Tough Traveling is a fun meme that aims to tour all the tropes big and small, abhorred and loved that are littered across the fantasy landscape. It was conceived of and is hosted by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and here's how it's explained on the blog:
Each Thursday, our copy of ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
This week's trope is The Ace
As I was mentally flipping through my fantasy books, I realized I could think of many characters that could be considered Aces (Hermione Granger, Miles Vorkosigan) but in my mind they don't really fit the trope. The Ace is a little more extreme in my mind and they often swim in the shallower end of character development pool. I am actually not a bog fan of this character trope unless it is done for ridiculousness' sake.Some people are just ridiculously good at everything. Be it magic, swordplay, or all of the above. THE ACE has no equal.
- Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
There's no way that you could accuse Kvothe of being poorly developed but he is ridiculously good at everything. He's an exceptional wizard, fighter, musician and, as we find out in book two much to my eye-rolling disbelief, lover. He's a legend and it will be interesting to see where else Rothfuss takes him.
- Legion (Stephen Leeds) from the Legion Series by Brandon Sanderson
Legion is an interesting take on this trope. He does in fact have knowledge and skills in a vast array of subjects and his expertise is sought out by the most powerful people in the world. His knowledge and skills however come from his wide array of personae or aspects, all experts in different disciplines, that most people, including Legion himself, believe are imaginary. Is he really just so amazingly brilliant that his mind had to shatter to deal with it or are the aspects something else?
- Kelsier from The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson seems to like this trope (though the above and this one are the only books of his I have read) which is probably why I struggle with him. Kelsier is a master Mistborn, a legend who escaped an inescapable prison and who plans to take downq no less than a God. His plan to do so is also clever and incredibly well-planned.
- Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Okay, so Gilderoy isn't really an Ace but he thinks he is or more accurately he wants others to think he is. He's actually completely incompetent and reading his boasting and self-justification of his magic gone wrong is hilarious and very irritating.
I'm not sure why I couldn't come up with a million of these characters - I feel like I run into them a lot though maybe more frequently in romance novels. If you want a vaster array than my paltry list, check out what the other participants have come up with.