By Julia Bergen
There are plenty of good human best friends in fantasy, but some of our favorite friends in fantasy aren’t human beings; they’re horses.
They’re the most utilitarian of fantastical animal friends because they can carry you places, stomp on your enemies, AND provide love and companionship.
Here are a few of the best Horse BFFs in fantasy books, starting with a horse you’ll be meeting this fall in Jenn Lyon’s next A Chorus of Dragons novel:
Arasgon from The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons
Arasgon is a fireblood, which means he’s no normal horse. In the world of A Chorus of Dragons, most lands were ruled by god kings (before they were all dethroned for being the worst). The city of Jorat’s god king was obsessed with horses—perhaps to the detriment of humans (thus the dethroning)—and he bred firebloods. Firebloods look like normal horses, except they’re larger and stronger and as intelligent as a human (sometimes more!). They communicate with their own language, which sounds like normal horse whinnies to anyone who doesn’t speak it.
So Arasgon is super strong and super smart, and also incredibly loyal to his buddy, Janel Theranon. As a full citizen of Jorat (human. level. intelligence), he can pretty much do what he wants, but he stays by her side. He’s with her through thick and thin, from getting thrown out of her castle, to hunting bandits for bounty, to going up against dragons and super powerful wizards. Plus, he’s a saucy bastard and amazing in a joust.
He’s basically just the best.
Shadowfax from The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien
No fantasy horse list is complete without Shadowfax; the OG fantasy horse from whom all other fantasy horses derive. This horse is described as just the greatest damn horse there ever was. Smart, fast, understands humans (and wizards)—basically in a class all of his own. Sometimes he saves the day just by being fast, and sometimes just because he’s getting the OP angel-wizard to where he can be most effective.
But Shadowfax isn’t just a great horse, he’s a great friend too. He won’t let anyone but Gandalf ride him, though he makes exceptions when Gandalf’s other friends need to ride tandem, because Shadowfax is just that kind of friend.
Binky from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
No good horse friendship can last forever. OR CAN IT?! When the horse is BFFs with death, time is not an issue. Sure, Binky is a normal, mortal horse (if way smarter than a normal horse) but as long as he works for death he doesn’t age. BECAUSE FRIENDSHIP LASTS FOREVER. Binky may seem an odd name for such an important horse, but you just don’t question Death on such things. Before finding Binky, Death tried more frightening, more magical horses, but none were a good fit. Because being a fantasy horse BFF isn’t about having magical equine powers, it’s about loyalty. Although, it certainly doesn’t hurt when they do have magical powers. Plus, since Binky is able to use his connection to Death to TIME-TRAVEL, it’s safe to say not having magical powers of his own doesn’t slow him down.
Bela from The Wheel of Times series by Robert Jordan
Like Binky, Bela is just a normal horse, although unlike Binky she doesn’t get supernatural abilities from her rider. Unlike most of the other horses on this list, she’s not particularly known for her speed, and she isn’t super picky about who rides her. Egwene usually rides her, but other people ride her too, and she’s fine with it. Because Bela isn’t just a great horse friend to one person; she is a great horse friend to everyone.
If you were a character in The Wheel of Time, you could ride Bela, and she would love you so much. Even though she may not be all that smart or fast, she is a super sweet horse, and when she’s compared to other horses, it’s that they aren’t as gentle as she is. So, if you were to pick a horse friend from this list, we couldn’t blame you for picking a badass horse like Arasgon or Shadowfax, but take a minute to think about Bela, because when you’re speeding away from the forces of darkness sometimes you want a friendly horse who just wants to be your pal.
Maybe you’re reading through this list thinking, “these horses sound great and all, but they’re too goody-goody for me.” We got you. You’re looking for a horse friend of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia variety. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THERE’S NO FANTASY HORSE BFF FOR YOU! This Fall, Tor has the dirtbag horse BFF of your dreams!
Dolt from Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade
As the name might suggest, you could never refer to Dolt as a noble steed. But what he lacks in magical abilities, intelligence, speed, or general companionship, he makes up for in attitude. He doesn’t take flak from anyone, not chosen ones, not sorcerers, and definitely not other horses. Bring him to a beautiful fantasy city, he’ll make a mess in the fountain. He keeps things interesting though and has a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time.
Maybe it sounds like I’m not exactly selling him right now, but not everyone wants a horse BFF that plays by the rules and never lets its supernaturally shiny coat get dirty. No, he’s not the ideal horse BFF for everyone. You might have thought I had a follow up to that, but I don’t. He’s just not for everyone.
Who’s your favorite fantasy horse BFF?