Tough Traveling: Dark Ladies

Tough Travelling“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!

This week’s trope is DARK LADIES:

DARK LADY. There is never one of these – so see DARK LORD instead.

So in the Tough Guide there’s a joke that there aren’t any Dark Ladies, and while I know for a fact this isn’t true, I still struggled to come up with examples of books that I’ve actually read. So I decided to open it up to any female antagonist who’s a leader and also evil. Deal with it.

24213Queen of Hearts – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Queen of Hearts is the insane and homicidal ruler of Wonderland. She settles all disputes – big or small – with an “Off with his head!” All of Wonderland fears her because she’s so unpredictable, but thankfully the King of Hearts usually cleans up her messes. You know you’re evil when Helena Bonham Carter portrays you in a movie adaptation, just saying.

Divergent hc c(2)Jeanine Matthews – Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Jeanine is the highly intelligent and cunning leader of the Erudite faction, and the mastermind behind the alliance against Abnegation. If she can undermine Abnegation’s control of government then Edudite can control their society. She thirsts for power, ruthlessly orders killings, and believes that one group (the intelligent) is superior to all others. Sounds like a Dark Lady to me!

257971Cersei Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Okay, okay. So maybe she’s not a villain. And she sure as shit isn’t a lady, if ya know what I’m saying. But Cersei Lannister is a major antagonist, more powerful than lesser characters like Melisandre and more evil than other dark characters like Dany. Cersei is willing to get blood on her hands – even the blood of a child – to keep her evil secrets…plus she killed Lady! NOT OVER IT.

11235712Queen Levana – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Levana is the power hungry ruler of Luna, a moon colony. Her rule is so awful that people fled the moon to go to Earth…where they spread a plague that has decimated much of humanity. She can also cast a glamour that forces people to do her bidding. She’s modelled after the Evil Queen from Snow White – the classic Dark Lady.

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  • bookwraiths

    I really struggled whether to put Cersei Lannister on my Dark Lady list. I didn’t for the very reasons you listed, but I’m glad she got included because I really, really hate her — even if I do understand her motives somewhat.

    • Me too, honestly. I thought it might cause some controversy, haha! But for me there’s protecting your family and then there’s letting your evil child torture people…one of those things will get you on this list. 😉

  • Those all look like good picks – though Divergent is the only one I haven’t read =)

    • Divergent was one of the first really big YA series that I read! I still remember being sad when it ended – and not just because Allegiant was terrible!

  • Lynn Williams

    Well done getting the Divergent reference. I never thought of that at all. I still haven’t read Cinder even though I’ve had it for about 3 years!! (or basically since it came out!) Everybody raves about the series though so I should give it a go.
    Lynn 😀

    • CINDER! Honestly, it’s my least favourite book in The Lunar Chronicles (although I’ve only read two, haha) and it was still friggin’ awesome. Cyborgs, asian-influenced SFF, fairytale retellings…that series has it all.

  • I also used Levana from the Lunar Chronicles! Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a lot more dark ladies in YA!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    • It’s definitely not just you, Mogsy! I’ve been trying to balance out my adult and YA picks but I found it really difficult this week since so many YA examples came to mind. Maybe YA fantasy is just more trope-heavy? Either way, I still love it! 🙂

  • I grew too, if not like, then respect Cersei quite a bit. She was in a hell of situation, and had a blind spot when it came to her horrible kid, but was one hell of a player in the game.

    • Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. It’s the horrible thing that pushes her into evil category for me: she doesn’t just try to protect him, she lets him do almost whatever his nasty little heart desires. And that is just not okay in my mind. She’s still a total bad ass, though!

  • Anya E. J.

    Yes, excellent examples! This adventuring book is ridiculous and obviously not well versed in current awesome books 😉

    • Oh my gosh Anya, it’s sooo hilarious. The entries are set up like a travel guide through an amusement park, and the reader gets introduced to all the different tropes as if they were stalls/rides/games. It definitely needs a re-haul though: there are some tropes that have fallen out of use, and a lot of new ones to add!

  • Rabindranauth

    Cersei’s a pretty great choice. Awesome list!

  • Brilliant post with some awesome choices that’s for sure. I would have to rank Cersei in the top, of course ;D

  • How ’bout the White Witch with all her turkish delight nonsense? I think she qualifies as a dark lady. And YES, the Queen of Hearts has always freaked me out. Great picks across the board.

    • YES the White Witch! She’s a perfect choice. During my Narnia phase I tried Turkish Delight and honestly I didn’t think it was that great. Maybe the stuff Edmund had was witch-enhanced!

  • Dark ladies are indeed a rare bird, however The Queen of Hearts was also the first character that popped into my head when I saw the theme. And, Cersei Lannister totally counts as a villain IMO because she’s a real nasty piece of work!

    • They’re definitely cut from the same cloth, that’s for sure. The Queen of Hearts is such a classic evil lady…off with her head, I say!

  • The queen of hearts and Queen Levanna are perfect for this! People say dark ladies are hard to find, but they’ve been popping up alot more recently! Great post!
    http://www.notyetread.com