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villains

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

villains

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu August 28th, 2008, 3:13 am

I missed this post, so thought I'd restart it.
What makes you love to hate a bad guy? Does a weak antagonist or none at all hurt a book? How about examples of well done / badly done villains?

Do you like them real or fictional?

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu August 28th, 2008, 7:38 pm

My favorite "villains" aren't really pure villains. I love antagonists who are just as sympathetic in their own way as the protagonists, but who are pitted against the protagonists because of circumstance, misunderstanding, or the way the flaws of both characters grate against each other. I really don't enjoy reading about villains who are wholly evil or who hurt people simply because they relish hurting people and for no other reason. I find it unpleasant, and I don't think such characters are particularly realistic: the "villains" we encounter in real life have their reasons (twisted though they may be) for acting in ways that hurt people. So when a character seems utterly bad through-and-through, I just feel like the author isn't creating the level of depth I like in the novels I read.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Eyza
Scribbler
Location: Seattle, Washington
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Postby Eyza » Thu August 28th, 2008, 8:01 pm

Margaret:I totally agree with you!* I have a "villain" who plays an important part in my Great Medieval S
"Margaret" wrote:My favorite "villains" aren't really pure villains. I love antagonists who are just as sympathetic in their own way as the protagonists, but who are pitted against the protagonists because of circumstance, misunderstanding, or the way the flaws of both characters grate against each other. I really don't enjoy reading about villains who are wholly evil or who hurt people simply because they relish hurting people and for no other reason. I find it unpleasant, and I don't think such characters are particularly realistic: the "villains" we encounter in real life have their reasons (twisted though they may be) for acting in ways that hurt people. So when a character seems utterly bad through-and-through, I just feel like the author isn't creating the level of depth I like in the novels I read.

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Eyza
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Location: Seattle, Washington
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Postby Eyza » Thu August 28th, 2008, 8:07 pm

Margaret:I totally agree with you!* I have a "villain" who plays an important part in my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece, who is more of an "antihero" than anything else.* He and the hero have been friends "forever", but they have different personalities and competing interests, and one of the competing interests in the heroine.* And the "villain" (sort of) redeems himself in the end.* I did this because I absolutely hate "cartoon villains.* He's more of an "antihero" than anything else.Anne G

tsjmom
Reader

Postby tsjmom » Thu August 28th, 2008, 8:25 pm

I love Catherine de Medici as a villain =P She was intelligent, ruthless, scheming, dark, wicked, and under rated. MWAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri August 29th, 2008, 12:42 am

Oh, yes - Catherine de Medici is a great example of a villain who exercises power and schemes in a way that we all sometimes wish we were clever enough and ruthless enough to get away with ourselves, if we weren't such truly nice people.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Melisende
Reader
Location: Australia

Postby Melisende » Fri August 29th, 2008, 1:29 am

A while ago I read a book called "Villains by Necessity" - all the leading characters were villains - and thoroughly likeable ones at that!
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History

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JaneConsumer
Reader
Location: U.S.
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Postby JaneConsumer » Fri August 29th, 2008, 1:40 am

The best bad guy I've read about lately is the fictional Jacob Cullen in As Meat Loves Salt. Thinking about his story still moves me. I want to strangle and comfort him, scream at him (don't you see what you're doing?!), love him - all at the same time.

"Bad" isn't really the right word to describe him. Sad, wretched.

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Leyland
Bibliophile
Location: Travelers Rest SC

Postby Leyland » Fri August 29th, 2008, 4:06 am

Another reason to love a villian though is depending on the level of dastardly deeds done, we secretly wish we could just let go sometimes and do the same. However, punishment in the form of consequences are generally the other side of the villain coin and perhaps it's better to experience them vicariously through a character in a novel.

Do you think a villain should always suffer consequences or should he or she get away scot free? Clearly a fictional one is easier to let off the hook than a real one.

I'd have to truly hate a really violent villian taking true and unrepentant pleasure in hurting any living creature. Too large a role in a novel for one such as that would stop me reading any further.
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri August 29th, 2008, 4:20 am

I'd have to truly hate a really violent villian taking true and unrepentant pleasure in hurting any living creature.


I think that's a key to why Jacob in As Meat Loves Salt kept my sympathy even while he was hurting people right and left. He was such an impaired person that he didn't fully understand that he was hurting people. But he did have the capacity to learn (slowly) and come to understand why his behavior was wrong. I'm not sure he counts as a "villain," though, because he was really the protagonist of the novel.

How would you define a "villain"? It's easy with a classic melodrama, because there is the "hero" or "heroine" who is kind and good, who we root for, and there is the mean and ruthless character who tries to prevent the hero and heroine from achieving their goals and being happy. Dudley Do-Right and Snidely Whiplash. But novels that are more complex and true-to-life just don't fit that pattern.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info


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