Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s topic is Problematic Faves: characters you don’t want to love, but you can’t help liking. I’m a sucker for a good morally grey character, and I do like my villains too, so this is actually great category for me. I think we can all agree that, generally speaking, villains shouldn’t be loved or supported, but they do seem to have so much fun being wicked that you can’t help but liking their style. I’ve tried to mostly stick to books because otherwise I’m sure my Top 5 list would just end up being a recitation of all my fave film villains but one did sneak in there because I couldn’t stop him!
(Please note: slightly spoiler-y for relationships in the Grishaverse and The Bone Season books – do not read on if you don’t want to be spoiled.)
5. The Darkling from The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Is the Darkling problematic? Let’s face it, he was always going to be the villain of the Grisha trilogy, there was never any doubt about that, and even the revelations within the story that add some shades of grey to his shady morals are still a little villainous. If I’m perfectly honest, I haven’t re-read this book and my memory is a little hazy so maybe I need to do a re-read, just to check I still like the Darkling. (I’m sure I do.) In the meantime, anyone who says things like this wins my vote:
“Fine, make me your villain”
4. Warden from The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon
It wasn’t until I really digged into the Bone Season reviews and discussions on the internet that I ever really saw Warden as particularly problematic. Some people interpret his and Paige’s relationship as abusive, from the very start, due to her status as his prisoner (regardless of how comfortable he makes her living situation etc. especially in comparison to her counterparts with other Rephaite keepers). However, I didn’t really anticipate the power-play in quite as intense a fashion but, the fact still stands, he was still her keeper in the first book – and somewhat excuses himself by casting himself as a prisoner too since he has to go along with the Rephaite status quo. I don’t care how apologist came across, I LIVED for Paige and Warden’s secret chats in The Bone Season and found him hilariously dry and scathing. I’m trash for it, and I don’t care who knows.
“You may not believe it, but it is what I desire the most in the world. This place has afflicted me with a terrible wanderlust. I long for the fire, for the sights you have seen. Yet here I am, two hundred years after I arrived. Still a prisoner, though I masquerade as a king.”
3. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is particularly good at writing deeply morally suspect characters and then making you care about them, whether they’re little murder babies or not. In fact, the more despicable and murderous, the better. Kaz Brekker definitely exemplifies this trait. He’s not exactly honourable or respectable or even a good person, but he’s compelling as hell and you can’t help but root for him and his shady gang of criminals.
Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
2. Matthias Helvar from Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Yes, I am picking a second character from the same series – deal with it. Matthias Helvar is my moon and stars, the exemplification of a trope I fall for every damn time – that is the smol feisty woman who shocks the tall idiot stick-in-the-mud with her brazenness, much to the chagrin (and eventual love) of the male in question. Matthias is problematic for so many reasons – for one, he first meets Nina as a Fjerdan druskelle, a witchhunter, who kind of kidnaps witches/Grisha like her… so… you know, not the most promising introduction. He has been well-brainwashed and loathes every single thing about her (as any good druskelle soldier would) but obviously he succumbs to her wiles and I love him for every single minute of his tortured epiphany that he’s in love with her.
“Oh, I see. I’m the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles!”
She poked him in the chest.
“No. I’m beguiling you.”
1. Loki from Marvel Cinematic Universe
You know what? I’m not even sorry for including a film character in this one as technically he’s in comic books too, and if we want to be even more pedantic about it, he originated in actual Norse mythology anyhow. However, I love the MCU’s portrayal of him/Tom Hiddleston in general, as you will well know if you’ve been around this blog for any length of time. You could say I’m riding high on that Thor Ragnarok kick but, to be honest, I’m always enamoured with Loki so that’s hardly an excuse. For me, Loki just exemplifies the idea of a villain playing hard at being a villain because they have the most fun,
especially if even if that means almost killing your brother. And to some that’s probably a little problematic. Oops, sorry/not sorry.
That’s it for now, folks, those were my Top 5 problematic favourites.
Who are your problematic favourites?
Be sure to link me to your Top 5 Wednesday post, if you have one, I’d love to read it!