Follow TV Tropes

Following

Evil Is Not A Toy / Literature

Go To

Examples of Evil Is Not a Toy in literature.


  • In Glen Cook's The Black Company novels, the Lady was originally bound by the White Rose along with her husband, the Dominator, and their henchmen: the Ten Who Were Taken (nice name for a metal band, eh?). The Lady, the Dominator, and the Taken were also Sealed Evil in a Can, and had been released by a wizard named Bomanz who wanted to use the Lady's power.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Robert Weinberg's A Calculated Magic, the Big Bad is Nergal, described as the Babylonian god of disease and decay, who was summoned into the present by the character we meet as his Dragon, who had been trying to summon a demon. Nergal's first reaction was to grip the Dragon's wrist, leaving a set of fingerprint-like spots of pure disease potential, and warns that if the Dragon ever betrays him, that potential will become full-blown...
  • "Do not call up that which you cannot put down" was the advice given to a necromancer from H. P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". He didn't listen. More to the point, the title character's resurrection of said necromantic ancestor resulted in his own imprisonment and murder while the ancestor took over his life.
    • Also known as "Never summon anything bigger than your head". But size can be misleading.
  • In The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, the first introduced Soul Eater creates the demon bear of the first book by summoning a demon from the Otherworld and trapping it inside a bear's body. Since the demon was of the strongest type (an elemental), the bear breaks free and runs rampage across the Forest. Though the Soul Eater dies well after the bear is killed, one of his colleagues comments on how foolish such an endeavor was.
    Seshru: The mistake others made in the past was to overreach themselves. Our brother who is lost summoned an elemental and trapped it in a great bear. Of course he couldn't control it. It was a magnificent madness.
  • Advertisement:
  • C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: At the climax of The Last Battle, Rishda Tarkaan summons the evil god Tash into Narnia. (Oddly enough, he does this unintentionally: he doesn't even believe in Tash, but to support the imposter-Aslan, he claimed that Aslan and Tash are one and the same. Tash hears and decides to pay a visit.) The evil spirit immediately turns on its summoner; fortunately, Aslan (the real one) intervenes before the scene can get any uglier.
  • In Andy Remic's Clockwork Vampire Chronicles, General Graal and Kradek'ka have based their Evil Plan on the premise that with the Soul Gems, they can summon back and gain mastery over the Vampire Warlords. The "summon back" part worked reasonably well, at least.
  • In Codex Alera, the Vord are able to survive Book 2 because a conspiracy of Canim ritualists smuggled them into their home continent of Canea to aid their rebellion. They quickly learned that the Horde of Alien Locusts is not a toy, and that while the Vord Queens are smart enough to make alliances to buy themselves breathing room, their ultimate goal is to kill all other life forms, and that never changes. As soon as they judge themselves capable, they will betray their allies. The next time we see Sarl, the leader of the rebellion, he's desperately fleeing from the Vord with a massive refugee fleet.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian:
      Advertisement:
    • The God in the Bowl: Kallian opened a sealed bowl, intending to steal any valuables and claim burglary. He's found dead due to releasing what is apparently a friggin' naga from its prison.
    • In The Hour of the Dragon, a group of corrupt noblemen resurrect a dark wizard from ancient times with the purpose of dethroning Conan as king of Aquilonia. When he succeeds in this task, the conspirators think they can institute their own regime, but the wizard is revealed to be far greater in power and evil than the conspirators, even going as far as calling himself as "the true master of the western nations" and to their horror, they realize too late their folly.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Derk is required to summon a demon (and a God) as part of an elaborate play-adventure to entertain tourists from our world. It's not that he doesn't realize it's dangerous, but he's left with no other choice, and he hopes to get a demon small enough that he can control it. He doesn't.
    Derk: Why me?
    Tripos: Because you are more easily put aside than other wizards, of course.
    • Although as it turned out, Tripos, the Demon King he summoned, was more interested in recovering his enslaved mate from the Big Bad than wreaking havoc in the world. Tripos actually ends up being quite helpful, and they couldn't have freed the world from Chesney if Derk had not summoned him.
  • Randall Flagg of The Dark Tower goes through great lengths in order for Roland's (and the Crimson King's) son Mordred to be born. He is killed later for underestimating what he created.
  • Nakajima of Digital Devil Story learns this lesson very painfully after he summons the demon Loki to kill two of his classmates. After biding his time, Loki turns on Nakajima, and almost succeeds in killing him.
  • Discworld:
    • In Guards! Guards! Lupine Wonse, the Patrician's Evil Chancellor, summons an actual dragon for a carefully groomed hero to 'slay' so the hero can be installed as king, with himself as the brains behind the throne. He still got the position of being the aide of the king ... when the dragon roasted the faux hero and took the crown itself.
    • Also referenced in Eric:
      Any wizard bright enough to survive for five minutes was also bright enough to realise that if there was any power in demonology, then it lay with the demons. Using it for your own purposes would be like trying to beat mice to death with a rattlesnake.
    • Likewise, the wannabe witch girls in Lords and Ladies fooled around with elves, despite the old wives' warnings. Disaster ensued, because elves are Not Nice.
    • An interesting twist in Witches Abroad: Lilith's not-a-toy evil turned on her in the form of her own reflection. Definitely Karmic Death.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Storm Front: Victor Sells summons a demon to eat Dresden, not realizing that anyone who heard him name the demon could also control it, only to have Dresden release the demon from Sells' control. Sells doesn't live to regret his mistake.
    • Harry Dresden himself has a wakeup call about this in Fool Moon when he summons Chaunzaggoroth (with whom he's dealt before) for information. Chauncy does a pretty good job of acting like just another Punch-Clock Villain going through the motions so wizards will keep summoning him; it's only when that mask slips at just about the last second that Harry realizes that no, he really isn't.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Draco Malfoy learns this the hard way in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when he replaces his incarcerated father as a Death Eater, but soon finds himself in way over his head when the Big Bad orders him to perform an almost impossible task (assassinate Dumbledore) under penalty of his entire family being killed.
    • The entire family is hit with this lesson in the course of it — having willingly joined up with Voldemort in the first war, they now get a painful lesson in how expendable his servants (and their families) are to him.
    • In the same book, Harry himself learns mysterious pseudonyms are not toys either, no matter how helpful they've been in the past. He tries casting "Sectumsempra" on Malfoy, without knowing what it does, and is horrified to find out it vivisects the target.
    • In the next book, Harry discovers that Regulus Black, Sirius' Death Eater younger brother, also learned this lesson, much like Draco. Regulus died betraying Voldemort.
  • In R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale series and subsequent books, several people come to own the ancient and intelligent artifact known as Crenshinibon. While not technically evil, Crenshinibon definitely has its own agenda, and can manipulate even the most savvy leaders. The artifact is used to make crystalline towers of potent magic, and one owner who was determined to take down his tower ended up creating a second tower and was convinced it was his idea to do so. He is quite shocked when this is pointed out to him.
  • This is advice very necessary to anyone trying to control spirits in The Inheritance Cycle. While spirits aren't exactly evil, they are very alien, and if you call up spirits and can't control them, then they'll take you over and make you a Shade. This is how Durza, the main villain of the first book, came to be- an apprentice sorcerer summoned powerful spirits to avenge the murder of his master and lost control of them.
  • One of the Robin Jarvis books has a powerful warlock releasing a giant serpent from its magical sleep, believing that he can use his magic to control it. And he's right. When it awakens its will is weak enough that he takes control of it. Then he gets distracted. By the time he can pay attention again, it's properly awake, and obliterates him.
  • In Dutch author Tais Teng's book Klauwen van IJs (Icy Claws), three teenage girls interested in wiccan material who gain access to actual magic books unwisely summon the evil ice spirit Teinashu, who wants to cloak the entire world in Endless Winter.
  • In Charles Stross' The Laundry Files:
    • In The Atrocity Archives Nazis from an Alternate Universe have summoned an Eldritch Abomination to help them defeat the Allies, win the Second World War, carve Hitler's face into the Moon and generally help them rule the world and lord it all over all creation. Unfortunately, none of them considered the possibility that the Eldritch Abomination might decide that it was time to eat them after finishing off everything else. End result: the Nazis end up as dead as everyone else and that universe faces final entropic heat death several tens of billions of years early.
    • In The Fuller Memorandum, later in the series, the main character paraphrases the Lovecraft quote from above when some amateur cultists try to use him as the host for a summoned Eldritch Abomination — and screw it up very badly.
    • In The Jennifer Morgue Billington intends to fish an ancient continent-crushing war machine created by one of elder races from oceanic depths and repair it because its controlling intelligence mind screwed him into obedience when he tried to contact it.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Anyone who would attempt to use The One Ring against Sauron would learn very harshly that the evil corrupting it answered to one master and one master only. It's implied that certain immensely powerful individuals COULD use the ring against Sauron, but none of them do out of fear that the evil within it would twist them into Dark Lords just as terrible as he is. Even contemplating using it is risky.
    • Using a palantír is also fraught with danger of a related kind. The palantíri are not inherently evil, being created by the Elves: the trouble is that Sauron has one (specifically the one that was held in Minas Morgul nee Ithil), and anyone who tries to use one of the others is immediately confronted with his evil and overpowering mind. This is the downfall of Saruman and Denethor, but Aragorn is able to use his own authority to wrest control of the palantír from Sauron. The lesson is: don't mess with a phone connected to Sauron's as the only number on speed dial unless the party contract to the whole lot is in your family's name.
  • In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, evil priest Pryrates casts a massive spell to bring the undead Storm King back into the world, with the promise that he would be "first among men". He is, indeed, the first... to be killed. It doesn't help that he tries to pull a Starscream on the Storm King first.
  • In the Merry Gentry books, the Nazis attempted to forge an alliance with the Sidhe, to help in the fight against the Allies and Soviets. Things went pretty well at first, but of course, the Nazis weren't interested in sharing the planet with the inhuman fae and planned to throw them in the gas chambers and ovens once they'd won. The Sidhe found out about their allies' plan for them, and then the Nazis became a gruesome object lesson on why you should never cross The Fair Folk.
  • Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy: Inverted in The Reality Dysfunction. The souls of the dead are returning to possess the living, but they need permission to take control of a live person's body. No problem; they use their reality-warping powers to torture and terrorize the victim until the living soul goes catatonic and lets the dead soul in. Then one of them tries this with Quinn Dexter, who happens to be a Satanic cultist, a psychotic serial killer, and possibly the most evil person in the galaxy. Dexter has no trouble terrorizing his own possessor into submission, which leaves him in control of both his own body and his possessor's supernatural powers. The former possessor can only watch helplessly as Dexter becomes a malevolent demigod bent on enslaving humanity and turning the galaxy into a literal Hell.
  • In the Old Kingdom books:
    • The villain of Sabriel, Kerrigor, is released from his imprisonment beyond the fifth gate of death by some nameless necromancer who "Did not realize it would be in the nature of an exchange".
    • In Lirael/Abhorsen, it was inevitable that some upstart necromancer was going to try to tap into the power of the Lightning Trap. Anyone who actually managed it got recruited by the Destroyer to help bust him out of his can. Chlorr just ended up as another minion.
  • In the non-canon S.D. Perry Resident Evil novel Underworld, an anti-Umbrella command team get trapped in an Umbrella Weapons testing lab (which lacks a self-destruct.) When they finally escape, they discover a B.O.W. of extreme power frozen in cryostorage, they wake it up so that it can wipe out the facility for them. Averted. It works.
  • Septimus Heap: Merrin Meredith fetches the Two-Faced Ring and puts it on so that he can use its powers to kill his arch-enemy Septimus Heap. The ring proceeds to almost squash off his thumb.
  • In the backstory of The Seventh Tower, a woman named Kathilde and her brother wanted to depose Mercur, Emperor of the Chosen and take his place. So they released Sharrakor, Sealed Evil in a Can and ancient shapeshifting Evil Overlord, to help them out. Predictably, Sharrakor helped them overthrow Mercur, allowing Kathilde to become Empress and her brother her chief advisor, but in the end they were just walking rubberstamps for whatever Sharrakor wanted done.
  • In The Shattered World, The Leader of the Circle plots to release the spirit of the Necromancer from its tomb, convinced that the arch-sorcerer who'd shattered the planet centuries ago could be forced to put it back together. The novel's protagonists are smart enough to see this in the making, and rush to stop this scheme. The truth is an inversion of expectations. The revived ghost of the Necromancer lacks the power to reassemble the world, and turns out not to be evil after all; rather, he's the reason why anyone survived the Earth-Shattering Kaboom in the first place.
  • In the second book of The Silent War the plot kicks off with the Brotherhood of the Pit ambushing enemies on short notice. They perform a rushed demon summoning, get a far more powerful monster than they intended and immediately lose control of it. It goes berserk on the surrounding area, drawing the attention of the heroes.
  • The Space Trilogy: In Perelandra, Weston is convinced that God and Satan are merely different aspects of some all-powerful spiritual Force — one which has been teaching him some interesting things. In the midst of a particularly pompous speech, he calls the force into himself, whereupon his will is immediately subsumed by demons. His last words as himself are utterly terrified.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn went and fetched the insane clone (but his original was just as bad) Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth off the low-tech world he had been stuck on and ruling in order to get C'baoth to use his Battle Meditation and make Thrawn's forces that much more effective. In return, C'baoth wanted Force-Sensitives, specifically Leia's as-yet-unborn kids. C'baoth had delusions of grandeur, and poor Pellaeon kept telling his boss that having any plans involving someone so unstable was a very bad idea. Thrawn did have plans set up for the inevitable betrayal (up to and including growing a new clone as a replacement), at least, but that point where C'baoth took control of a Star Destroyer was... unnerving.
    • Jerec, in Galaxy of Fear, did not release Spore himself, but when it was semicontained and likely to spread only slowly he decided to strike a deal. He gave it his ship and crew in exchange for it saying that it would obey him — just saying, not even like Thrawn where there was some psychology and safeguards involved. Jerec himself could keep clear of it thanks to The Force.
  • In The Tamuli, God of Evil Cyrgon decides to summon Klael, a being of infinite power and malevolence, capable of crushing Gods like ants and eating Eldritch Abominations for breakfast, and tries to control said being and make it his minion. That's just asking for trouble. It didn't end well for Cyrgon, predictably enough.
  • In Terry Brooks' The Tangle Box, Horris Kew and Biggar release the Gorse from its prison, and it enslaves them with the intent to send them down the Box when they are no longer useful. In the end, it is Horris who saves the King.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
  • Defied in The Wardstone Chronicles; when confronted with the option of summoning the Fiend, many of the Witch Clans in Pendle are hostile to the idea precisely because of this trope, being well-aware the Devil will quickly become uncontrollable and cause more problem to them than he will solve. Many witches actually end up siding with the protagonists after the Devil is summoned anyway because of this.


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report