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 “Military Genius”:
The biggest army doesn’t always win the day. Sometimes victory hinges on a brilliant tactician. Here are some of my favorite military geniuses:
In truth, most of the Alorn kings and Western leaders were military geniuses. That’s one of the reasons you knew they wouldn’t lose. But Varana is a personal favorite. The head of the Tolnedran army, Varana was a skeptic, and because of Tolnedra’s neutral position, he wasn’t officially a leader of Ce’Nedra’s army, just a seasoned warrior enjoying some leave. But he was always ready to suggest tactics to his Alorn companions, and leveraged his leadership onto the Imperial Throne.
He led a bloody coup to overthrow the tyrannical monarchy of Adro. Of course that’s where all the problems began. Inspired by the French Revolution and Napoleon, Tamas is the patriarchal leader of Brian McClellan’s “Powder Mage” series. A low-born “powder mage,” who mixes gunpowder and magic, Tamas rose through the ranks on the strength of his military victories. His swift takeover came at a price, however, as it woke long dead Gods and incurred the wrath of the powerful Privileged, highborn mages sworn to vengeance.
The brother of slain King Gavilar and a High Prince in his own right, Dalinar is one of the leaders of the Alethi army in its war against the Parshendi. Known in his youth as the Blackthorn for his ferocity in battle, Dalinar now seeks a peaceful path, imposing sober discipline on his soldiers and eschewing the competitive nature of battle on the Shattered Plains. It made enemies of other leaders, but it earned him the respect of Kaladin and his Bridge Four crew, who risked their lives to save him when he was betrayed in battle.
Weapon prowess isn’t the only way to become a military leader. Look at Father Yarvi. Crippled from birth, he still managed to forge alliances and command the armies of Gettland against the High King of Skekenhouse. He had a little help with the powerful elf weapons from the forbidden city of Strokom, but sometimes even military geniuses have to make dreadful decisions to win the day.
The protagonist of Alex Marshall’s brutal novel was content to live out her days in retirement. But someone had to go and slaughter everyone in her village, including her husband. So Cold Cobalt returned to the battlefield, assembling her motley crew of villains and their demonic familiars to face down the armies of the Crimson Empire and the Black Pope in her quest for vengeance.
He can spot a trap.
Come back next week when we take a look at “Peace at Last.”