July 27, 2010

My Favorite Big Bads


A couple of months ago Ty over at The Lit Connection wrote a post on her favorite villains. What made me smile were the reasons she gave for crushing on these dastardly dudes so, among them because a good villain lives forever and because they have the best lines and are known for being the best dressers. You gotta respect those reasons. I started musing about who would make my own list, but the thing is these aren't just bad boys--these are the villains. These are the ones you run from not to. So I was firm with myself. This list must be comprised of characters I love to hate. Not characters I hate, then love. Or fall for in any way. That's not to say that my feelings about them are completely black or white; the best ones inspire a lot of gray. But these are villains and should be treated with utmost caution. So here they are, my top ten big bads, in the order in which I discovered them:

The White Witch
She was one of the first really big bads I ever encountered and her evil has not diminished over time. She made it always winter and never Christmas. She tried to corrupt Edmund and she murdered Aslan. She's horrid. End of story.


IT
Anyone who remembers their first reading of A Wrinkle in Time will readily cringe with me here. This was possibly my first science fiction story and the big, sloppy, white brain sitting in all his awful glory in the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building of Camazotz and trying to take over wonderful Charles Wallace will never stop haunting me.

The Black Rider
Our first equestrian villain. And he is black indeed. Appearing when you least expect him, rearing up on his dark horse, framed by ravens and intent on destroying Will Stanton and everything good, the Black Rider fired up my imagination when I first read The Dark is Rising series and its great battle between Light and Dark.

Cabbarus
Possibly my very favorite Lloyd Alexander villain. He's just so scheming and slippery. You think he's gone for good and then he slithers up like a slimy worm, infesting the whole of Westmark with his insatiable, grasping thirst for power. I love that his reach extends across three whole books and I love watching Theo and Mickle and the gang thwart him.

Mr. Hyde
Seventh grade. I read Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in seventh grade and that one night still sends chills down my spine. The night I read the scene in which Dr. Jekyll feels his face begin to change and I thought to myself--this is real. This isn't just creepy. And I love that Robert Louis Stevenson was able to evoke that feeling in me.

Duke Roger of Conte
You knew Roger would be on this list, didn't you? How could I not include one of my all-time favorite heroine's arch-nemesis? And that's the beautiful thing about Roger. He's Alanna's great enemy. The whole relationship exists on the grand scale and it's wonderful watching Alanna navigate her life "after" Roger. Plus, as Ty would appreciate, the duke's got style in spades.

Madame DeFarge
Arguably the most awesome villain in all of Dickens, Madame Defarge takes vengeance to a whole other level. With her ceaseless knitting needles clicking away, ending a life with every click, she makes me want to go curl up in a corner somewhere with Syndey Carton and hide until the revolution is over. Ruthless and dogged, she is the perfect villain.

Arthur Huntington
I had to include a truly evil husband on the list, didn't I? Well, Arthur Huntington is the brass ring as far as I'm concerned. All smiles and charm and undying love when he proposes to Helen, Huntington slowly evolves into every wife's nightmare as he abuses everything from alcohol to his wife and child. And even after they escape his clutches, his shadow hangs over the novel making the reader and Helen wonder--will we ever be free?


Satan, Paradise Lost
Okay, this is the only instance where we tread on dangerous ground. Because I may or may not have come just the teensiest bit close to falling for this one. I know. I know. But Milton just does such a good job with the whole anti-hero bit. You want to root for him. You do. Fortunately, you come to your senses. Or at least I did. I think. But still. Well played, Mr. Milton. Well played.

Voldemort
Last but certainly not least, the most recent addition to my list. Again with the great nemesis, but Rowling laid it out so perfectly. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I could not have imagined a more satisfying conclusion to such an entertaining series. And a lot of it is what goes down between The Boy Who Lived and this dude. It wouldn't be the same without a bad guy willing to split his soul seven ways from Sunday in order to get what he wants.

So would any of these baddies show up on your list? Who gives you the deep chills?

12 comments:

  1. I'm not familiar with most of those, except for Voldemort, of course... but he wouldn't make my list. I found him too stupid to be truly formidable. I mean, he keeps doing the same thing and expects to get a different result. I guess nearly ending his own existence by trying to kill baby Harry wasn't enough of a lesson for him. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again... until you fail spectacularly.

    As for the others... I don't remember A Wrinkle in Time that well (I read it years ago), but I do remember Mr. Hyde to be a great villain. I was surprised and how much I enjoyed that book.

    I've been meaning to read some of the other books you've mentioned here. Namely, The Dark Is Rising series.

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  2. Mine would definitely include Rakoth Maugrim, the Unraveller. *shivers* He's the Big Bad from Guy Gavriel Kay's 'Fionavar Tapestry' trilogy.

    What he does to Jennifer... Honestly, I've read those books all the way through three times, and it still gives me nightmares.

    Of course Jenn, and the other heroes, aren't just victims. Which is one of the reasons I love these books so much. :)

    Kaz

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  3. Not a baddie per se, but the Black Riders in LOTR really creeped me out. Pure evil, and really, really scary to boot! All that clanking mail, black cloaking and poisoned weaponry...

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  4. Oooh! How fun. Ok, so Duke Roger of Comte is DEFINITELY very high on the list. He's just so...charmingly slimy!! Totally the kind of guy you love to hate.

    Voldemort, obviously.

    Durza, the Shade from Eragon...sort of gave me nightmares...

    Also going to agree with The Black Rider from THe Dark is Rising...creepy.

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  5. I'd have to agree with The White Witch and Voldemort from your list. I would have to agree with bookishbarney, the Nazgul were really scary for me! Especially in the LOTR movies.

    Other villains in my list are the Merindars from Crown Duel, Lady Oonagh from the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier and Roland from the Kate Daniels books (although we still don't know much about him).

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  6. La Coccinelle, lol. I'm sorry he didn't work so well for you. But I agree about Mr. Hyde. I just loved that book and was not expecting to.

    Kaz, oh my word. Thank you for reminding me about the Unraveller. Cause wow. Truly heinous villain. And I, too, love that series. I love all of the heroes. Especially Paul. Oh, Paul...

    Barney, yup. The Nazgul are inexplicably horrific. Good call there.

    Elizabeth, definitely charmingly slimy. Just love to hate the guy, as you say. I love the resolution to their conflict in book 4.

    Chachic, Lady Oonagh is a good one. SO bad. Man, I hated her. And Roland! He was on my long list for sure. So much more we're going to learn about him. Poor Kate...

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  7. Oh that's an excellent list. The White Witch is so bad! Can I be really Twi addicted and say Jane from that series - heebie jeebies, she can hurt people with her mind! And there's some relaly great villians in 'Bleeding Violet' (the mayor and there's a creepy, mother possessing spirit).

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  8. Definitely Duke Roger of Conte! He's such a baddie!

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  9. Oh gosh, you picked quite the list. I truly always hated The White Witch. She gave me nightmares for months after reading the TWWATW. Although truth be told, I haven't ever met a couple of these nasties. Shocker. Cabbarus (still don't know why I haven't read this series). Arthur Huntington (what book is he from?). But definitely plenty to make me get all shivery. Thanks Angie!!

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  10. Angie, yes! Paul!! Or should we say, Pwyll...?

    *ninja* (heh)

    Also, Kevin... *sigh* Even Dave grows on you.

    Diarmuid is my favourite character, though. Do not even get me started... *gags self for fear of giving spoilers*

    <3

    Kaz

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  11. Jodie, yup. Jane is sufficiently creepy for sure. And I have heard tell of some big bads in BLEEDING VIOLET. Still trying to decide whether or not to pick that one up.

    Rebs, yay for dastardly Roger!

    Michelle, you will love the Westmark series. Truly. You must start it. I just gave them to my 10-year-old niece and she's really enjoying them. Arthur Huntington is the husband in Anne Bronte's THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL. *shivers*

    Kaz, we should definitely say Pwyll. :) And big sighs for Kevin. Cause, wow. And while I think Pwyll is still my favorite. Diarmuid is superb. Love, love him.

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  12. I loved this list so much I was inspired to make one of my own (I hope you don't mind!). I said where I got the idea and included a link back to this post.

    I also agreed with some of your baddies so much that they made my list. (Three cheers for Satan, anyone?)

    If you have an issue with my post, please let me know! You can see it here:
    http://afterthefallyalit.blogspot.com/2010/07/muah-ha-ha-or-best-villains-ever.html

    Lily

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