Top 5 Tuesday || Worst Rulers

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Sometimes, characters just aren’t fit to wear the crown.

Look, all of us have our opinions on authority figures in books. A few are good. A lot of them are bad. But today’s post, courtesy of Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm Blog, is all about the worst rulers. The nastiest of the lot. The cruelest.

Given the opportunity and a significant boost in my skills, I would fight every one of these rulers. Square up, folks. Let’s dance.

The Demon King from the Girls of Paper and Fire Series by Natasha Ngan

This one isn’t too hard to throw on the list. The Demon King is, bottom line, a rapist. He uses his power to abuse the Paper Girls brought to the palace, and there’s simply no debate that he is well and truly awful. I can’t wait to see him get the suffering that’s coming to him, because he deserves nothing less than an excruciating end.

Serafin Nihar from the Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard

Look. I’m already Team Vivia Should Lead Her People, but Serafin Nihar just makes it easier to be on that team. Vivia’s dad is a controlling jerk who will never bother to recognize her accomplishments. Leadership is all about glory for him, about recognition from the people, even for acts he isn’t responsible for.

I’ve done enough group projects to absolutely hate the people who take credit for their groupmates’ hard work, and Serafin is just the royal pain in the ass version of that.

Henrick II, Emperor of Cartorra from the Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard

There’s a running theme here. Not only does Susan Dennard put a lot of terrible rulers in her books so we crave to see them justly deposed, but also that I have exactly zero patience for creeps. Henrick II makes Safi his betrothed in Truthwitch namely as a way to control her incredibly powerful witchery, but there’s no denying he’s a gross old man preying on a really young woman who wants nothing to do with him. He uses his power as justification for seizing what he wants, and I hate him.

Hate is a strong word. I stand by it nonetheless.

The Shepherdess from the Eli Monpress Series by Rachel Aaron

Okay, though I didn’t list her first, the Shepherdess may truly be one of the worst rulers I’ve ever read about. She’s not a ruler precisely, but she does wield immense power over the world in a way that is nearly impossible to challenge. Worse, she is the embodiment of so many abuses of power, from emotional abuse to abuse of divinity and more. I have never abhorred a character more for their self-centered cruelty.

And I have never cheered more for a terrible ruler’s take down. Read this series, folks. Trust me.

Ximena/Catalina from Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

While Atoc may be a terrible person, I actually have to settle on Ximena and Catalina here. Technically, that’s two characters, but Ximena is Catalina’s decoy, and frequently does a terrible job at protecting her people and leading them with any degree of rationality or tact. On the other hand, Catalina, once she finally assumes her identity in the open, responds to challenges to her power not with questions and patience, reassessing the validity of the power she wields, but with defensiveness. It’s her power, and it will not be stripped from her. How dare anyone suggest otherwise.

Folks, I’m not a fan of characters refusing to give up power when confronted with reasons they’re wrong. That’s exhausting, you know.


I suspect I’ve managed to skim over a few even worse rulers, but what can I say? I like T5T posting with the first things that come to mind. It’s cathartic, especially when we’re talking worst rulers.

Who are your least favorite rulers, though? Have I made any glaring omissions to the “would like to fight for their poor leadership decisions” pile? Let’s chat!

7 thoughts on “Top 5 Tuesday || Worst Rulers

    1. Hey, I think that means I’m on top of pointing out the worst of them! And thank Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm Blog for the idea. She runs the Top 5 Tuesday meme and comes up with the prompts each month! 😁


      It’s seriously one of my favorites both for characterization and worldbuilding. Plus it’s a long series and it’s filling that hole in my heart that trilogies and smaller just can’t quite fill!

      1. Yes… but… it’s not finished yet, right?! I can’t deal with cliffhangers. I don’t even know why I started Aurora Rising. I’m such an idiot…

        1. Oh nooooo, that’s a fair reason. But also? It’s still really, really amazing, and it’ll probably be finished around 2022 (the next book is February 2021).

          And haha, it’s okay. Curiosity gets the best of us all, right?

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