This is the first article in a weekly series. Today I will be covering my favourite type of character: villains. Villains are the spice in novels and well-developed villains turn good novels into great novels. Here I will list my top 5 favourite villains in descending order. Warning: this may contain spoilers.
1. Niccoló Machiavelli from The Magician by Michael Scott.
If Michael Scott is good at one thing, it’s creating complex characters. Machiavelli may be a villain, but he certainly has flashes of good and his backstory is quite sad. He seems to reluctantly work for Dee and the Dark Elders, but he is also very pragmatic about it. Throughout the series I have been unable to truly figure him out, although his character does take an interesting turn in the penultimate book, The Warlock. I really hope to see more of him in The Enchantress because he’s a truly fascinating character. I guarantee you, he is one of the best villains you will ever see in YA fiction (and regular fiction, for that matter).
2. Satan from Paradise Lost by John Milton.
Yes, this is probably a pretty controversial choice, but as a character, John Milton’s Satan is a wonderful villain. Charismatic, powerful and completely evil, he is the epitome of a villain. He believes what he is doing is right and will do anything to achieve his goal. After being thrown out of Heaven, Satan goes to Earth and convinces Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge in order to corrupt mankind and spite God. The only reason John Milton’s Satan is not my favourite villain is because he’s portrayed as pure evil, rather than having any real redeeming qualities.
3. Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare.
Similar to John Milton’s Satan, Valentine Morgenstern is everything you can ask for in a villain. He’s charming, charismatic, determined and persuasive. Valentine manages to manipulate Jace and almost sways Clary to his side during the final battle in the first book. We don’t see much of him, which is what adds to the dark shadow that seems to linger over Clary throughout the entire trilogy. Like Machiavelli, he has a tragic backstory which seems to unleash the madness within and turns him evil. So why is he not my favourite villain? Well, he’s mortal, which limits the amount of evil he can do. He also has no redeeming qualities, which I like in villains.
4. Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
Okay, you probably knew this was coming. But the lure of the intelligent and once good-looking Tom Riddle was too hard to resist. Like a lot of villains, Voldemort came from a bad family background and grew up in an orphanage. But once he got the chance, he raised his status by becoming the star student at Hogwarts, even though his true nature was lurking just below the surface. In Voldemort, Rowling presents an interesting take on the nature vs. nurture argument about how someone becomes ‘evil.’ The reason Voldemort is only fourth on the list is because he is pure evil, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
5. Tbubui from Scroll of Saqqara by Pauline Gedge.
Female villains are few and far between and it’s very rare that you actually find a good female villain. Tbubui is intelligent, charming and incredibly evil, as demonstrated by what she does to Khaemwaset and his family throughout the entire novel. She uses her beauty to accomplish her evil deeds, but she is not completely evil. From what we know of her, she was a victim, forced to serve Thoth because her husband found the god’s infamous scroll that contained a spell to bring back the dead. She is not given as much depth as she should because we never see things from her point of view, but she is given enough as to be one of my favourite villains.
So what do you think of these villains? What are some of your favourite villains and why? What characteristics make villains believable for you?