Tough Traveling: Military Genius


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 (and inspired by) 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.

This week’s topic: Military Genius

Let’s face it.  Fantasy life is often a life of war.  One can only hope to serve under a commander who has some clue what they are doing.

Wendy’s Picks


Ender Wiggin

Melisande Shahrizai (Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey)

One does not have to be a soldier to win a battle. One might simply need to know how to move the pieces on the board — and be able to envision just how big that board is. Melisande Shahrizai is one of Terre D’Ange’s greatest beauties and one of its deadliest minds who can bend kings and queens, lords and ladies, servants and soldiers to her will.

Loghain Mac Tyr (Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider)

The order that led to the death of King Cailhan was not simply the act of a coward. It was the act of a man who understood how war worked and how to lay traps for his enemies — including the ones who thought him friend. Long before this, he was friend to King Marric and, even as a teenager, earned his place at the war table due to roguish and daring strategies that used everything, from terrain to the enemies’ own strengths to defeat them.

Mogsy’s Picks:


James T. Kirk

Price of ValorThe Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler

General Janus bet Vhalnich isn’t even one of the series’ perspective characters, but he is one of my favorites anyway. His genius has saved the Vordanai army more times than anyone can count. He always seems to stay one step ahead of the enemy, and watching his orders get executed on the battlefield is like  watching a session of wargames play out across a vast gameboard.

54168-golden sonGolden Son by Pierce Brown

Sure, Darrow isn’t perfect and he’s made more than his share of mistakes, but for a commander fresh out of school, his record is exemplary. For most of this book he is a cunning strategist who seems to be able to read his enemies like an open book. Not bad for a Red who started out as a simple laborer from the mines of Mars, eh?

CorvusCorvus by Paul Kearney

Corvus is a brilliant-minded young general who has risen to challenge the order of things. Battle after battle, his enemies fall before him as he conquers his way across the world. And no wonder, since the character is based on Alexander the Great, and this second book of The Macht series is a fantasy retelling of his military exploits.

The Providence of FireThe Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

Ran il Tornja is an officer and a gentleman. As Annur’s highest ranking general he is obviously an exceptional military leader, but at court his charismatic charm also helps him win favor and influence. Ran seems unbeatable on the battlefield, but as we get further in the story, a secret is revealed about him that might explain why he has such an advantage over the competition…

Clash of IronClash of Iron by Angus Watson

I cannot leave this without mentioning a female military genius, and the honor goes to Lowa, the warrior queen. After capturing Maidun castle and slaying its tyrant king to take over his reign, Lowa rallies the tribes of Britain around her to face the invading army from Gaul, led by none other than General Julius Caesar, the Roman’s own military genius.

Tiara’s Pick


Mass Effect GarrusAdmiral Hackett (Mass Effect by Bioware)

I figured out pretty early that Mass Effect was just Admiral Hackett playing Warhammer 40K on his space ship, and he just let me play his game sometime when he wasn’t looking. Also known for giving inspirational speeches and shit and then bouncing (#HackettOut):

 “Never before have so many come together from all quarters of the galaxy. But never before have we faced an enemy such as this. The Reapers will show us no mercy; we must give them no quarter. They will terrorize our populations; we must stand fast in the face of that terror. They will advance until our last city falls, but we will not fall. We will prevail. Each of us will be defined by our actions in the coming battle. Stand fast. Stand strong. Stand together. Hackett out.”

Aspho FieldsVictor Hoffman (Gears of War by Microsoft )

Hoffman is the chief of defense.  He does what he believes is going to be the best for humanity in the hard world humans live in on Gears of War (I call this my grittier Mass Effect), even if it goes against his own personal views or biases. Also known for not giving any fucks about speaking his mind:

“Clever scientists who want to build a better method of destruction kill people – lots of them. Most of my Gears couldn’t make anything more lethal than a blade or a bow. So you’ll forgive me if I think it stinks that my Gears get your “baby-killer” crap and your educated colleagues get research grants. And that’s before you start inventing other shit you can’t control.”

15 Comments on “Tough Traveling: Military Genius”

  1. Since half of my list would be Malazan characters, I like yours more because of variety. I think this may be one of your best Tough Traveling lists.
    Ender and Janus, naturally….
    Melisande! I was just thinking about her last week because I finished The Traitor Baru Cormorant and concluded that Baru and Melisande working together would be epic. One understand “needs” and other understands “wants” – it would be epic.
    The only female strategist (in traditional sense) I could think of is Honor Harrington, but my real life example would be Ching Shih, legendary Chinese female pirate, also known as “The Terror of the South China”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great lists. I was thinking Janus would be a favourite for this one!
    I love that Melissande is on here too – I never would have considered her but she’s such a great character.
    And Lowa – I still have to move on with the series but even so – great choice.
    Lynn 😀


  3. Hehe, I love all those gifs you chose. This is a tough category for me–I don’t think I read all that many fantasy books featuring military geniuses…Hmmm…will have to brainstorm. But, I didn’t know Kushiel’s Dart features a military power player! Now, I want to read it!!


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