Time to spotlight some villains who perfectly fit the archetype of the tyrant: President Snow from the Hunger Games and the Lord Ruler from the Mistborn trilogy.
Let’s start of with President Snow, who all things considered, has more bad points than good points in the books. And honestly I didn’t find him entirely interesting in print, probably because we didn't see as much of him. The movies on the other hand? Give Donald Sutherland the part and give him some extra scenes and you have a more better developed character.
In the movies we see Snow in his element. We see him as a dictator but also with his Granddaughter. We see him in his garden, trimming flowers because, hey, he has hobbies. And there is a certain method to his cruelty. Like with this quote:
It shows how much Snow really understands the human mind. He’s a terrifying villain but there are brief, glimpses of his humanity. He does want to prevent war because a war will be devastating for both sides. I mean, he’d prefer that things only be devastating from one side but, still.
On a larger scale from Snow is The Lord Ruler from the Mistborn trilogy. Which by the way, if you haven’t read these books, you’d better because they’re amazing and I adore them. The first book of this series starts with a small group plotting to overthrow a man who has ruled for a thousand years as practically a god. We don’t see much of the Lord Ruler but when he comes out, he does so in a big way. Talk about a villain having presence. He radiates it. He feels like a man absolutely secure in his power. A big bad in every definition of the word. Honestly, if he had no redeemable human characteristics, I still would have given him a pass because dang.
But, Brandon Sanderson doesn’t like simple answers. And after we have well learned to hate the lord ruler, we begin to see the reason for everything he has done. And I can’t begin to give them away because you should just read the books. But its really incredible the level of complexity Brandon Sanderson added to this character who could have been just a typical tyrant. Its incredible. And he’s definitely my favorite tyrant character I’ve read in any book or seen in any movie.
Those are my spotlights for this week. I know there are a lot of great tyrants but some will fit into later categories. These two I thought defined what I was looking for in a good tyrant. I hope that looking at these two as examples will help you in your own writing.
May the odds be ever in your favor!