Top Ten Tuesday | Top Anti-Heroes & Villains

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Hello everyone! It’s that time of the week again! Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Basically, you get a different bookish topic every Tuesday, and you comprise a list of ten (or however many you’re able to list) relating to said topic.

This week’s topic is “Top Ten Villains.” Now, if you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love me a good morally ambiguous, villainy character. I love villains with a good back-story, and I love heroes who make you question their decisions, who make you question your rooting for them. Should I root for this person? He’s hella twisted, but I also can’t help it. That’s my favorite kind of character to read, so here’s a list for all those antagonists and anti-heroes that make literature so enjoyable for me to read.

Top 5 Villains

5. Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

This is contradicting what I said in the introduction of this post. I know I said I love morally ambiguous people, villains with a back-story that gives more depth to their actions but Sebastian is just a psychopath. He’s absolutely insane. There is not a single not-twisted bone in his body, and usually such a black-and-white villain would annoy the ever-living crap out of me, but the way Clare wields his character is just so compelling. I know I’ve said this before, but I imagine Sebastian is a lot like Kai from The Vampire Diaries. Just plain crazy.

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4. The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The Darkling is one of those villains who would be the hero of their own story. He did horrible things, sure, but he did them for what he thought was the best for his people and the world. It’s a very difficult thing to do, I imagine- writing a villain who your readers can’t help but fall head over heels in love with. I did. He’s still my favorite character in that series. Probably the only character I cared about, but I still wasn’t rooting for him. I understood that he was the villain. But my love for him is what made him so compelling.

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3. Mayor Prentiss from The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

This is my favorite trilogy of all-time, and I think the biggest reason that I have given it that title is because of the characters- and specifically because of the antagonists. This series had me confused. Confused because there were two antagonists who had polar opposite views, and I had no idea which one to root for. The intense psychological pressure Ness put me through just by writing his antagonists so agonizingly well is what makes this series a masterpiece.

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2. Lord Voldemort/Tom Riddle from The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I imagine Voldemort is at the top of the list for many people, and rightfully so, I would say (even though he’s not the top for mine). He’s one of those villains that you despise simply because he represents so much of what is wrong with the world. Blatant racism and racial supremacy, his lethal desire to have supreme power, and his sheer ruthlessness (and creepiness, let’s face it) make for one chilling antagonist. Pair that with some history of his past, including a traumatic childhood filled with repulsive role models as well as qualities in a “traditional hero” make for one of the best written villains I’ve ever read.

Going off on a tangent here but I think what gives Voldemort/Riddle that extra umph is how easy it could have been to go somewhere else. We have two NOW polar opposite people: Tom and Harry, the latter the hero and the former his villain. Yet, both boys had extremely similar lives. Both of them had tumultuous childhoods filled with neglect. They both found home in Hogwarts. They were both brilliant, practical minds- golden boys, you could say. And both of them were sorted into Slytherin (Harry almost was too, until he asked not to be). Yet one of them became Voldemort, and the other Harry. It’s an interesting commentary on how the exact opposite could have happened. Perhaps if Tom had the friends and support Harry did, he wouldn’t have turned out like he did. And if Harry had gotten stuck in the wrong crowd at school, perhaps he would have turned out like Voldemort. It’s certainly a chilling thought- that you’re influenced by the tiniest things. But that’s what makes the series as beautiful as it is.

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1. Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Oh, this queen. I surprise myself when it comes to Cersei. I hate her so much. I hate her with all the energy I can muster, but whenever she does something bad-ass or insane and gets that smug smile on her face, that flame of vengeance inside her, I just shout, “Yas queen.” She’s just that kind of villain, and I can’t believe George pulled it off. I enjoy her willpower and how she doesn’t need to be the knight, the warrior or even the honorable one in a society that values these things above all other; nah, she just needs her brain and she will outsmart everyone. I. Love. Her.


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Top 5 Anti-Heroes

5. Han Allister from The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

This might be a stretch because Han isn’t an anti-hero in the strictest sense of the word. He’s definitely morally ambiguous, but I feel that his heroic side is much more prominent than his darker one. Still, his past as a thief lord, a criminal, even a murderer seeps into many of the decisions he makes after. He’s definitely one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve ever read, and a large part of that is his unexpected hero status.

Goodreads | Amazon

4. Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Amy’s so bad-ass. I can never fully figure out if she’s a villain or an anti-hero- she definitely doesn’t have any sort of “greater good” thing going on, but she’s this kick-ass woman who was wronged and now hates men and is wildly intelligent and is hell-bent on destruction? But you root for her, and that’s what makes her an anti-hero in my opinion. I rooted for her. She was batshit insane, but she was such a legend.

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3. The Entire Gang from The Secret History by Donna Tartt

All so disgustingly unlikable, repulsive people. Richard, this spineless bastard who would do anything to fit in. Henry, this ruthless man who operates on selfishness and cruelty. Camila and Charles, these twisted individuals who thrive on admiration. Bunny- vain and spoiled and just annoying. Francis- perhaps the only character in the entire novel worth liking. And yet, you’re so invested in them. Yet, you keep reading. The beauty of this book lies mostly in this incredible feat.

Goodreads | Amazon

2. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

In the show, Tyrion’s not an anti-hero. He’s this ridiculously goodlooking (damn, Peter Dinklage, that beard’s doing things for you), ridiculously smart and ridiculously gentle person who treats most everyone with respect and generosity. In the books, he’s not that straight-cut. He’s described as ugly, called a monster because he’s missing a nose and otherwise looks like an egg. He’s very shrewd and smart, but it’s not endearing- it just makes him an intelligent, lethal person. And despite having a larger heart than his siblings or indeed most other baddies in the series, he often has vile thoughts and does very, very repulsive and questionable things.

But thinking of him as a character, Tyrion is a masterpiece. He’s this guy who was born in a family where nobody wanted him. Shunned and treated like trash for his entire life. He had no friends, no support except for books, and he’s been given the brunt of everything nasty. And despite this, he’s standing strong. Despite this, he’s retained his good side, even though the darkness and cruelty lurking underneath does unleash now and then. I’m astounded by the depth of his character- I can only hope to write a character half as well as he’s written.

1. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

All the characters in this duology are anti-heroes of sorts, but Kaz is definitely the cruelest, the most ruthless. His reactions are almost always understandable; he’s been through a lot in his short life. Lost people he loved, thrown into the streets, become a rough criminal who needs to lie, cheat and be ruthless in order to survive. Driven by a fire and a vengeance, and has built for himself a reputation that goes beyond “dangerous.” When Dirtyhands walks, people change their paths. The fact that he’s disabled and walks/fights with a cane is the coolest fucking thing too.

Goodreads | Amazon

That’s it for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday! Have you read any of these books, or plan on reading them in the fall too? Let me know in the comments below; as always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading! 🙂

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  1. The Darkling is also one of my favorite villains. Not only because of his tragic past, but also because how twisted his mind is. He thinks himself as a hero try to make things better for the Grisha, without thinking of the other, and how he planned everything thoroughly. Cersei is actually one of my faves too, but sometimes her actions just too ruthless, even for my standard. But her love for her children and her ability to strategize is really admirable!

  2. YES TO ALL OF THESE. Leigh Bardugo writes such amazing antiheroes / gray characters. Between the Darkling and the Six of Crows characters, every character she writes just feels so realistic. And I agree with Voldemort as well! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous choices! <3

  3. Voldemort is on my list too this week. He’s such an interesting and complex villain! I’ve never really thought much about the parallels between Harry and Tom, but there’s definitely something there!

    Great list! 🙂

  4. I love that you included Sebastian, I hadn’t seen him on other blogs!! I also love that you have Mayor Prentiss!! I hadn’t read that book in a long time and I totally forgot about him!!

  5. Great choices! Voldemort is definitely one of the best-written villains ever, because of the reasons you described. If just a few measly events had changed in both him and Harry’s lives, things could have been turned the other way around. I loved Kai from TVD mainly because he reminded me of Sebastian from TMI (and god I was rooting for them both). I just plain hate Cersei and her little twat of a son. And Tyrion is my favorite! He is so well-written and I want that little man to climb to the top.

  6. I love that you included everyone in The Secret History on this list. I was basically cringing throughout that entire book because they’re all so unlikable. Though for some reason, I couldn’t stop reading!
    Great list! 🙂


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