Tough Traveling – Kings

December 25, 2014

Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn is the mastermind of Tough Traveling. What’s Tough Traveling? Pretty much, it’s a weekly feature on Thursdays where we dig around to come up with examples of common tropes in fantasy, using Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as our inspiration and guide. Nathan has invited one and all to join in the fun, so feel free to come up with your own lists and add the link on Nathan’s weekly post, which will also contain (unleash) the next weeks theme. So let the fun begin …

This weeks theme? KINGS

KINGS come in four kinds: Puppet Kings, Bad Kings, Good Kings (rare), and Long Lost Kings.

I’ve been out of the loop for a while, and am excited to jump back in. 🙂 It’s fun coming up with these lists, and I’ve missed it.

Wow. This is another week where I’m tempted to do a ASoIaF edition. There’s just so many Kings to choose from!! So I’ll do two lists for each of the 4 types of kings. One ASoIaF, and on one from other series so I don’t bore everyone 🙂 I am going to put a disclaimer that my ASoIaF ones might have spoilers. Read at your own risk. Any other books I will keep Spoiler Free.

Puppet King

  • ASoIaF – King Stannis – I’ve said this before, I think Stannis is being led and influenced by the Red Witch considerably. I consider him a puppet King. But I am going to go with King Tommen this time. He’s pretty much Cercei’s lackey. Too young and submissive to have any real control of his own, his ascendency gives the power to whoever he listens to the most.
  • WordsOfRadianceCover King Elohkar from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. He is paranoid of being assassinated, and really just too insecure to be a strong king. When his uncle Dalinar tries to help him guide him and give him the confidence and capability he needs, Elohkar is seen as still being weak, and just a puppet for Dalinar.

Bad King

  • ASoIaF – I am tempted to put down the Mad King, but have got to go with King Joffrey, first of his name. I suspect if Aerys had more page time, he could rival Joffrey pretty easily, but while Joffrey’s reign was short, it was pretty much text book “Bad King” the entire time.
  • 20455255-2King Zadar from Age of Iron by Angus Watson – Well, what can I say. He’s evil. Lot’s of people die. He employs a deranged seer that seems to use any excuse to slaughter people. Pretty much King Zadar terrorizes not just his enemies people, but his own as well.


Good King

Good Kings are hard to come by. Is it because power corrupts? Or is because reading about Good Kings is not as much fun? Probably both.

  • But from ASoIaF, I guess I will pick King of the North, Robb Stark. He was perhaps a bit to righteous for his own good, but in general he was out to help his people and to “do the right thing”. *yawn* And his reign brings us to a 3rd possible reason why there are not many Good Kings. They may just have a shorter life span.
  • TheMagicianKingbyLevGrossmanGood Kings are hard. I am going to go with King Quentin from Magician King by Lev Grossman. As co-King of Fillory, everything seems to be going so well that it’s boring. I assume that means he is a good King, right? Hence the need to stir the pot, relieve his boredom, and leave Fillory. I suppose an argument could be made that this makes him a bad king. A good king would hopefully not get bored, right? But, being bored does not make him near bad enough to make a bad king list. So, good it is!

Long Lost King

  • Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) – When Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne from the Mad King (Aerys Targaryen), he believed the Mad King’s children to have been slaughtered. However, Viserys and his sister are very much alive, just half a world away. He is set on returning to claim his throne as the rightful heir and will do pretty much anything to get there. He starts by buying himself an army by selling his sister. If Viserys were to make it to the throne, I have no doubt his name would appear on the Bad King list.


  • KinshieldLegacyThe Kinshield Legacy by K.C. May – For 200 years, Thendylath has been without a King. But slowly, a secret unravels, and, I suppose you can guess, there is a Long Lost King. Gavin, whose ancestors guarded the last King, is at the center of it all. I don’t remember a ton of details on this one, but secrets regarding the throne are held in a tablet that contained gemstones.