Tough Traveling: Tyrants

The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information. Compulsive list-maker that I am, I’m very excited to take part!

This week’s tour topic 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.

Wendy’s Picks

the hundred thousand kingdomsThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Looking down upon the lesser folk from their kingdom called Sky, the Arameri, led by Dekarta Arameri, are a noble people, but one to be feared. Why? Because the weapons they wield are the gods themselves, including the Nightlord, Nahadoth, whose wrath can only be contained for so long….


A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series features a few tyrant rulers, from Joffrey Baratheon,  the spoiled boy king with the psychopathic streak; Kal Drogo, raping and pillaging across the Dothraki plains; and Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King, whose atrocities forced Jaime Lannister to betray his oath and earn the title of Kingslayer.

Across the Nightingale FloorAcross the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Lord Iida doesn’t so much line the roads with impaled corpses, but he does hang prisoners by their wrists from the walls of his  fortress. He is hated and feared across the land, but he doesn’t care. As long as his precious nightingale floor will warn him of the assassins that might seek avenge, Lord Iida can sleep easy. Mostly.

Darken Rahl | Legend of the SeekerWizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

I know I’m supposed to include the book cover, but you’ll have to forgive me for using this as an excuse to post an image of Craig Parker in his role as Dark Rahl, tyrant ruler of D’Hara. His evil ways are ever so slightly toned down in Legend of the Seeker, the TV series based on Brooks’ Sword of Truth series.

Mogsy’s Picks

Wendy did a good job covering some of the books I had originally thought of, and I just realized that a lot of Dark Lords in my past list on that topic can be counted as Tyrants too. So I’ll try not to double up on anything:

cce1d-bloodandironBlood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

Queen Byleth was probably my favorite character in this novel. Depending on whose point of view you’re looking at, she’s either a manipulative tyrant or a vulnerable victim. She treats her slaves like dirt, but at the same time her own position on the throne remains precarious. I was never able to get a good bead on her for most of the book, which in this case was actually a good thing. I liked that she was the most interesting out of everyone.

9227f-theburningskyThe Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Iolanthe Seabourne is told she’s the greatest elemental mage of her generation. But like they say, with great power comes great responsibility. If she is indeed the one prophesied to be the savior of The Realm, it will be duty and destiny to bring down an evil magician named Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. That’s quite a task for one sixteen-year-old girl to take on.

The Grim CompanyThe Grim Company by Luke Scull

Five hundred years ago, the Magelords killed the gods and now their tyrant Salazar rules the empire of Dorminia. He and his magically enhanced Augmentors stand ready to crush any dissent they find in the minds of the populace. Meanwhile, his greatest adversary the White Lady plots his demise from across the Broken Sea and seeks to liberate the people.

86014-masksMasks by E.C. Blake

Under the rule of the tyrannical Autarch, the people of Aygrima have their thoughts and emotions under constant surveillance by the Watchers, so that no one can threaten the everlasting peace and security of his glorious empire. This is made possible by the magical masks that everyone who reaches a certain age must wear. Yep, these pesky tyrants are always out trying to read and control your minds, that’s what they do.

9f279-gracelingGraceling by Kristin Cashore

Tyrants also have the tendency to use violence and force to compel their people to follow their will. Ever since finding out that his niece apparently has the “grace” (a special magical gift or talent) for killing, King Randa has made Katsa his own personal thug, sending her on missions to strong-arm, threaten or torture his lordlings in order to give him what he wants.

0ef6e-throneofglassThrone of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

“From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch.” This is the  King of Adarlan, who has forbidden magic in his lands. Many users of magic and those accused of being magic users during the conquering of Terrasen were killed by his orders. He also uses his champion, protagonist Celaena Sardothien as his personal assassin to kill off rebel leaders or anyone who dares oppose his authority.

20 Comments on “Tough Traveling: Tyrants”

  1. Are the Otori books any good? My used bookstore has the whole set, I have eyed them once or twice.

    And Mogsy I agree, the queen was the best part of Blood and Iron.


  2. Wow, nice list ladies! Wendy, I have a copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on my shelf – knowing that there’s a tyrant involved only makes it more enticing!

    And Mogsy, I love how you incorporated some great YA series in there. Kristin Cashore is one of my favourite YA authors. Randa definitely had that whole “I’m so evil I even exploit my family” thing going on.


    • The Arameri are a very subtle kind of tyrant. They have no need to flaunt their power, because everyone knows what they are capable of while the hold the gods on a leash.


  3. It’s nice to see both of you chiming in this week:-) One of these days I’m going to jump in and create my own post. This was clearly an easy topic this week, so many tyrants to choose from!


  4. Weeee! So many new books to check again.

    Wendy- Except for A Game of Thrones, I am not familiar with all the books that you’ve listed. Anyway, good call on Khal Drogo and Aerys. Honestly, I forgot about these two while I was making my mental list. I got so focused on Joffrey.

    Mogsy- The Burning Sky is still on my TBR. But I am not so sure if I’m going to pick it up any time sooner since some of the negative reviews really got to me.

    As for Graceling, I actually thought of King Leck instead of Randa. And yay to the King of Adarlan! I am still wondering why Sarah did not name him.

    Great list, ladies!


    • King Leck…I wish I remembered him more, it’s been a while I read Graceling 🙂 And you know, I was wondering about the King of Adarlan too while I was posting this – it occurred to me the author never gave him a name!


    • It’s easy to think only about Joffrey, since the other two aren’t around as much (one, only in mentions). I am particularly fond of Aerys II simply because I love Jaime (in the books) and Aerys II makes Jaime’s actions completely justifiable,


    • Blood and Iron was okay, I wish it had been more but I think the author was concerned with the setting up of the story. I think the next book will be better.


    • I realized I don’t put a lot of YA on these TT lists! So as Wendy covered a couple of the adult books I had in mind, I thought I’d dig into my YA trove this week 🙂


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