Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

This term is primarily used for the more routine bad guys in Genre Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy, Low Fantasy, etc. Mere villains lack the stature of Antiheroes or of major forces of Evil like Dark Lords, Demons and Satan. They tend to have peculiarly human flaws: Gandolf of Utterbol in William Morris's The Well at the World's End (1896) indulges his sadism so thoughtlessly and indiscriminately that his own followers heap honours on his killer; Altiokis in Barbara Hambly's The Ladies of Mandrigyn (1984) is fatally small-minded; the Supreme Grand Master in Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards! (1989) bullies his acolytes but cowers abjectly before the freed Dragon which they have summoned. Sword and Sorcery in particular, owing to its open-ended nature, requires a steady supply of Wizard and Witch villains to be defeated by Conan and his literary descendants; the relentless publishing schedules of Comics similarly demand a flow of plausible opposition for Superheroes. [DRL]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.