Tough Travels #5: Strongholds

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

August’s theme (I’m late, again):


The Tough Guide offers information on various kinds of fantasy strongholds. For example, you might be looking for castles, complete with ‘frowning battlements, slit windows and multiple defensible spiral stairways inside’ and which ‘occasionally adorn the heights for pictorial effect’.

Or perhaps towers, which ‘stand alone in waste areas and almost always belong to wizards.’ Towers are often ‘several stories high, round, doorless, virtually windowless, and composed of smooth blocks of masonry that make them very hard to climb. The Rule is that there is also a strong no-entry spell, often backed up by a guardian demon.

My picks:

I’m so happy for this theme. There’s a stronghold in almost every fantasy book I’ve read so I have lots of recommendations! 😀

The Wall

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The Wall in the Song of Ice and Fire series is seemingly impregnable. It was constructed to keep out Wildlings and scary White Walkers and is quite an impressive structure. It’s one of the few reasons why I’d willingly watch the TV show. I’d like to see how they portray the massiveness of The Wall that protects Westeros from its nightmares.

Hoggy Warty Hogwarts 😛

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I had to include Hogwarts 🙂 . Hogwarts is such a whimsical, magical place that I often think of it only as a place of fun instead of the stronghold that it is. I’ve only reread the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, once so it’s easy for me to forget its more serious purpose. However, it was pretty cool to see the school arm itself, become a badass, as it prepped for the great battle.


The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Zangre is pretty impressive. It was built to withstand an attack. I read The Curse of Chalion earlier this year and have since forgotten how exactly it was described in the book, but here’s how it’s listed on its Wikia page: “a great natural fortress, separated from the rest of the city by a natural cleft in the plateau ‘more daunting than any moat’. Huge boulders, expertly fitted together, form the lower course of the castle walls, while fine Roknari decorative work is found in the middle. Above all lies  ‘yet more crisp-cut stone, towering higher and higher as if men competed with the gods who had thrown up the great rock the whole edifice stood upon.’ The Zangre has never fallen in battle.”


Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Yea, I had to include Castia because a big-ass horde of monsters was camped outside its gates for a long-ass time and that shit didn’t fall. It held out longer than expected because of its high walls.

Stuff that caught my eye:
From Mogsy at the Bibliosanctum:

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

What caught my attention: The howling creature that drives everyone who hears its cries to depression and madness. It’s locked up in an old tower surrounded by a hedge of thorns. Sounds like a good read, no? 🙂

From Laura at Fantasy Faction:

Malice by John Gwynne

What caught my attention: The fortress is a tree and the castle there has a pest control problem… Sounds interesting.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

What caught my attention: The fortress is accessible only by airship, you need a password to get in, and you have to navigate floating mines! Sounds super cool.

From Bethan May Books:

The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings

What caught my attention: The description of the house at the end of the world as being everywhere. I want to read the book to see how the authors describe it and how it functions in the story.

Also, I read the synopsis of the book on Goodreads and it got me intrigued. I think I’ll like their work.

Well, that’s it for Strongholds.

This month’s theme is Dragons and I can’t wait to get started! 😆


12 thoughts on “Tough Travels #5: Strongholds

  1. The Wall in Westeros definitely counts as a stronghold – until the end of Season 7, that is. 😮 I won’t say more until you’ve had a chance to watch it! And Hogwarts is a great one, too.


    1. My friend told me what happened, lol! I begged him to. And I was like wwhhhaaaatttt??!! How could they allow that to happen?
      Btw, I’m now watching the TV shows and just finished season 1 and am hooked, surprisingly. I like being able to say the character lines with them cause I know them from reading the books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the link, I’m so excited I inspired you! The Redemption of Althalus is one of those books I loved so much, and it was recommended to me by my hubby, so I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


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