Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
This week we look at THE ACE
Some people are just ridiculously good at everything. Be it magic, swordplay, or all of the above. THE ACE has no equal.
Took me a while to find a term to use here. Mary Sue has so many negative connotations, and a slight history of being used as a derogatory term for female authors (mostly in fan fiction). Gary Stu is not all that much better. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some major room to explore the trope. Lucky for me someone throughout ‘The Ace’ on twitter. Who the hell was it? I promise I will give retroactive credit if it was you.
Kvothe –The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – If there is a bigger ‘Ace’ in recent fantasy literature I can’t think of it. I would be shocked if Kvothe doesn’t make 2/3 of the lists this week. SHOCKED.
Kvothe is the best musician ever. He plays the most difficult songs in history as strings are breaking. All the ladies want him, be sure of that. Even siren like sex goddesses are charmed, nay ENTRALLED by him. Magic? That is just too easy. He comes up with inventions no one has ever thought of before. His only weakness? Nope, no weaknesses.
Unless he is making up the entire story. Which I become more and more convinced may be the case; a man building his own legend.
Granny – Discworld – Pratchett makes his glorious return, a couple of weeks later. Yes, it is still me writing these Tough Travel lists, I heard rumblings that I had hired a ghost writer and forgot to include the Pratchett clause in the contract and there is NO TRUTH to that.
Granny will always win. That is certain. She has stared down death in a quite literal fashion. She can ride the minds of creatures and not even let them know she is there. Vampires, elves, and madmen in opera houses have all learned the hard lesson. She really has only one weakness.
She is too good at what she does. She knows that the power is hers, but she also knows that there is a breaking point. She could (and has) changed time for her purposes. It would be all to easy to take that final step into her art and go down the path of Black Alice or any other wicked witch of your nightmare. Lucky for her she has the best guardian of all watching over her. HER.
Westley –The Princess Bride – As you wish…
No one could survive the Zoo of Death. Or the Fire Swamp. Match wits with Vizzini, trade blows with Fezzik, and certainly not defeat two of the best swordsmen of all time. Except Westley. Plus, you know, the whole getting the most beautiful girl in the land thing. Anything he doesn’t do to perfection?
I guess we would have to ask Princess Buttercup.
Anwar Abbas –Evensong by John Love- Anwar cheated to get to where he was. Well, he didn’t, but his handler did. He was a man turned into The Ace. Modified from the bone on up to be better, faster, stronger. A killing machine that is fine-tuned enough to not need to kill.
The scary thing? He isn’t even top five of the elite group he is part of. A whole group of Aces.
Major Bhaajan –Undercity by Catherine Asaro – Lived on her own from age three. Escaped a life of poverty and joined the elite corps. Had some enhancements done (not THAT kind people, the kind that make her stronger and stuff). The enhancements also allow her to look a good twenty years younger than she is and leaves her practically ageless.
In Undercity Bhaajan basically solves a case and saves an entire race of people, bridges a gap between age old rivals and does…well, everything else that needs to be done.
Miles Vorkosigan – By now you should know this series – Miles almost didn’t make the list. A gas attack left him permanently weakened in utero. He will never be the strongest, fastest, or most powerful. We could play ‘one of these things doesn’t belong here’ on this list and Miles would be picked up by every child watching.
But oh that brain? That wonderful, crafty, incredibly quick brain. Miles doesn’t nned to be strong, he can always talk someone strong into doing things that need strength. He is, after a bit of thought, the best example of an Ace I could think of.
Join us next week as we look at THE BIG CITY
There has to be somewhere in Fantasyland where everyone comes together. All roads lead to Rome after all. A place where traders prosper, politicians scheme, and criminals thrive.
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As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!