Would you read a book with an "evil" main character?

Discussion in 'General Books' started by Berserk, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. clouded_perception

    clouded_perception clouded_perception

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,871
    Likes Received:
    49
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    Ratings:
    +49 / 0 / -0
    Technically, everybody in a story believes themself to be acting in the right. Villains who just go around saying "I'm evil, look at me" have absolutely no sense of realism and just destroy the whole story (yes there are exceptions like the skeleton guy in Ace Lightning, but characters like this were never meant to have a sense of realism -- in that example the character was based on a corny, badly-written computer game narrative come to life and was supposed to suck). Even Snow White's stepmother internally justifies her actions: she believes that she should be the fairest in the land and acts out of jealousy, etc., etc. Everyone believes themselves to be acting for a noble cause: sometimes they have adopted the belief that they deserve to rule the world, sometimes they simply fight for their right to exist, or to save their home town, or whatever, but it's always immensely important and justified to the characters, or they wouldn't be doing it.
     
  2. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Messages:
    4,128
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    t' hEmerald hOile
    Ratings:
    +62 / 0 / -0
    What is great is being able to alter the readers' impressions of the characters. Take Jaime in aSoIaF for example. At the start he's an unscrupulous bastard, throws a kid out of a window and has three kids out of incestuous sex with his sister. Yet later on he's everyone's favourite.

    To have a character performing horribly evil acts, and yet justifying it internally and keeping the reader sympathetic would be a work of genius. Of course, it would take a literary genius to pull it off. The closest I've ever read is in 'Filth' by Irvine Welsh, and even then you're more fascinated by the sick, twisted main character than sympathetic.
     
  3. clouded_perception

    clouded_perception clouded_perception

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,871
    Likes Received:
    49
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    Ratings:
    +49 / 0 / -0
    Hey, random question: 'evil' main characters, when done properly, can rule, so long as they justify themselves as virtuous. But what about main characters who don;t do particularly bad things, but are selfish arrogant jerks? Would anyone want to read something with that as a protagonist?
     
  4. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2003
    Messages:
    5,496
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    BFE
    Ratings:
    +24 / 0 / -0
    I'm not sure what you read that lead you to make this statement. When I read authors like George RR Martin, David Gemmell, Robert Jordan, etc. I see great depth to the antagonist. Look how much time Jordan has spent in his later books telling us about the Forsaken, Unraveller's statement about Jaime in ASoIaF is only one of the many examples.

    The statement I made about the antagonist in a good novel was a generalization. Can a good book be written with a generic bad guy? Sure, but in my opinion, it would be an exception.

    The statement you make about Tolkien's work is true to a degree. If I only read the Lord of the Rings, then Sauron is rather undetailed, however, if I read the work as a whole, Silmarillion, etc, the evil characters gain their depth. Morgoth felt himself justified in his actions, and he had a purpose for the things he did, though it may have been a twisted and perverted purpose.
     
  5. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Messages:
    4,128
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    t' hEmerald hOile
    Ratings:
    +62 / 0 / -0
    Bane in the Forgotten Realms series about the Time of Troubles (can't remember its name right now) is a good example.

    There have been a few 'selfish, arrogant jerks with a heart of gold' characters.

    Talisman/Tanaka Kahn in Gemmell's Deathwalker series orders some truly barbaric things done but we know he's good and honourable.
     
  6. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    14,968
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Arizona
    Ratings:
    +124 / 0 / -0
    Well, I'd be interested - but keep in mind that I'm also a huge fan of Jacqueline Carey's Sundering duology, which is more or less LotR rewritten... but from the bad guys' point of view. By the end of it, I absolutely despised every "good" character and wept copiously at the death of the "bad guys."

    And that's my not-so-subtle hint for all of you to go out there and read it. ;)
     
  7. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2003
    Messages:
    5,496
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    BFE
    Ratings:
    +24 / 0 / -0
    Gemmell has tons of examples, he's great at bringing to life the struggle within. Skillganon and Waylander are great examples. I just read Lord of the Silverbow, Heliakon's burning of the Mykene pirates was as twisted as it gets.
     
  8. Appaliq

    Appaliq No One

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Messages:
    4,524
    Likes Received:
    78
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Ratings:
    +79 / 0 / -0
    Wicked is the Wicked Witch's side of the story and it's amazing, so I've heard. I say go for it.
     
  9. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    6,499
    Likes Received:
    211
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    chasing the zombies
    Ratings:
    +327 / 1 / -0
    read sovereign stone by weis and hickman. perfect example of evil main character
     
  10. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Messages:
    8,015
    Likes Received:
    116
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    A Pirate city in international cyberspace
    Ratings:
    +117 / 0 / -0
    or the sellswords trilogy by R.A. Salvatore
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    6,499
    Likes Received:
    211
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    chasing the zombies
    Ratings:
    +327 / 1 / -0
    also good
     
  12. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Messages:
    8,015
    Likes Received:
    116
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    A Pirate city in international cyberspace
    Ratings:
    +117 / 0 / -0
    Artemis Entreri is my second favourite novel character ever. Favourite villain by far.
     
  13. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    6,499
    Likes Received:
    211
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    chasing the zombies
    Ratings:
    +327 / 1 / -0
    not exactly main character tho
     
  14. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Messages:
    8,015
    Likes Received:
    116
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    A Pirate city in international cyberspace
    Ratings:
    +117 / 0 / -0
    isn't he in the sellswords trilogy?
     
  15. Starstung Blackthorn

    Starstung Blackthorn Starstung Blackthorn

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0
    You know there's actually a book called "Hectate's Glory" or something similiar title that had a evil priest guy as a main character and basically he came out winning most of the time and the book was really good...
     
  16. BelovedRival

    BelovedRival New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Yes, of course! I wish there were more of them, you know?
     
  17. culein

    culein New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Here
    Ratings:
    +2 / 0 / -0
    The world is degenerating at such a pace that your book will probably be filed under 'non-fiction' by the time it is published. As some dead bloke once said: there is infinite hope , but not for Man.:faceit:
     
  18. Forgotten Realms

    Forgotten Realms Human Version of Drizzt

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Emerged from the Underdark into the Light
    Ratings:
    +5 / 0 / -0
    I would say that your main character is not "evil" throughout the whole plot. There are many fantasy characters like your hero. Your hero is good, becomes evil and then good again. Perhaps nearly similar to the character designed by Margaret Weis, called Raistlin Majere, as he was good in the beginning as well.

    I think it is rather a scifi-story than fantasy, because the plot around the characters is a "could-be" as islam exists and the U.S. and kinds of assassinations. It is highly interesting and I would be ready to read it when you would like to share it with us :)
    **Hope that you are still following this forum**.
     
  19. anonymous

    anonymous the king

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,606
    Likes Received:
    87
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Riga, latvia
    Ratings:
    +115 / 2 / -3
    evel is relative :) but yes it would be, and interesting thing to read, for example LOTR for sourons pov
     
  20. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    20,590
    Likes Received:
    541
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    good ol' Germany
    Ratings:
    +790 / 5 / -0
    I would definitely like to read a book with an "evil" main character, at least when it's fantasy or science fiction (mainly because of my personal interest). As a teenager, when I still had the ambition to write stories, my favourite characters I ever made up were on the dark/evil side. They were never purely evil, if that's even possible, though.