In my last post, I talked about the heroes of Shadow’s Son, and this week I want to explore the other side of the tracks.
I’ve always enjoyed writing (and reading about) villains, sometimes even more than the heroes. Even when I was little, I was attracted to the dark side. Darth Vader, the Terminator, Hannibal Lector, the Ringwraiths – these were my idols. They didn’t take shit from anyone. Okay, so maybe they exterminated a few people here and there, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Am I right? (Don’t answer that. I know I have issues.)
When I think back to writing Shadow’s Son, the first villain that comes to mind is Ral. Ral was an accident. He just showed up on the page. I originally planned for him to be just a side character who shows up now and again to irritate Caim and then go away, but from their first interaction on the stairs at The Three Maids, Ral carved out a more unique role for himself.
Ral is Caim’s flipside. He’s what Caim might have become if he started actually enjoying his work. Ral was fun for me because he has no rules. While not as crazy as Heath Ledger’s Joker character, he’s definitely in it for himself and screw everyone else.
Levictus is Caim’s other flipside. Like Caim, he also has a troubled history, but instead of being raised by a nurturing friend like Kas, Levictus is adopted by a man with no scruples, and so any chance he had of letting go of his past and living a normal life is gone from the start. With Levictus, I wanted to show the effects of evil on other evil things. Levictus was created by Vassili, but then grows beyond his creator’s ability to control. That theme of unintended consequences really resonates with me.
Then we come to Archpriest Vassili, the spider at the center of the web. I’ll admit, I don’t really like Vassili much. He’s corrupt, faithless, cowardly, a hypocrite on several levels, and without a single redeeming quality. He ought to run for Congress. But he’s a man with a vision. To be sure, that vision is of himself sitting at the top of the world dictating to everyone else how they should live their lives, but he gets things done, dammit! Well, he tries to, but he’s largely ineffectual because he tries to manipulate events from the back instead of getting in front of them, and that’s something I personally cannot stand. So, killing him off was a pleasure.
There is another villain in the book, one who didn’t get much face time, but who influenced every page. I’m talking about the Shadow. In Shadow’s Son we only get brief glimpses of the real power behind the plots. But the next book will take Caim (and you, Gentle Reader) deeper into the rabbit hole. I suggest you bring a flashlight and something warm to wear.
The villains of Shadow’s Son. Whether you loved them or hated them, I hope you found them compelling.