Tough Travels – Evil Lairs


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 EVIL LAIRS

The evil lair is where a great fantasy villain will spend the plurality of his or her time. (Topic provided by Christopher Scott Hand).

MUHAHAHAHAHA.  Nathan here, and I may never put actual work into this blog again!  Because I have yet ANOTHER guest post.  This time the person who suggested the topic already had a list brewing in his mind, and I benefit.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy.  I know I did.


 Christopher S. Hand loves fantasy books, philosophy, and literature. He studied British Romanticism at Cambridge before leaving to translate great fantasy books to incite revolutions, or worse, make people think differently. His most recent fantasy book is Splatterism: The Disquieting Recollections of a Minotaur Assailant which chronicles the story of two villains who set out to destroy the world, but first must find a book.

The evil lair is where a great fantasy villain will spend the plurality of his or her time.

You will use it to hatch nefarious schemes, torture people and creatures for information, conduct terrifying executions to boost morale, hoard rare and precious artifacts, inspire fear into kings, queens, princes, princesses, and stupid peasants from neighboring towns and cities, and sometimes even eat dinner here.

Sadly, there is a high likelihood that you will die here as well, often due to an invading party of plucky heroes who have banded together to help the land you want to rule. Not everyone likes blackened skies, blight, disease, slavery, poverty, and misery, but hey, not everyone can be as sophisticated in their tastes as you my evil, villainous f(r)iend.

If you are just starting out on your journey to become a sinister overlord there are numerous and incredibly enlightening dark fantasy books that you should read, but none of them perfectly advise on just exactly what your dark lair needs.

So, while we have compiled a list of the top 5 greatest homes of the most vile and dastardly villains, there are a few things your dark lair should never be without:


  • The Horde
  • An Incompetent 2nd in Command
  • A Wizard Who Once Fought For The Good and The Just But Betrayed Everyone For Power
  • Darkness
  • A Little More Darkness
  • Prisoners and Corpses
  • A weapon that you can destroy the world (or at least other planets) with
  • Hookers (both male and female)
  • Brutes these guys are going to have to do the dirty work of defending your lair, and they often do a horrible job of it. You will need loads and loads of brutes because the Heroes of the Realm always have such an easy time killing them.

Barad-Dûr, Dark Tower of Sauron

The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)Located in the Black Lands of Mordor among idyllic fields of ash, the beautifully bleak volcano, Orodruin, and fetid camps of ugly and murderous orcs is the fearsome dwelling of Sauron, Barad-Dûr.

This fortress took 600 years to complete so it goes without saying that it is a work of art.

A note to the tyros, unless you are already strong in the dark arts and able to unnaturally extend your life you can’t even begin to build something as incredible as the dark tower of Sauron

It’s everything you would want in a hope-sapping home:

Towering walls and towering towers made

  • Darkness
  • A topmost tower for you to gaze out across your dark, conquered lands
  • Pits to serve as torture chambers

  Infinite Layers of the Abyss, Home of Takhisis

When some virtuous knight like Huma Dragonbane thrusts a silver lance into your chest you will probably die—unless of course, you are the goddess of everything that is evil.

Then you get banished to the Abyss, which is kind of like house arrest on LSD. The good thing about the Abyss is that it gives you a place to get away from it all and think—about how you are going to take over the world.

And that’s exactly what Takhisis does!

There are conflicting accounts of what the Abyss actually looks like, probably because the abyss is by definition something that is formless and changing and able to accommodate all the worst nightmares of those who enter it.

Mansion of President Coriolanus SnowThe Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Complete with a ballroom and a garden where President Snow grows his favorite type of genetically enhanced flower, you might think this entry doesn’t really deserve a place on the list.

THAT WOULD BE A TRAP. And that is what Snow’s manse has plenty of.

It’s just not an evil lair if it doesn’t have traps that do horrible things to your foes as they sneak through your home uninvited looking to kill you.

Here are just a few such traps you might consider adding to your own evil lair, such as:

  • A trap that causes the streets to fall away outside your evil fortress, and drop everyone on them into a pit of “mutts” or mutations full of mutation gnats and flesh eating rats.
  • A trap that causes anyone around it to gush blood uncontrollably from every orifice
  • A trap releasing a huge burst of steam, melting everyone around it

 Dargaard Keep, Lord Soth’s Lair

Perching on a high cliff, this mansion was initially created with roseate stone and designed and built to look like a rose, which is one of the symbols in addition to the Kingfisher (?) of the Knights of Solamnia. When a chandelier fell and crushed Lord Soth’s wife, it also torched the entire keep.

Now it resembles a black rose, its gardens are overrun with weeds, and the courtyard is decorated with the corpses of those foolish enough to challenge the Death Knight Lord Soth. This is definitely one of the most beautiful evil lairs any villain could wish to inhabit.

 Chronicles of the Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #1-3)The Black Castle, Home of The Dominator

This castle, grown from a single black rock that killed the first person to touch it, continues to increase in size as it cannibalizes bodies until it reaches a certain set of circumstances and a certain size, at which point The Dominator’s minions will summon him from The Great Barrow.

Complete with grotesque monsters that leer from its battlements and serpents writhing in agony on its black walls, it is so terrifying that the citizens of Juniper simply try to ignore it. While it’s intimidating from afar, it’s ever more frightening close up. The obsidian castle is constructed of definitely the dead and maybe even the living as well.

Bonus! Blackspire Castle

Technically not a villain, this is where Umber spends at least some of his time in Lev Grossman’s fantasy series that commences with The Magicians. It can only be accessed at the bottom of a swamp and everything is topsy-turvy-upside-down inside it.

 Know of Any Other Evil Lairs?

There are so many worlds and universes and there are so many villains and each and every one of them needs a home to plot, scheme, and relax in at the end of a stressful day filled with murdering, kidnapping, and practicing black magic.

So let us know if there is another evil lair worth adding to this list!

Join us next week as we look at TO BLATHE

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT, a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that. But that’s not what he said! He distinctly said “to blave.” (Thanks to Wendy again.  Let’s find those examples of True Love!)

If you have a topic you want to see us cover, or if you have an entry for next week’s post but don’t have your own blog to put it on, please head over to the main Tough Traveling page and fill out the form at the bottom.

As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!

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