Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Where's the villain?

So, I've been asked, who is the villain in Paths of the Shadow? Is it Dankar, the charming and manipulative wife-murderer? Or is it Jadine, who meddles with dangerous sorcery and runs out on her husband and children because of some lofty ideas?

I've thought about this and reached the conclusion that, in contrary to the tradition of epic fantasy, Paths of the Shadow does not have a clearly defined villain such as Sauron, Lord Voldemort, or other evil ones we love to hate. It has some dark forces which cannot be called completely evil, either - depends on how they are used. 

It also has complex characters with complex motivations. I find I prefer this style of fantasy these days, ASoIaF-style. Of course, there is also something enchanting in the pure moral simplicity of Lord of the Rings, say. But I have this problem. I become attached to my bad guys (and girls). I often think of their motivations and excuse their actions in my mind. From there, it's one short step to making them not-so-bad guys!

You can't love Lord Voldemort. He's not human enough for that (although we do get some of his background and motivations in The Half-Blood Prince). But you can understand, justify and even pity Cersei Lannister. I think the key here is telling the story from the character's POV. The switching of POVs helps the reader get into each character's mind in return. I find this bewitching and use this a lot in my writing. 

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