Great stories need great characters and a great hero needs a great villain. The villain provides conflict. He provides impetus. Otherwise, a hero may just spend their life happily, with no need to travel, to learn. No need to hone their skills in order to fight the forces of evil. A good villain is the yin to the hero’s yang.
Curiosity Quills Press recently asked for submissions for it’s blog and this post is mine. They put out some really great books, so here is a link to their blog so you can see for yourself.
Now on to the fun part…
–from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic. She is the perfect foil for Jane Eyre. Debauched where Jane is chaste, drunken where Jane is sober, violent and crazed where Jane is calm and collected. Is it any wonder that Rochester, having experienced life with Bertha is drawn to Jane? Bertha is a malicious ghost, waiting to destroy Jane’s happiness. But is she a villain? She is a woman who suffers from mental illness, without any services to help and protect her. She inherited her illness and it has been with her since before her marriage. However, it is sad that we can all see the writing on the wall. For Jane to live, Bertha has to die, and she does die in spectacular fashion. Trying to take as many people with her as she possibly can.
–from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Before I get into it, yes that is a very young Daniel Radcliffe. Isnt he cute! You should watch the movie! Now that’s out of the way, back to David vs. Uriah. Uriah Heep is so very meek, and ‘umble, at least by his own admission. He’s just a harmless little accountant, don’t you know! When we first meet Uriah he portrays himself as a friend to David. In truth, he is a conniving, evil creature. He has designs on David’s friends and uses thievery and blackmail to achieve his lecherous ends. Thankfully, it is David’s kindness, generosity and purity of heart that ultimately results in the defeat of Uriah. When his wickedness finally get called out publicly you can’t help but want to laugh and applaud.
‘Approach me again, you — you — you Heep of infamy, gasped Mr. Micawber, and if your head is human, I’ll break it.’
Heep of infamy! I love it, best payoff ever!
–from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
How bad do you have to be to have the WHOLE world against you? Well, being the dark lord of Middle Earth will do it. This guy has no friends. He is an all-consuming destructive force. Even the bad guys are in danger from him and are not even aware of it. His end game? Annihilation. Thankfully, there is still magic in the world. Not just elf magic. But the truer magic of love and friendship. Love for the beauty of the world, for a simple life and for the freedom of everyone in it. All together now, hobbits, and elves and men. The least among them will defeat the greatest evil their world has ever seen.
–from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
If you haven’t read Mistborn yet, let me say you are missing something special. Vin is a street rat. Small, young, poor, and gifted. She is born into the slave class in this world, but has magical abilities usually reserved for the nobility. The world is controlled by the Lord Ruler. A man who feels no compunction about ruling with cruelty and abandon. It is a dirty world, where the majority live lives of desperation and fear. Amazing that the only real threat he faces is this young girl and her Ocean’s Eleven type group of friends. However, things are not so simple in Vin’s world. This villain is way more than he seems, and with a backstory that none of them can predict.
When the hearthfire turns to blue,
What to do? What to do?
Run outside. Run and hide.
When your bright sword turns to rust?
Who to trust? Who to trust?
Stand alone. Standing stone.
See a woman pale as snow?
Silent come and silent go.
What’s their plan? What’s their plan?
Creepy right? Kvothe is an immensely talented little boy. He has an affinity for magic, science, music and learning. He’s part of a loving family of traveling performers. Everyone knows the children’s folk song about The Chandrian. They are the 7 member group of … magicians? … Demigods? … Fae? You see the most mysterious thing about the Chandrian is they have passed into legend and now No one know what they look like, or if they ever even existed. Unfortunately, Kvothe’s father has the bad judgment to write a play about them and now Kvothe knows they are real. The Chandrian appear, kill his family and Kvothe will spend the rest of the series steeped in this myth soaked world, trying to figure out how he can avenge his parents. If you’re going to pick up any of the books I posted about, pick this one for sure!
Thanks for letting me go on and on about what I think are great hero / villain pairings. Of course, this is all subjective so I’m sure you have favorites of your own. Let us hear about them!