ever wonder why Gabrielle had no horse? According to the producers speaking at a fan convention, it took three horses to make it look like Xena had one horse. For Gabrielle to have had a horse, that would have meant having six horses on hand — something that was financially impossible.

He also takes a look at Scabbers the rat and Hedwig the owl in the Harry Potter series (although of course, I prefer Padfoot the dog, played by a Scottish Deerhound), and a host of others.

Check it out here, and then tell us: Did you have a favorite fantasy character from films, television, or books who isn’t mentioned in the article? For me, it was Preciosa the hawk from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s young adult novel Hawkmistress.…

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