Traitors in a Fantasy Story or Series

I finished reading the book Spy Among Friends by Ben MacIntyre.  The book is about Kim Philby, a high ranking counter-espionage operative in England’s MI-6, and how he had been spying for the USSR for nearly thirty years.

I found the book to be very engaging and interesting.

At the end of the book, I became very angry at Kim Philby for what he done, and to get away by defecting to the USSR, but only after he passed the vital secrets to the enemy, including the names of the Russians who were spying for England.

This is not a review of the book, but I would recommend if you are interested in spies and espionage, this book may be for you.

What this post is about is an idea I got from reading this book, and I wanted to write a story or series of stories on the idea of a character like Kim Philby, but in a fantasy setting.

When I first thought of the idea shortly after reading the book, I thought it would be ideal for an alternative history or steam-punk type of setting.  The more I thought about it the less I liked the idea of using either of these two settings. I really do not like alternative history or steam-punk stories.

I know if I want to write this type of story, then it has to be in the fantasy setting that I have working in for the last six years or so.

If this type of story is to work, then it has to be something like dwarves spying on dwarves, elves spying on elves, humans spying on humans, gnomes spying on gnomes, halflings spying on halflings. The idea of spy is someone who can operate without drawing attention to himself or herself.  A dwarf could be spying on his or her fellow dwarves at the behest of the elves or humans. Something like that could work, I suppose.

In some spy and espionage stories and non-fiction works I have read, the focus tends to be limited to the spy, spy catcher, and the spy’s handler. The main character is usually the spy and part of the story deals with the spy’s motivations  and reasons for spying, another major part of the story usually is the spy evading the spy catcher, and spy interacting with the handler.  One aspect that is not dealt as much is the consequences of the spying.

One thing that really caught my attention in MacIntyre’s book was the number of lives lost because of Kim Philby’s actions. The estimate has been from the hundreds to the thousands.

This was spurred the interest in writing a story or series of stories based on traitors.

I am thinking of using a concept of the Black Ajah from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Times series and somehow blending that with Kim Philby to come up with an idea to write.

If there is a story or series of stories featuring spies and traitor, then there has to be some sort of conflict such as a war.

One of the primary characters should be a counter-espionage operative with access to intelligence.  He or she passes the intelligence to the enemy. I think it is important to show the motivations and reasons for the character to do what he or she is doing.

I would also write a story that would feature a bit of intelligence passed the enemy that the enemy acts  on.  For example, the primary character passes along a list of names of people spying behind enemy lines. Something happens to some or all the people on the list.

Another bit would be the intelligence service and spy catcher conduct a damage assessment to determine if more assets are at risk during this conflict.  A high-ranking official from the enemy defects and has  a great deal of intelligence, including the moniker that is used by the enemy to identify the primary character.

There would be at least one story dealing with the possible or possibly aborted extraction. Another story would deal with the potential fallout of the spy’s actions.

Thanks for reading.

Until the next time,




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4 responses to “Traitors in a Fantasy Story or Series

  1. GeronL

    There was an old TV show called “Branded” with Chuck Connors, he was falsely branded a coward and kicked out of the cavalry [did I spell that right]. I had an idea for a super-hero called The Traitor….

  2. textopisec

    You could theoretically make it dark elves versus common elves spy story. They don’t like each other very much, from what I hear.