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.
This week’s 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.
Unlike dark lords, who want to take over the world and enslave everyone in it, tyrants are often petty little masters of their own small domain. Except the ones who try to take over the world. Eh, it can be a fine line I guess, live with it and expect a repeat or two. Possibly.
Geder – Dagger and Coin by Daniel Abraham – The third book in the series is called Tyrant’s Law, so when I saw he is a tyrant you can damn well take it to the bank. I wouldn’t lie to you, that is a promise.
But he is really interesting. Because you watch him and you know that deep down he is the scared and vulnerable kid we met early on. He takes the Peter Principle to absurd levels; you want to pity him until you remember all the horrible things he has done. No cackling madman here, just a plan old insecure tyrant with a whole lot of power.
Hekat – Empress by Karen Miller- Now here is an interesting one. Hekat rises to power and uses it to crush the opposition and continue the oppression of her people. She also has designs to spread her control all over the land. So Tyrant is absolutely the correct way to describer her.
Yet, how can she be a tyrant when she truly is doing what is right by her god? Empress wasn’t my favorite book of all time by any stretch; it actually drove me nuts. But there was some really good stuff within its pages and this dynamic was one of them. The god with a hold on this country was bloodthirsty; mercy was a sin. With that in mind Hekat was basically a saint for what she did. Right?
Vetinari– Discworld by Terry Pratchett – Vetinari believed in ‘one man, one vote.’ He was the man, so he gets the vote. Seen as ruthless in the early going (scorpion pits were the proper punishment for mimes, for instance). But despite being a trained assassin and striking fear in most of his enemies this is a tyrant that seems to have the pulse of the city he rules.
Oh he is no angel. He keeps the most gifted scientist of the land under key and exploits his ideas. He has no issue with the death penalty and allows the assassins guild to not just run but thrive in his city. He once told a man that he was free to leave at any time…through a door that had a very, VERY steep drop.
But if you really look he does it all the right way. Removing him wouldn’t just change the game, it would break the board.
Joffrey – A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin – You have all seen the show or read the books. You all know what he did. You all still hate him, then hate yourself for hating a spoiled kid.
Queen of Hearts – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol – OFF WITH HIS HEAD!
Dolores Umbridge– Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix– Oh sure, she doesn’t actually kill, at least not in her time at school. Her time with the Ministry of Magic makes me wonder what orders she passed though. But while in charge of education she runs a nasty little racket. New rules stop anything resembling fun. Corporal punishment is brought back in a nasty way. And she has an annoying ‘polite’ cough that makes her the most hated person I the series for most of us.
I am right here I think. Don’t you hate her even more than He Who Must Not Be Named? I think you do.
Join us next week as we look into WITCHES
Witches are special and probably at least the equal of WIZARDS.
There you go friends; no one should have any issues with this one.
As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!