Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly book discussion with a new topic every Tuesday hosted by Shanah of Bionic Book Worm. It’s each blogger’s job to pick five book-related things (though you’re welcome to pick things from other media, if necessary) that fit the topic.
Today’s topic is the worst rulers (kings, queens, etc.) in books. Well, technically, it was yesterday’s topic but when I started this post, I thought today was Tuesday and since in quarantine every day is simply today, it might as well be.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand: bad rulers. Being a big fantasy reader, I’ve come across a lot of crappy rulers in my day. Sometimes they’re characters you love to hate and others they’re characters you just hate. Out of all the nasty rulers in books, these are the five that stick in my brain the most.
Astrid and Athos Dane
This terrifying duo are the twin king and queen of White London from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. All they care about is power and making sure they keep it. They use compulsion and violence on their enemies, the floor of their palace made from the bones of those they’ve executed. Astrid and Athos are manipulative and bloodthirsty and pure, unadulterated evil. White London may have been dangerous before they took over, but it’s certainly more sinister with them in charge.
Queen Levana Blackburn
Levana, the queen of Luna in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, has always been one of my favorite villains because she genuinely sees herself as the hero of her story. However, while she’s helped Luna succeed as a whole, she’s done it off the backs of those who are less fortunate. She authorizes experiments on boys, turning them into wolf men. She abuses her step-daughter and tries to kill her niece. And then, of course, they’re her mind control abilities. Any good she did for Luna is not worth the cost.
In honor of his prequel coming out soon, I had to include the man in charge of Panem from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Do I even need to explain why he’s one of the worst rulers? He allows the subjugation of his own citizens and allows the Hunger Games to continue. No good leader would do what President Snow does.
The through line between all the Graceling Realms novels by Kristin Cashore, King Leck is deceptive. At first he seems like a good ruler, but he’s actually quite cruel. It’s his secret abilities that make him such a snake in the grass. The evil he inflicts behind the scenes makes him both a formidable opponent and a terrible ruler. In fact, he should just be avoided as all costs.
Okay look, I love the protagonist of The Young Elites by Marie Lu. But she is not a good ruler. Her entire rule is founded on fear and a need for vengeance. Her goal isn’t to make things right for malfettos like her— it’s to take power for herself and make non-malfettos feel the fear and discrimination she and her kind have suffered for years. Adelina is one of my favorite characters and villains, but she is one of the worst rulers I’ve ever seen.
Who do you think are the worst rulers in books? Let’s discuss in the comments!