February 2018 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: February 2018

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Traitors’ Fate: The Tale that Binds

Fancy post title, right? It’s referring to the fact that Traitors’ Fate connects the story of Ilanna from the Queen of Thieves series directly to the Hunter of Voramis from the Hero of Darkness (fka The Last Bucelarii) series. To sum it up, Ilanna is responsible for hiring the Hunter to kill Lord Damuria, which in turn sets him against the Bloody Hand, which leads to all the fun of Darkblade Assassin (fka Blade of the Destroyer) and beyond.

I was so thrilled to have one last jaunt into Ilanna’s world, and I loved writing her life set eight years after the events of Queen of the Night Guild. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Traitors’ Fate: A Queen of Thieves Epic Fantasy Novel

One Death Changes Two Cities Forever

Ilanna, Master of the Night Guild, has waged a war for eight years to cleanse her city of the rival criminal organization that nearly destroyed it. When she uncovers a ring of slavers trafficking young girls for sexual servitude around the continent, she is forced to venture into the city of Voramis, the seat of her enemy’s power, to hunt down the true culprit and put an end to the enslavement of innocents.

But her enemies will not be so easily eliminated. She must turn to the one man certain to get the job done: the Hunter, legendary assassin of Voramis.

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The Hunter willingly accepts a fortune in gold to kill one of the richest men in his city. A mansion fortress and a private army should prove no match for his inhuman abilities.

But as he stalks his target, he unmasks a bloodthirsty conspiracy in the guise of a holy mission. If he doesn’t stop the men responsible, the gruesome murders will continue and people—including those he has sworn to protect—will die.

Fans of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, and Joe Abercrombie will devour Traitors’ Fate!

 

Note: This book is a standalone that takes place after the events of Queen of Thieves Book 3. Suggested reading order:

Child of the Night Guild

Thief of the Night Guild

Queen of the Night Guild

Traitors’ Fate

Here’s a Little Taste:

Ilanna didn’t glance back—she had no need to worry about the dark-skinned woman—but sprinted across the rooftop toward the trapdoor that led into the warehouse’s upper level. Figures wearing dark grey cloaks seemed to appear from the darkness. She nodded at the apprentices of House Hawk, the third-story thieves of the Night Guild, and reached for the door.

“No!” hissed Tandril, a broad-shouldered youth with a patchy beard and long, dark hair. “I have express orders from Master Hawk not to let you take any unnecessary risks.”

Ilanna snorted. “Mother hen Bryden is worried for me, eh?”

Tandril’s eyes slid away. Everyone in the Night Guild knew Bryden, Master of House Hawk, had little love for his Guild Master.

“Get that door open and get out of my way, Tandril,” Ilanna commanded. “You and the other apprentices need to get back to the Aerie.”

Tandril bristled and opened his mouth, no doubt to protest that he wanted in on the action below.

“Mouth shut, and follow orders, apprentice.” Ilanna’s tone left no room for argument. “The Hawks have done their job to satisfaction. Let the others do theirs.”

Tandril hesitated a moment, and Ilanna stepped forward. Swallowing, the Hawk apprentice bent and tugged the trapdoor open.

A hand gripped Ilanna’s arm and held her back.

“Me first,” Ria said, stepping in front of her and drawing her assegai, a spear with a forearm-length shaft that ended in a long leaf-shaped blade.

Ilanna raised an eyebrow. “Don’t for a minute think I’ll let you order me around just because I’m sweet on you.”

Ria grinned. “I’m pretty sure you will.” With a wink, she twirled the spear once and descended the steps into the warehouse.

Ilanna followed a step behind, long, slim sword and dagger held at the ready.

Darkness met her eyes, but the sounds of fighting echoed from the lower floors. Ria slipped through the empty halls with the grace of a desert greatcoat. Ilanna couldn’t help admiring the lithe, willowy frame ahead of her.

The sound of booted feet grew louder, and a heavy-set man raced around the corner, lantern jangling in his hand. He lurched to a halt as he caught sight of the two women.

Ria danced forward, her short spear stabbing out like a viper’s flicking tongue. The man gave a strangled cry and crumpled. Blood gushed from the puncture in his throat, mixing with the oil seeping from the shattered lamp beside him.

Ilanna pushed past Ria and burst through the next door.

A disheveled, sweat-soaked man leapt to his feet, fumbling in desperation at the breeches around his ankles. His eyes flew wide as Ilanna rested the tip of her rapier against the base of his throat.

“Please!” The man’s hands flew up, causing his trousers to drop. “Don’t harm me. I-I’m just…”

“I know exactly who you are, Lord Illiran,” she snarled, her voice cold as the Frozen Sea.

The nobleman’s face turned an interesting shade of beet red, sickly green, and terrified white. “I-I…” he stammered.

Ilanna’s lip curled into a sneer. “Better you say nothing, my lord.” She spat the words. “I’ve no mind to kill you, but one wrong word from your mouth could change that.”

Lord Illiran’s mouth snapped shut.

“Good. Now sit in that corner and don’t move. If you’re not here when I return, the Night Guild will be paying you a visit shortly. Do you understand?”

The nobleman’s head bobbed as he hastened to obey.

Ilanna turned her attention to Ria. The dark-skinned girl hovered over the bed—if a pathetic pile of straw covered in a filthy sheet could be called such—that Lord Illiran had recently vacated. Its occupant was a girl that couldn’t be older than thirteen or fourteen, with an emaciated face, filthy skin, and little more than rags for covering.

“How bad is she?” Ilanna asked.

“Bad.” Ria pressed a finger to the girl’s neck. “Pulse is weak, and her breath is weak.”

“Bonedust?”

Ria nodded, her face grim.

Ilanna swore and produced a corked phial from her pouch. “Will one dose suffice?”

“I don’t know.” Ria’s brow furrowed. “The way she’s lying there, it looks like they’ve been over-dosing her for weeks. But I’m no Tyman.”

Tyman was not only Master of the poisoners and potion-makers of House Scorpion; he was also the Night Guild’s preeminent healer. He had been the one to brew up the potion to counteract the hallucinogenic, paralytic, and addictive effects of Bonedust, the narcotic named for both its color and the way it caused rapid bone degeneration. Its effects simply slowed down the physical decay, but couldn’t fully stop it.

Ilanna cursed again. “The moment we’re done here, I’ll make sure the Bloodbears transport her and any others in bad shape back to Tyman first.”

Ria nodded and bent over the girl again. “I think it might be too late for her, but we can hope.”

Anger swirled in Ilanna’s gut, and it took all her self-control not to lash out at Lord Illiran. The thought of what he’d been doing to the girl, the same age as her own son and too drugged to resist, brought back memories of what had been done to her.

The girl muttered something inaudible. Ria bent her ear to the girl’s mouth.

“What’s she saying?” Ilanna asked.

Ria shook her head. “It’s too faint to—”

“…ti-dote.” The girl spoke louder.

“Antidote?” Ria demanded.

The girl nodded, a tiny movement of her chin. Ilanna waited with bated breath for her to say more, but the girl lay listless and silent, her lips blue, mouth hanging slack, only the whites of her eyes showing.

Damn it.

“Go,” Ria said. “Do what you need to do. I’ll stay with her.” She hefted her assegai. “And keep an eye on him.”

Lord Illiran refused to meet her eyes as she stalked from the room.

 

Prepare for a Wild Ride!

The book will be discounted to 99 cents for just a few more days, so get it now!

 

 

 

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Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Mirror

Cain

Dark Link

Qurrah Tun

These antagonists are similar or identical to the protagonists—similar upbringing, lifestyle, heritage, and skillset—but somewhere along the line they made a choice that set them on diverging paths with the protagonist. They reflect the protagonist’s strengths, weaknesses, and morality, but where the protagonist makes the “right” choice, the Mirror Antagonist makes the “wrong” one.

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Mirror: The Origin

The “Mirror” type character appears in one of the oldest stories in recorded history: the story of Cain and Abel. Both were raised by the same parents in the same environment, yet they made choices that led them down drastically different paths—specifically, Cain made the choice to kill Abel.

Essentially, a “Mirror” antagonist is someone who is similar or identical to the protagonist in any number of ways:

  • They can be in the same organization (military, religious, political, etc.) and have the same ultimate goal. Their methods for reaching that goal is what sets them apart.
  • They can come from the same family (brothers or sisters) and have the same upbringing—good or bad. The psychological effects that upbringing had on them will often determine who they ultimately become.
  • They can have the same skills, but their ways of using those skills set them apart (assassins vs. king’s bodyguard, paladin vs. death knight, soldier vs. mercenary, and so on).

Usually, the Mirror will differ from the protagonist in one significant way: their morality, their actions/methods, or their desires.

The Mirror will serve as a reflection for the protagonist to example his flaws, failings, and weaknesses, usually for the purpose of character growth and improvement. However, they can also be used as the primary antagonist to force the protagonist to develop an important skill.

My favorite way of using a Mirror antagonist is to showcase how one simple choice can lead to drastically different ends. One chose the “right” path—self-sacrifice, selflessness, humility, courage, or justice. The other chose the “wrong” path—selfishness, cowardice, pride, greed, or anger. Even if they only made the choice ONCE, that single choice led them down diverging paths. With every successive choice, they can either return to the “right” or go deeper into the “wrong”. The Mirror serves as a way to illustrate what happens when we make the “wrong” choice.

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Mirror: In Stories

The Mirror tends to be one of the more complex types of antagonists. They can easily shift between ally and enemy, and they can be fully redeemed. However, they are most effective when used opposite the protagonist:

  • Artemis Entreri in the Forgotten Realms novels is the perfect mirror image to Drizzt Do’Urden. He is as cunning and lethal as Drizzt, but his lack of morality makes him do things that the highly moral drow would never consider, thus making him an antagonist.
  • Qurrah Tun from David Dalglish’s Half Orcs series is the twin brother of the more “heroic” Harruq Tun, but he becomes the series’ primary antagonist because he is willing to serve the death prophet that offers him power.
  • Gollum from The Lord of the Rings was once a hobbit just like Frodo Baggins, but he was seduced by the power of the One Ring, which ultimately transformed him into the creature he became.

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Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Trickster

Loki

Anansi

Mica.

These names speak of gods and supernatural entities that are not villains by definition, but rather mischievous antagonists. Their actions tend to set them at odds with the protagonist, as they foil, delay, or stymie the efforts of the “hero” to achieve their end goal. However, the darker versions of these characters trend almost exclusively toward the “evil”.

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Trickster: The Origins

Tricksters, particularly trickster gods, have been a staple of mythology since ancient cultures.

  • Loki from Norse mythology was more cunning than all the other gods, and he would use his trickery to turn the tables, control the other gods, or get himself out of trouble.
  • The Lakota tribes had Iktomi, a spider-trickster and shapeshifter who can control gods as well as humans.
  • The Asante people of Ghana told tales of Anansi, the spider god. He was popular among the slaves brought to the Caribbean and New World because he used his cunning and trickery to gain the upper hand over his powerful oppressors.

Trickster characters aren’t typically evil—they simply use their cunning and deceit to get what they want, usually through underhanded means. Given that honesty is one of the more “heroic” traits, it stands to reason that this sort of deceitful character would be considered a villain or antagonist.

At the core of their being, tricksters want the same thing we all do: freedom. Their imperative is to act against the established rule of law, the gods, or the parts of their society that prevent them from doing what they want to.

Psychologists have established that rule-breakers tend to appear more powerful than those who adhere to the law strictly. Subjects in one study believed that rule breakers had more power and control, and were more easily able to get others to do what they want.

There’s just one problem with their actions: they break many rules that were established for the wellbeing of those around them. Tricksters tend to be self-absorbed and selfish, with their focus on themselves, their desires, and their hurts. Thus, their actions, while not intended to harm others, often end up affecting people negatively.

There are, of course, master manipulators who use cruel means to achieve their ends, sadists who use their cunning to hurt and control others, and sociopaths who manipulate others without their ever realizing it. However, the more “classic” trickster is usually someone “playing to type”—i.e. it is in their nature and personality to be cunning, and they have lower conscientiousness than the average rule-follower.

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In Stories

Tricksters are typically secondary antagonists, and their motives are rarely full-on evil:

  • Loki in the original Thor movie was far more trickster and less world conqueror, and that portrayal continues throughout the other Thor movies.
  • Reynard the Fox from The Magicians is one of the darker tricksters, and a downright criminal.
  • Littlefinger in the Game of Thrones TV series is reminiscent of a trickster, using his cunning and deceit to manipulate others to get what he wants: power.

From simply mischievous to downright evil, tricksters come in many shades of moral grey.

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Book Review: Queen of the Night Guild by Andy Peloquin

As I always do after each book launch, I’m posting the reviews of my latest book. Don’t worry, these aren’t reviews done by me, but readers who posted to Amazon and Goodreads after buying/reading the book.

I have to say that I’m so thrilled that people are loving the final story in the Queen of Thieves series. It was pretty nerve-wracking for me to finish up the series, so I’m stoked that it’s being received well. With no further ado…

Queen of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 3)

“I am Ilanna, Journeyman of House Hawk… and vengeance will be mine.” 

Ilanna has lost everything: her friends, her home, her family, her dreams of freedom.

All that remains is a burning desire to find the bastards who burned down her city and tried to kill her.

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But a traitor hides among the ranks of the Night Guild, poisoning her friends and allies with lies.
Cast out and condemned to death, Ilanna has no choice but to turn to old enemies to save not only her life, but her Guild and city in the process.

Read the breathtaking, heart-stopping conclusion to the Queen of Thieves series!

Reviews:

5 Stars — Where do you go when you have nothing left? Who do you trust when you’re completely alone? “The Queen of the Night Guild” is so addicting you won’t want to put it down! With all the high drama, unexpected twists and turns in the story line and phenomenally written characters who inject their every experience and emotion into you, you feel as if you’ve experienced the udder devastation, grief, and confusion swirling through this series. It is the perfect culmination of a multitude of threads from situations and relationships experienced by the main character, her friends and associates. – KElizabeth Green (Amazon reviewer)

5 Stars — Talk about a thrilling culmination of The Queen of Thieves series. This is where it all ties together and you get to see the whole picture. All of the could haves, and what ifs rear their ugly head. Ilanna yet again is in a place where most would give up and quit trying. Yet revenge keeps burning like a fever. This is the sort of series you will want to read again just to watch how it all went down in a different light. – Fawnzy, Amazon Reviewer

Here’s a Taste:

Ilanna’s hand darted to her sword. The pain of her scorched flesh didn’t stop her from drawing the blade.

“Wait!” Master Gold’s voice cracked like a whip. “Follow me.”

He scurried from the Guild Council Chamber. Ilanna fell in step behind him, her eyes wary. Chaos reigned in the Night Guild. From all around, cries, shouts, and the clash of steel echoed off the earthen walls of the tunnels. Men hurried to and fro, directionless, uncertain where the threat came from.

Yet Master Gold led them away from the tumult.

“Where are we going?” Ilanna demanded. “We need to fight.”

“No.” Master Gold shook his head. “We need to hide.”

Ilanna jerked to a stop. “What?” Fury burned in her chest. “We’re under attack, and your first thought is for your own skin?”

“Think about it, Ilanna.” The words poured from his mouth in a rush. “I am Master of the Night Guild. What will happen to the Guild if I am killed, or worse, captured?”

“But we don’t know who’s attacking us!” Ilanna half-turned toward the sound of fighting. “We have to find out more.”

Master Gold gripped her arm. “Does it really matter?” His jaw muscles worked. “Either the Duke’s Arbitors have found our tunnels, or the Bloody Hand has. There’s no heroism in dying today.”

Ilanna clenched her fists. “Damn it, Master Gold! We have to help.” The clash of steel and the cries of fighting men grew louder.

“No, we don’t.” The Guild Master shook his head. “We need to be safe. House Serpent and House Bloodbear were formed for just this eventuality. They’ve enough fighters between them to drive out a small army.”

“They’re going to get killed!” Ilanna protested.

“And they’ve known that since the first day they were chosen by their Houses. Just as you knew what would happen if you were caught in the wrong mansion.” He gripped her sword arm. “But I must live. If we are to recover from this, we will need a clear head and a firm hand to direct our next step. You know as well as I that there is no one better suited to leading the Guild in a time like this than me. If that means I must act the coward and hide, so be it. I do it for the Guild.”

Ilanna looked in his eyes. His expression showed no sign of fear, only the cold pragmatism that had made him such a useful ally. He spoke the truth. That didn’t mean she had to like it.

“Well,” she snarled, “you may be comfortable running and hiding, but I stand with my House!”

“With those hands?” Master Gold’s voice grew harsh. “You can barely hold that sword without wincing. You wouldn’t last two minutes in a fight.”

Ilanna wanted to argue, but the pain radiating through her scorched palms forestalled her argument.

“If you will not listen to reason,” Master Gold snapped, “you will obey a direct command. Protect me, Journeyman Ilanna of House Hawk. Protect your Guild Master. That is an order.” His eyes narrowed. “And before you protest, remember that you are still a Journeyman. You have not yet been released from the oaths you swore to your House, to the Guild. To me.

Ilanna growled low in her throat. “Damn you, Master Gold!” She had to heed his command.

“Let’s go.” Master Gold jerked his head down a side corridor. “To my office.”

The Guild Council Chamber stood a few hundred paces from the Guild Master’s quarters, on neutral territory belonging to none of the Houses. Master Gold and Ilanna covered the distance in less than a minute.

“Secure that door,” Master Gold instructed.

Ilanna threw the deadbolt. The door, built of solid Ghandian blackwood, would keep out anything short of a battering ram.

“Now what?” Her gaze darted around the room. If they dragged the Guild Master’s enormous desk in front of the door, it could buy a few more minutes.

“Leave it,” Master Gold waved her away from the heavy furniture. “This way.” He strode over to a bookcase, upon which sat seven golden figurines: a hawk, a serpent, a scorpion, a bloodbear, a fox, a hound, and a grubber mole. The Guild Master pulled on the hawk. Mechanisms deep in the wall clicked, and the bookcase slid to one side, revealing a darkened tunnel beyond.

“Secrets within secrets, Ilanna.” The Guild Master pointed to the alchemical lamp that hung on the opposite wall. “We’ll need light.”

Ilanna darted across the room and lifted the lamp from its sconce. Once inside the hidden passage, Master Gold pressed on a stone and the bookcase slid shut without a sound.

Ilanna held up the lamp. The tunnel ran for ten paces before turning a corner. “Where does this go?” she whispered.

“To the sewer tunnels beneath the city. And to the chambers of every House Master.”

Ilanna’s eyebrows shot up. “What?”

Master Gold grinned and shrugged. “There is much about the Night Guild known only to myself and the Masters I trust.”

“Master Hawk?”

The Guild Master nodded.

Relief flooded Ilanna. “So he’ll be safe.” Master Hawk could hide until the Serpents and Bloodbears dealt with the threat.

Master Gold’s expression darkened. “You’ve known Jagar Khat for years.” Sorrow filled his eyes. “Have you ever known him to back down when someone threatened his House?”

Ilanna’s gut clenched. Master Hawk would be the first to face whatever came through the doors of the Aerie. He would protect his House, the cost be damned.

Master Gold’s hand gripped her shoulder. “You can’t go out there. You can’t save him.”

Ilanna whirled. “Damn you, Master Gold!” She drove a fist into the earthen walls.

The Guild Master’s voice dropped to a whisper. “He’ll survive this. He has to.” He spoke as if trying to convince himself.

Check it out on Amazon!

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Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Sadist

Gregor Clegane

Bellatrix Lestrange

Semirhage, the Lady of Pain

These names bring to mind people who not only excel at inflicting pain, but derive physical pleasure from it. The pain can be physical, psychological, magical, or emotional, and sadists use pain and the fear of pain to manipulate and control others.

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Sadists: The Origin

The term sadism is derived from the French word sadisme, which was coined for the Marquis de Sade, a French nobleman who wrote a number of erotic works that combined blasphemy, criminal acts, violence, and sexual fantasies. His writings depicted the pleasure of inflicting pain, and he was considered extreme even by the Gothic writers of his era.

But though the term originated in the 1800s, sadism has existed for nearly as long as mankind has. Though most people are familiar with sexual sadism—a condition common enough for it to be classified as a disorder—sadism comes in many forms. At its core, it is deriving pleasure from the suffering of others.

Sadism may be a combination of the “darker” personality traits: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. Sadistic personality disorder is not currently recognized as a personality disorder, but when it was, it was often found alongside other personality disorders. However, given that it shares a lot of traits with other personality disorders, it is difficult to distinguish sadistic personality types from those with, say, psychopathic disorders.

One psychologist listed the five most common sub-types of sadist:

Explosive sadists tend to lose control when frustrated, disappointed, hopeless, or humiliated. They seek revenge, become unpredictably violent, and may even attack those closest to them. They lash out as a result of perceived mistreatment.

Spineless sadists are insecure and cowardly, and they tend to strike first in anticipation of danger. They use aggressive hostility to forestall and prevent aggression, sending the message that they aren’t fearful. They use sadism to mask their true feelings of fear and insecurity, and tend to search for scapegoats to gang up on.

Tyrannical sadists force their victims to cower, as they derive satisfaction from the submission of their victims. They are cruel, frightening, and relish the act of brutalizing and threatening others.

Enforcing sadists tend to use authoritative positions—drill sergeants, university deans, police officers, prison overseers, and so on—to control the punish people they believe to have broken the law, rules, or regulations. Because they are inflicting punishment on lawbreakers, they often believe their actions to be “right” or “justified”.

Everyday sadists gain emotional benefit from either causing or observing the suffering of others. For example, a co-worker who smiles as your boss shouts at you, or derives emotional pleasure from making you suffer. If you do something to set them off, they will retaliate and seek revenge, further hurting you.

Everyday sadism is common a lot more common than expected. One study found it was prevalent among a broader spectrum of people than they anticipated. Some of the participants were more likely to enjoy crushing bugs (27%, with another 27% assisting the person killing the bugs) or “attacking” their fellow participants. These tended to score higher on the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale (SSIS).

The SSIS uses ten questions to rate people’s sadistic impulses:

  1. I enjoy seeing people hurt.
  2. I would enjoy hurting someone physically, sexually, or emotionally.
  3. Hurting people would be exciting.
  4. I have hurt people for my own enjoyment.
  5. People would enjoy hurting others if they gave it a go.
  6. I have fantasieswhich involve hurting people.
  7. I have hurt people because I could.
  8. I wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone.
  9. I have humiliated others to keep them in line.
  10. Sometimes I get so angry I want to hurt people.

(Information courtesy of Psychology Today)

Anyone who scored higher than 5 out of 10 would be considered an “everyday sadist”.

Oddly enough, a lot of sadists aren’t physically violent. Sadists that are raised in a violent culture or background do tend to violence (like bullies and domestic abusers), but a lot of sadists tend to use emotional and psychological weapons against their victims. They have been likened to “emotional vampires” that feed off the terror of the people they control.

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In stories:

Sadism runs rampant in literature, and sadists are always the villains of the piece.

  • Ramsay Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire uses physical torture (castration, amputation, flaying, etc.) and psychological abuse to instill fear in Theon Greyjoy, turning him into a wrecked, broken shell of the man he once was.
  • Peter Wiggin, Ender’s older brother from Ender’s Game, flayed squirrels and subjected young Ender to cruel games.
  • Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter uses the blood quill to torture two students, and she uses an “unforgiveable curse” to get Harry and Hermione to give her what she wants.

Rarely are they redeemable characters, as their lust for violence, control, and inflicting suffering on others dominates their personalities.

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