Every Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.
This week’s subject is “Evil Lairs”:
Rak Cthol — Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings
Ah, the troperific joys of “The Belgariad”… Ctuchik the Grolim high priest knows how to build a lair. Find a near impregnable mountain, build a city on it, filled with wizards and elite warriors. Then hide out in a tower, filled with all the sick, twisted things that make you happy. Piles of gold? Check! Harems of slave women? Check! Medieval torture devices? Check! But Ctuchik was extra clever, because his tower doesn’t rise above the skyline, but rather hangs suspended from the rest of the city. Of course it wasn’t quite so clever when Belgarath blew the tower off the side of the mountain, destroying the city in the process.
Kredik Shaw — Mistborn: The Final Empire
by Brandon Sanderson
It often seems like the evil overlord’s undoing is hidden somewhere in their lair. That’s certainly true of Reshek, the Lord Ruler in Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series. Built to hide the Well of Ascension from those who would challenge his power, the practically immortal Reshek ruled from the grim, towering fortress at the center of Luthadel until Vin, aided by the Steel Inquisitor Marsh, was able to defeat and kill him, eventually taking the power of the Well herself.
The Lonely Mountain— The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Is there a more archetypal lair than Smaug’s den in the Lonely Mountain? Once a dwarven fortress, the mighty wyrm was drawn to the mountains of gold amassed by Thrain, the King Under the Mountain. Of course, all evil lairs have that one weak spot, which turned out to be the backdoor that Bilbo used when he burgled the dragon and discovered the weakness in his armor.
Umber’s Tomb — The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Brakebill’s Physical Kids wanted a quest when they discovered Fillory was real, and freeing the Ram God Ember from the clutches of the evil Beast certainly qualified. The Beast had set up shop in Umber’s Tomb, a labyrinthine underground complex filled with magical traps and dangerous foes. So Quentin and his friends went on an old-fashioned dungeon crawl leading to the classic final boss fight when they faced down the Beast in the depths of his lair.
The Manse of Iucounu — The Eyes of the Overworld
by Jack Vance
Not many people in Jack Vance’s classic “Dying Earth” series are particularly noble, good or likeable. In fact, they’re all pretty much assholes. Iucounu is a magician who hordes artifacts of great power, making his home a ripe target for burglars. Of course most are sensible enough not to risk the many cantrips and enchantments he has placed around his possessions. Except Cugel (the Clever). The antihero dares to break into Iucounu’s and ends up tricked and trapped into the mage’s service, spending two books trying to exact revenge.