(Title from The Magician’s Nephew)
I don’t think there’s a pet-owner out there who hasn’t wished they could communicate with their pets. I suspect that might be why fiction features so many talking animals. Early on I began to guess which authors were cat people and which were dog people based on the talking animals they featured. Recently I got to wondering about the statistics of talking animals in fiction. What is fiction’s favourite four-footed (or feathered) friend?
The Wood Thrush–Tales of Goldstone Wood, Stengl
The wood thrush is a common theme throughout the Tales of Goldstone Wood. Although he is not often seen speaking, he can still communicate in a way that no normal thrush can.
Glimfeather the owl—The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis
I love owls, so I always thought Glimfeather and his Parliament of Owls were awesome. Still not quite sure how they managed to lift children off the ground, though…
Eanrin—Tales of Goldstone Wood
Possibly Christian fiction’s favourite cat. Also a faerie bard, and Knight of Farthestshore.
Ginger—The Chronicles of Narnia
It was Ginger, contrasted with the dogs in the Last Battle, that made me suspect Lewis was a dog person.
Rowl—The Arnaouts Windlass, Butcher
Rowl isn’t a talking cat in the traditional sense. He talks, it’s just that he speaks cat. Anyone who wishes to speak with him must also learn how to speak cat. They may come to regret it, however, as Rowl’s favourite topic is his species’ ‘superiority’.
I remember loving this book, although I haven’t read it in years. I think it might have featured other talking animals, but I don’t remember. I mainly remember the cat, Whittington, telling two children the story of his famous ancestor and his namesake.
Humphrey—The Floating Island
It seems the traditional thing to have a cat lounging on the counter of an inn. Having a talking cat is not as traditional. Humphrey isn’t one of the main characters, but he’s a charming fixture in the inn (and he knows better than to hunt the resident faeries).
The dogs—Chronicles of Narnia
Although the dogs featured in the Last Battle are un-named and not quite as interesting as Ginger, they are still well-loved.
The Hound- Tales of Goldstone Wood
Like the Wood-Thrush, not always vocal—but certainly an important character!
Huan—Tale of Beren and Luthien
I actually haven’t read this one yet, but I’m aware of this story enough to mention wise and loyal Huan.
Tic-Toc the Watchdog—The Phantom Tollbooth
Tic-Toc is just one of the many fantastic characters of the Phantom Tollbooth. He hates it when people kill time, and loves automobile rides.
Snowy- Tin Tin
I’m not entirely sure if Snowy counts, actually. He gets to have his own speech bubbles, but for one sided conversations. There have been times, however, when it appeared as if Tin Tin could actually understand Snowy. He certainly talks to Snowy enough, and seems to believe his dog could understand all he says.
Bree—Chronicles of Narnia
Bree is one of the most interesting companion characters—too proud to be a mentor, and apparently against the idea of being the sidekick sort. We love him anyway, especially when he’s at his horsiest.
Hwin—Chronicles of Narnia
Hwin is one of my favourites, either as a horse or as a character in general. Her humble wisdom provides a nice balance to Bree’s character.
Strawberry/ Fledge—Chronicles of Narnia
Strawberry/Fledge’s transformation is one of the most interesting, from a simple London cab-horse to a noble Pegasus able to speak. I appreciate how even with his new voice and new wings, he still maintains the humility of his past.
Theophilus—Archives of Antrhopos
Another pegasus, although not as humble as Strawberry/Fledge. Definitely not. This ‘equine angel’, who goes by the full name of Theophilus Gargonzola Roquefort de Limbueger V, may be a bit foolish, but is a good friend despite.
Philo—Archives of Antrhopos
Philo, on the other hand, is a bit more like Fledge—humble and rather down to earth for a Pegasus.
Scout—The Dragon Lord Saga
Scout may not have always been a horse, and he may not be happy as a horse, but that’s part of what makes him so awesome.
Jolly Jumper—Lucky Luke
As with Snowy, I’m not 100% sure Jolly Jumper counts. He often adds his opinion on things, even a bit of breaking the fourth wall, but it’s not indicated that others—aside from other horses– can understand him.
Beana—Tales of Goldstone Wood
Beana is one of my favourite talking animals—she’s even a favourite when she’s not an animal, talking or otherwise! But, sadly, she is the only talking goat that I know of.
I can see why horses take the lead in popularity. Horses abound in fantasy, and the bond between a character and his horse is only strengthened when they can speak with each other—and it makes things more interesting. Dogs and cats tie, which I find satisfying. I think birds might have taken the lead if I included parrots, but I considered that cheating. I’m only sorry that goats are so rarely featured.