How close do you want to get to the villains in a fantasy novel? Frankly, the closer you get to a really bad character, the more it influences the mood of the book. In my epic fantasy, Fallen King, the story follows six characters and three of them could be called bad guys. I had a concern that if I spent too much time within the thoughts of these villains, the book would start to feel like a dark fantasy or even like a horror novel. However, I also felt seeing events from their perspective added a richness to the novel.
Let me introduce these three “villains”:
1. Lord Drass Halen-Dabe. This young man is resentful of his cold father (General Fors Halen-Dabe) and ambiguous toward his older brother, Mordel. He joins his brother’s scheme to overthrow their uncle, the king. However, Drass tires of doing all the work while his brother gets the glory. When his brother’s allies tempt him to leave Mordel and join them, Drass must decide if the offering power is worth what it will cost him.
2. Brother Brodagar. He is a dragon priest of the Crimson Order but, more importantly, he is an Embraced One- a demon possessed man. Brodagar is sent to learn the secret of Warhaven. Getting the answer will bring him great power. Failing at the task will probably mean banishment of his Other and death for him.
3. Captain Galdon. He considers the army his only family and is fiercely loyal to it. He is so loyal that he chooses to remain even after Lord Silossiak declares himself emperor. He struggles to survive as one of the only Tlocanian officers who is not demon possessed. He despises what his beloved land has become, but he cannot imagine betraying his fellow soldiers.
There are worse characters in Fallen King, some so influenced by demons that they are now insane, but these three are the ones we get to know intimately. We learn of their fears and desires, their crimes and kind acts.
Keeping Villains at arm’s length. In the other fantasy novel that I have released this year, Road of Leaves, takes a different approach to the enemy. The point-of-view stays with the main character, Thomas the magician’s apprentice, never leaving his side. We never see into the minds of any of the people attacking the Road. That has some distinct advantages and challenges.
We only experience Thom’s confusion and fear, and it is the uncertainty of who the enemy is and what the enemy is doing that adds to the book. At least I think so.
So, what do you prefer? Do you want your villains close at hand or at a distance?