Friday, February 27, 2015

Tough Traveling - Chess Masters

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 are the Chess Masters.  No, not Bobby Fischer but this kind of chess master:

A true master knows where all the pieces are at all times.  Others may think they have taken control but alas, the master knew their last move before they played it.
A master of chess when the pieces are people.  Fun!  I love these guys and gals!  I'm posting late because of work travel craziness but better late then never.  Or perhaps I have some devious plan that 20 unforeseen brilliant steps from now will lead to Tough Traveling moving to Friday?  Okay, probably not, as unfortunately I ain't no chess master(...and I have no reason to want Tough Traveling to be on Friday).  However the the folks listed below would have know trouble making just about anything happen!

1) Varys from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Nicknamed The Spider, he is the spymaster for the ruling powers of Westeros whoever they might be at any given time.  He is obviously on top of things enough to keep his position even with unexpected changes in power.  It is suggested he has something on everybody which helps him keep his head.   

2) The wizard Bayaz in The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

I love this series of books, and Bayaz may be the key to why.  He starts off like the kindly wise man ala Gandalf but he's got depths and they are indeed dark.  The game he is playing is not one the reader nor any of the characters he's manipulating expects but he definitely knows what he is about.

3) Myfanwy Thomas in The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

This is the second week in a row for this book but it's a great book and it has a nice twist on the chess master trope.  Plus it uses chess as a framework for its fictional spy agency The Chequy which makes it mandatory to list here.  Basically Myfanwy is the chess master of...Myfanwy.  The Myfanwy the reader meets actually has complete amnesia but the original Myfanwy expected this to happen and has arranged everything for her new self to continue to play the game.  She even provides an alternative for the new Myfanwy to step away and disappear into a luxurious retirement if she is not inclined to find out who wiped her memory and the traitor is in The Chequy.

4) Kelsier in Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Look at me listing a Sanderson.  I'm not his biggest fan but Kelsier is definitely a chess master having planned out all the moves well in advance in his desire for vengeance.

5) Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch

Locke is the man with the plan, at least when thievery is on the table.  Plus he might just be the most charming Chess Master on this list?  I think so... except for perhaps the final addition to the list....

6) Dumbledore in Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Dumbledore seems to know all and while he does it in a kindly way he manipulates Harry and really everyone around him in order to have the best chance at defeating Voldemort.

That's what I got.  I do really like this type of character and am looking forward to see everybody elses' lists.  You can check them out yourself at Fantasy Review Barn.

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