So, the other day I told you all about my favourite heroes in fantasy, and today it is time to do the opposite. Grab something black, practice your manic cackle, embrace your inner darkness and let’s go talk about the best villains in fantasy!
While heroes are undoubtedly better people – and people you would want to meet in real life – villains are often more interesting. They’re the kind of people that make you sometimes go, “I don’t condone their terrible actions, but having met people, I understand their attitude.” Or is that just me? Oh dear…
Anyway, for me the best villains all have something that makes them standout from the pack. That could be a tragic backstory that makes them relate-able or it could just be a sense of undeniable menace, and these villains are my favourites so all have that something!
Sure, you could argue he is maybe not a straight up villain…. But, yes he is. His story is a little tragic, but he isn’t bad because of The One Ring. The Ring only amplifies your bad quantities. Bilbo and Frodo had the ring for decades each and never started choking out their neighbours, but not Sméagol (as he was known back then). No, within seconds of encountering the ring he had murdered his best friend and lied about it. Rotten to the core and the ring just gave him a quick nudge. One of the worst things about Gollum is that he is very close to being a hobbit (a related race, anyway) and so shows us what our beloved hobbit heroes would look like if the ring had corrupted them!
This guy. He is equally despicable and tragic. His chapters give you just enough of his point of view to understand him, and that almost makes you hate him more! He genuinely believes the voices that he is hearing are God, not a thousands-of-years-old demon spirit, but it is his astounding arrogance and ego that make him accept this idea. Why, of course God would choose him! This arrogance gives him a sense of righteousness and purpose that makes him so dangerous: in his mind, the terrible things he does are justified. I think he might be the best written character in the whole Winternight trilogy.
The Chandrian from The Kingkiller Chronicles
We barely know anything about these guys, and yet their influence and power constantly seeps through the whole of Kvothe’s story. The fact that they actively – and violently – ensure knowledge and understanding of themselves is kept secret just ads to the menace and the mystery! There really isn’t that much to say on them, they seem pretty damn powerful and have insidiously wormed their way into every culture Kvothe encounters somehow, and this makes them pretty terrifying.
I reckon most people would say that his bastard son, Ramsey, is a better villain, but I disagree. Ramsey is like a rabid dog (I am actually sure that is how Roose describes him at some point), but Roose is just as cruel and is far more cunning! This guy really gives me the creeps. Plus, he was an integral part of the Red Wedding, which is enough to put you on this list in the first place!
The Steel Inquisitors from the Mistborn series
Want your villains to absolutely terrify everyone and menace to drip from every page they appear on? Then you need to call the Steel Inquisitors! These guys are plain scary… I mean they have huge metal spikes driven through their eyes and are both physically stronger and faster than our heroes, as well as possessing greater magical abilities. Oh, and they appear to be utterly loyal to their master, The Lord Ruler. He has created himself quite the weapon with these guys.
Honestly, I have loved their every appearance in the Mistborn series so far!
Forget Voldemort and most of his dark, macabre Death Eaters, the prim and proper Dolores Umbridge is the worst villain in the whole Harry Potter series. Why you ask? Well, because we all know a Dolores in real life. She is just a person drunk on power taken to the extreme! And you know what, she is even more creative with her punishments than the other Death Eaters too. That pen and the lines idea was diabolical.
Game of Thrones has so many good villians! Sure, Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister have more natural threat, Littlefinger is more cunning and manipulative and Ramsey Bolton is crazier and more sadistic, but Joffrey is our first hatred of the series! He is in many ways just a product of his upbringing, but the tale about him cutting kittens out of a cat as little child show that he has always been a vicious little sh*t.
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So, there you have it, the second post in this series of ‘fantasy favourites’. What did you think of my list? Have I missed out any obvious and amazing villains? Who are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!