A major point of Path of the Traitors is that some of the villains in Legends of Windemere are not entirely evil. They have a chance at redemption and even some positive qualities. While not every villain is in this story, I’m going to run down the roster and point out the spark of good that is in them. Although, I won’t mention Trinity because she’s had several of her own posts.
This halfling warrior didn’t get nearly as much book time as I’d hoped, but I tried to make sure he always shined in his scenes. One way of doing this was giving him a sense of honor and manners. He’s rarely angry and insulting even to Yola, who is known for being highly irritating. Vile gives Kayn a fair fight when he debuted and tried to do the same with Sari until he was pushed too far. His spark of good is this sense of honor that hints he was a much better man in his younger days. It’s just that his desire for a challenge led him to the Baron’s services and he sacrificed his noble side for the promise of glorious fights.
The thing about Yola is that she rarely means any harm. This doesn’t make her a good person because she still hurts people. Even innocent evil is still evil, but it is hard to call it evil when she’s still learning the difference between right and wrong. Remember this is a primordial being, so those things can get a little confusing for her. Another sign that she isn’t totally evil is that she will fix her mistakes if they’re pointed out. For example, she put everything back to normal after she caused a major upheaval in The Merchant of Nevra Coil. Yola also has no problem apologizing, which is something you don’t see a lot of villains do.
The Hellfire Elf
Being a demon, you expect nothing good from this character. Yet, he’s shown a sense of honor and fairness when it comes to Luke. There are a few times when his actions even help the one he’s called his rival. It’s because demons have a design ‘flaw’. When they are pulled from the Chaos Void, they are truly evil and obey their masters as long as they aren’t the stronger being. As time goes on, they will gain emotions and thoughts that are oddly mortal. For this Hellfire Elf, it’s the sense of being thrilled with fighting a strong opponent. It’s no longer about the orders and job, but just having fun and he doesn’t even care if he wins. Will this remain now that he’s in the Chaos Void again? You never know.
What to say about this Gnomish inventor? Well, people might not know about him because he rarely leaves Shayd. Most of his scenes are in the prologue or when the other villains are passing through. Because of this, Nyder became the Baron’s confidant and developed the ability to speak openly without fear of reprisals. Instead of being the sniveling manipulator like so many other evil advisers, he shows true concern for his master. He tries to steer him away from self-destructive actions and mentions when he thinks the risks are too high. By the end of the series, I’ve found that Nyder really is a friend instead of a lackey for the Baron. They’re still trying to rule the world though, but it shows there’s respect and friendship there.
The original main villain of the series, who might look rather weak by this point. He was never the best planner, necrocaster, or much else. You have to wonder why he was kept around and given important missions. It comes down to one really important aspect of the Lich that he actually shares with Luke Callindor. Good old Tyler never gives up even if he has to make a new body. More so than the other villains, he has an incredible amount of faith in his master. This doesn’t stop the Baron from turning his back on him and letting him die when he failed too many times, so you have to wonder what the Lich thought at the very end. Still, you gotta give him credit for staying the course and believing in the cause. He’d be an interesting hero if that passion was directed to a nobler goal.
Baron Arthuru Kernaghan
It’s tough to put a positive spark in the major villain, especially when he’s supposed to be so evil that the gods and goddesses erased him from history. I think it’s this good point that makes him even more dangerous. The Baron has tortured, killed, and done nearly every horrible act in the back. (For some reason, I can’t see him as a rapist, so there’s one plus.) Even with all of the evil, he shows kindness when it strikes his fancy and this can draw people in. He won’t strike down an agent for one failure if they tried and are willing to improve for him. He acknowledges that not everyone is as powerful as him and his curse means not everything will go his way. So, mortals are not seen as expendable as they once were to him. Trinity has made him appreciate the chaos elves more and Nyder has softened his edges by caring about him. It’s not easy to see since he has limited scenes and I needed him to be the biggest baddie in the series, but he has moments of humanity.
Perhaps the biggest examples are Melanie and Raksha. For those that don’t know, Raksha is a kitten that Trinity gave to the Baron and he turned it into a monster. This was done to make sure it can survive on Shayd and in the Chaos Void. He needed someone to tend to Raksha, but the knife-tipped tails made the pet fairly dangerous. Around this time, a girl caught his attention. She was in a group of people that were taken to be used as food for his demons. The Baron took Melanie out of the pack and transformed her into a being of metal to play with Raksha. The pair can be found playing around several scenes and he shows glints of genuinely caring about them. It could be selfish though because the Baron has been around for so long that he might be struggling to retain some of his humanity. Still, it is an act of benevolence in some fashion.
Well . . . You see . . . He . . . Okay, there’s an exception to every rule. Stephen was and always will be the ultimate bastard in this series.