Tough Traveling – Dark Lords

May 8, 2014



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 »He 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.)



  • $_35“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.



  • Harry-Potter-and-the-Deathly-Hallows-Part-2-Voldemort1-575x300He-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.




  • ravennaQueen 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.



  • Cersei-Lannister-and-Joffrey-Baratheon-Season-3-cersei-lannister-36881020-1200-763Lannisters from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin – View 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!


  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) May 8, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Mr. Burns is the best choice of all! He blocked out the sun.

    I almost included a different book that, like The Steel Remains, has a dark lord coming but not yet established. But had I included it it would have basically been the biggest spoiler of all. So I didn’t.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Tough Traveling – Dark LordMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Excellent! I am so glad you approve of Mr. Burns. I’m not sure I could make a list of Dark Lords without him 🙂

      I also debated on Steel Remains, but decided I really wasn’t including any info on who it might be, and quite frankly, even after reading book 1, its not clear. It’s really just the concept/threat that is driving the story.

  • Mogsy May 8, 2014 at 11:07 am

    LOL, I know it’s part of the spoiler so I’m not going to go into detail, but the “volunteers at a kitten rescue shelter” comment just about killed me. And I LOVE your choice of the Queen/Ravenna in Snow White – so classic. That’s definitely outside the box but also so very spot on, I always tend to forget the fairy tales, the original fantasy stories. Plus, we need more dark ladies 🙂
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Defenders by Will McIntoshMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      He he he …. I’m glad someone appreciated that. Both the kittens and Ravenna. I was surprised how much harder it was to think of female dark lords (all the more reason for the face palm when I saw The Lady on Nathan’s list)

  • Megan (Best of Fates) May 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Haha, I love that you chose Mr. Burns as the honorable mention!
    Megan (Best of Fates) recently posted…How Long Would You Wait in Line for a Cupcake in Georgetown?My Profile

  • Rabindranauth May 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Sweet list! I love that the Lannisters made it, bahaha.
    I’ve never read Dune, I’m actually going to be reading it for the first time in a few weeks, starting the 24th, with some other folks. Looking forward to it 😀

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy Dune, I just read it maybe a year ago. Really enjoyed it, was much different than I expected (wasn’t expecting a fantasy book under the guise of sci-fi )

  • Carmel @ Rabid Reads May 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I’m familiar with way more of the dark lords on your list than Nathan’s, so that makes me happy. And, Mr. Burns’ honorable mention is definitely well-deserved!
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Question: Sex or Talk. Which Is More Important To You?My Profile

  • Miriam (@ Inky Realms) May 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve never actually finished Dune (although I’ve tried to repeatedly!) but I play the board game based on it all the time. I never realised Harkonnen was meant to be quite as despicable.
    Miriam (@ Inky Realms) recently posted…Tough Travelling: The Dark LordsMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Oi! I wonder if some of my post was more spoilery than I meant it to be. I went ahead and now hid some of his details. But, yes, he is quite despicable.

  • Lynn May 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Ohh, I did not need to see that picture of Baron Harkonnen!! I was eating a piece of chocolate at the time. I may be permanently scarred… or, maybe just never eat chocolate again! *Imagine*
    Very funny having Mr Burns on there – he actually works in my office believe it or not. Well the real life version that is.
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…The Serpent of Venice by Christopher MooreMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Yeah, he’s …. ummm …. repugnant. But please don’t let him be so repugnant to turn you off chocolate! Just eat more to console your self (and try to cleanse your brain of the image)

  • Tabitha (Pabkins) May 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Oh my gosh you totally threw Mr Burns in there! He is an epic Dark Lord!
    Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Fan Art Up! (4) – A Game of Thrones – DaenerysMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

      He’s a much more prime example of a Dark Lord than my other choices (except perhaps Voldemort). I’m almost surprised he didn’t show up on any other lists 😉