“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 TYRANTS:
TYRANTS are like bad KINGS, only truly atrocious…Tourists can tell when a country is ruled by a tyrant because the road to the main city will be lined with impaled corpses.
This was a really fun trope, and it gave me a chance to pull out some epic fantasy! Behold:
|Darken Rahl – The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
In classic fantasy fashion, Lord Rahl amasses an army to take over the Midlands, ruling through intimidation, fear, and dark magic. In an effort to suppress rebellion, Rahl begins killing powerful figures like wizards and Confessors. But how will he escape now that the prophesied Seeker has arisen? I feel like this is the guilty pleasure read of all those high fantasy fans out there. You guys loved this series once upon a time, didn’t you? ADMIT IT!
|Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
So maybe she’s not royalty, but Umbridge rules Hogwarts for a time, acting as the standard cruel and oppressive type that we associate with tyranny. She suppresses dissent, enforces her traditionalist values, and resorts to torture to punish her subjects. Everyone always thinks that Lord Voldemort is the best villain in this series, but I’ve always thought it was Umbridge. Her tyranny had no point – it was just petty. At least Voldemort had vision, albeit an evil vision born of whacked magical eugenics.
|King Oron Rittevon – Daughter of the Lioness duology by Tamora Pierce
What’s worse than your regular, run of the mill tyrant? A tyrant who’s paranoid and likely insane! The Rittevon line is infamous for their tendency towards mental instability and Oron is no exception. He routinely has his enemies executed for “treason,” displaying their bodies on pikes in the major harbour of the Copper Isles to warn any would-be conspirators of his harsh recriminations. When Oron becomes suspicious of the Balitang family, he banishes them to the wilderness of the Copper Isles, setting in motion events that will change the course of his rulership forever.
|Shogun Yoritomo – Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Shogun Yorimoto rules his court through fear and intimidation, which is basically the first tenet of tyrants. At all times he’s little more than one perceived insult away from executing one of his subjects. Yoritomo makes outrageous demands of his subjects and employees, reacting swiftly and cruelly if and when they fail. He’s also got a weird interest in his sister Aisha that made me very uncomfortable. Tyranny and implied incest? Gross.