Tag: Neverwhere

Top 10 Most Fearsome Evildoers in Literature

There’s something fun about bad guys. A memorable villain is just as much a key ingredient of literature as the hero, acting as the antagonist and obstacle in the way of the heroes goals. If done properly, a villain will be just as remembered and often as beloved as the hero, hailed for their command of evil minions, nefarious lines, and the threatening situations they put our plucky main characters in. But who are the best? Who are the cream of the crop among literary bad guys? Well, here are the top ten best and darkest villains in literature!

 

10. Annie Wilkes- ‘Misery’ 

 

A closeup of Annie Wilkes from 'Misery'

Image via Stephen King wiki

Annie Wilkes is a cautionary tale, showcasing how mentally unstable being a ‘superfan’ can make you. When writer Paul Sheldon breaks both legs in an accident, Annie takes him in and begins to nurse him back to health. But slowly, she reveals she’s obsessed with the Misery series Paul writes and the latest book kills off Misery. Annie Wilkes snaps at this and forces Paul to write a new novel that undoes Misery’s death. She subjects him to multiple horrors within her house, such as slicing off Paul’s leg with an axe and stabbing a state trooper who tries to rescue Paul before running him over with a lawnmower. Annie Wilkes grows increasingly psychotic over the course of the novel and just as Paul does, the reader becomes increasing desperate to escape her presence. Annie Wilkes was played by Kathy Bates in the 1990 film adaptation, winning an Oscar for bringing the character to life.

 

9. Patrick Bateman- ‘American Psycho’

 

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman sits in a business suit on a cell phone

Image via Variety

Debuting in 1991 in the novel American Psycho, Patrick Bateman is a deeply, deeply disturbed man. A young investment banker living in Manhattan during the 1980s, Patrick Bateman is a serial killer who begins the novel in semi-control of his killing urges but spirals completely out of control as the novel progresses. Told from Bateman’s POV, the novel paints him as a racist, a homophobic, a narcissist, and a psychopath. However, Bateman may not even be a serial killer, as the novel frames his crimes as possibly not even having happened after he confesses at the book’s end. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Bateman is a deeply disturbed man and one whose mental state is at rock bottom, even if he’s a serial killer or not.

 

8. Count Olaf- ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’

 

The villainous Count Olaf stands with two crows perched on his shoulder and arm

Image via Lemony Snicket wiki

Children’s novels often have brought to life some of the most iconic villains in pop culture and Count Olaf is no exception. The main antagonist for the majority of the series, obsessed with claiming the fortune of the Baudelaire orphans. Over the course of the series, he appears in each location the children find themselves in, from steel mills to a reptile zoo to a carnival. Each time, Count Olaf assumes a new disguise in his pursuit of the kids, fooling everyone but them with his distinct personas. He may be a murderer with a flair for arson but Count Olaf is always a lot of fun, hammy and over the top in his villainy. Yet, at the end of the series, he manages to become a sympathetic figure and even allies with the children against a worse evil before he meets his demise, showing perhaps that he was more complicated than we thought.

 

7. Big brother- ‘1984′ 

A portrait of the dictator 'Big Brother' in a propaganda poster

Image via Wikipedia

Less a character than a symbol of tyranny and oppression, Big Brother is nonetheless the ruling leader of Oceania in 1984Never seen in person, Big Brother might just a symbol of the tyrannical Party but that doesn’t matter. People believe he exists and the Party reinforces this belief to the oppressed populace. Posters decorate the city that bear the now famous slogan ‘Big Brother is watching you’. The message is always clear: Big Brother sees all and if there is dissent, he knows. Big Brother becomes akin to God, a portrait of a tyranny realized at its terrifying conclusion.

 

6. Mr. Croup and Vandemar- ‘Neverwhere’

 

 

Croup and Vandemar, two brutish thugs of inhuman disposition stand next to each other in victorian dress

Image via Pininterest 

 

Croup and Vandemar are a double-act, a pair of villains who are hired to track down the heroes in NeverwhereIt is not made entirely clear what they are but they’re not human, that’s for certain, as they have a habit of eating live animals and sometimes, chunks of furniture! Croup is a small fat man who is possessed with a verbose style of speech while Vandemar is his brutish partner who barely speaks and specializes more in killing things. The pair certainly make a memorable impression whenever they’re onscreen, serving as an excellent and terrifying pair of evil thugs who can’t be stopped by regular weapons.

 

5. Regal Farseer-‘The Farseer Trilogy’

 

The handsome Prince Regal dressed in kingly attire wearing a crown

Regal Farseer is a vain and cruel prince in line to acquire the throne in the fantasy kingdom of Buckeep. However, his plans of ascension are thrown into a snag when a bastard son of his father, Chivalry Farseer, called Fitz (the protagonist) comes to Buckeep. Regal is aware of Fitz’s heritage and plots to kill him. He eventually acquires the throne throughout the trilogy and Fitz is brought into conflict with his half-brother to get it back. Regal embodies jealously, cruelty, and arrogance, being one dark and vicious prince.

 

4. Randall Flagg-‘The Stand’

 

The dark, cloaked figure of Randall Flagg holding a playing card before a red backdrop
Image via Stephen King wiki

 

Described as Stephen King’s ‘ubervillain’, Randall Flagg appears through Stephen King’s multiverse to wreck constant havoc. He first appears in The Standas a demonic cult leader trying to establish a new society filled with his loyal followers after a plague has destroyed the Earth’s population. Flagg seemingly meets his end when his blown up by a nuclear warhead but reappears throughout further Stephen King works, revealing himself to be an immortal sorcerer who travels throughout space and time, his ultimate goal being to climb The Dark Tower to become a god. Assuming a vast number of identities, Flagg is always a manipulative, dark presence who strikes fear whenever he appears, no matter the setting or genre.

 

3. Professor Moriarty- ‘Sherlock Holmes’

 

Professor Moriarty, standing in a hunched stance while dressed in victorian apparel

Image Via Wikipedia

Even if you’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes story, you know this guy. Moriarty appears in The Final Problem, becoming famous as the antagonist who would (temporarily) kill Sherlock Holmes. There, Holmes has penetrated his criminal organization and is forced to flee across the country from Moriarty’s wrath. The pursuit ends on Reichenbach Falls, where the two fight and seemingly plummet to their deaths. Moriarty never appears directly onscreen, as the novel is narrated by Watson who never crosses path with the criminal leader but he is practically an overlord of the London underworld, just as brilliant as Sherlock but uses his mind for evil. It’s no wonder Moriarty was promoted to Holmes’s archenemy, he became such an iconic figure that adaptations see fit to use him as Sherlock’s ultimate enemy.

 

2. Dolores Umbridge- ‘Harry Potter’

 

The seemingly sweet Dolores Umbridge sips tea while dressed in pink

Image via Harry Potter wiki

Forget Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge is a far more evil character because of how real she feels. Seemingly a sweet little lady, Dolores Umbridge reveals herself to be sadistic, cruel, and hits all the buttons to make her hate throughout the series. She interrupts Dumbledore during the Feast, she speaks to the students as if they’re a bunch of small children, she punishes Harry for his misbehaving by making him carve the words “I MUST NOT TELL LIES” over and over again into his skin while she watches with a sweet smile. Dolores hides behind her position of authority to inflict her sadistic whims on Hogwarts and its a sigh of relief when gets what’s coming to her at the end, although some think it wasn’t enough for this woman.

 

1. Sauron- ‘The Lord of the Rings’

 

The black armored figure of Sauron stands tall

Image via LOTR Wiki

The titular Lord of the RingsSauron is unique among fantasy evil overlords in that he never appears directly in the trilogy but his presence consumes everything and he’s responsible for every evil act in one way or another. A former Maiar, a divine angel, Sauron turned away from the light in his lust for power and crafted the One Ring to rule Middle-earth. But the forces of men and elves fought against him, destroying his physical form. Sauron took years to establish himself again, confining himself to his tower in Mordor and building a dark army to conquer Middle-earth while searching to regain the One Ring to claim ultimate victory. Sauron is arguably scarier for how he never appears, only referenced by Gandalf, Saruman, and Gollum but the way they speak of him, how they describe what he is, leaves no doubt that he is one of the greatest villains in literary history. Sometimes, the imagination is more powerful than what we can see.

7 Fictional Book Worlds to Inspire Your Own World-Building

World-building is hard. Designing an entirely different world may look easy on screen, but any up and coming writer who has actually sat down to design a fantasy world has found it much harder than it seems. Of course, the mere fact that they are dozens of fictional worlds out there showcases that it can be done… it just requires a lot of time and work. To get your creative juices flowing, here are 7 books with worlds you just get lost in. Maybe you can get inspired to design some of your own!

 

The cover to Neverwhere, showcasing the London cityscape and a subway tunnel beneath

Image Via Amazon

7. London Below – ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman

Anyone’s who ever read Neil Gaiman’s many and varied works knows he’s a master of imagination, characterization, and storytelling. But the most intriguing and developed world comes from Neverwhere: the world called London Below. Sitting beneath London in this novel is a fictional underground that bridges the line between the reality of London and the other side of its own surreal culture. Subway stations become full kingdoms, and the tunnels are full of all manner of strangeness. Things you take for granted in the real world (like minding the gap stepping off the platform) become infused with terror, as monsters dwell in the dark space in the gap and can snatch you off your feet. Neil Gaiman creates a fictional universe that places London in an alternate reality full of intrigue, monsters, and strange concepts, making for a grand location that we wished to see more of.

 

A young woman clad in desert attire backlit by flames

Image Via Amazon

6. Miraji – ‘Rebel of the Sands’ by Alwyn Hamilton

A fusion between the Wild West and classic Arabian fantasy tropes, Miraji is the titular world of Rebel of the Sandsa desert nation constantly at war. Magic is held in check through the backwater towns that populate the desert sands, as they spew black dust that keeps the power of the god-like First Beings from being gifted to normal folk. Scheming sultans, colorful Djinn, and a religious war are many of the elements in this fully-realized world, a harsh but imaginative one.

 

A bug-like humanoid stands beneath a twisted cityscape crisscrossed by wires and flying airships

Image Via Amazon

5. Bas-lung – ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Meiville

Weird doesn’t even begin to describe this novel, but it’s a strong place to start. Author China Meiville decided to chuck seemingly everything and the kitchen sink into his world, a city called Bas-Lung, in his famous novel Perdido Street StationBas-Lung is self-described as a fantasy version of Victorian England, dirty and full of crude, steampunk-esque technology. Magic, robots, insect people, bird people, monsters, giant killer moths, and so much more inhabit Bas-Lung; it almost reaches the point of being overstuffed. (Almost.) But China Meiville’s skillful writing keeps everything in balance and, despite the madness of the concept, grounds it enough in reality that Bas-Lung becomes a developed world rather than just a crazed place of ideas. Of course, it nearly reaches that point as well.

 

A black robed man in a menacing mask stands against the back drop of a full moon

Image Via Goodreads

4. Urth – ‘The Book of the New Sun’ by Gene Wolfe

Urth of The Book of the New Sun is actually our world (say ‘urth’ out loud), but so far into the future that it has become a nearly unrecognizable, alien world. The sun is dying, and the remaining population has exhausted all its resources, meaning the planet is on the verge of a slow death. There is some advanced technology, but the story reads more as a sword-and-sorcery tale, humanity having regressed to a more primitive state of mind. Although strangely written, akin to a waking dream, the world this novel creates is at once beautiful, haunting, and certainly uniquely crafted.

 

The cover to Jade City, featuring glimpses of green chunks of jade

Image Via Amazon

 

3. Kekon – ‘Jade City’ by Fonda Lee

Kekon of Jade City is a sprawling island metropolis much like our own, possessing modern conveniences such as televisions, phones, cars, the works. But it diverges in one very important point: the existence of jade. Jade is a substance that is found off of Kekon’s waters and, properly harvested, can be used to grant supernatural abilities to its wielders. Kekon is ruled by four rival crime families, all with jade at their disposal, and, as the novel unfolds, the families descend into war. Kekon is inspired by Asian mythology, complete with jade-given powers that you might see in kung-fu action films. The island itself becomes a memorable character all on its own, with jungle hills beyond the bustling, rain-soaked cityscapes and fisheries lining the slimy docks at the island’s coasts. It’s a unique location and certainly one you could see yourself wandering about under stormy skies, listening to the sea and seeking your next piece of jade.

 

The covers to the Song of Ice and Fire series, featuring a sword, a crown, a helmet, a goblet, and a shield

Image Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire

2. The Known World – ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin

One of the most developed worlds in recent memory, the Known World of A Song of Ice and Fire feels like a living, breathing culture. Martin’s ability to make it feel incredibly real, even when introducing elements such as the dragons, the white walkers, and blood magic, is a huge part of the series’ massive success. From the mega continent of Westeros with its freezing Northlands, swamp-like Riverlands, and the sheer beauty of places such as King’s Landing, to the most barren regions of Essos, every part of the world feels carefully constructed; no amount of detail is spared. Although more grounded in reality than most fantasy, Martin’s world still feels incredibly imaginative and lived-in. Just watch your back: everyone plays the Game of Thrones for keeps…

 

The covers to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, featuring the flaming Eye of Sauron

Image Via Amazon

1. Middle-Earth – ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien 

The first is often the best for a reason. Middle-Earth is the standard by which all other fantasy works are judged, a truth so obvious it hardly requires explanation. (But don’t worry; we’ll explain.) Tolkien’s world is so vibrant, so detailed, and so full of life you’ll swear it was real even just by the words he chooses to describe each part of it. Tolkien’s craft is so meticulous fandom is still finding new details about his world today from the expansive timeline, to the lore behind the smallest of locations, to the origins of the various races, to the rich history of various character’s own family trees.

(Not to mention the beautiful natural world Tolkien creates, from the towering peaks of the Misty Mountain inhabited by swarming hordes of orcs, to the great grasslands of Rohan where the horse-riders race across the hills, and the humble countryside of the Shrine home to the isolated, yet happy hobbits. Except I have no choice but to mention it.)

It’s a world that set the standard and in some ways, can never be topped.

What are some of your favorite fantasy worlds that you draw inspiration from? Tell us in the comments!

 

Featured Image Via Goodreads