Tough Traveling – Dark Lords
I’m a bit late to join the party here, but I figure better late than never, right? This feature originated Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn. Here’s his outline for what it is and how it works.
Each Thursday, our copy of ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
A feature/meme started here at Fantasy Review Barn, Tough Traveling is yet another excuse to make lists. Because I am lazy, I decided to just grab entries from the wonderful book by Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. A book that every fantasy lover should own.
My post goes up every Thursday (well, late Wednesday really), but the linky will be open for one week from first post so feel free to join in anytime!
He invited anyone to participate along within him, and I’ve enjoyed reading the lists so much, I decided to give this weeks theme a go.
What’s this weeks theme? Dark Lords! Let’s bring it!
- Baron Harkonnen from Dune by Frank Herbert. Seriously, this has to be about the most despicable character I have ever read. Not only does he look (and probably smell) repugnant, with oozing boils covering his face, he is so evil, he is just a caricature. I prefer to not think of him as representing any subset of the human race. View Spoiler »A pedophile who keeps sex slaves and drugs young boys when he doesn’t feel like wrestling them to get his way. Beyond his sexual depravities, he is also power hungry in typical dark lord style. « Hide SpoilerHe has been exiled to the planet Arrakis and is determined to regain his status within his family by gaining control over the entire planet through any means possible. This character stands out as one of the most reprehensible people I have ever read.
(I know that this book is technically classified as science fiction rather than fantasy, but it is pretty much a standard fantasy book that happens to reference some airships. And the Baron is so perfect for this, I couldn’t help but include him. In the number one slot.)
- “Dark Lord” from The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan. This may be a less obvious choice, but it is a dark lord that stands out for me. The entire book, our protagonist is fighting to prevent the rise of a Dark Lord that has been prophesied. The question is, who is the dark lord? Does a dark lord know he is evil and headed for infamy? It’s a fun question to address. I like to think that no, a Dark Lord is clueless about how evil they are and likely can justify why they are eating kittens and feeding the meat of babies to their fathers. While the “Dark Lord” in Steel Remains does not do those things, I did find it an interesting example of a rise of a dark lord. The story is told in such a way, you are not even entirely sure who the Dark Lord will be. But the threat is there and it is fun to speculate as the story unfolds.
- “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” – Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter – OK. I had to say it. I also imagine I won’t be the only one. Voldemort instills a level of fear within his world to the extent that people can’t even say his name for fear that it will bring his wraith down upon them. But since none of us are even supposed to speak his name, I say let’s yell it from the roof tops. Lord Voldemort, who strives to become supreme ruler of, well everything. While also cleansing the wizard world of muggle blood. Voldemorts most notable achievement is likely becoming the epitome of a dark lord. But, he must not be all evil. He does have a pet. A snake. Who he happens to feed his enemies to… oh wait. That tried to eat Harry Potter. OK, yes. Still evil.
- Queen Grimhilde (or Ravenna) from Snow White – Talk about power happy, spiteful and just plain mean. Even the woodland animals know to flee the Evil Queen. What makes her qualify as a Dark Lord? How about enslaving dwarves (or at least the is the spin that Sara Pinborough has put on this story in Poison. I happen to think Pinborough’s version the most likely and honest version out there), being an endless quest for power and eternal youth, asking the huntsman to bring her the heart of her step-daughter. Now, you might ask why just trying to kill a a step-child is grounds for being elevated to Dark Lord status. That’s hardly a unique trait amongst our fiction step parents. I say it’s because it was in attempt to retain power. She saw Snow White as a threat to her reign and as thus saw to have her disposed of. She also expects anything and everything to be at her beck and call. Yeah.
- Lannisters from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin – View Spoiler »I had planned on giving an honorable mention to Joffrey. If he had lived long enough to have real control, he would very well may have made the rest of these Dark Lords look like volunteers at a kitten rescue shelter, instead of the dark baddies that they are (likely eating those kittens instead of saving them). I mean, within his short reign he managed some disturbing cruelties. Just one example is way of serving “mercy” to his fiancee’s father was to behead him and take her to view his head on a pike. So yes, he certainly lived long enough to do some disturbing and sadistic things (just ask Sansa for a list). But did he live long enough to distill fear in the masses and really be counted as a Dark Lord? I’m not sure. Probably not. So, since I wasn’t sure if he would truly qualify, I decided to pair him with Cersei, the Mother of Madness. She loves family affairs, so it makes sense to just group the Lannisters together. Since she is Queen Regent to Joffrey’s Kingship, I think it works. Plus, I really wanted to come up with another woman for this one, because let’s face it, women can be quite evil too. I’m still not 100% sure if they qualify, but since this is my list, I decided I can include them if I want. Maybe I should include Twyin here as well…. hmmmmm. « Hide Spoiler
And since I no longer have Joffrey as my honorable mention, I will give it to Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. Yes, that’s not fantasy. Nor is it a book. But hey, he definitely qualifies as a Dark Lord. If you don’t like that, then Darken Rahl from Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind.
Well, that concludes my list of “Dark Lords”. Curious to see what people think of my choices. 😀 Also really looking forward to see the other lists!
Thanks again to Nathan from Fantasy Review Barn for this great idea and letting us join in the fun!