Today, dear readers I have a very special treat: An interview with an author! I recently became friends with a young lady named Kendra Ardnek who, like myself, loves fairy tale and fantasy. She and I connected through a Facebook group called "The Arista's Band of Fairy Tale Retellers", a group I joined because of our similar aims: to use our talents and love of fairy tales for God's Glory.
So, I would like to bring you a special feature on her newest novel "The Worth of a King."
Here's the story:
Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.
Meet the Arista herself!
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon
Kendra was good enough to let me ask her a few questions about her new book, so here follows our interview.
1: Introduce yourself!.
Hi! I'm Kendra E. Ardnek, a dragon-fairy who is obsessed with fairy tales and other forms of literature.
2: Who influenced your writing journey?
Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, my mom, and whoever founded NaNoWriMo
3: Do you listen to music while you write? If you do, what are some favorites?
It used to be a no, but lately I have been. I have a YouTube playlist with over a thousand songs on it. I like songs with a strong beat underlying them, that helps keep me focused.
4: What are some other things you like to do?
Run around the yard in circles like a crazy person, mostly. I also play video games a bit.
5: Who are your favorite characters in this book?
Nadilynn, Laura, Amber, Granite, Obsidia, Delaney, and Adrian ... just to name a few. This book had an awesome cast that I loved writing about
6: What are your favorite Fairy Tales?
The obscure ones, especially the weirder ones. Little Good Mouse, The Golden Bird, The White Cat, Puddocky, The Evil Enchanter, and Fairer-Than-a-Fairy ... and many, many more.
7: Do you have any tips for young writers?
First of all, don't worry about your writing being terrible. You'll get better. Second, read, read, read, and write, write, write. You need to absorb a lot and create a lot before you'll find your style. Third, write fearlessly. It's said that there are only two rules when it comes to writing - but that nobody can agree as to what those rules are. Don't let anyone else hold you back.
And now, a special preview of "Worth of a King!"
“Well, it’d still be more fun,” Nadilynn pouted. “As it is – how long have we been cooped up in here already? How much longer will it be before we reach the first village?”
Delaney sighed. “We should be there soon,” he answered. “And we’ll spend the night there before we leave for the second village in the morning.”
“You didn’t have to come with us if you didn’t want to, Nadi,” Obsidia pointed out. “We’re just visiting twelve villages and collecting a girl from each one. Hardly exciting.”
“Oh, but I really had no choice in the matter,” Nadilynn countered, shaking her head. “Tradition demands that Obsidia has a proper female companion. If I hadn’t volunteered, your mother would have had to come instead, and since she is still convinced that you marrying Del is the worst idea ever, I don’t know that the three of you could have survived this whole excursion. I’m sure that you both much prefer me.”
“Ah yes, you’re quite correct,” said Delaney. “With you, we only need to survive endless meaningless chatter, not murderous glares.”
“My conversation isn’t meaningless!” Nadilynn protested. “At least I don’t spend three hours discussing the nuances of a law about chickens, or four about whether some king’s death was natural or due to poison.”
“No,” said Obsidia, dryly. “You spend five hours talking about how sashes are so in style.”
“They are so not!” Nadilynn exclaimed. Then she lowered her voice “Not thick ones, anyway. Ribbons used as sashes are acceptable, belts, especially beaded belts, are best…”
“And there we go,” Delaney groaned. “You did have to get her started.”
Obsidia just shrugged and mouthed a “sorry.”
And also a special announcement! If you want to win a paperback copy of "Worth of a King" and a bottle of peppermint oil, Kendra is running a giveaway on her blog! Head on over to Knitted By God's Plan to learn more!
If you want to learn more about Kendra and "Worth of a King", you can check out the other blogs on the tour:
Dreams and Dragons
Light and Shadows
Welcome to another list! On this list you'll find the heroes that have influenced my writing the most, from the earliest days of my (remembered) childhood, to my teen and adult years. You'll also find more book heroes than what was on my "15 Villains" list and more ties for characters who are linked in my head. I chalk that up to being a visual learner. Anyway, let's get this show on the road with number 15!
15: Sir Small from Sir Small and the Dragonfly by Jane O'Connor
"Sir Small and the Dragonfly" is an easy reader that my mom bought for me when I was learning to read, when I was maybe 5. I can't count how many times I read the story of a tiny knight and his valiant battle with the dragonfly. A loose retelling of St. George and the Dragon from the Faerie Queene, this book captured my interest, for a reason I couldn't understand at the time. Having lost my original copy in a house fire, I found a shiny new replacement in a Borders and of course, $5.99 was a small price to pay for childhood memories regained! I also collect picture books and fairy tales, so it fit right in.
14: Prince Cornelius from Don Bluth's Thumbelina
Prince Cornelius, the valiant fairy Prince from Don Bluth's classic animated film "Thumbelina" did very little to break the Disney mold, being pretty much Prince Philip with wings. But there was something enchanting about the idea of a fairy prince rather than just some dude in tights. Not to mention that fancy fencing rapier, now the special weapon of my own Lord Rhodon! Now, Thumbelina is not what I'd call a "good" movie now. Mr. Mole could have lived quite comfortably in all the plot holes, and both Cornelius and Thumbelina are quite ditsy, there wouldn't have been much of a movie if they weren't but hey...
13: Aladdin, from Disney's Aladdin
Ah, Aladdin! My favorite Disney movie starred this lovable rogue with a heart of gold. Aladdin is a young man living on the streets of Agrabah, a city in the mythic middle east, who steals in order to survive. One day, he spots the beautiful Princess Jasmine and rescues her from an innocent crime. After being thrown in jail for a crime he didn't commit he is roped into a quest to recover a magic lamp, and discovers the Genie, who can make all his wishes come true. Even with the Genie's magic, it's Al's own street smarts and intelligence that he wins the day.
Aladdin may be a thief, but he also knows how to do the right thing. We see that in the first ten minutes of the movie, when he gives a loaf of bread to two children worse off than himself and then stands up to an arrogant prince who mocks the commoners. It's his desire to do the right thing that makes him a hero in my eyes, though maybe his methods leave something to be desired!
12: Shang, from Disney's Mulan
Captain Li Shang, the handsome and disciplined leader of Mulan's unit of the Chinese army first thinks that she and her fellow recruits will never make it. Though a talented martial artist, he lacks the life lessons in leadership that he needs to make the unit function. It takes a gawky girl in boy's clothes to show him the way, and he is willing to swallow his pride when it's revealed Ping is actually a girl and learn from her.
Shang's skill, know-how, and honor spoke to something in my mind as a child. Echoes of Sir Small, perhaps? Again, here is a character that wants to do the right thing, even if he can't see what it is at first. Most embarrassingly for a Chinese man of the time period Mulan is set, it takes a girl to show him the way. But he's okay with it!
11: The Tick, The Tick Franchise
The Tick is a superhero with no memory of who he really is, only a desire to do right and defend The City (what city? Who knows!). He meets the mild mannered Arthur Everest and makes him his sidekick for his wacky adventures around the city, making corny speeches and fouling the plans of supervillains, usually by sheer dumb luck.
The Tick was not a huge part of my growing up years. I was aware of him, sure, my Dad was a huge fan, but, like Samurai Jack (see number 7 on this list) I didn't understand him until adulthood. I still consider him a "guy" character, but one I can get along with, as the Tick so strongly attached to doing doing the right thing no matter what.
10: Tie- Silverbolt from Beast Wars Transformers and Optimus Prime from Transformers Animated
When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching the Transformers series available. The stories and characters were often more interesting than more "girlish" fare. My favorite heroes, were again the guys who did what was right no matter what, even if it meant danger or if it wasn't the "smart" thing to do. Silverbolt, in particular was the victim of the "it's the right thing to do, even if it's not smart" mentality. He let his heightened sense of honor and heart lead him, especially when it came to his beloved Blackarachnia. If she was in any sort of danger, he would charge headlong into the fray to her rescue, with some sort of corny speech on his lips.
Optimus Prime is a favorite of mine no matter what version of the show (well, not Micheal Bay's version, that was just a mess) but as he's portrayed in "Transformers Animated" is my favorite version. Optimus is young, not the experienced commander that appears in other shows, trying to find his feet and balance the needs of his team with his own code of ethics. He believes strongly in the right of all to be free of tyranny, and will defend that right to the death.
9: Martin the Warrior, from Brian Jacques' Redwall series
Everyone who knows me well knows that I love the Redwall novels by Brian Jacques. I have literally read them all, own them all, and have memorized a few of the poems and songs in the series. But by far, my favorite novel in the series is "Martin the Warrior" which is I believe the sixth novel in the series. It tells the story of Martin, the mouse who would go on to found Redwall Abbey, his friendships, and his battle with the wicked stoat Badrang the Tyrant. Martin never sets out to be a big hero. All he really wants is to avenge the death of his clan at the hands of the Stoat, but he ends up leading a revolution against a a great evil. From Martin and his friends, I learned that no one is too small to fight against injustice. I also learned that I should never read this book in public, I always end up bawling at the end.
8: Peter and Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia
The Pevensie brothers made a huge impact on me. Starting out as ordinary British boys, the two find their own courage fighting for Narnia and learn to rely on Aslan for the wisdom to be good kings. Contrary to the movie version of Prince Caspian, neither brother ever gives up hope in Aslan's power to help them, even as adults. Quite frankly, I'm glad Disney never got to The Last Battle, they would've ruined it completely. Anyway, the Pevensie boys have taught generations of children what heroic faith looks like the face of impossibilities, and for that, we are grateful.
7: Samurai Jack, from Genndy Tartakovsky's Samurai Jack
Action series Samurai Jack is one I didn't see much of as a kid (It was on too late at night, LOL. I also didn't understand it) but I came to enjoy it as an adult. The show tells the story of The Prince, AKA Samurai Jack, who wanders the world after being thrown into the distant future, seeking a way to end the menace of Aku, a shape-shifting wizard. Jack's code of honor precludes him from letting anyone suffer, even in the name of escaping the dystopia Aku created. Again, noble, but perhaps not the smartest strategy. Jack also avoids ever taking life. He will fight, but he will not kill. This rule is broken in the Season 5 miniseries when Jack is forced to kill insane cultists known as the Daughters of Aku. Only one, Ashi, survives (most of them fall to their deaths, so everyone's aware). Ashi becomes Jack's partner in battle, then girlfriend in the remainder of the series. The action of shedding human blood affects Jack deeply, almost driving him to suicide and insanity, this is deeply impactful in this environment that treats human life as disposable.
6: Thor Odinson from Marvel's Thor and Avengers series, and Vincent Wells, from Beauty and the Beast (1987)
But T.K., you say, these characters don't belong together, you say. In my mind however, these two are inseparable, because together they were my muses for King Llew, one of my favorite heroes to write.
Thor Odinson is of course the Mighty Avenger wielding the hammer Mjolnir. In the first Thor movie, I was enthralled by the story of Thor, stripped of his powers and sent to earth, finding redemption through the love of Jane Foster. His endearing misunderstanding of Earth customs, old fashioned manners, chivalry, and flowery way of speaking (before he adapts to earth vernacular, which was equally great) were extremely inspirational for my character of King Llew. Like Thor, Llew is sent away from his kingdom to learn about humility and how to be a good king.
Vincent Wells, the "Beast" of the 1987 TV series is mostly here for aesthetics. In the course of learning humility, Llew is cursed to have the form of a beast. My brother and I chose Vincent (played with pathos and power by Ron Perlman) to be the muse for Llew's beast form. From there Vincent's chivalry, kindness, and honesty influenced both Llew, and another character, Bjorn Carrson, an ogre who serves the elf-king.
5: Tomodata, from the Story of Aoyagi/The Story of Green Willow
In the folk tale The Story of Aoyagi/Green Willow, we meet a young samurai named Tomodata, in the service of the Lord of Noto. Tomodata was sent on a mission to the Daimyo of Kyoto, but on his way, he was lost in a terrible storm. Seeking shelter in a peasant's hut he finds their daughter Aoyagi (which Ms. James rendered in English as Green Willow. Lafacdio Hearn records that this is the meaning of the name Aoyagi.) who is both beautiful and clever and seeks to make her his bride. With the assent of her parents, who had worried for her safety after their deaths, Tomodata takes Aoyagi with him to Kyoto, where they are married after some little difficulty. Throughout all of this Tomodata takes the utmost care of Aoyagi, seeking only her comfort in the matters set before him. He loves her more than life and is willing to fight even his superiors for her.
This story spawned a whole section of Avalon stories. Aoyagi and Tomodata both appear and become allies of the great heroine Mulan herself, all three fighting for their world and laying the darkness around them low.
4: Sir Gawain, from the Myths of King Arthur
Sir Gawain of the Orkneys was my favorite Knight of the Round Table. Lancelot? Psh. What a drama-king! Gawain, with his flaws so similar to mine was a bit more like it. Gawain is Arthur's nephew, from his half-sister who is recorded by various names, but most often as Morgause or Anna. Gawain's most famous adventure was that of the Green Knight, where he fought a giant of a man (believed by some to be the forest spirit the Green Man or perhaps Cernunnos) and then was given a quest to follow by him. After overcoming all the obstacles in his path, Gawain is rewarded for his valor and chivalry. His other most famous solo adventure is his marriage to the Loathly Lady... but that's a story for another blog!
3: Robin Hood, from British Legends
Robert of Locksley, was a British nobleman known in folklore for his generosity to the poor. An archer without peer, Robert, better known as Robin, used his skill to defend the weak and take money unjustly gotten and return it to the poor. With his band of Merry Men around him and his equally skilled Lady Marian at his side he became the legendary outlaw Robin Hood.
I was introduced to Robin though the animated Disney Classic. After Aladdin, it was my favorite Disney movie. I can still remember drafts of dialogue and songs from the movie, I watched it so much. When I was much older, I watched what I believe to be the ultimate version put to film, the 1936 extravaganza starring Errol Flynn. Now, Flynn was a notorious womanizer, not at all the wholesome, dashing figure that comes across on the screen. But you don't watch this movie for the man in the tights- you watch for the chivalrous character of Robin Hood.
2: Odd Thomas, from Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas Novels
Odd Thomas is an ordinary fellow. A wholesome hometown boy, yes siree! Except he can see dead people. Odd Thomas can see ghosts, the spirits of those who died violent deaths or died with unfinished business on their souls that keeps them from moving on. Odd lives his life solving crimes by following the ghosts to their destinations, (for instance the site of their death or to their murderer) and courting the marvelous Stormy Llewellyn. One day, a man allied with a satanic cult comes to Odd's hometown, surrounded with evil spirits called Bodachs, who only arrive when a great evil is about to happen. Odd makes it his mission to stop whatever evil is about to happen to his beloved town, which he does... but looses his Stormy.
Odd is a fairly new addition to this list, as I only met him about a year ago. Odd doesn't want to be a big hero. He wants to be normal! But he can't. He was given a gift, and he has to use it. The ghosts that he encounters take care of their special human as best they can, especially his sidekick, the spirit of Elvis Presley. Yes, I'm serious. Though their care, we as the audience also sympathize with Odd and his quest to right the wrongs around him.
1: Aragorn and Frodo Baggins, from The Lord of the Rings.
Frodo didn't ask for any of this. He didn't make a wish on his birthday candles to be the hero of a big quest. But there he was, and he had to do what was right. So armed as he was with nothing but his simple hobbit heart and a group of loyal companions, he set out to destroy the great evil of the One Ring.
Aragorn has a destiny. He is the rightful king of Gondor, and must defend his land from the evil of Sauron. To do that he must safeguard a young hobbit and get him to Mordor so he can destroy the Ring. It means danger, it could mean death. But he does it anyway... because that's what a king does.
Growing up, video games were not a thing at my house. We had some CD-ROM games of the educational type, like Carmen Sandiego, but that was all. When I was a kid if we wanted to play games, we broke out board games. We had lots of classic games at our house, and could spend a good deal of time playing them, and many of them you can still get to this day! Let's look at a few favorites.
The first board game for many kids of my generation, Candyland was my favorite when I was a small child. The picture above is the same model I played with growing up (I always had the red gingerbread man pawn!) originally produced in 1984. I loved the bright colors and lovable characters from the adorable Mr.Mint to the delightfully sinister Lord Licorice, hopping over the board to reach King Candy on the other side. I used to take it out of the box just to look at it, even. Candyland celebrated it's 65th birthday in 2015, meaning it has delighted children since the 1940s! In that time frame, and even since my childhood, things have drastically changed in the land of sweets. Look at the difference between the 1984 and 2010 game boards.
It's a lot more frantic, isn't it? I'm all for change, I'm not one of those "muh childhood" people, but why mess with a classic formula? And why did they change regal Queen Frostine into a sultry-eyed Bratz lookalike Princess? And don't get me started on "The Duke of Swirl". You can buy the 1984-style board on Ebay for anywhere from $10.00 for just the board or lightly used versions of the complete game for $20-30.00. Personally, I would spend the extra to get the original.
Chutes and Ladders
Another classic for little ones is Chutes/Snakes and Ladders. Simple gameplay teaches cause and effect, and turn taking, and I'm sure, how to be a graceful looser. I can't say I remember playing this one myself, but I'm sure I did at one point. You can buy this classic in a couple of different looks on Amazon.
Hungry Hungry Hippos
My brother's favorite game was this one: Hungry Hungry Hippos. In spite of it's notoriously annoying commercial jingle ("We're Hungry Hungry Hippos! We're Hungry Hungry Hippos!" Sung to a conga beat) the game was pretty fun. The object is to have your hippo eat as many marbles as possible, the person with the most wins. Simple enough for little ones, challenging enough for older kids.
A game for all ages! Mancala is a game with roots in ancient India, where it traveled west on the Silk Road and became popular throughout the world. The object was simple: be the person with the most pieces, but to get there was a matter of strategy and careful planning. My brother and I had this set or one very similar to it that our parents bought for us at the now defunct Noodle Kidoodle educational toy store. We loved to play this game together. I might have to run making a replacement by him.
A simplified version of the classic mystery game, Clue Jr. told the story of four friends searching for a missing item (what it was depended on your edition... I can't recall what ours was!) rather than solving a a murder. We didn't play this one very much, I was the mystery lover between the two of us, so my brother didn't find it that interesting.
The classics, chess and checkers were also a big part of our growing up. My brother, being a better spacial thinker than I, usually won (and now refuses to play with me, LOL) but that didn't stop me from having fun!
The most stereo-typically homeschooler hobby ever- chess. When we were teens, my dad taught us how to play chess (I think I was... 15, at the time?) We used to have three way games with our two chess boards, Ian had one that was solid wood and more traditional. Mine was this one. the collector's edition Disney Chess set. It's one of my favorite pieces of Disney memorabilia. (and one of the only ones that's actually worth anything as a collector's item) This set was only produced for one year, 2004, and is the only commercially produced Disney chess sets, (the others are art type sets made by various high-end art houses). My parents splurged one year and got me this one and a porcelain Mulan doll for Christmas.
No story is complete without a villain or two, and in my years consuming books, movies, TV, and music, I have come across the terrifying, the silly, and the strange as the villains. So, from my young childhood to adulthood, on the scale from "total weaksauce" to "literally the devil" here are my top 15 most memorable villains.
15: The Greedy, from Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure
In "A Musical Adventure" Raggedy Ann and her brother Andy go on a strange journey to rescue Babette, the French doll from some pirates. Along the way, they meet this uncanny valley resident, the Greedy. The Greedy is a creature made from living taffy, constantly eating sweets that float in his mass and lamenting his longing for a sweetheart in song. When Ann mentions she has a candy heart, and is the sweetest person the Greedy has ever met, he decides that Ann's heart is exactly the thing he needs to be happy. Ann and Andy, along with the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, escape from an increasingly insane Greedy by climbing out of his lair and throwing more taffy to the monster.
For whatever reason, 5 year old me found this fella terrifying, probably the "body horror" factor and the fact that he wanted to eat Ann's heart, pretty heavy for a preschooler! (Mom, if you're reading this, I saw it at a friend's house, you certainly didn't let us see this!)
14: The Crud, from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Crud appeared in one episode of "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" as the literal monster under Christopher Robin's bed. The Crud's goal: To use all the crud and things under Christopher's bed to coat the world in his vile, sticky substance. After enslaving all Christopher's toys, he makes the Anti-Vacuum, which spews out nasty junk rather than sucking it up. Christopher, Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger are determined to stop the Crud's plans and rescue the toys. Fortunately, the Crud's weakness is soap!
In the ultimate "clean under your bed" warning, the Crud was not so much scary (to me, anyway) as he was a cautionary tale. Listen to you mom, kids, don't just throw stuff under your beds. He also had that "body horror" thing going on, so there's that.
13: Hexxus, from FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Hexxus, representing destructive pollution is set free to ravage the world by clumsy humans. The only thing in his way? Fairies. Y'know, that sounds really dumb now.
Hexxus was one of the scariest villains my little brain could conceive of, his aims are destruction, his schemes endangering beautiful things, and his voice bone-chilling. (His musical number is creepily suggestive, too.) Of course, FernGully the is a propaganda piece to end all propaganda pieces, and now as a grown-up, I find it hilariously bad. The only things that made this movie bearable was Hexxus (the voice of Tim Curry) and Batty (the voice of Robin Williams).
Clayface, from Batman the Animated Series
Clayface was originally an actor, who after an accident disfigured him, became addicted to a chemical makeup which restored his appearance. When he tried to escape from a crooked deal with recurrent Batman adversary Roland Daggett, an entire vat of the compound was dumped on him, transforming him into a monstrous blob of clay. Unable to return to normal, Clayface turned to crime.
My feelings about Clayface ranged from fear to sympathy, which for this character, I suppose is appropriate. On the whole, I feel Clayface deserves more pity than censure. But still... blob. *shudder*.
11: Venom, from Spiderman the Animated Series
Venom is a parasitic alien that latched itself to Peter Parker. At first, it seemed to be a boon for your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. It rendered him nearly invulnerable, increased his senses, and best of all, had a never-ending supply of web! Unfortunately, the longer he was in contact with it, the more Venom exerted his influence over him. Peter realized what was happening and got rid of the creature. Venom then latched himself to a rival of Peter's and became the super villain we know today.
Body Horror strikes again! Slavering, mind stealing Venom elicited nothing but terror and disgust from me. It was just a HUGE no, thank you.
10: Mozenrath, from Aladdin the Series
Suave, sophisticated wizard Mozenrath is Aladdin's primary foe throughout the Aladdin TV series. He has incredible magic, (can easily defeat Genie's "semi-phenomenal, nearly-cosmic" powers) a legion of zombie slaves, and with his magic gauntlet can cook up any number of obstacles for Aladdin. His downfall comes because he underestimates Aladdin and relies too much on his magic.
Mozenrath is an influence on my writing today, in fact. It is revealed at one point that Mozenrath gave a pound of flesh for his magic. I mean literally, under his gauntlet, his right hand was nothing but bones! Again, surprisingly heavy for a Disney show. In my stories, seeking black magic leads to the wielder loosing his humanity, I hadn't thought about that until I was writing this!
9: Trymon from The Colour of Magic
Guess who's back? Trymon is a scheming wizard who is part of Discworld's Unseen University. These high-ranking wizards can be ruthless, and Trymon is no exception. Intent on becoming Arch-Chancellor of the Unseen University and gaining access to the Octavo, the most powerful magic text in Discworld, he murders his way to the top. Upon gaining access to the Octavo, he tries to gain the ultimate magic power. He is stopped by a bungling wizard, Rincewind, who alone knows the eighth spell.
The amusing and crafty Trymon is one of the consummate English villains. Intent on power and power alone, he cares little for anyone or anything else, but it is his greed and selfishness that brings an end to him and his schemes.
8: Elliot Burch, from Beauty and the Beast
Meet the Gaston of 1987's Beauty and the Beast. Elliot Burch is a millionaire city planner with a dark side. When a group of elderly Jews refuses to abandon the tenement they have all lived in for most of their lives, he sends in thugs to clear them out. Coming across the thugs throwing Molatav Cocktails into the windows, Vincent (the Beast) rescues the elderly people and promises to help find the culprits. Meanwhile, Catherine (the Beauty) is being romanced by Burch, and almost falls for him until she learns who he really is and what he's been doing. She rejects him, but he persistently tries to get her back. Catherine is a lawyer, however, and promises to eventually gain enough evidence for his illegal activities to put him behind bars.
7: The Joker, from Batman and related franchises
The Joker is no joke! Though the subject of parody in recent times, those who have seen more of the Joker than average, (like me!) know just how evil he really is. Obsessed with Batman and either killing him or sending him round the bend, the Joker will do anything to bring down his foe. And why? Just for fun! That's why he does what he does, for fun. And that's what makes him so evil. (And yes, that's Mark Hamill.)
6: Saruman, from Lord of the Rings
Once part of the angelic order of the Maiar, Saruman was the greatest wizard in Middle Earth. His power was only second to the high elves like Galadriel, and his wisdom far beyond even her's. He had sung in the choirs of the world's beginning, and it was his pride that brought him down. Convinced to ally with Sauron, Saruman took to making the Orcs, creatures built from the earth in a mockery of elves for his new master. In the end his pride ended his life when his power was taken from him and was killed by Grima Wormtounge.
5: Gul Dukat, from Star Trek Deep Space 9
The spine-chilling Gul Dukat was the official in charge of the planet Bajor during his planet's occupation of Bajor. Living like royalty while the Bajoran people suffered, Gul Dukat was hated and loathed, even by his own people. However his people, the Cardassians saw his usefulness as a military commander. His crimes included taking beautiful Bajoran women for his concubines, among them the mother of one of DS9's officers. When he sees Major Kira, the daughter of the Bajoran woman he claimed as his own, he became obsessed with her, wanting her to love him as much as Dukat thought her mother did. When his daughter by another Bajoran woman, Ziyal, is killed, Dukat becomes even more darkly obsessed with Kira and even more with taking Bajor back as his own private kingdom. When he returns to DS9, his plans to take back the planet are stopped by Captain Sisko, and he is taken to a prison provided for the evil beings he associated himself with.
Dukat's obsession and madness, while also being perfectly lucid, are what makes him a grand villain. He wants to believe that everyone loved him. He wants to believe he could have a perfect family, with the perfect woman, and his own benevolent kingdom. He believes that he's right in all these things, and it's this belief that he's right that makes him evil.
4: Kyubey, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This sugary-sweet creature, a villain? Yes. Kyubey is an alien with magical powers and is able to grant those powers to young girls who contract with him to become Magical Girls. Now, this sounds not so different from shows like Sailor Moon and Glitter Force/Pretty Cure. Cute creature gives girls magical powers, right? WRONG! Kyubey withholds vital information from the girls he contracts with, never warning them the true cost of their wish... their soul. For a wish to be granted, a life must be traded, and once a girl contracts, there's no going back. Eventually, the girls give in to despair and turn into witches, who are then killed by other Magical Girls. Kyubey mentions none of this, and in fact enjoys tormenting the five heroines of Madoka Magica, until finally being undone by the power of love, which he and his kind cannot understand.
3: The Queen of the Night, from Mozart's Magic Flute
In Mozart's "The Magic Flute" Prince Tamino is given the portrait of Princess Pamina by her mother, the Queen of the Night. The Queen of the Night plays at being a worried mother, offering Tamino her daughter's hand in marriage (like you do in these sorts of fairy tales) if he rescues her from her enemy Sarastro. What Prince Tamino doesn't know is that Sarastro is a good man, who rescued Pamina from her wicked mother. Later in the opera, when the Queen sees her plans unraveling, she comes to Pamina and orders her to murder Sarastro, or be disowned. Sarastro, however comforts Pamina in the loss of her mother, and guides Pamina and Tamino to victory over the darkness.
The Queen of the Night is the perfect evil mother. If you read the translation of her famous aria "Der Holle Rache" you can see how mean and manipulative she is. She mocks and scorns her daughter, calling her weak for loving Sarastro and Tamino. Her evil stems from the fact that she desires to be the queen of both night and day, and her greed leads to her downfall.
2: Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty and Kingdom Hearts
I'm not talking about that mess with Angelina Jolie, I'm talking about the real Maleficent. In Sleeping Beauty, she is the spiteful fairy who places a curse on baby Aurora. Demanding her revenge, the powerful fairy stalks the young princess with her goblins, unable to find her. Lest you think that this is somehow overkill, Unseelie fae like Maleficent are notorious for over the top vengeance. In any case, sixteen years pass, and Maleficent is able to locate Aurora. Completing her curse, she also takes Aurora's true love, Prince Philip prisoner, intending to release him when he is an old man, and thus denying Aurora a life with him. When the Three Good Fairies rescue Philip, Maleficent tries to stop him from reaching her by various means, eventually transforming into a dragon. In dragon form, Philip is able to defeat her and rescue Aurora.
Maleficent is the most powerful standard Disney Villain. She has command of various magic powers, most notably her dragon form. Also, let's not forget that she is the only Disney character to actively ally herself with the Devil. Her impact on modern culture is immeasurable, and probably ranks among the most evil characters in fiction.
1: Tie- Chernabog, from Fantasia and Sauron from Lord of the Rings
Here we have the baddest of the bad, the worst of the worst, the literal devils of their universes, Chernabog and Sauron. You certainly don't see Chernabog on Disney merch! Designed by one of my favorite illustrators, Kay Neilsen, Chernabog rules Bald Mountain, an evil place where the wicked spirits and witches go to party. And this guy is the master of ceremonies. I could never force myself to watch the end of Fantasia (though a favorite of mine) because of this guy!
Sauron was once part of the network of spirits under Eru Illuvitar who created Middle-Earth. He, though was jealous of the beautiful things the other spirits sang into being and sang discord into the song of creation. He was foiled by Illuvitar and cast down into Middle Earth, to the land of Mordor, where he plotted the downfall of the world Illuvitar created. Three times he tried to bring an end to Middle Earth and each time he was defeated. Until he forged the One Ring, that all creatures came to lust after for it's power. Finally though, the Ring was destroyed, and with it the majority of Sauron's power.
Of course there's more villains I like, Loki, the Master, and many others, but these are the ones that loom largest in my imagination, who for some reason or other captured my interest. Every story needs a villain, and these are the ones that gave me prototypes of how to write them.
Winnie the Pooh has been around for nearly 100 years and shows no signs of going anywhere. The loveable bear and his friends were a huge part of my childhood from his appearances in books, TV, Movies, and toys, we loved the characters of Winnie the Pooh. Pooh's innocence and loving temperament influences a lot of my writing even today, with my taste for strong friendships being foremost in my mind.
"DON'T FEED THE BEAR!"
Gopher wrecks the fourth wall.
"Tut, tut, it looks like rain."
Beginning in 1988 and ending new episode production in 1991, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was beloved by my generation. It ran in reruns for years after production ended, ending in 2006 in the US while still being broadcast in many European countries and Japan to this day. My family still has our VHS tapes of episodes from the show!
This episode was a favorite at my house, to this day the "one-ringy-dingy" speech at 10 minutes, 20 seconds is quoted.
Electronica Musician Pogo was inspired to create a song based on "Pooh's Grand Adventure", a film that ended the story started by "New Adventures".
My brother and I also loved Pooh, our stuffed toys of Pooh and the gang were among the most played with in our collection. Let's take a look at a few.
Young Steven’s life is a bit complicated. His dad lives and works in a car wash, his mom passed away from birth complications, and he is being raised by his aunts, Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst… who happen to be warriors from another planet.
That is the overall plot of Rebecca Sugar’s hit show Steven Universe. Steven’s mom was the great freedom fighter Rose Quartz, who sought to free her fellow Gems from the tyranny of the oligarchical Diamonds, who create living gemstones from various worlds, leaving them and taking the gems when the planet’s resources are all used up. To save the Earth and her beloved friends, all outcasts from the homeworld, Rose created the Crystal Gem resistance. Sometime in the distant past, the Diamonds wiped out the resistance with a plague, leaving only Rose, Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst alive and safe. Fast forward several hundred years, and we find Steven, the son of Rose Quartz and Greg Universe who’s a typical 12 year old boy… except for the fact that he’s part alien space rock, can heal with his spit and form a shield. His “aunts” teach him how to harness his gem powers for the good of Earth, because they know the Diamonds don’t give up so easily…
Steven is a great little guy. Every mom’s dream for her own son and for any boys her daughter meets, enthusiastic, kind, caring, happy to help, and willing to learn. One part Peter Pan, one part Jack Frost, and two parts All American Boy, our young hero is a great role model for his real life peers. Greg is a huge part of his son’s life, and while he is and was kind of a flake, he honestly wants to do what’s best for his son. He deeply loved Rose Quartz, and still mourns for her to this day, knowing no one could ever replace his “magic lady” The Gems are all great characters (with the possible exception of Amethyst), who love Steven and the Earth, fighting for freedom and equality.
All this is well and good, and if the show were just this, I would be saying go watch it, but it’s not. You see, Rebecca Sugar is bisexual, and weaves some of the LGBT agenda into the show. Garnet for instance is a “fusion” of two gems, tomboyish Ruby and delicate Sapphire. So yeah… a lesbian relationship. This is seen as OK and acceptable by Rose and company, but not on homeworld, where Ruby is threatened with death for fusing with a different kind of gem. On Homeworld, Fusion is usually only acceptable between gems of the same kind, and to fuse with a gem different from yourself is seen as perverted.
Fusion is seen as the highest form of affection among the gems, and the highest form of trust. When Fusion is misused it causes psychological harm to both parties. So yes, it’s used as a metaphor for relationships, but not just sexual ones. Fusions between friends are common, such as with Steven and his friend Connie (I suppose that could be seen as sexual, but, they’re 13!), Rose and Pearl, and Steven and Amethyst. Rose Quartz herself, however has only been seen to be romantically involved with males.
Besides this, there is some superhero type violence in the show, generally however, the Gem’s holographic bodies are “poofed”, so the Gem can regenerate. An enemy gem named Jasper uses a tuning fork like weapon on Garnet causing her to graphically split apart. But this is the only major instance of graphic violence. Jasper also bullies and intimidates a weaker gem called Lapis Lazuli into fusion. It’s actually a great explanation of what emotional and mental abuse looks like. It is revealed that when the Diamonds attacked Earth, they spread a plague called the Corruption that stole away the Gem’s sentience. They also forced fragments of Gems to fuse into grotesque monsters.
In all, though well animated, voice acted, and choreographed, I must say that Steven Universe is a show that should be skipped. If there is something I can’t take it’s pushing a socio-political- sexual agenda on children. There are shows I watched and enjoyed as a child that had agendas, sure, but they were never nearly so controversial as the one that Steven Universe espouses. It could have been great. It could have been fun. It could have advocated for standing up against tyranny. But because of the LGBT agenda, it’s not. I’m sorry Steven, I have to say no.
Ever After High is based on the popular doll line from Mattel. All the characters are the children (or inheritors) of famous fairy tale characters, including Snow White, Cinderella, and Goldilocks.
When the show opens, the day when students are strongly recommended to sign the “Storybook of Legend” and follow their parent’s story is fast approaching. The daughter of Snow White’s evil Stepmother, Raven Queen, doesn’t want to sign. She doesn’t want to be evil in the least but everyone tells her that she must be evil, because once she signs her name, she will be forced to act out her part in Snow White’s story. Snow’s daughter, Apple White is especially insistent, as she is promised a kingdom and a wonderful life, while Raven’s fate is to be thrown into prison.
So what does Raven do? She refuses to sign! No matter how much she is bullied by people who want her to just do what she’s told, Raven, and her new friends, the disadvantaged kids who aren’t guaranteed a happy ending, such as Hunter Huntsman, Cerise Hood, and even kids like Ashlynn Ella, who’s promised a good life turn against the unfair system and are called Rebels. The Royals are lead by Apple White, and they like the status quo, as they are promised a happily ever after. While the kids maintain friendly terms, the school slowly changes to reflect the fact that this system is horribly unfair.
Raven’s merry band of misfits may be called Rebels, but that does not mean they are disrespectful. Raven may disagree with the Principal, Mr. Grimm, but she is never lippy or disrespectful to him, and for the most part, all the characters have great relationships with their dads. Raven proves herself to be a capable leader and a kind girl, she and Apple actually come to terms with each other and become good friends. The system that has been forced on the children means that they are judged because of who their parents were and what species they are. I think everyone can agree that this line of thinking is not fair.
The kids do some sneaking around the principal to do things they want to do, but these incidents are few and far between. Additionally in one movie, Dragon Games there is an instance that has been lauded as the first time two females have kissed in a cartoon. It was NOT a kiss, it was CPR. Apple White ate the poison apple and nearly died, one of her friends, Darling Charming, performs CPR to save her life. She risks her dignity to save her friend and apparently that was enough to reverse the spell. Ill advised in this climate? Oh, yeah. A girl to girl kiss? No. Tellingly, this is never brought up again.
The dolls in this series are super cute, and have pretty modest clothes. Makeup can be a bit much, (Raven is especially notorious for this) but when offered the choice between Monster High, Bratz, and Ever After High? My money’s going to Ever After High every time.
All in all, Ever After High (the show) is ok. There are some times where the characters do the wrong things, but compared to the trainwreck that passes for girl-themed entertainment today, Raven and and Co. are paragons of virtue! I recommend the dolls without reservation for girls 8 and up however.
Ten year old Nate is off bug-hunting with his best friends when he discovers a mysterious vending machine in the woods. Ok... so instead of a lamp post, they have a vending machine. Curious, Nate sticks in a coin and opens the pod that comes out. Inside the pod is a ghost-like spirit who introduces himself as a yo-kai, a creature of Japanese mythology, and gives his name: Whisper. Whisper is so grateful to be free he volunteers to be Nate’s butler and gives him the magical Yo-Kai Watch, a tool that allows him to see Yo-Kai.
Now, Yo-Kai are mischievous spirits, all the time causing trouble for humans and influencing their actions. None of them are really dangerous, and can be reasoned with. Unlike the other Japanese import Pokemon, the idea is to befriend the Yo-Kai, rather than fight them or make them fight. As Whisper and Nate go around befriending Yo-Kai and freeing people from their influence they find themselves in sticky situations and adventures beyond what Nate ever dreamed. Can he make all the Yo-Kai his friends?
Nate is an ordinary kid, whose biggest ambition in life was to find a cool bug to impress his crush Katie... given most girls’ aversion to bugs, maybe not the best idea. When he meets Whisper, he has a whole world thrust onto his shoulders. But Nate’s a good kid and takes it in stride. Whisper is incredibly loyal and a good friend to Nate, which helps other Yo-Kai see that Nate is trustworthy. The magical creatures also come to love Nate and defend him from all threats and help him if he needs it.
The Yo-Kai, in traditional mythology, are similar to fairies. They can be ghosts (Yo-Kai Hungramps, Jibanyan, and Manjimutt are examples of Yo-Kai who were once flesh and blood) but not all of them are. Some of them are even objects that gained sentience, due to a belief in Japan that objects over a certain age gain a spirit. That could get awkward. Can you imagine? “Honey, we can’t use the dining room set anymore. It’s sentient.”
Because of these factors, some of them have very sad backstories. For example, Jibanyan is the ghost of a cat who died saving his young mistress from an oncoming truck, and was rewarded for his devotion by being given magical power. (Some reward!)
Manjimutt opens up a whole new can of worms, in a different area than the spiritual aspects mentioned above. Manjimutt is… rather obsessed with women. Manjimutt was born when a low-level businessman was killed in a drunken accident at the same time as a dog, creating the “man faced dog” a boogeyman of Japanese folklore and one of the only Yo-Kai who can be seen without aid of the Yo-Kai Watch. Because of the state that Manjimutt finds himself in, (being killed when he was) he struggles to reinvent himself in different ways; afterlife crises, if you will. Many or most of his daydreams involve women and girls fawning over him in some way. He never succeeds and this only results in him getting thrown in jail. His antics are uncomfortable to watch and would be very hard to explain to kids in the Yo-Kai Watch target age group. When his segments are replaced by the adventures of the sweet and guileless Komasan, it’s a great relief.
Other issues involve Jibanyan’s obsession with the girl singing group Next Harmeowny, but this is likely leftover from his time with his mistress. Another incident involves Nate and his two best buddies trying to stay up and watch a naughty movie (and are interrupted by a Yo-Kai). More issues arise from the multiple episodes built around potty humor gags and potty humor themed Yo-Kai. Even Spongebob would blush at the shear volume of potty humor related gags in these episodes!
When all’s said, be very choosy about the Yo-Kai you befriend if you watch this show. Some of them are good friends, some of them just stink. While I do consider it a viable alternative to Pokemon, caution must be used when watching this show. This is definitely one that grown-ups will want to preview before letting kids see. Recommended, but with some cautions.
Hatori Chise feels worthless. Shuffled from relative to relative after her father left her and her mother committed suicide, Chise no longer cares if she lives or dies. Cheery. Willing to do anything for a real home, she sells herself as a slave in a magical marketplace. You see, Chise can see faeries and spirits and control them better than any other mage in the world, but this leaves her with a shortened lifespan. Seriously, how much more depressing could this get?
Rather than see her abused and left to die, a half-faerie mage named Elias rescues Chise. He takes her back to his home in England to be his apprentice, and perhaps someday… his bride. Wait, what?!
Elias’s intentions are pure, all he wishes is for human companionship. He is too much faerie to be human, and too human to be faerie, caught in the terrible twilight, he rescues a girl in the same spot in hopes of claiming some form of humanity. Under Elias’s protection, Chise dares to feel again, and finds herself surrounded by more friends than she could imagine.
Elias is the friend of the elemental creatures, and is kind and gentle, most of the time. He doesn’t quite get humans, (not uncommon with faeries in folklore) so Chise teaches him about empathy and other human virtues. Being formerly an Unseelie fae, Elias can’t process emotions as words, only sensations, he has to learn from Chise the names of what he feels. This is the main gist of the show, the reclamation and restoration of humanity. It tries, anyway...
Since this show is called “Ancient Magus’s Bride” and we are working with faeries and such, there is quite a bit of magic. Elias, Chise, and other mages are seen to be singing chants to the elements to make them do their bidding. Each mage also has at least one familiar, a faerie that helps them do their magic. In the context of this series, the familiars are there to help the mage amplify and control their magic, nothing more. So far, fortune telling has not come up. Necromancy has come up, and is viewed as disgusting and perverted, and something no honest mage would do.
Chise’s faerie is called Ruth, a black dog that can transform into a boy about Chise’s age. He’s a boy dog, but his name is Ruth… like Babe Ruth? Anyway, ln his former life, Ruth, then Ulysse, was the pet of a girl who looked something like Chise. When his girl is killed in a tragic accident, the faithful dog stays by her grave until he too passes. Just when thought it couldn’t get more depressing! Buddhist theology teaches that humans and creatures who do good are “upgraded” upon their death into something better as a reward for their good work. In this case from a normal, if very intelligent dog to a powerful faerie that can take human form. Part of the ceremony that binds Chise and Ruth involves cutting her palm. Also some of Ruth’s lines hark back to the biblical Book of Ruth.
Many characters have Biblical names, and certain aspects of the series are associated with Christianity. One of Elias’s friends is Father Simon, a priest charged with looking after him. Elias doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t mind so long as the church doesn’t bother him. He does favors for the Church in exchange for not having people checking in on him every day. That does not stop him from helping people that Simon sends his way, doling out gentle natural medicines. Chise also goes to Simon for help when she needs it.
The Queen of the Faeries, Tatiana refers dismissively to God and the Church (also not uncommon to unseelie faeries in folklore) and both she and King Oberon are morally ambiguous. Elias is put out by the Queen’s dismissal of Father Simon and the faeries’ general moral ambiguity, which is implied to be his reason for leaving Tir Na Nog. Tatiana says that the human world is toxic to the soul and that’s why humans age and die. (Theologically, can’t say she’s entirely wrong… sin is toxic.) The forest god Cernunnos and his pregnant bride show up in the Christmas-themed episode for about five seconds. There are also witches who try to get Chise to join their coven in exchange for saving her life.
There are some sexual content concerns. Tatiana’s dress is very open at the top, leaving very little to the imagination. This pattern is repeated with Cernunnos’s bride and a faerie named Leanan Sidhe (LEE-an-NAN SHEE). Leanan lives in the garden of an elderly man named Joel, but contrary to her type (vampire) she does not hurt him. After his death she never hurts another man again. In two episodes, Chise tends to a wounded and frightened Elias in his room. This appears to be entirely chaste, though Elias struggles not to eat Chise at one point. Chise also gives Elias a kiss on the cheek. In the first episode, Elias helps Chise get ready for a bath, and we later see her side and back, never anything more than that. Chise is humiliated, but Elias doesn’t understand her embarrassment. And this is all before they get married for real… when Chise is 16.
To his detriment, Elias shows himself to be jealous, possessive, and stalker-y at times, demanding to know where Chise is at all times. He claims it’s so he can protect her, but I have my doubts. Chise is more than capable of defending herself and Ruth does everything he can to protect her, and is often of more use than Elias. Elias does not respect Chise’s personal space, clearly not comprehending it makes her uncomfortable.
Blood is also on display, for instance if Chise uses too much magic it can cause her to vomit blood. There are also incidents of bloody violence, much of it involving Chise. Disturbing monsters and imagery abound, adding a gloss of horror to the this usually strictly urban fantasy genre anime. Recurring villain Cartaphilus (AKA the Wandering Jew) loses an arm, takes one from another man, and then tries to kill Chise. He uses parts from Ruth’s young mistress to create an undead monster. One of the minor characters, Alice used to be a drug addict, and defends herself from her former dealer. A faerie doctor fakes drowning Chise in order to heal her wounds. An Unseelie called Ashen Eye kidnaps Elias and a little boy and uses words to entrap foolish humans, including Chise. There is also the occasional swear word (strongest used is the P-word).
In all, Ancient Magus Bride is a beautiful, but confused mess, much like it’s hero. The show is has much truth and beauty, but it is spiritually confused. Much like Elias himself, it can’t escape its own web of confusion, therefore, my stamp of disapproval rests on this show. Ancient Magus’ Bride had lots of promise, but it embodies everything people criticize about Beauty and the Beast stories and fairy tales in general, not to mention it’s just plain depressing. Move over Phantom, Elias is going to give you a run for your money!
What I expected:
What I got:
"Excuse me?" Starlight jumped and looked up. There was a beautiful blonde doll in red standing in front of her. "My name is Apple White." "I'm Starlight Glimmer." "Why don't you go talk to the other ponies? They won't bite!" "I don't know if I should..." "Why don't you come have a bite to eat with me? We can have a girl-to-girl talk."
"And don't you think it's weird that our girl is... a grown up?" "Well, maybe a little, but we're here for a reason. We model for her clothes." "Clothes?" "Yes, our girl has a little business fixing dolls and toys and making clothes for us. See my cape? She made if for me. That's why she bought you!"
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Mondays and Fridays.