Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Villain is Always the Hero

image via Goodreads

Let’s get one thing straight: the villain is always my hero. Why? The villain makes conflict, and if there is
no conflict, then there is no story, and if there is no story, then that book is a waste of precious ink and paper.

 Also, I love villains.

What’s fascinating, though, is that villains are almost identical to heroes at their core. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo—an excellent conclusion to the Grisha Trilogy I have reviewed here, and yes, you must read it. (I’ll try not to spoil too much, but I make no promises!)

A Few Things to Know:

Alinaprotagonist; a sun summoner who can manipulate light to her will. She is the only hope to destroy the Fold.

Darklingantagonist; he summons darkness, leads the Grisha, and plans to expand the Fold indefinitely.

Fold—a rift of darkness made by the Darkling; terrible monsters live there making it impossible to inhabit.

Grisha—people who manipulate basic elements (i.e. flesh, light, metal, etc.) with a special power they are born with.

Zoyaminor antagonist; a squaller who summons and manipulates air, doesn’t get along with Alina.

Three different people, three different powers, three different goals, and yet all the same. Check it out!

The Darkling

~Unique Skills and Abilities~
Alina is the only sun summoner and the only Grisha capable of destroying the Fold.
The Darkling is a rare night summoner, the only one who can expand the Fold, and has a special political position that allows him to control his rivals by threatening to bring the Fold upon them.
Zoya is one of the most talented squallers, not to mention prettier, faster, and better trained than Alina.

~Defining Values and Moral Codes~
Alina’s most important belief is that the Darkling must be defeated. Innocent people should not have to die for Grisha power, and Grisha should not have to live and die under the Darkling.
The Darkling disregards “the abandoned,” or non-Grisha folk. He believes Grisha are simply better, and therefore should bow to no one. Everything he seeks is for the glory, protection, and continued success of the Grisha—regardless of cost.
Zoya believes the Darkling must be stopped, but she also believes that she deserves as much or more attention than Alina. Her jealousy defines their relationship for quite a while, and so despite being allies, her actions also make them enemies.

~Specific Goals~
Alina wants to end the Darkling and keep him from destroying the world. To do this, she finds amplifiers to strengthen her power.
The Darkling wants to permanently elevate the Grisha above all others, period. Therefore, he must inspire fear and conquer the world.
Zoya wants to prove that she is important in the fight against the Darkling, which she does by doing.

~Seeks to Accomplish Said Goals and Faces Successes and Failures Along the Way~
Alina’s personal misfortunes and lack of forces often get in her way. She always finds a way to scrape by, but her goals are never met freely.
The Darkling’s influence waxes and wanes with the opinions of his fellow Grisha, the common people, and religious and political powers. His summoning power serves him, but the rest is often out of his hands.
Zoya is stomped on, but never destroyed. Her ability to hurt and annoy Alina fails as Alina gains confidence, and Zoya’s need to hurt her fades as she becomes needed and important.

~Crisis Point: Winning and Losing~
Alina defeats the Darkling, but at the price of the things she thought she couldn’t live without. She won and lost at the same time.
The Darkling is Alina’s opposite. He achieves his minor goals, but ultimately it is not he who achieves the power and glory he always sought.
Zoya is special. She wins her war, but loses as an antagonist. She and Alina gain a funny kind of friendship, which means her goals as an opponent are lost.

The thing is, Alina is our protagonist, but from the point of view of the Darkling and Zoya, it isn’t Alina’s story—it’s theirs. They believe they are the hero, with enemies and beliefs and plans to rise. The Darkling even says, “Make me your villain.” He never believed he was wrong—he was his own good guy.

The villain is always the hero. Because when they believe it, then you can believe it too. That’s what made them good books.

And that’s what makes us human. We’re all our own heroes—and that could easily be our undoing or our greatest strength. We’ll see.

What did you think? Am I crazy? Am I right? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments!

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