Tough Traveling: The Big City

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 THE BIG CITY

There has to be somewhere in Fantasyland where everyone comes together. All roads lead to Rome after all. A place where traders prosper, politicians scheme, and criminals thrive.

Three cheers for an easy trope! There have been a few pretty tough ones recently (for me anyway), so it’s nice to have an easier time of it. This week I chose to spotlight capital cities in particular, since they typically have the largest populations and are therefore the biggest of the big cities.

MistbornLuthadel – Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson


Luthadel is the capital of the Final Empire, a place known for its corrupt nobles and its thriving underworld. Our heroes come together in Luthadel to pull of a daring scheme meant to destabilize a tyrant…a tyrant living in Luthadel.

 The Demon KingFellsmarch – The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Fellsmarch is the capital of the Fells and home to the seat of power for the Gray Wolf queens. Despite the opulence of the Queen’s court, there is rampant poverty in Fellsmarch. The neighbourhoods Ragmarket and Southbridge are deeply impoverished boroughs run entirely by gangs. Rough stuff!

Game of ThronesKing’s Landing – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Long considered one of the most important capital cities in this realm/world/verse, King’s Landing is home to the most conniving politicians and dastardly devils in all of fantasy (at least according to me). Too bad the kings don’t seem to last too long…

Wild Magic by Tamora PierceCorus – Tortallan Universe books by Tamora Pierce 

Tamora Pierce has written a LOT of books, and many of them take place in the capital of the Tortall universe: the city of Corus. Corus is home to the royal family, the major universities, and the court of the Rogues (the thieves court).

21 thoughts on “Tough Traveling: The Big City

  1. Luthadel definitely deserves a place as that city had some personality and mystique as well. I couldn’t remember its name or else I would’ve included it:). Good call on King’s Landing as well! It ain’t a big city unless it has some high class brothels and George makes sure we are very familiar with those.

    1. Yes, I definitely got a strong sense of place while reading Mistborn. I have to pick up the sequels at some point! HAHA too true about the brothels. Actually now that you mention that as a characteristic, at least two more cities from SFF come to mind. 😉

  2. King’s Landing, of course! In GRRM’s world it is THE city…
    Even though it’s quite deadly for the kings that rule it! 🙂

  3. Ha, I thought about including Luthadel but was too lazy to go check for the name and I figured “that city from Mistborn” was vague even for me.
    King’s Landing seems to be quite popular today. I’d hate to live in such a town. Come think of it, I don’t think I could live in anything like London or New York, either. Too big – and it takes ages to get anywhere. I spent several months in Munich which has 1 million people and it’s just big enough for me, I think (Ljubljana is a bit small sometimes…).

    1. LOL yes, I couldn’t remember the name either. My guy actually remembered it – go figure, since he’s not a big reader. It is so gratifying to hear you say that, Kaja! I could never live in Toronto (the biggest city in Canada, at least population wise) because it’s just too much. One million is waaay too big for me, haha. I’m very comfortable with small town Ontario populations of 30,000-50,000. Almost all of them are within a few hours drive of Toronto anyway, so if you want some culture and anonymity for the weekend you can get it….then scurry back home. 😉

      1. That sounds sinister, culture and ANONIMITY! What do you do that requires that? 😀

        Ha, so you’re enlisting the help of your loved ones, too, for this lists? It seems we all need a sidekick in our travels…

  4. Excellent choices. Especially King’s Landing, and I’m not saying that because I chose it as well, but it seems to just be the model of huge fantasy cities mired in politics and trade.

  5. I wasn’t going to use Mistborn this week, but as I was going through my goodreads shelves I saw it and started wracking my brain for the name of the city anyway. Ah, Luthadel! Thanks for the refresher 😉


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