Tough Travels - Evil Lairs

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour 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).

Lord of The Rings is the granddaddy of them all, of course, establishing the evil lair that have become copied, honored, duplicated, and parodied. You've got Barad-dûr, which is occupied by Sauron; Minas Morgul, which is occupied by the Witch-King; Orthanc, which is occupied by Saruman; and Mirkwood, which is occupied by Shelob. Evil towers, dungeons, spiderwebs, and more.

Stephen King subverts things a little with the actual Dark Tower of his Dark Tower Saga, which serves as a reluctant lair for the Crimson King - who neither built nor commanded the place, but is instead trapped there. Of course, a lot of King's universe intersects with the Dark Tower, but some of the other kick-ass evil lairs include the Black House that haunts Jack, the Cradle of Lud that houses Blaine the (insane) Mono, and Randall Flagg's twisted version of Las Vegas.

The great thone-hall of Ridjeck Thome . . . Foul's Creche . . . the Gray Slayer's ancient home from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is another subversion of the typical evil lair. Yes, it has both a tower and an underground lair, and its surrounded by Spoiled Plains and Shattered Hills, but rather than being dark and dingy, it's actually white and sterile. That's largely because it represents the Leprosarium, the hospital to which Thomas Covenant was committed after being diagnosed with leprosy.

Next we have the Tower of the Moon from Andy Remic's The Iron Wolves. Built  by King Yoon, an "insane, maggot-infested bastard," the Tower of the Moon is an immense phallic symbol he commissioned after a drunken orgy. He insists that it be the tallest structure ever built, and while its construction has already bankrupted the kingdom and drained its men, but he wants more levels, more gargoyles, more everything.

Finally, switching gears to science fiction, how can you talk about evil lairs and not bring up The Death Star from Star Wars? Commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin and home to Darth Vader, it is officially the biggest, the baddest, and the coolest of all evil lairs - a moon-sized space station over 100 kilometers in diameter that has the power to destroy entire planets with just one shot of is laser. As Obi-Wan says, "That's no moon. It's a space station."


  1. well, who doesn't want more gargoyles.... really?

  2. I really need to get on the Thomas Covenant books already.

    Thinking of evil lairs immediatly made me think of Emma Newman's tea lair in her podcast Tea and Jeopardy. An amusing take on the trope really.

  3. Yeah, you can't beat the Death Star for epic lairs.

  4. Duh du duh du du duh. (Imperial March).

    The tower of the moon was a cool idea, wonder how that thing is going?

  5. Great call with the Death Star! I really, really need to read Thomas Covenant.

  6. Gah, I really need to get on with reading the Dark Tower series. Though, someone spoiled the end for me a while back...

    1. It's all about the journey, not the finale/climax, so I think it's hard to spoil. Give it a read. :)

  7. Maybe we should just ban LOTR from any future Tough Travels because it's chock-full of tropes! :) (but then half my lists would be missing...)

  8. Yay Death Star, gimme a high five because great minds think alike! ;-D

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  9. White and sterile seems like it has great potential for being creepy and evil! I just bought the first of the Dark Tower, hopefully will get to read that sometime soon. And love the The Death Star choice :)

  10. The Death Star! Awesome! The Lord of the Rings is really loaded with Evil Lairs isn't it? Also thanks for putting my memory to shame by coming up with the bad guys house from Thomas Covenant. That's a series I'd like to re-read but wonder if my feelings about it will have changed...


Post a Comment