Tough Traveling — The Ace


tough guideEvery 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 “The Ace”:

Mandorallen — Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

queen of sorceryLet’s face it, many of Eddings’ characters in the “Belgariad” could qualify as Aces. Silk was the best spy and trader in the world, Sadi was the best assassin, Barak was the best berserker…. But I’m giving this to Mandorallen, the mightiest Mimbrate knight. He slew a lion with his bare hands, he offered defend the party’s escape through the tunnels of Rak Cthol, believing he could singlehandedly defeat the entire population of the city. And throughout he was the paragon of virtue, and in reality rather humble. He didn’t boast, he just did.

Gilderoy Lockhart — Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

chamberThen there’s Gilderoy, who is an Ace in his own mind. And in the swooning fans of his bestselling adventures, like Voyages with Vampires and Travels with Trolls. Of course we all know that he was an incompetent sham, but that didn’t stop him from winning Witch Weekly’s “Most Charming Smile” award five years in a row. When the stakes were highest though, he showed that his secret was erasing peoples’ memories and making a hasty exit. History is written by the victor, pity he tried that memory charm with Ron’s busted wand.

Adolin Kholin — Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

worYeah, Kaladin and Shallan are the badass characters in the “Stormlight Archive,” but I’ve got to go with Adolin for this, thanks to his display of sheer dueling prowess in Words of Radiance. Throughout the first book, Adolin was forbidden to duel, due to his father Dalinar’s rigid view of honor amongst his soldiers and officers. But when Dalinar realizes that no other leader shares his view of honor, he decides to deprive them of their powerful shardblades and armor, by letting Adolin show them just who is the best duelist in Roshar.

Kvothe— The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

nameOh Kvothe. Some call you a Mary Sue, and to listen to you tell the story that’s not surprising. He said it himself: “I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.” Of course we also know he ends up as a broken innkeeper in the ass-end of the country, so he may not be all that. We’ll have to wait for book three to find out.

Benedict — “The Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny

amber“Can you conceive of a millennium? A thousand years? Several of them? Can you understand a man who, for almost every day of a lifetime like that, has spent some time dwelling with weapons, tactics, strategy… It is fortunate that he has no designs upon the throne, or he would be occupying it right now… I fear Benedict.”
The eldest of Oberon’s nine sons, Benedict is the master of weapons and warfare. There is no match for his prowess throughout Amber or its endless Shadows. And even after losing an arm, he was still a force to be reckoned with, fighting better one-handed than most did with both.

—Michael Senft

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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18 Responses to Tough Traveling — The Ace

  1. Bookwraiths says:

    I totally forgot about almost everyone in the Belgariad being Aces. You are definitely right about that though. I don’t seem to recall Garion being an Ace at anything, or was he?


  2. Of course Eddings is at the top of your list. 😀 I read Pawn of Prophecy a while ago and didn’t really get along with it, but I must admit that the character of Silk intrigued me.

    And this is the second time I’ve seen Lockhart mentioned this week. I love his character, and I loved Ken Branagh’s interpretation of him in the film. 😀


  3. Yes, but Benedict still lost a fight once just because he wasn’t paying attention and didn’t know about the… overly active and grabby vegetation in the area. (A true master swordsman would notice that his opponent is maneuvering him toward a certain spot, and even without knowing WHY this is happening, specifically, decide that any place his opponent wants him to be is not a place he will go.) Also, how did he lose that arm in the first place, if he’s so much better than everyone else?

    It is my opinion that Benedict is simply very good at making his brothers believe he is a much better swordsman than any of them are. Yes, he’s good — better than them, under normal circumstances — but not as good as his reputation leads everyone to think.

    (I love those novels, by the way. Please don’t think I’m finding fault.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kvote made almost all the lists this week, and it’s hardly surprising: his… “perfection” is what ultimately puzzled me in book 1 and what’s prevented me from reading book 2 – yet.


  5. lynnsbooks says:

    Kaladin is such a good choice! I love him and Kvothe they have to be two of my all time favourite characters!
    Lynn 😀


  6. mervih says:

    Excellent choices! Benedict especially.


  7. Kaja says:

    Gilderoy Lockhart is my absolute favourite pick this week! I wish I’d thought of him 🙂 And his movie incarnation is *so perfect*, he’s such an asshole but so funny.
    And Kvothe – the most popular choice this week! I really want to know what happened to him, too.


  8. rudejasper says:

    High five for Gilderoy! I appear to be the only person who had not even suspected that Kvothe may be an unreliable narrator. Now that I’ve been enlightened to that possibility I’m going to be REALLY disappointed if that’s not how it goes down in the last book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not the only one. My wife is the same way. Of course it helped that I read Name of the Wind immediately after reading the Book of the New Sun, which is a text book in unreliability!


  9. Not everyone had Kvothe this week! I totally missed him, probably because yeah, way in the back of my mind I too subconsciously suspect he’s full of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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