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  1. OB1

    OB1 Senior Member

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    Oh no not another dark lord!!!

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by OB1, May 11, 2020.

    Hi All,

    I have not been on the site for a while as I have been concentrating on my 6month old baby, and trying to come up with ideas for my fantasy book.

    Now as with most epic fantasy, from LOTR to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series and every book in between there seems to be a Dark Lord ultimate antagonist. The Voldermort to Harry Potter, the Sauron to Middle Earth, and whilst my story may not end up as epic in any of the senses, I too include the Dark Lord trope.

    My question to you and I am seeking advice on is, what do you think is the best way to refer to or call such an antagonist without it sounding like a cliché?

    To put a bit of context in the mix. The antagonist is a powerful being who things he is a god and is trying to enslave the world into worshiping him. Not to get into the specifics. Basically he has been imprisoned for centuries and to be only released by the blood of an equally powerful being. Needless to say this happens in the first book and the subsequent books comprises of battles, twists and turns where the antagonist almost gets what he wants and then suddenly the protagonists subdue him and blah blah blah.

    Thanks for any help
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    Not much of a sell job.

    Other than a "Dark Lord?" Not sure. If it looks, smells, and tastes like one, It probably doesn't matter what you call it.
     
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  3. OB1

    OB1 Senior Member

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    In the words of Nelson "Haha"

    To be honest I wasnt trying to sell it.Just didnt want to get into too much detail that wasnt pertinent to the question
     
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  4. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    I don't know. I just refer to mine as "the Dark Lord," and by his name (Ethelbert) but I tried to subvert the stereotype by making it a hereditary aristocratic title. He's not necessarily the main antagonist so far, though, so my situation may not be relevant.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    Your dark lord is named Ethelbert? Sounds like a cross between a housewife and a muppet.
     
  6. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Yes, remarkably accurate, but evil. Commander of the goblin hordes, etc. Very competent meddler/social climber.
     
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  7. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    You don't say. Rock on then.
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Thank you for that gif...beautiful.
     
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  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    You're welcome. :)
     
  11. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Subvert expectations and call him the Lord of Darkness. Go meta and call him The Antagonist. Or how about making him a her?

    I don't know, what do the common rabble call him? Are they afraid to speak the name?

    Sauron was originally named Mairon. He's also called the Dark Lord, he took the form of the Necromancer, the Eye, the Shadow, or just The Enemy.

    Voldemort was (or is I guess) Tom Riddle, and he who shall not be named.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
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  12. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    I'm not entirely sure what exactly you're asking. You mean, like, what should his title or epithet be? Or are you having trouble with his actual name?

    You know, I think a lot of writers try a bit too hard when coming up with villain names. Case in point, Voldemort always struck me as sorta try-hard. Like he very deliberately tried to make himself sound like a super-evil Lord of Darkness and Evil. Almost as if it was a name he made up for himself back when he was an edgy teenager and... Oh, wait!

    Tom Riddle is actually a way better name, and it's sorta tragic he didn't keep it. If I heard about this powerful warlock terrorist so infamous that people refused to even mention his name, then found out his name is Tom Riddle... Yeah, I'd be kinda terrified of that dude. That actually does sound like some mysterious, shadowy mastermind.

    "Lord Voldemort" meanwhile sounds so intentionally villainous that it sorta takes the edge off how menacing he's supposed to be. Especially when you find out he actually named himself that like some Overwatch Reaper Main.

    As for Sauron, ever stopped to consider how... not evil that name sounds? If you really listen to it, I mean? It's actually kinda beautiful. The only reason we associate it with evil is because the character himself is basically synonymous with "epic fantasy bad guy."

    This is why I prefer to just give my villains cool names that don't try to inform the moral qualities of the character, and then letting the actions of the villain define him instead.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  13. OB1

    OB1 Senior Member

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    I suppose it depends on who has given the name, do they give themselves that name or is it a nick name that had been given by everyone else.

    I like the idea of the name being secondary the way I describe the actions as being the primary factor.

    Thanks
     
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  14. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I agree with you, but we shouldn't overlook that Voldemort is an anagram of Tom Marvolo Riddle, and in French it can be interpreted to have a couple different meanings that fit his character. And considering the target audience, it works.

    And Sauron is indeed a beautiful name, from a beautiful language.
     
  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    Voldemort sounds like a kind of stinky cheese.

    Sauron kinda makes me think (without context or
    relation to LOTR), something kinda like saffron.

    Seems villain names draw inspiration from food or
    cooking if you let your imagination wander with them
    a bit. Sadly there is no Fantasy villain that owns a fancy
    resteraunt/tavern.
     
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  16. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Of course it's fine if the villain has some ominous descriptive epithet like the Lord of Ruin or King of Shadows or whatever, assuming it was given to him by others - presumably the good people that loathe and fear him. He probably still has a normal name, though.

    It's when they refer to themselves by blatantly evil-sounding names and titles I think it gets a bit cartoonish. That can still work, but then you either need a really good in-story justification or just accept that your villain is trying to appear evil on purpose and resolve to own it. Like how Star Wars has bad guys with names like "General Grievous", because Star Wars is supposed to be somewhat silly.

    Otherwise I kinda like it when the epithets are a bit ambiguous. Welcome to Night Vale would sometimes reference this one mysterious entity simply called "the Distant Prince", who never really shows up but is heavily implied to be some kind of dangerous eldritch being and/or malevolent alien warlord. I always thought there was something vaguely chilling about that name.

    Another favorite of mine is Alduin from Skyrim. Like Sauron, it's a rather pretty name that would have worked just as well for a good guy - say a noble king or elven lord or something - while not at all detracting from the fact that he's actually a huge black doomsday dragon who wants to end the world.

    Well, actually, "I am Lord Voldemort" is an anagram of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

    See, now I'm wondering if he started by trying to make an anagram of Tom Riddle but then added his middle name to have more letters to work with, only to end up with extra letters, which is why he made a whole sentence since it bothered him to leave any out. I also wonder if that's why he included "Lord" or if he was set on that to begin with. Honestly, just the fact that Lord is apparently not a title but part of the name he gave himself makes it all even more cringy.

    Look, the guy clearly put a lot of thought and effort into that name, is what I'm basically saying.

    Other anagrams of Tom Marvolo Riddle include "Tidal Overlord Mom" and "Mild Doormat Lover." Not at all relevant to this discussion, I just felt like mentioning that.

    Right, but that's sorta my point: He gave himself a name that fits his character, suggesting he already had a certain image in mind. Specifically an image invoking death and terror, like he was coming up with a stage persona for a metal band he wanted to start. Which would have been called Death Eater, obviously.

    ...Goddammit
    , there had better be an AU fanfic about this out there.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
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  17. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    Have you thought of actually just making up a brand new title, an entirely new word of your own? That might help.

    "Nihron Kazan was the most powerful Nihron of them all." - for example.

    After all, words like "Sith" may be attached to "Lord" but it's still a made up word, you could just drop the Lord. After a while of people using it in dialogue, a reader would work it out in no time, like the word Darth.
     
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  18. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi,

    I know this might be a bit silly, but have you thought about just having fun with the dark lord's names? I mean you could go all Trippin The Rift and have a name like Darph Bobo! (I love that name! As well as sith clowns!)

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  19. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi,

    I know this might be a bit silly, but have you thought about just having fun with the dark lord's names? I mean you could go all Trippin The Rift and have a name like Darph Bobo! (I love that name! As well as sith clowns!)

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  20. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    I think it's more delving into what your "dark lord" represents as a whole. When dark lords don't actually represent anything other than "he just wants to take over the world just because..." then they become flat and uninteresting. But when you have represents something, their MO becomes distinct and unique.
     
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  21. Jan Karlsson

    Jan Karlsson New Member

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    My ‘Dark Lord’ is called the Lord of Shadows, the Shadow Mage, or his name, Rürazar. More than once I’ve started writing ‘the Dark Lord’ only to think “Nuhuh! Not calling him that!”.

    Also, my story starts after he’s been defeated. The story is about the aftermath of the Shadow War and the Da ... uh ... Lord of Shadows’ influence still reaches everywhere and informs a lot of the rest of the story.

    But, yeah, that name, ‘Dark Lord’, is a little overused.
     
  22. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Any chance you read Clive Barker?

    Literally referring to one's Dark Lord™ as, well, Dark Lord, feels informed by engagement of the reader, like it acknowledges the reader's presence who engages the character in that way, as a dark lord, naming it the trope name.

    -------------------------
    Quote taken from: https://www.clivebarker.com/html/visions/confess/nonls/irc/cb1-7-96.htm
     
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  23. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    I try to think as big as possible, not because it is better but because it gives you options and options are what you need when you are trying to avoid cliches and glass ceilings. If your dark lord is the all consuming power then you have painted yourself into a corner, cliches will surely follow IMO.

    The name will be little more than functional in the first instance until you define the character. Only then will the name mean something to your readers.

    I always think back to this moment, it impressed me. It showed me what's possible when you think outside the box.




    What I am saying is, with big thinking the cliche is not the topic.
     

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