Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

As a place where Quests begin, Companions are gathered, arduous journeys can be broken and entertaining brawls occur, the identikit Inn is a favourite Fantasyland prop and Plot Device. More memorable and individualized inns include the rustic Prancing Pony at Bree in J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) – where the worlds of men and hobbits intersect – and, in Cities, the Silver Eel of Lankhmar in Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser sequence and the sleazy Broken Drum ("You can't beat it") alias Mended Drum of Ankh-Morpork in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Inns provide a less socially elevated setting for the Club Story: Alfred Noyes's Tales of the Mermaid Tavern (coll 1914) features narrative poems told in William Shakespeare's eponymous inn; P G Wodehouse's Mr Mulliner tells his Tall Tales in, significantly, the Anglers' Rest; L Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt continue the tradition in the USA with Tales from Gavagan's Bar (coll 1953; exp 1978). More ambitiously, Italo Calvino's The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) – whose venue shifts halfway from castle to inn – prohibits speech: its subtly linked tales are told through Tarot cards. Peter S Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song (1993) weaves inn-circle narrations into a greater Story. Stories told in the eponymous inn of Neil Gaiman's Worlds' End (graph 1994) likewise have cross-resonances; here the inn where worlds touch is a Portal connecting all the Multiverse, as is the Old Phoenix tavern in Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest (1974). [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.