Today, I’m listing my five favourite anti-heroes (or heroines) from fantasy novels. Anti-heroes (or heroines) are interesting characters. These are people who are not your typical hero. They may have a noble goal but the way they go about achieving that goal is often not so noble.
There is only one rule for this list, they must have features in a fantasy themed novel. For any on this list that may have appeared in other form so f media, I am only focusing on their characters from the novels. Be warned, there maybe spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned!
5. Kelsier from The Final Empire.
Kicking off this list, we have the Mistborn thief, Kelsier. In The Final Empire, Kelsier decides to kill the Lord Ruler and free the people of the Final Empire. Sounds pretty heroic, but his personal motivation is more about revenge, since the Lord Ruler was responsible for the death of Mare, the woman he loved and for sending Kelsier into the mines. Still the methods that Keslier uses aren’t all that noble, since he isn’t afraid to kill anyone who gets in his way, noble and peasant alike, and causes a lot of destruction to the city of Luthadel. He is at number five because he maybe an anti-hero but in the end his attitude does alter and ultimately his goal is completed.
4. Locke Lamora from The Gentleman Bastards series.
Let’s be honest here, Locke doesn’t have any noble ideals, he merely wants to steal as much money as he can. And he is pretty good at it. So what makes him an anti hero then? He tend s to steal from people who deserve it, like the owner of a gambling house. Just don’t expect him to give any of the stolen money to the poor.
3. Elphaba Thropp from Wicked.
Elphaba, or the Wicked Witch of the West, is at number three. And I know what you’re thinking, the Wicked Witch is definitely a villain. Well, not in Wicked by Gregory Maguire. In the novel it is explained how at birth, Elphaba had been ridiculed and shunned by pretty much everyone around her. That doesn’t stop her from trying to take down the Wizard, who it turns out isn’t quite so wonderful. Unfortunately most people don’t realise this, which immediately sets Elphaba against the people of Oz. So how does she try and stop the Wizard? Help a resistance movement, take over a castle, use sorcery to give monkeys wings and holding a girl against her will. Yes, Elphaba certainly doesn’t use conventional methods to free Oz from the Wizard…
2. Royce Melborn from the Riyria Revelatiosns and the Riyria Chronicles.
On this blog, I’ve made no secret about how much I like Royce as a character. A thief with a troubled childhood, Royce doesn’t hesitate to kill anyone who upsets him or gets in his way. A pragmatist, he even admits he doesn’t care what happens to the kingdoms, as long as he can continue stealing. Ultimately he tends to do the right thing, like saving the Melengar, but he tends to leave with his pockets full of gold and a trail of bodies after him.
1. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.
How could I have a list of fantasy anti-heroes and not include Professor Snape? As one of the people that got to read the Harry Potter books as they were published, it was an interesting journey discovering who Snape really was. At the beginning of the series, he started out as the teacher everyone hates, to becoming the traitor that everyone hates, to ultimately the unsung hero of the series. Pretty much everything Snape does in the series, is to protect Harry Potter, even if it means killing one of the few people that believed in him. Why does he do this? Quite simply, love. Snape loved Harry’s mother and after she was murdered decided to keep that love alive but protecting her son. Snape doesn’t have many heroic qualities on the surface but when the time came, he chose to make the ultimate sacrifice, all in the name of love.
And there were my top five anti-heroes in fantasy. I’ll be honest there were a lot to chose from and it was tough to narrow it down to five. I love to see your favourite anti-heroes (or heroines), so let me know in the comments!
All book cover images came from goodreads.com.