7 ways to identify a fantasy villain

If you’ve just started a new fantasy series and aren’t sure who the villain is, there are some easy ways to find out. Watch for a few key traits and if more than four show up in a character, you’ve definitely found the series baddie.

1. Miserable childhood

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Morgana Pendragon, basically the cover girl for Daddy Issues Monthly.

Fantasy villains cannot have happy childhoods—EVER. In the slim chance one or both their parents weren’t awful, said parent(s) must die a gruesome death, preferably with the young villain watching.

2. Anger management difficulties

Even if the character displays a cold, controlled exterior most the time, they cannot be a villain without an eventual angry outburst, usually in which they do something horrible and violent. Most likely, this results in the death of a character you really liked.

3. Ugly pets/minions

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A face only a villainous taskmaster could love.

Anyone who hires deformed, aesthetically challenged creatures no one else would even look at must surely be a bad guy. However, there is a loophole, so long as the beautiful minions are used for seduction-based intelligence gathering.

4. Racism/Elitism/Sexism/Religious purism/Some other nasty “ism”

The villain will probably be the most prejudiced character in the book. Genocide and lines such as “she’s only a woman” and “it’s my birthright” are dead giveaways.

5. Dysfunctional love life

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Xena and Drago. Some whacked out stuff going on there.

The villain must either a) have lost their soulmate which spurs them on this hellish crusade and/or b) have a long string of serial relationships to put Henry VIII to shame and/or c) wants someone who wants them dead.

6. Is secretly the protagonist’s father/sibling/miscellaneous lost relative

Assuming the villain did not kill the protagonist’s father/mother, then this one of the spot-on ways to identify him/her. Families suck and that is the moral of the story.

7. Creepy obsession with protagonist/protagonist’s love interest

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WTH Rahl? Do you have any idea how bad this looks???

If the villain and protagonist are of the opposite sex, the villain probably has a thing for him/her. If the protagonist is a girl, there will be some rape-y comments in there at minimum, same for a male protagonist’s love interest. The “we could rule the galaxy” speech may also come into play.

Did this list miss your favorite typical fantasy villain trait? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Outside: Does it even happen?

Summer is nearly over (sorry), school’s about to start up (so sorry), and that means less reading time for students, teachers, and pretty much everyone connected to education (so, so sorry).

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Here we have what appears to be the youngest Weasleys reading their family history on the potentially Nargle-infested lawn.

This summer, like others before, I have been baffled by aesthetic pictures of people reading happily on beaches, porches, hillsides, and in meadows. But something I’ve often wondered is if this phenomenon even occurs in nature.

To read outside where I live, you must brave not only the scorching Texas sun and varied array of violent insects, but also intermittent wind gusts. I’ve tried reading in hammocks, on porches, and under trees, but the only time it has worked is in the shelter of some non-picturesque wall over concrete. Even then, it wasn’t exactly comfortable. (My backside does not appreciate extended periods squished against cement.)

I know some people claim to do it, but do they really? I know it makes a good photo, but the subgenre of outdoor book photography is mostly false advertising.

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There would be a blinding glare on like half a page. She’s not fooling anyone.

Reading my Kindle outside has generally proven easier, just because of the light adjustment setting. But if I’m in bright sun, I’ve got bigger problems, like impending lobster face/neck/arms/shoulders/legs. Then, you’ve got birds and car fumes if you’re in the city and chiggers, snakes, and Lord knows what if you’re in the country. To be honest, I’m terrified of the wind blowing my book into the ocean at the beach. Not to mention sand gets into the spines and just…ick.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’ve just found it to be incredibly uncomfortable. Either way, I think this is definitely one of those “expectation vs. reality” things. I’ll stick to reading indoors with solid walls and air conditioning, thank you very much.

Review: Anomaly of Blaze (The Fireblade Array, #3) by H.O. Charles @HOCharles

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An Anomaly of Blaze is the cause of a great many troubles, but he may also offer a solution to the woes faced by our heroes.

In Calidell, The Fireblade must deal with her wars alone, and the battles she faces are nothing like those of the ten millennia before.

A new monster has taken up residence in her mind, and it seeks to control her power. She must do all she can to protect the ones she loves, but can she achieve this before her will to fight leaves her?

Volume 3 of The Fireblade Array

4 out of 5 stars

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Some spoilers for previous books in the series. Also, this book contains mature themes and  is not Young Adult.

I…have many emotions regarding this series. The books are huge, the timelines covered in each installment can span for decades, and the author most likely stays up late thinking “how can I hurt these characters next?”

The plot:

This book picks up just a few days after the end of the previous installment with a grieving Artemi and her children. Again, there is the same story style that takes on more of a chronicle/episodic format that your usual plot arch. There might be years lapsed between chapters, but in a world where old age doesn’t exist, the characters all stick around.

I admit I panicked a few times in reading this. I did not see the twist about who Morghiad’s reincarnated self thought Artemi was and once that was revealed…well, I can see how he would be upset over her trying to seduce him.

The characters:

There were a few times I wanted to upside Artemi with a good smack, but not for the reasons the other characters did. I suppose she’s entitled to make mistakes, but she should have taken a cue from how Morghiad dealt with her back when she didn’t remember him. Just give the dude some space!

I freaked out when Morghiad came back, especially when we started seeing things in his POV. I had no idea what the hell was wrong with him or where he got all these outlandish theories. To make matters worse, he never fully explains anything until BOOM we’re in big trouble and he’s about to make the biggest mistake of both his lives. Still…he’s my favorite character and darling little cabbage.

To be brutal, I do not like Silar. He started to redeem himself to me in book 2, but he’s pretty much fixated with Artemi and it only appears to be getting worse. At this rate, in two or three books he’ll be the new super villain/stalker that’s obsessed with her. Seriously, the poor slob needs to find a new girl or a new hobby or hard core therapy before this gets out of hand.

Morghiad and Artemi’s children, particularly the older two, can take all the <3 ‘s. Medea and Tallyn’s relationship is precious and adorable and I could just hug them both to bits. The youngest, Kalad, is kind of the stereotypical rebellious teenager. Kalad and his father’s reincarnated version do not get along at all I am not looking forward to this blowing up down the road.

Wow, that review got long fast. There’s probably a whole other review I could write just about the secondary characters and assorted villains who make their appearance over the course of the book, but I’ll stop there.

To sum up, I am still hooked on this series, I have downloaded the next book. If you’re a fan of romance epics with monogamous, multi-lifetime stories, for the love of Earl Grey, pick this up.

Find Anomaly of Blaze on Goodreads

Find Anomaly of Blaze on Amazon

Find Anomaly of Blaze on BN.com

Geekshaming

Geeks are the most passionate humans you’ll ever meet. They’re the ones who spend six hours in line for book signings, drop hundreds of dollars on memorabilia, and gush over (possibly fictional) people no one else has ever heard of. Anyone who has ever been to a RenFest or Comic Con knows that the air almost crackles with excitement.giphy8It is not easy being a geek. Every fangirl and fanboy knows the pain of hiatus, waiting between books/movies, and not to mention characters deaths/tragedies. To make things worse, less awesome people regard us as socially inept dweebs. They seem to think we resort to fiction to compensate for the perceived lack of a “real life.” These less awesome people furthermore enjoy making fun of us every chance they get.

But seriously, what is wrong with being a geek? Geeks and their passions are on the most part entirely harmless. Memorizing the genealogies of characters in The Lord of the Rings or spending 300 hours making a cosplay never wrecked the economy. Running Star Wars fan blogs or writing fan fictions is not going to kill anyone.giphy11What most outsiders don’t seem to understand is that geek subculture is a culture. We have social networks, gatherings at comic cons and other venues, fan art, fan literature, fan music, and even fan films. There are hierarchies with the creators of our obsessions at the top and reluctantly participating family members at the bottom. There are social rules for meetups and online etiquette. And the vast majority of us masquerade as regular people. We walk the balance beam between reality and fantasy so well most people never know it.giphy12If someone doesn’t have a life, giving up on being a geek won’t change that. There is such a richness and diversity within geek culture, it’s impossible to grow stagnant unless you want to. Most regular folk resent people that aren’t like them and so try to deride us into fitting in. It’s just the way human nature works, but people need to get over themselves. If it’s harmless, no one should have to compromise what they love to make other people happy.giphy10So make the fan art, scream your heart out at the signing line, collect your Pokémon without apology, and squeal all you want when that Amazon package comes in the mail. Like I said, geeks are the western world’s greatest source of passion. And what is life without passion?

 

Mini Review: Fallen Embers (The Alterra Histories, #2) by C.S. Marks @CSMarks_Alterra

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 Rain–King and warrior, stern and duty-bound.
Who could have foreseen he would ever encounter the one who would change his life forever?
But he does.

How much of a man’s world, how much of his life will he risk to possess everything he has ever wanted?

From the creator of the beloved World of Alterra comes
A tale of passion and determination, of sacrifice and courage
For Rain has found a foe he cannot overcome with sword or strategy.
Now he must battle an enemy none can defeat.
Now he will battle Fate itself.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

This is the first of the Elfhunter books I’ve read, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. It’s labeled as the second in a novella series, but the blurb claimed it could be read on its own, so I went ahead and grabbed it. The blurb was right, the story made perfect sense and now I want to read the novels.

The plot:

I knew how it was going to end. I knew it. I still went through the denial/bargaining stages. I think I’m still going through the bargaining stage, it’s a side effect of too much Supernatural. This is a novella, so the story is short. There is a decent amount of world building, but I suspect there will be more in the full length books.

The characters:

The main focus of the story is Gaelen and Farahin/Ri-Elathan and their tragic love affair. I adored Gaelen because she was just so sweet and innocent, but at the same time brave and courageous. I felt terrible for Farahin, probably because he reminded me of King Arthur with his wisdom and kindness. After millennia of loneliness, he’d finally found his mate and then…

I figured out the gist of how the story would end by reading the blurb, so I’m assuming I’m not spoiling it for you all.

Sometimes I think authors should just cut my heart out and be done with it.

Find Fallen Embers on Goodreads

Find Fallen Embers on Amazon

Argetallam Saga Playlist

With The Secrets of the Vanmars new edition just out, I thought I’d finally unveil my series playlist! While I don’t listen to music while I write (I have concentration issues), I have been known to compile playlists and rock out to them while working through writer’s block. Here are a few song I find inspirational for the Argetallam Saga.

 A New Day Dawning ~ Celtic Thunder

 

This our land, this is where we belong

And here we are destined to be

This is our land where our fathers have spilled

Their blood and their sweat and their tears

We’ll drive the invader back over the sea

Again and again and again and again

Ignore the oceanic reference and this might as well be Brevia’s national anthem. The talk of fighting off invasions, generational love of kingdom and country all fit perfectly for the people of Brevia.

Because of You ~ Kelly Clarkson

 

Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk

Because of you, I play it on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you, I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me

Because of you, I am afraid

I first heard this song years ago when I started work on the earlier books. It makes me think of Janir and Lucan talking about their father and all the ways he’s ruined their outlook on the world—especially Lucan.

Young and Beautiful ~ Lana Del Rey

 

Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?

Will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but my aching soul?

When I heard this, I couldn’t help think of Janir and Saoven. In my mind, this is their official song and it brings to mind their struggles with disproportionate lifespans and their sweet, innocent romance.

Look at Me ~ Celtic Thunder

 

Look at me! I’m bold and I’m charming, debonair, and disarming!

That’s me to a “t”!

Cocky and overconfident. It kind of reminds you of Karile, doesn’t it?

Hail the Hero ~ Celtic Thunder

 

Hail the hero—strong and true!

Fought the fight and saw it through

Swore he’d never be a slave

And gave his life

Our land to save

Everything about this makes me think of something the Argetallams would sing on patriotic holidays and celebrations. Very martial, lots of drums, and brimming with a sense of ethnic pride. (Yes. I listen to lots of Celtic Thunder.)