Musing: A peek at Antagonists: Sauron

With the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey being the big fantasy thing in the theaters I’d like to roll things forward a bit.   Last week I talked about antagonists in the past.  They acted as my initial exposure to villains.  As I got older I had to admit that while they were endearing, they were flat and unimaginative.   The v villains for a TV show aimed at kids is pretty straight forward.

I want to talk about Sauron.  He was one of my earliest exposures to fantasy villains.

Sauron

“Yep. Nothing says unholy terror like a bunch of spikes. I should write a handbook about being evil.”
And so, he did.

The thing is, Sauron is at a glance a very straightforward antagonist but he’s actually pretty complex when you read between the lines.  Truth be told I love villains like him.

If a villain’s justifications are completely unfounded the villain becomes dull.   Sauron’s love of order and power led him down the wrong path.   When you look at it this way it’s fairly amusing to think of Sauron being a Orc/Goblin/Troll/Ogre freedom fighter.  …or a babysitter.

sauroneye

Hmm… Bladder meter on that Giant over there is getting dangerously full.

But I guess that may partly my skewed view of the Warcraft world too, being Horde side.

In my opinion to make a good villain you need to be able to justify their actions.   Even if they are harsh it holds much more weight if you know when and why they turned evil.  High fantasy has a bad reputation for White and Black morality, but Tolkien actually did a good job at justifying the ‘black’ morality by explaining all the greys before it got that far.

I’m a bit of a sucker for fallen heroes as most of my antagonists are exactly that.  They are good people that life handed a few too many lemons.  Like Saruman in The Fellowship of the Ring.  He was initially studying Sauron and ended up getting drawn in by his power (much like Sauron himself).

The temptation of power is a pretty standard issue antagonist motive, but is it really so outlandish?   Power and wealth change people.

As far as Dimanagul goes I have a handful of Antagonists that stand against Derrek and co.  It is a fairly high priority on my part to have these individuals justified in their actions.  People tend to do things because they think its right.   I want their logic to be concrete even if it means it’s a little cold.   After all, sometimes being irrational is what makes a hero a hero at all.

Sauron is cold, calculating and cruel: to some a tyrant, to others a brilliant and inspiring leader.

 

Here’s a promised peak of a pair of Antagonists from Two Destroyers.

 

Anansi, the Desert Scorpion – A Dendargian Hero well known for his prowess with the sword.  Most people do not know him by name, only moniker.  Anansi’s fearsome skill with a blade is augmented by the protection of iron-silk armor.  This armor makes him nearly invincible to blades and arrows.

Anansi’s weapon of choice is a single bladed sword made of red steel: a common weapon of choice by the people of Dendarg.   Those swords are thought to be cursed as anyone other than a Dendargian grows tired quickly while wielding one.

In the recent war between Dendarg and Geldbane many think that his sound defeat of the Sword of the King served as the clear sign war’s conclusion: Dendarg’s overwhelming victory.

Why is he an antagonist?  Chapter one makes this fairly clear.

 

Barone, The Azure Knight – The man commonly known as The Shield of the King is a terrifying man in stature.   Standing over seven feet tall and generally quiet spoken, Barone is intimidating outside of his Azure colored full plate armor.   Barone is fierce patriot of Geldbane and follows the lead of its king to the letter.

Barone is known for his conspicuous absence of weaponry.  Despite being trained in several weapons he favors being without one.  While unarmed he manages superior versatility and speed despite his heavy armor.

In the war against Dendarg he was hailed as the only Geldbane alive able to fight effectively against Dendargian Honorbounds while outnumbered.  The only other being the Sword of the King, Barton.

Why is he an Antagonist? Time will tell; though chapter 1 places from firm hints.

4 thoughts on “Musing: A peek at Antagonists: Sauron

  1. “Anansi’s weapon of choice is a single bladed sword made of red steel”

    And now I can’t think of anything except the Wii game(s) of the same name. I wonder if Red Steel 2 is any good — it’s supposed to be better than the original, at least.

    Well, back on topic. I’m guessing you (and plenty of others) will agree with me on this, but I honestly think that there’s “no wrong way” to write a villain. There are some villains who are, in their eyes and/or the eyes of others, the hero — and that’s all right. Still, a part of me suspects that there’s some merit and fun to be had writing a villain that DOESN’T have a reason; a willing agent of chaos out for their own gain and entertainment. But of course, the key factor is doing things “adroitly”; whatever you do, you’ve got to do it well. (I’ve been using “adroitly” a lot recently for some reason.) Whatever style of villain one uses, said villain HAS TO make the reader feel something. Fear, respect, admiration, revulsion, dread…that’s probably why we have so many villain types in the first place.

    Just thought I’d through that out there. In any case, I have a sudden urge to do some reading-up on Sauron. It’s been a looooooooong time since I’ve given LOTR a look, and definitely not a close look. Guess it’s off to a wiki for now…

  2. I share you distaste of flat antagonists, especially when they are so common. I especially hate the typical tough guy, wears black, kills people for no reason, type villains. It’s why the main focus of my book I’m editing at the moment is on two characters who could easily be hero or villain. I find it very interesting creating antagonists who aren’t ‘evil’, just ‘wrong’ from the main character’s perspective. I want my readers to not be entirely sure who to route for, and not entirely sure whether they want the main character to win or not.

    • That’s a great way of putting it. Thanks for stopping in. If your reader can tell exactly what’s going to happen the dreaded ‘why am I reading this?’ rears it’s ugly head!

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