Tor.com content by

Elise Ringo

Villainesses Required: Why the Dark Side Needs More Women

I love villains. I really, really do. In all of their sneering, cackling, impeccably dressed glory.

I’m lucky to be a fan of genre fiction, the home of some of the best villains in popular culture. The ultimate villains—supervillains—are the children of genre fiction. The archetypal Dark Lord is most at home glowering down from spectacular towers in blasted fantasy landscapes. An all-powerful emperor of a single country is one thing—but what about an all-powerful emperor of an entire galaxy?

[But there’s a gender imbalance on the Dark Side…]

Middle-earth: A World on the Edge

“Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” –Gandalf, The Return of the King

Recently, a friend of mine tried to convince me that The Lord of the Rings is a story of good versus evil, a simplistic fable of light triumphing over dark, and that Tolkien liked to write in black and white morality. This is a deep misunderstanding of morality and the nature of conflict in Tolkien’s storytelling: in fact, the pull toward loss and catastrophe is far stronger than the certainty of victory, and the world of Middle-earth is always on the edge of a fall into darkness.

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