Ilana C. Myer - Tor/Forge Blog

Heading_title

Close
post-featured-image

“My Big Bad Theory” by Ilana C. Myer, Author of The Poet King

amazonsbns booksamillionsibooks2 94indiebounds

Poster Placeholder of - 29

What makes a villain an interesting character? A complex nemesis? An antagonist worthy of a great epic? Ilana C. Myer, author of The Harp and Ring Sequence, explores the nuances that go into writing a great Big Bad in the below feature. Let us know your favorite literary villains in the comments!

Prophecies unfold, legends turn real, and a war of mythical proportions endangers the realm in Ilana C. Myer’s epic fantasy The Poet King, the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed Fire Dance, continuing The Harp and Ring Sequence.


 

By Ilana C. Myer

Years ago I participated in a panel about villains in science fiction and fantasy, and it got me thinking. I have some pretty strong ideas about villains in fiction, which panel moderator Charlie Jane Anders’ incisive questions forced me to re-examine. And having these ideas clarified in one’s mind is invaluable for a writer’s toolbox.

I thought about how dissatisfied I often am with commentary on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. One of the most common criticisms of Tolkien is that his characterization is “Manichean” (the critics’ word, not mine)—the good guys are very good, the bad guys very bad, and there’s no nuance. I’m done wondering if we read the same book. I’ll just lay out what I think, in the context of what it means to create an effective villain.

It’s true Sauron is not a multi-dimensional villain (despite Elrond’s assertion that he was once good, that “nothing is evil in the beginning”). If you want a complex villain in Tolkien you have to look to Gollum, Saruman, or even Denethor. A villain like Sauron is more of a dark force than a character. He has a different narrative purpose—to galvanize the protagonists, though not just to action. Sauron forces the heroes of Lord of the Rings onto the battleground of the psyche.

Through the Ring—an extension of Sauron—the protagonists contend with their own temptations, weaknesses, and most denied impulses. We see this most clearly in Gollum, who is corrupted by the Ring and presented as a mirror image of Frodo—the person Frodo is in danger of becoming. But we see it with other characters, too, such as Galadriel, whose secret desire for power is laid bare by the Ring. Far from consisting of bland, benign, cloyingly nice good guys, Lord of the Rings depicts characters struggling with what is most alluringly dark within themselves. Each character’s internal battle is unique, depending on the temptation that lies nearest his or her heart.

In my view, a good epic fantasy will usually have more than one kind of villain. In George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire we have outright monsters like Gregor Clegane and Joffrey Baratheon, but also Jaime Lannister whom you might actually want to have a beer with. And then there are the White Walkers, unambiguously evil, the threat everyone will be forced to stand against. The complexity introduced by a variety of antagonists enriches the story. Along the way they hold a dark mirror to the protagonists, revealing who they might become as a consequence of even one misstep—a wrong turn in the road.

My series about poets and enchantment is layered around several antagonists. One is a Court Poet who becomes twisted by dark magic. Another is the Poet King, a natural leader, whose charisma and skill bolster his claims to the throne. He is a figure with many parallels in history, such as, for example, leaders who believe their revolutions justify the sacrifice of innocents: eggs broken to make the omelet.

Such a person may very well have admirable qualities. Certainly they would have the power to mesmerize, to dazzle—but what is underneath? I probed for the humanity in such a character; someone who would later express the fear, “I felt like I was losing myself. Like the enchantments in me had overcome the man.”

The humanizing of an antagonist hinges on what they want—what we desire is where we are most vulnerable. A sympathetic antagonist challenges the reader, makes the reader conflicted about the outcome of the story. I’m of the mind that a conflicted reader is generally a good thing. So perhaps the compassionate author, who secretly loves all the characters, even the bad ones, is in truth the cruelest villain of all.

Order Your Copy:

Placeholder of amazon -42Place holder  of bn- 72 Poster Placeholder of booksamillion- 77ibooks2 18indiebound

post-featured-image

The Life of a Trilogy from the Author of The Poet King

amazonsbns booksamillionsibooks2 89indiebounds

Image Placeholder of - 18Writing one book is hard work, but writing a full blown trilogy? That’s a different kind of beast, according to Ilana C. Myer, author of The Harp and Ring Sequence. From a successful career in journalism to the 2016 presidential inauguration, take a look into one author’s journey from an idea to a successful series.

Ilana C. Myer’s lyrical, high fantasy series The Harp and Ring Sequence tells the tale of a gifted young poet, Kimbralin Amaristoth, who leaves her hate-filled family behind to pursue her dreams under an alias in the capital city of Tamryllin. But as the annual poetry and song festival begins, a dark power rises, causing a plague to spread. Can Lin and her new bard friends recover the lost magic of the Otherworld and enchant their harps with musical word-spells to restore balance to the land of Eivar?

Prophecies unfold, legends turn real, and a war of mythical proportions endangers the realm in Ilana C. Myer’s epic fantasy The Poet King, the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed Fire Dance, continuing The Harp and Ring Sequence.


 

By Ilana C. Myer

A writing career is like the magic drinking horn of Norse mythology. What looks like a decent-sized cup of mead is in fact fathomless, drawing on the depths of the ocean.

Similarly, the five years my books have existed in print represent a fraction of the time that went into them. My first novel, Last Song Before Night, came out in 2015. But the ideas first began to take shape in 2004. A college class in Celtic literature introduced me to the Celtic poets, and the concept of a society in which poets wield magical and political power.

The power of art was very much on my mind at that time—as a college student I’d come face to face with the realities of needing to make rent. Focusing on fiction instead of a stable career was clearly a bad idea.

Why am I compelled to do this? That became the question I looked to art to solve. Through the eyes of poet protagonists, I tried to make sense of my own desire to create. I worked on Last Song Before Night through years when life seemed to throw everything and the kitchen sink to get me to stop. Along the way, I picked up a journalism career and a spouse. I conquered my introverted tendencies to become a journalist in Jerusalem; my first gig was covering the religious city’s gay pride parade. I visited the shelters for African refugees in Tel Aviv and a jail in Lod.  I started to get book review assignments and went looking for more overseas in outlets like the The Globe and Mail and The Huffington Post.

When the book was finished, I returned to New York to find an agent and publisher. The rest is history, though in the fine print you’d see it took two years to find an agent. “Epic fantasy is dead,” people told me in 2011; readers wanted steampunk with zombies or urban fantasy, and nothing else.

Then HBO’s Game of Thrones became huge and who knows—maybe that’s why I’m here, writing these words. Epic fantasy came back.

When Last Song Before Night came out, I learned that journalism hadn’t cured my introversion. It’s one thing to swallow your fear and talk to strangers. It’s an entirely different skill to stand in front of a group of strangers and perform. Fortunately, even someone who is buried at their desk ninety percent of the time can learn people skills. I’m living proof.

Everyone told me how horrible it would be to write the second book. They were right. The first year, I wrote three or four drafts of about 20,000 words. Each time I reached that mark I would discard the draft in a fit of disgust. I was writing the book that I thought was expected of me: It was the second book of a fantasy trilogy, so that called for a siege battle—right? There was the weak king, his seductive queen, a sinister vizier. All so cliché I wanted to puke.

Sometime in the second year, I was chopping vegetables when a scene came to me with such profound impact that I dropped what I was doing to write it down. I saw a palace garden where my characters revealed their true selves. All through that year, my subconscious was at work. It gave me what was missing—the characters’ voices. Once I had them, Fire Dance took shape.

With The Poet King, I knew it would be necessary to return to the origins of the magic that was about to overrun a kingdom. Fire Dance had introduced elements of Al Andalus and Middle Eastern magic to mingle with the Celtic and medieval French influences in Last Song. Now it was time to tie everything together in a finale.

It was also January 2017. Sometime around the president’s inauguration, a chapter came to me: I saw my female protagonist infiltrating the new king’s palace, determined to get close to him—and take him down.

The Poet King grew more gradually after that fevered first chapter, fed on inspirations old and new. My aim throughout was to write a story that would elevate all that had come before and give each character a fitting last turn on the stage.

Someone at a book event once asked how my life has changed since I became a published author. For me the answer was simple: My life is meaningful now that I’m doing what I love.

Writing this trilogy changed me. I look forward to the next thing.

Order Your Copy:

Place holder  of amazon- 30Image Place holder  of bn- 23 Image Placeholder of booksamillion- 56ibooks2 47indiebound

post-featured-image

A Fond Farewell—Series We’re Saying Goodbye to in 2020

A Fond Farewell—Series We’re Saying Goodbye to in 2020

Everything ends eventually, and that is (sadly) true for several Tor series in 2020. This year marks the conclusion of some of our flagship sagas, as well as one epic fantasy that we’re releasing in a four-month sprint (bingebingebinge)! So, if you want to make sure you’re all caught up, here’s a list of everything ending in 2020. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of new and ongoing series to take you well into 2020—and beyond!

Placeholder of  -64Heart of Black Ice– The Nicci Chronicles –Terry Goodkind 

Taken captive by their enemies, King Grieve, Lila, and Bannon are about to discover the terrifying force that threatens to bring destruction to the Old World. The Norukai, barbarian raiders and slavers, have been gathering an immense fleet among the inhospitably rocky islands that make up their home and are poised to launch their final and most deadly war.

ON SALE NOW!

 

Image Placeholder of - 78Song of the Risen God– The Coven Series – R.A. Salvatore 

The once forgotten Xoconai empire has declared war upon the humans west of the mountains, and only a small band of heroes stand in the way of the God Emperor’s grasp of power. But not all hope is lost. Far away, an ancient tomb is uncovered with the power to stop the onslaught of coming empire and, possibly, reshape the very world itself.

ON SALE NOW!

 

Poster Placeholder of - 24Servant of the Crown– Dragonslayer Trilogy – Duncan M. Hamilton 

A swordsman and a dragon make an unlikely pair as they team up to defeat the Prince Bishop. This trilogy started just a year ago, so if you haven’t gotten hooked yet, now is the time to dive in. Come for the swordplay and magic, stay for the compelling characters searching for meaning in their lives.

ON SALE: 03/10/2020

 

Place holder  of - 83The Poet King– The Harp and Ring Sequence – Ilana C. Myer 

The nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler, who proclaims himself the first Poet King despite not all in court supporting the regime change. Meanwhile, a civil war rages in a distant land, and former Court Poet Lin Amaristoth gathers allies old and new to return to Tamryllin in time to stop the coronation.

ON SALE: 03/24/2020

 

Image Place holder  of - 83Last Emperox – The Interdependency – John Scalzi 

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from her enemies, but “control” is a slippery thing, and the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne.

ON SALE: 04/14/2020

 

Queen – The Sibyl’s War Series  Timothy Zahn

Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philadelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship called the Fyrantha.

ON SALE: 04/14/2020

 

 

The Cerulean Queen– The Nine Realms Series – Sarah Kozloff 

 The series that starts AND ends in 2020! Perfect for binging, this is an epic fantasy that’s part kick-ass Disney princess and part Game of Thrones. The exiled Princess Cerulia of Weirandale was raised in obscurity. She has no resources, no army, nothing that can help her against her enemies—except their gods.

ON SALE: 04/21/2020

 

Critical Point – The Cas Russell Series – S.L. Huang 

When a demolitions expert targets math-genius mercenary Cas Russell and her friends, the hidden conspiracy behind her past starts to reappear. The past, present, and future collide in a race to save one of her dearest friends.

ON SALE: 04/28/2020

 

 

 The Shadow Commission – The Dark Arts Trilogy – David Mack

In The Shadow Commission we jump forward almost another decade from the events in the previous Dark Arts novel, The Iron Codex. Now it’s November 1963, and Cade and Anja have been living in hiding, training new mages. But when President Kennedy is assassinated, a series of murders whose victims are all magicians forces Cade and Anja to learn how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

ON SALE: 06/9/2020

 

The Unconquered City – Chronicles of Ghadid – K.A. Doore 

Seven years after the Siege — a time when the hungry dead had risen — elite assassin Illi Basbowen must find the source of the monstrous guul that travel across the dunes. How much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

ON SALE: 06/16/2020

 

 

In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows – Eirlandia – Stephen R. Lawhead 

Conor mac Ardan is now clan chief of the Darini. Tara’s Hill has become a haven and refuge for all those who were made homeless by the barbarian Scálda. But when a large fleet of the Scalda’s Black Ships arrives, Conor must join Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

ON SALE: 07/14/2020

 

The Last Uncharted Sky – The Risen Kingdoms Series – Curtis Craddock 

Isabelle and Jean-Claude undertake an airship expedition to recover a fabled treasure and claim a hitherto undiscovered craton for l’Empire Celeste, but the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition. Meanwhile, a royal conspiracy threatens to undo the entire realm.

ON SALE: 08/11/2020

 

Breath by Breath – Step by Step Series – Morgan Llywelyn 

The residents of Sycamore River emerge from nuclear war caused by the Change and its effects on technology. As they try to rebuild their shattered lives, they discover the Change continues and that for some, the air has become lethally toxic.

ON SALE: 08/25/2020

 


The Hellion – Malus Domestica 
S.A. Hunt 

Robin Martine has destroyed witches all across the country, and now makes her way to the deserts of rural Texas where a dangerous gang leader wields an iron fist over his wife and daughter. Robin vows to protect these Latina women from harm, but may be underestimating how powerful Santiago Valenzuela is… and how his shapeshifting powers may pose a threat to everyone Robin holds dear.

ON SALE: 09/15/2020

post-featured-image

$2.99 eBook Sale: February 2020

It’s the start of a new month and that means—SALES!!! Check out what Tor eBooks you can grab for $2.99 throughout the entire month of February below:

Image Place holder  of - 81Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Just in time! Last Song Before Night is now on sale for $2.99 so you can get started on The Harp and Ring Sequence series before The Poet King hits shelves on 03/24.

Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.

On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression-from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar’s connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.

The Red Death’s return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld-a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.

Order Your Copy

kindleanookaebooksagoogle playaibooks2 61koboa

 

Placeholder of  -56Starship Repo by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Firstname Lastname is a no one with nowhere to go. With a name that is the result of an unfortunate clerical error and destined to be one of the only humans on an alien space station. That is until she sneaks aboard a ship and joins up with a crew of repomen (they are definitely not pirates).

Now she’s traveling the galaxy “recovering” ships. What could go wrong?

Order Your Copy

kindlebnookbebooksbgoogle playbibooks2 4kobob

 

Poster Placeholder of - 11Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan’s Turning Darkness Into Light is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorianesque fantasy landscape.

As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, Audrey must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

Order Your Copy

kindlecnookcebookscgoogle playckoboc

 

Place holder  of - 10Kingmaker by Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

From New York Times bestselling author and leading fantasists Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes comes Kingmaker, the thrilling conclusion to the swashbuckling Dragon Corsairs series.

In this exciting adventure, Kate and Sophia and their dragon Dalgren form a desperate plan to free Phillip from prison. Thomas is crowned king and discovers a plot by King Ullr to invade Freya. And Henry is forced to flee to the Aligoes where he makes a discovery that could change the fortunes of his beleaguered nation.

Order Your Copy

kindlenookebooksPlaceholder of google play -72kobo

post-featured-image

New Releases: 4/10/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

The Fairies of Sadieville by Alex Bledsoe

Image Place holder  of - 37 “This is real.” Three small words on a film canister found by graduate students Justin and Veronica, who discover a long-lost silent movie from more than a century ago. The startlingly realistic footage shows a young girl transforming into a winged being. Looking for proof behind this claim, they travel to the rural foothills of Tennessee to find Sadieville, where it had been filmed.

Soon, their journey takes them to Needsville, whose residents are hesitant about their investigation, but Justin and Veronica are helped by Tucker Carding, who seems to have his own ulterior motives. When the two students unearth a secret long hidden, everyone in the Tufa community must answer the most important question of their entire lives — what would they be willing to sacrifice in order to return to their fabled homeland of Tír na nÓg?

Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer

Poster Placeholder of - 78 Lin, newly initiated in the art of otherwordly enchantments, is sent to aid her homeland’s allies against vicious attacks from the Fire Dancers: mysterious practitioners of strange and deadly magic. Forced to step into a dangerous waltz of tradition, treachery, and palace secrets, Lin must also race the ticking clock of her own rapidly dwindling life to learn the truth of the Fire Dancers’ war, and how she might prevent death on a scale too terrifying to contemplate.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Image Placeholder of - 80 Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the Director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly’s plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth.

Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. There’s more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

NEW FROM TOR.COM

Taste of Wrath by Matt Wallace

Placeholder of  -33 Bronko and his team of crack chefs and kitchen staff have been serving the New York supernatural community for decades. But all that could be about to change. The entity formerly known as Allensworth has been manipulating Bronko and his team from Day One, and the gang at Sin du Jour have had enough.

Old debts are called in, and an alliance is formed with the unlikeliest of comrades.

Some will die. Some will descend. And some will rise.

NEW IN MANGA

Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor Vol. 3 Story by Hitsuji Tarou; Art by Tsunemi Aosa

Magical Girl Apocalypse Vol. 14 Story and art by Kentaro Sato

My Monster Secret Vol. 10 Story and Art by Eiji Masuda

post-featured-image

$2.99 eBook Sale: Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Poster Placeholder of - 95The ebook edition of Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer is on sale now for only $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today.

About Last Song Before Night: Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.

On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression-from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar’s connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.

The Red Death’s return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld – a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.

Order Your Copy

kindle nook ebooks.com Poster Placeholder of google play- 46 ibooks2 22 kobo

This sale ends March 2nd.

post-featured-image

New Releases: 11/8/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

At the Sign of Triumph by David Weber

At the Sign of Triumph by David WeberThe Church of God Awaiting’s triumph over Charis was inevitable. Despite its prosperity, the Charis was a single, small island realm. It boasted less than two percent of the total population of Safehold. How could it possibly resist total destruction? The Church had every reason to be confident of a swift, crushing victory, an object lesson to other rebels. But Charis had something far more powerful than simple numbers.

Alien Morning by Rick Wilber

Alien Morning by Rick WilberPeter Holman is a freelance sweeper. The year 2030 sees a new era in social media with sweepcasting, a multisensory interface that can convey every thought, touch, smell, sight, and sound, immersing the audience in another person’s experience. The fate of two civilizations depends on one troubled family in Rick Wilber’s science-fiction adventure Alien Morning.

Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson

Belle Chasse by Suzanne JohnsonSuzanne Johnson’s “strong and intriguing” (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.

Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood by Lara Parker

Dark Shadows: Heiress of CollinwoodDark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood is the continuing story of the classic TV show, Dark Shadows by series star, Lara Parker. An orphan with no knowledge of her origins, Victoria Winters first came to the great house of Collinwood as a Governess. It didn’t take long for the Collins family’s many buried secrets, haunted history, and rivalries with evil forces to catch up to Victoria and cast the newcomer adrift in time, trapped between life and death.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

The Iron Beast by Andy Remic

The Iron Beast by Andy RemicA war is being waged in an impossible world. The Skogsgra and the Naravelle have launched their final offensive, and Private Jones and his companions are caught in the melee. Tens of thousands will die before the battle is over. They travel deep underground, to find and release the Iron Beast… the one creature that can end not one world war, but two.

NOW IN PAPERBACK:

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert by Frank Herbert

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert by Frank HerbertFrank Herbert, the New York Times bestselling author of Dune, is one of the most celebrated and commercially successful science fiction writers of all time. But while best known for originating the character of Paul Atreides and the desert world of Arrakis, Herbert was also a prolific writer of short fiction. His stories were published individually in numerous pulps and anthologies spanning decades, but never collected. Until now.

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. MyerA high fantasy following a young woman’s defiance of her culture as she undertakes a dangerous quest to restore her world’s lost magic in Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night. Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.

NEW IN MANGA

Devils and Realist Vol. 11 Story by Madoka Takadono; Art by Utako Yukihiro

A Centaur’s Life Vol. 10 Story & Art by Kei Murayama

Re:Monster Vol 1 Story by Kanekiru Kogitsune; Art by Kobayakawa Haruyoshi

Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner Vol. 3Story by Nanatsuki Takafumi; Art by Risumai

post-featured-image

My Big Bad Theory

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer
Written by Ilana C. Myer

Recently at Bookcon I participated in a panel about villains in science fiction and fantasy, and it got me thinking. I have some pretty strong ideas about villains in fiction, which panel moderator Charlie Jane Anders’ incisive questions forced me to re-examine. And having these ideas clarified in one’s mind is invaluable for a writer’s toolbox.

I thought about how dissatisfied I often am with commentary on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. One of the most common criticisms of Tolkien is that his characterization is “Manichean” (the critics’ word, not mine)—the good guys are very good, the bad guys very bad, and there’s no nuance. I’m done wondering if we read the same book. I’ll just lay out what I think, in the context of what it means to create an effective villain.

It’s true Sauron is not a multi-dimensional villain (despite Elrond’s assertion that he was once good, that “nothing is evil in the beginning”). If you want a complex villain in Tolkien you have to look to Gollum, Saruman, or even Denethor. A villain like Sauron is more of a dark force than a character. He has a different narrative purpose—to galvanize the protagonists, though not just to action. Sauron forces the heroes of Lord of the Rings onto the battleground of the psyche.

Through the Ring—an extension of Sauron—the protagonists contend with their own temptations, weaknesses, and most denied impulses. We see this most clearly in Gollum, who is corrupted by the Ring and presented as a mirror image of Frodo—the person Frodo is in danger of becoming. But we see it with other characters, too, such as Galadriel, whose secret desire for power is laid bare by the Ring. Far from consisting of bland, benign, cloyingly nice good guys, Lord of the Rings depicts characters struggling with what is most alluringly dark within themselves. Each character’s internal battle is unique, depending on the temptation that lies nearest his or her heart.

In my view, a good epic fantasy will usually have more than one kind of villain, or flawed hero. In George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire we have outright monsters like Gregor Clegane and Joffrey Baratheon, but also Jaime Lannister whom you might actually want to have a beer with. And then there are the White Walkers, unambiguously evil, the threat everyone will be forced to stand against. The complexity introduced by a variety of antagonists enriches the story.

My debut novel about poetry and enchantments, Last Song Before Night, is layered around several antagonists. One of these is a Court Poet who becomes twisted by dark magic. Others act from impulses painfully human, or as a result of irreparable hurt. Along the way they hold a dark mirror to the protagonists, revealing who they might become as a consequence of even one misstep—a wrong turn in the road.

The humanizing of an antagonist hinges on what they want—what we desire is where we are most vulnerable. A sympathetic antagonist challenges the reader, makes the reader conflicted about the outcome of the story. I’m of the mind that a conflicted reader is generally a good thing. So perhaps the compassionate author, who secretly loves all the characters, even the bad ones, is in truth the cruelest villain of all.

Buy Last Song Before Night today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow Ilana C. Myer on Twitter at @IlanaCT and on her website.

On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in October

Shadows of Self by Brandon SandersonRadiance by Catherynne M. ValenteWhat You See by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in October! Once a month, we’re collecting info about all of our upcoming author events. Check and see who will be coming to a city near you:

Howie Carr, Killers

Friday, October 30
Concord Library Festival of Authors’ Mystery Night (panel discussion)
Concord Free Public Library
Concord, MA
7:30 PM

Cindy Dees, The Sleeping King

Thursday, October 1
Books Inc.
Mountain View, CA
7:00 PM

William R. Forstchen, One Year After

Saturday, October 10
Blue Ridge Books
Waynesville, NC
3:00 PM

Ian McDonald, Luna: New Moon

Sunday, October 4
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
2:00 PM

Victor Milán, The Dinosaur Lords

Sunday, October 18
Bookworks
Albuquerque, NM
3:00 PM

Jaime Lee Moyer, Against a Brightening Sky

Tuesday, October 6
Barnes & Noble
San Antonio, TX
6:00 PM

Thursday, October 8
Ingram Festival
Barnes & Noble
San Antonio, TX
6:00 PM

Saturday, October 17
Murder by the Book
Houston, TX
4:30 PM

Ilana C. Myer, Last Song Before Night

Thursday, October 1
The Red Room above KGB Bar
Also with Seth Dickinson
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Saturday, October 3
Barnes & Noble
Forest Hills, NY
3:00 PM

Hank Phillippi Ryan, What You See

Wednesday, October 21
Foxtale Books
Woodstock, GA
6:30 PM

Thursday, October 22
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA
7:00 PM

Tuesday, October 27
Mystery to Me Bookstore
Madison, WI
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 28
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Oakmont, PA
6:30 PM

Brandon Sanderson, Shadows of Self

Tuesday, October 6
BYU Bookstore
Provo, UT
12:00 AM
Midnight Release

Tuesday, October 6
Tattered Cover
Denver, CO
6:00 PM

Wednesday, October 7
Murder by the Book
Houston, TX
6:30 PM

Thursday, October 8
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
6:00 PM

Friday, October 9
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
12:00 PM

Friday, October 9
Kepler’s Books
Menlo Park, CA
7:30 PM

Saturday, October 10
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
6:00 PM

Monday, October 12
Barnes & Noble
Oak Brook, IL
7:00 PM

Tuesday, October 13
Schuler Books & Music
Lansing, MI
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 14
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA
6:00 PM

Catherynne M. Valente, Radiance

Saturday, October 10
New York Comic Con Signing
Tor Booth #2223
Javits Center: New York, NY
5:00 PM

Sunday, October 11
New York Comic Con Panel: Get Out of Your Chair and Off the Planet!
Room A101
Javits Center: New York, NY
1:30 PM
Signing to follow

Tuesday, October 20
WORD Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 22
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, WA
7:00 PM

Friday, October 23
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Saturday, October 24
The Last Bookstore
Los Angeles, CA
7:30 PM

Monday, October 26
Tattered Cover
Los Angeles, CA
7:00 PM

Tuesday, October 27
Anderson’s Bookshop
Naperville, IL
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 29
Avid Bookshop
Athens, GA
7:00 PM

Friday, October 30
Malaprops
Asheville, NC
7:00 PM

Fran Wilde, Updraft

Tuesday, October 13
Wellesley Books
Also with Seth Dickinson and Ilana C. Myer
Wellesley, MA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 14
Book-A-Million
Also with Seth Dickinson and Ilana C. Myer
South Portland, ME
5:00 PM

Thursday, October 15
The Toadstool Bookshop
Also with Seth Dickinson and Ilana C. Myer
Milford, NH
6:30 PM

Saturday, October 17
Northshire Bookshop
Also with Seth Dickinson and Ilana C. Myer
Saratoga Springs, NY
6:30 PM

Sunday, October 18
Northshire Bookshop
Also with Seth Dickinson and Ilana C. Myer
Manchester Center, VT
4:00 PM

Wednesday, October 21
Northshire Bookshop
Book sold by WORD Bookstore.
New York, NY
7:00 PM

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.