So you've decided you want to read fantasy, but you're not sure of where to start? Look no further! In this weekly series, A Thousand Lives, I will provide recommendations of various fantasy novels and series.
Who are literature’s worst monsters, but aren’t actually all that bad? Who has a silver lining that we can look into? Who are the almost monsters of literature that are almost terrible but not quite?
Let’s find out!
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At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!
Not only did this pig in a human suit lie to Harry, but he abused him since he was a BABY. He’s not even magical.
Objectively, of all the characters from the Harry Potter series, Vernon Dursley is just the worse. He’s human, so we can judge him as much as we want, for keeping a baby in a closet under the stairs for ELEVEN YEARS. Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but Vernon just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents, and threw him under a closet for ELEVEN YEARS.
To make matters worse, no one called the cops. At least Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby.
At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!
Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but this pig in a human suit just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents. At least Aunt Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby. Of all the characters in the Harry Potter series, he’s not even magical, but he’s certainly one of the worse.
OR IS HE?
Horcruxes can influence those around them and Voldemort made one out of Harry. Thus the Dursleys’ dislike of him was exacerbated by Voldemort’s magic.
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James was amused by Vernon, and made the mistake of showing it. Vernon tried to patronise James, asking what car he drove. James described his racing broom.
Vernon supposed out loud that wizards had to live on unemployment benefit. James explained about Gringotts, and the fortune his parents had saved there, in solid gold.
Vernon could not tell whether he was being made fun of or not, and grew angry. The evening ended with Vernon and Petunia storming out of the restaurant, while Lily burst into tears and James (a little ashamed of himself) promised to make things up with Vernon at the earliest opportunity.
Either way, Vernon might not be as bad we thought he is (though he’s still pretty terrible)
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The titular character from Moby Dick, at the end of the day, is a WHALE. It has no concept of good of evil, it’s just a big whale.
Image Via The Guardian
Captain Ahab is the rotten one here. Blame him, not the whale!
6-Alexandra Finch Hancock
Image Via To Kill A Mocking Bird.com
While not the worse character in To Kill a Mocking Bird (the real monster is Bob Ewell), Aunt Alexandra is a racist piece of crap. The formidable matriarch of the Finch family, Aunt Alexandra is the king of woman who wears a corset even under her bathrobe. Before she even comes onto the page, Scout compares her to Mount Everest: “throughout my early life, she was cold and there,” but when she comes on the page she far exceeds our expectations of her.
Bossy, hyper-critical, Aunt Alexandra likes thinks done her way or the highway. Imagine the pressure poor Atticus is under when she targets him, taking umbrage with his client, Tom Robinson, noting that the case might endanger the Finch reputation.
She forgoes human decency because of the family. To her, “what is the best for the family” is more important than the family itself.
Aunt Alexandra, in underlining the moral of young Sam Merriweather’s suicide, said it was caused by a morbid streak in the family. Let a sixteen-year-old girl giggle in the choir and Aunty would say, “It just goes to show you, all the Penfield women are flighty.” Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.
She’s obsessed with family streaks, hinting that she believes that the Finches are destined to be superior. In a book about racism, the real reason Aunt Alexandra doesn’t think Atticus should take the case are clear.
She also uses it to beat Scout over the head with.
Oh, yeah, Scout is in her line of sights as well. Scout is a tomboy, Aunt Alexandra is a proper lady, the pinnacle of the South. Thus, Alexandria sets to work trying to quash Scout’s tomboyish tendencies and forge a new identity for her.
Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life.
But it’s not just racism, Aunt Alexandra is also a classist. When Scout wants to play with Walter, a poor boy, Aunt Alexandra:
…took off her glasses and stared at me. “I’ll tell you why,” she said. “Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what.”
Image Via PInterest
However, are we judging her too harshly? Is our picture of her incomplete?
After Tom is killed, family affection that looms largest for Aunt Alexandra, telling Miss Maudie:
“I can’t say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he’s my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end. […] It tears him to pieces”
She’s concerned for her brother, standing by him even when she disagrees with him. Make of that what you will, but at least she’s not Bob Ewell, a man so terrible that I’ll bet when Boo Radley killed him no one in town even batted an eye. Not even his daughters.
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Depending on your translation of Beowulf, she is either called Grendel’s mother or Grendel’s dam, but I’d liked to call her Mother-whose-son-had-his-arm-ripped off.
I think we can all sit down and agree that Grendel is a monster. He terrorized a village and Beowulf was in the right in defending the town against that monster, but Grendel’s Mommy isn’t that bad. Her son was returned to their cave mortally wounded, one of his two arms (or claws) ripped from its shoulder socket and now hanging in a mead-hall as a grotesque trophy.
Of course she’s going to be mad. And you know what? Good for her for stealing her son’s arm back. Why’d they even want it so bad?
Image Via PInterest
But Beowulf just had to come, invading her home, and decapitating her.
Her motive is human and, from her point-of-view, she’s lived there over a hundred years and was never a problem. She just wanted her son’s arm, but they just had to kill her because she was a monster. As Tyrion once said, “I wish I was the monster you think I am!”
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Pecola Beedlove, a young black girl, is routinely mocked by other children for her physical appearance. The only person to find her desirable is her father.
Cholly Breedlove makes this list. To make a long story short, he abuses his wife, he burns down his family home, and repeatedly rapes his own daughter.
But he’s not quite the evilest character Toni Morrison has ever created. In his one and only appearance in The Bluest Eye, we learn quite enough about him that creates a picture of how abusive is cyclical.
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Abandoned in a junk heap as a baby, Cholly is taken in by two white men who force him to perform sexually for their amusement. When he finally meets his father, he shits his pants.
Thrown in a world where people abuse him, Cholly grows up into a man who doesn’t care about life. He’s free, but he cannot love or be loved. He does what he wants, uncaring for what happens him.
He rapes his daughter to remind himself that he is alive. He rapes her to feel the pain he felt as a child because that’s all he knows. He’s a monster made from monsters who tries to make his own daughter into a monster, all the time thinking ‘monster’ is synonymous with ‘human.’
Image Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire – Westeros
Snobbish, rude, Jaime Lannister is in a relationship with his twin sister, Cersei, making three bastards that are set to become Kings and Queens themselves without the actual King Robert none the wiser. He even throws Bran out a window when he catches him having sex with his sister, crippling the boy.
But do I even need to explain why this character from George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series just isn’t as bad as he sounds?
At the age of fifteen Jaime become the Kingsguard to the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. He took an oath to defend the King no matter what, and he broke that oath.
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Yeah, he killed the king, but for two years he witnessed the Mad King’s growing insanity and tendency for burning men alive first hand. One night after burning someone alive, Aerys visited the chambers of his wife and raped her. During this time, Jaime was outside, telling his fellow Kinsguard that they were sworn to protect the queen as well, to which he was told, “but not from him.”
Later, during a rebellion, Aerys devised a plot to burn the entire city to the ground rather than lose it. Upon learning about this plan, the Hand to the King resigned and Aerys burned him alive. Jaime stood back.
When Aerys ordered the city to be burned, Jaime killed everyone involved, including the King, an action which saved the whole city and caused them to hate Jaime for breaking his oath. Even after he was pardoned, even Jon Snow, who “[knows] nothing,” notes that “[t]hey called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered ‘Kingslayer’ behind his back.”
2-The Wicked Witch of the west
Image Via THe Vintage News
Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a witch by their name. Plus, odds are this witch only chose the name because of the alliteration. Ignoring the film adaptation and the musical and book the musical is based on, the original Frank L Baum book introduced her only when some magician tells Dorothy to murder her.
Taking the film into consideration, however, the Wicked Witch is still sympathetic. Dorothy murdered her sister, dropping a house on her head, and then her sister’s body disintegrated. The last thing the Witch has to remember her sister by is a pair of shoes, which Dorothy can’t give her and Glinda refuses to take off her feet.
Image Via IMDB
Imagine if your sibling was murdered and the murderer had their prized heirloom on their feet, refusing to give it you because they didn’t like you. And why doesn’t Dorothy try to talk to the Witch? Is it because she’s Green?
The Witch was in the right. She might not have gone about it the right way, but Dorothy is a murderer hanging out with a discount iron man, a scarecrow (don’t give him any fear toxin), and a lion.
Plus, Wicked, both book and musical changed our minds about this Witch.
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The mayor should have closed the beaches. Blame him (or the mob), not the shark.
Featured Image Via Decider
Dragons! Just that name is insanely cool. The name dragon conjures images of huge beasts, filling the air with their mighty roars as they rain fire upon castles, do battle with knights, or kidnapping princesses. Dragons have filled our collective imaginations for a long time and their continued popularity means we’ll see many more iterations of these grand beasts continue to pop up. Below, we count down 5 of the best dragons to grace fantasy literature, from the big to the bigger.
Image Via The Verge.
1. Smaug: ‘The Hobbit’
One of the most famous dragons in literature and one who had a profound impact on dragon depictions going forward, Smaug from ‘The Hobbit‘ is a magnificent creation. A wicked creature, Smaug invaded the dwarven kingdom of Erebor, driving the native dwarves out and taking the mountain for himself. He resides in the stronghold for many years, until the events of the novel, where thirteen dwarves, Bilbo Baggins, and Gandalf venture to the mountain to plunder his treasure. Unfortunately, Bilbo’s stealing is noticed and enraged, Smaug emerges from his lair to attack the nearby village of Laketown. While laying siege to it, he is shot down by a man called Bard, who pierces his one weak point: a small patch in his jewel encrusted underbelly. Smaug is slain, allowing the dwarves to claim the treasure, but Smaug’s legacy lives on, both in the further novels of the Middle-Earth universe and in real life. As a fun fact, Smaug’s wealth is estimated to be 62 billion according to Forbes, making him the wealthiest fictional characters of all time.
Image Via Pottermore
2. Hungarian Horntail: ‘harry Potter’
Dragons play a minor but memorable role in the Harry Potter universe. For the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire the chosen students must steal a golden egg from a dragon’s nest. Harry goes up against the Hungarian Horntail, unfortunately for him as the Horntails are incredibly aggressive and ferocious. Harry, however, manages to outmaneuver the beast by calling in his trusty broomstick and snatches the egg from the creature’s nest. The dragon sequence was greatly expanded for the film adaptation, where the Horntail breaks loose and chases Harry across Hogwarts. In either case, the Horntail certainly made its mark as a memorable obstacle and beast.
Image Via Wikipedia
3. The Dragon: ‘Beowulf’
The final act of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf chronicles the titular character’s battle with a dragon. The dragon is awakened when a slave steals a jeweled cup from its lair and it begins terrorizing the countryside. Beowulf, now old, takes up arms nonetheless to fight the monster. Scaling to its lair, Beowulf’s men abandon him at the sight of the dragon, leaving only Beowulf’s companion Wiglaf with their master. Beowulf receives a mortal wound during the epic battle, but Wiglaf impales the dragon through the belly, weakening it, and Beowulf finishes it off by slicing off its head. The dragon receives no characterization but is a memorable role both killing Beowulf and being the earliest recorded instance of a dragons layer in English literature.
Image Via Game Thrones Wiki
4. Drogon, Viserion, Rhaegal: ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’
Dragons play a pivotal role in the Song of Ice and Fire universe, being almost akin to weapons of mass destruction. Raised by the Targaryens, dragons possess enough power to raise entire cities to the ground and House Targaryen used them to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. But when the House was overthrown, all the dragons were killed. However, Daenyrus Targaryen receives three petrified dragon eggs as a gift much later on, which she manages to hatch into three living dragons. Naming them Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegel, the dragons could grow into weapons Daenyrus could use to fulfill her destiny: to conquer the Seven Kingdoms as her ancestors once did. But it won’t be easy, as numerous people want the dragons for themselves and as they grow, the dragons are increasingly difficult to control.
Image Via Syfy.com
5. Falkor: ‘The Neverending story’
Falkor is a friendly luck dragon and friend to The Neverending Story’s protagonists, Atreyu and Bastian. He resembles a Chinese dragon crossed with a dog, being furry and elongated, a contrast to most other depictions of dragons throughout literature. True to his name, Falkor has incredible luck in everything he does, such as when he locates Atreyu in the midst of a raging storm against all odds. He provides assistance to the protagonists in the book, carrying them across the vast landscapes of Fantasia and offering them wisdom where he can. Falkor is lovable, much like a big dog, and becomes a beloved companion to readers and the fictional universe alike.
What dragons are some of your favorites? Tell us in the comments!
Featured Image Via Variety
Halloween is a time for spooky monsters like the well-known Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Headless Horseman. It’s also a time for scary books. After all, every monster we just mentioned shares one thing in common: a literary heritage.
Books are full of creepy ghouls, ghosts, and monsters, so it’s no surprise that a lot of our Halloween horror inspiration comes from the scary stories on our bookshelves. But how well do you know the scariest monsters in all of literature?
Get into the spirit of Halloween with this awesome infographic from the folks at the UK’s Morph Costumes. All of the classic creeps are there, and they’re all helpfully labeled with a “Scream Score,” which is calculated by evaluating their creepy appearance, supernatural powers, and evil intent. Morph Costumes says that Pennywise, from Stephen King’s It, is the creepiest one of all. Do you agree?