Galbatorix ~ Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle
He is a great villain because he’s so powerful. Regardless of the advantages Eragon and his friends gain—and I won’t go into specifics, for fear of spoiling anything—Galbatorix is always stronger. I truly wondered how on earth he could be conquered—and let me just say, the solution was nothing like what I expected.
Lord Ruler ~ Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy
Once again, he seems impossible to defeat. Even when it seems like Kelsier and his crew have come closer to defeating him than any othes, he comes out and squashes them like a boot on a ladybug. What’s even cooler is that you’re left wondering if he was even the bad guy anyway. He’s very complex, with a huge secret that makes him quite possibly the opposite of what he seems.
Macbeth ~ Shakespeare’s Macbeth
My mom often tells me that the genius of Shakespeare is that he can make you root for the villains. Macbeth is no exception. He’s a power-hungry traitor tormented by guilt and yet you almost find yourself hoping he doesn’t get killed, hoping that he gains the throne. Then you shake yourself and remind yourself: “He’s the bad guy. You should want him to die!” His inner turmoil, though, makes him relatable, a symbol of all humanity that’s impossible not to empathize with at least a little.
The Dragon Queen ~ Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Dragonwitch
Once upon a time, she was a beautiful faerie with a grand, glimmering life ahead of her. Then she fell in love. And I won’t tell you the rest of her story, but know that she ends up as a monster, who destroys the innocent and steals the lives of those who follow her. And yet you still pity her. You can feel her pain at being rejected and the ache of beliving a lie.
Javert ~ Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables
Javert is almost hard to call a villain because he seems so right sometimes. I mean, he follows the law. He is the law. How could such a man be a villian? Yet when his desire to be completely just suffocates any ability to show mercy, it’s easy to see how he is the antagonist. He is cold and hard and cannot comprehend the concept of forgiveness or love. He isn’t the kind of villain I feel bad for at all, but I love how Hugo uses him to poignantly portray how something good can be taken to such an extreme, to the exclusion of all else, that it becomes wrong.
So who are your favorite villains? I’d love to know!