Those who know me also know that my greatest weakness is a well-written, kick-ass villain. None of those wishy-washy, boo-hoo-past villains, but villains who are evil for the hell of it. To me, there’s nothing sexier than a bad guy who wants to be bad. In fantasy novels, especially, I hardly ever root for the good guys. The good guys, after all, are all pretty forumlaic: “Let’s save the world because reasons!” Villains, on the other hand, are more like: “Let me destroy the world because WHY THE HELL NOT!” I love that.
Recently, Inge posted a villain-loving post, so I’m going to add to that and give you my top favourite villains per genre.
The Darkling from the Grisha seires by Leigh Bardugo.
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.
The Darkling is ferocious, cunning and evil. Not for one moment did I wish he was a good guy, because he played the part of the evil mastermind so well. Where Mal was a sappy boy who couldn’t handle life, the Darkling was the complete opposite: he wanted world destruction and by God, he’d get world destruction.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
Shadow & Bone (Grisha #1)
The Darkling wanted Alina for her power and because he knew, deep down, that they would be a fantastic team together. Oh, how my heart weeps for him!
Finn Riordan from the Shadow Thane series by Nenia Campbell.
She walks the line between the hunter and the hunted.
Vampires want her blood.
Witches consider her less-than-human.
Slayers simply want her dead.
As if being in high school wasn’t hard enough, Catherine Pierce has to deal with a whole other set of problems that arise from being a shifter that hasn’t settled. Because after puberty, shifters are supposed to stop changing–and Catherine, well, hasn’t.
Even among her own kind, Catherine is regarded as a freak.
To make matters worse, she’d caught the attention of the witches’ Council because they think she’s been dabbling in dark magic because of a stupid old book that popped up at her work. And she’s been having nightmares about a terrifying man who calls himself the Shadow Thane and plans to end the world in a burst of darkness and dragon fire.
Just in case that wasn’t enough, a branch of Slayers are infiltrating Catherine’s town, under the guise of a community youth group called Sterling Rep.
Times are changing and that means, for Catherine, it’s time to Change.
Finn is smart, cold and goes after what he wants with a fierceness unlike no other. In the Shadow Thane series, he wants Catherine Pierce… in every sense of the word.
“You want to be free. You also want to be mine.You can’t be both.”
– Crowned by Fire (Shadow Thane #3)
What I love about Finn is that he’s evil through and through. He’s not the sort of guy to go against his beliefs just because he met a pretty girl. He’s the sort of character that will use any means necessary to get to what he wants, even if it involves trickery and deceit. There’s nothing more awesome, in my opinion, than an evil guy who wants to be evil.
Aaron Warner Anderson from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Warner is the sort of character I root for from page one, just because he can be nasty, cold and evil but also have a human side. Throughout the trilogy, Warner’s character is challenged at every turn, and it didn’t matter what he did because I loved every moment he popped up in.
“The truth,” he says, “is a painful reminder of why I prefer to live among the lies.”
Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Warner is the exception to the “evil because he wants to be” rule. Although he comes with enough baggage to rival Heathrow Airport, he can still be the cold, calculating commander of Sector 45, but can also be a human being when he needs to be.
Which isn’t often, but is enough.
Maven Calore from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Maven is one of the prince’s from Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and the main character’s betrothed. He’s the kind of villain that you either love or you hate. Although he comes across as a good guy, he’s actually the worst of all characters, and his bad boy streak is incredibly appealing.
“You should know the difference between secrets,” Maven snaps, “and lies.”
Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Constantly overshadowed by his brother, when Maven finally snaps, it’s a thing to behold.
A villain to keep an eye out for:
Talis from The Scorpion Rules.
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.
Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.
Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.
What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?
It released in September, and Talis won me over from the moment he came up: he loves to kill, he loves to be bossy and he loves to tease people on the brink of hysterics. Also, he uses Road Runner in his deep, philosophical quotes. What’s not to love?
“Let me tell you something that I learned in my youth, from a sage called the Road Runner. You can walk off a cliff and the air will hold you. Only, don’t look down.”
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.
What about you? Are you a villain-lover or a hater? Do you prefer the good guys or bad guys? Let me know in the comments!