Every Story needs a good Nemesis

A recent Facebook update from the Uncanny Bookclub (read about them here) asked their fans about their favorite villains of all times. This motivated me to think and write about my preferred bad guys. My list includes one adversary from a video game universe, one of the most famous film villains of all time and one literary nemesis.

I’ll start off by talking about Arthas Menethil from the Warcraft Universe.

In the video game Warcraft 3, Prince Arthas Menethil, son of the king of Lordaeron, starts out as a paladin and a beacon of light. When an undead plague overruns his homeland, he ventures out to stop it. But his actions know no boundaries. When he plans to purge a city from all infested citizens, his friends turn his back on him, pushing him further down his doomed path. Desperately clinging to the faint hope of saving his hometown, he seeks the cursed blade Frostmourne. When Arthas acquires the doomed weapon, his soul is lost forever…

The story of Arthas Menethil is the main reason I love the Warcraft universe so much. It starts out in Warcraft 3 and continues on in the add-on “The Frozen Throne” before finding its ultimate end in World Warcraft and its add-on “The Wrath of the Lich King”. Saving his homeland motivates his character and playing the game, you feel his frustration at his failure to stop the scourge. He literally gives his heart and soul for it. Fascinating about him is his transformation from a human paladin to a more powerful and evil being.

Arthas’ story is similar to the one from our next villain. Of course I’m talking about the legendary Darth Vader from the Star Wars universe.
Anakin Skywalker is the “Chosen One”. He is insanely gifted and talented, but also very ambitious and temperamental. Anakin falls in love with Padme Amidala, even though Jedis are warned not to attach themselves to closely. He fears she will die. The Emperor Palpatine, revealed to be the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, convinces him that he can save Amidala by joining the Dark Side. Anakin becomes his apprentice and turns against the Jedi. In his new quest to kill every Jedi he faces off against his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi Master defeats Anakin and leaves him to die after severing his body. However Palpatine recovers his body and places him in the iconic suit…

Darth Vader’ story is the perfect example of how prodigies can fall and how ambition can lead to the dark side. The second part of his story, told in the original trilogy, however is also a great redemption story. I love Anakin/Vader because he feels real. He is immensely talented, but unable to see his faults and limits. He is powerful, but easily manipulated.

The third villain on my list is from one of my favorite childhood books, “The Three Musketeers” and is the cunning Cardinal Richelieu.

The enmity between Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke of Birmingham is one of the larger threads in the story of d’Artagnan and his companions. Richelieu tries to start a war between England and France and comes up with multiple plans and intrigues to do so.

He is one of my favorite villains, because even though the main characters know he is the person responsible for the intrigues, they can do nothing about it. Richelieu is a master at using pawns and making everything untraceable to him. Acting from a position of power, nothing can get to him. When his plans are thwarted time and time again, he actually starts to appreciate the quality of his foes, even handing the three musketeers a promotion to lieutenant.

So, these are three of my favorite villains. Of course, there are many more to choose from.

Which nemesis have you enjoyed in books, games or movies? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!

I’m back on Friday with the return of “An Elusive Hero”. Stay tuned!

Sincerely yours,