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Revenge / Literature

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  • The Stars My Destination is largely about the main character's quest for revenge on the Vorga, a ship which saw and ignored his distressed calls when he was stranded in a dead spaceship.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 novels are quite fond of revenge as a motive and a plot, which is hardly surprising, given the setting.
    • In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Malleus, Eisenhorn vows revenge on those responsible for the atrocity that cripples Ravenor. In Hereticus, it is invoked; Medea passionately desires revenge on the man who killed her father. In time, she realizes that this was displaced desire that she could have known her father, who died a month before her birth.
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Gaunt's Back Story includes his killing the general whose cowardly abandonment of the field of battle killed Gaunt's father and the men with him. Later, this general's son attacks Gaunt, for his father's death and the dishonor it brought on the family.
      • Revenge, and an inter-regimental feud, is also used to mask the real conflict of the novel.
    • In William King's Space Wolf novel Space Wolf, the Grimskulls sought revenge on the Thunderskulls who had captured their settlement, enslaving their women and children. They went off, licking their wounds, and were lucky enough to find another settlement which they could overrun, killing the men and enslaving the women and children, which they regard as a god rewarding their perseverance with a prize. They returned for Revenge on the Thunderskulls. When Ragnar Thunderskull and Strybjorn Grimskull are taken to become Space Wolves, their enmity continues. At one point, Ragnar is tempted with the prospect of killing Strybjorn; the Marines gravely observe that they have never had an aspirant come so close to failure without failing before. When Strybjorn saves his life in battle, and falls beneath an attack, Ragnar realizes his desire was wrong. He insists the others with them go on to Bring News Back, so he can tend Strybjorn's wounds and bring him out safely.
      • In Wolfblade, Ragnar is warned that foiling Cezare's plot means that he will seek revenge on him.
        "Let him," said Ragnar.
        "Spoken like a true son of Fenris," said Haeger with almost paternal fondness.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, at the end, Vaanes is convinced that Uriel's convincing him to join the attack on the fortress, which killed many of his band, was deeply wronging him, and so allows himself to be persuaded to join the forces of Chaos, for Revenge.
    • In Graham McNeill's Storm of Iron, Larana Utorian's suffering at the hands of the Chaos forces and desire for Revenge are what lets the daemon tempt her into allowing it in.
    • In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when hunting a traitor, Horus comes upon corpses still wearing the remnants of their Imperial uniforms. He wonders if they remained loyal and promises to avenge them. Later, when Horus is felled by his wounds, Loken is determined to avenge him on the forces responsible.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, the desire for Revenge after a massacre drives the bulk of the novel.
    • In James Swallow's Deus Sanguinius, after Rafen's duel with Arkio ends with his killing him, Mephiston urges him into the fight with the Chaos forces that had tainted him — he should avenge him. And in the end, the thwarted daemon plots revenge on Rafen.
    • In Chris Roberson's Blood Ravens novel Dawn Of War II, when Phaeton hears that the tyrannids have killed his mother, he declares he will kill them all; the Space Marine tells him to let them do the fighting for now, but perhaps he might be a Blood Raven one day, whereupon his younger brother is also eager to be one so he can fight.
    • In Steve Parker's Gunheads, Wulfe's Back Story includes an incident where a medic jumped to save him from a wound that would have killed him. A few days later, the medic was captured by orks and tortured to death. Wulfe thinks that he's still trying to avenge him.
    • In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, Zatori wants revenge on Jean-Robec for killing his master (partly because he should have been protecting his back), and Taloc wants revenge on Zatori for killing his father. A long-term undercurrent, since the Imperial Fists will stop them if they try, and they fear the punishment.
    • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, the title hunt is motivated by revenge.
  • Averted in A.J. Quinell's Snap Shot, where the revenge of the protagonist is only mentioned in a flashback, a few parragraphs long, and without details. After telling that he performed his revenge, the protagonist also admits it didn't make him feel any better nor helped him to overcome his psychological trauma.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book, Mowgli takes Revenge on the village for how they treated his adoptive parents. He persuades Hathi to help because of the revenge Hathi took on another village — that one involving killing men.
  • Moby-Dick has Captain Ahab who is a walking piece of revenge on a stick. Literally, he has a peg leg made from the jawbone of a whale. He really does not like that whale.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo is a defining example of revenge as plot. After his 'friends' conspire to have him sent to the Chateau d'If, Edmond Dantes trains himself into a badass and upon escaping dedicates his life to destroying them in as complete a way as possible. Unusually he actually gets a happy ending (though not without a few My God, What Have I Done? moments when he realizes just how far his plots actually went).
  • A driving force for Ax in Animorphs. In Andalite culture, the brother or son must avenge the victim's death, and Ax takes the vow to kill Visser Three for the death of Elfangor. Technically, that would have included Tobias, as Elfangor's son, as well, but it isn't mentioned as much by the time that's revealed.
  • Revenge tragedies were quite common in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, with perhaps the best known of such being Shakespeare's Hamlet, which has its title character seeking vengeance for his father against his uncle, who murdered him to take the throne. Seeing as how it's a tragedy, though, it doesn't exactly end well for the prince of Denmark.
    • Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy (1606) is this, to a T. The anti-hero's name, Vindice, means 'Revenge'. In fact, it can be seen as a parody of the entire genre (and Hamlet in particular), which was in its heyday when this was first performed.
  • Edgar Allan Poe wrote a few revenge stories:
    • In "Hop-Frog" a deformed dwarf jester burns the king and seven ministers to death at a masquerade for striking his beloved and splashing wine in her face.
    • In "The Cask of Amontillado", a man lures his friend into a cellar with the promise of fine wine, only to bury him alive, claiming revenge for vague injuries. Both people get away scot-free.
  • Revenge is the Hat of the Camorri in the Gentleman Bastard series. The Grey King's sole motivation is revenge against Capa Barsavi and the nobility of Camorr. Locke sets himself against the Grey King in order to avenge Nazca, Bug, and the Sanzas. And in the course of Locke's revenge, he pisses off the Bondsmagi...
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars, during the Gladiator Revolt, the women slaves in the stands start to take revenge.
    In all parts of the structure the female slaves were falling upon their masters with whatever weapon came first to hand. A dagger snatched from the harness of her mistress was waved aloft by some fair slave, its shimmering blade crimson with the lifeblood of its owner; swords plucked from the bodies of the dead about them; heavy ornaments which could be turned into bludgeons—such were the implements with which these fair women wreaked the long-pent vengeance which at best could but partially recompense them for the unspeakable cruelties and indignities which their black masters had heaped upon them. And those who could find no other weapons used their strong fingers and their gleaming teeth.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Thud!, the Summoning Dark is "an invisible and very powerful quasidemonic thing of pure vengeance."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A Lannister always pays his debts. So if you help a Lannister, you're sure to be recompensed for your trouble. But if you cross a Lannister, things might end differently. Such as, say, in a privy. With a crossbow. Even if you're the Head of the Lannisters.
    • Arguably the whole Westeros powderkeg was lit because when she was a girl, Catelyn Stark broke a little boy's heart... As in, she was betrothed to marry someone else, he challenged her betrothed, an older, larger, more experienced swordsman to a duel, and was defeated and scarred.
    • Red Wedding has enraged the North more than they were already when Ned Stark was beheaded. Now the Northern houses want revenge against the Freys and the Boltons for their treachery, and are willing to side with Stannis to take them down. Wyman Manderly looks too fat, foolish and cowardly to take vengeance for the death of one of his sons, but when his other son is returned to him he can put his plans into action, and is heavily implied to have murdered three of the Freys on the way to Ramsay Bolton's Wedding. He does bring three meat pies with him which he serves to the Freys and Boltons, and eats slices of each pie with relish.
    • The Tyrells have a serious murder-boner for the Martells after Oberyn Martell accidentally crippled Willas Tyrell (who, at the time, was far too young to have any business going up against the Red Viper) during a joust. The only person who seems to be perfectly OK with what happened is Willas, who re-invented himself as a scholar and has gone out of his way to show that he doesn't blame Oberyn.
  • In Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow, the hero learns that a band of men are hunting down those responsible for his father's death. At the end, he insists they refrain from killing one intended victim — who, he knows, did lure his father to the place of his death but was unaware that he would be killed.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In The Moonlight" Sergius is out to get his revenge as soon as he sees Conan.
    • Another Conan story, The Scarlet Citadel, had one of Tsotha's slaves try to kill an imprisoned King Conan for killing his brother back in his pirate days as "Amra the Lion." He is killed with one strike by Satha, the big fucking snake that Tsotha keeps down there, before he can actually go through with revenge.
  • Fenise's motive in Dragonfly Falling.
  • Andre-Louis' motive in Scaramouche.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo tells Smaug that it was for revenge that the dwarves had come to Lonely Mountain:
    Bilbo: Surely you realize that your success has made you some bitter enemies.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, von Horn tries to cover his tracks by telling Number Thirteen that he is a soulless creature, less than a beast, and that Professor Maxon made him such, and inciting him until he resolves to kill the professor.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Mae's motivation.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Freckles sneaked off from a man and his son who had abused him and stole his clothing, and confesses to wanting to meet them again before he dies.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, Geary contemplates rigging a wrecked ship to explode on the aliens' going on board, but rejects it as a sterile revenge.
  • Trapped on Draconica:
    • Kalak's chief motivation for the quest is to kill Gothon for razing his homeland.
    • Kazem has the same motivation: Gothon took everything from him so he wants the guy's head on a stick.
    • Daniar, by contrast, is in the same boat as they are but never considers revenge.
  • Galaxy of Fear: As an Alderaanian, Tash Arrandar was inclined to pacifism, to peaceably resolving grievances with people who thought in much the same ways. When her homeworld was destroyed, finding ways to hurt the Empire that had so badly hurt her started to look more appealing, especially in The Virus. She's 13 years old and never picks up weapons, so has to receive An Aesop about it rather than carve a swath of destruction or something.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Thieves, Thena pledges revenge for her dead eight "brothers" — the clones before her that her "father" murdered for a transplant. Nat also pledges to exterminate the Good Men for Max's death.
  • The Silmarillion: The Exiles (Noldorian Elves who left Valinor against the will of the Valar) as a whole are seeking revenge on Morgoth, but the House of Fëanor (especially it's progenitor) are the most desperate for it, and most willing to do whatever it takes. Fëanor spends his final days attempting to wreak unholy veangance on Morgoth and all his servants. He starts out with a Rousing Speech which summed up is "Morgoth killed my dad, your king, and stole the entire world's most precious gems. Let's not take this like pansies and go wreck his shit. As in all of it. Oh and anyone who tries to take those gems from me, or hide them in any way? You'll get the same." Being Fëanor, he has some issues working with people who try to get him to actually, you know think about what he is doing rather than just blindly rushing ahead. Which is what he does. Which is what kills him. While fighting all the Balrogs. At once. Alone.
    • Fëanor's sons are no slouches in the revenge department either, they commit one mass slaughter of elves with their father, and two without. They will betray and/or kill anyone who they think is trying to keep a Silmaril from them (this is what led to the Second Kinslaying). And this is barely scratching the surface of all the things they do/are willing to do. The entire family ends up dead except for Fëanor's estranged wife who stayed behind and one of his sons, Maglor, who ends up crossing Despair Event Horizon wandering the shores of Middle-Earth singing his sorrow and regret.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Moloch urges immediate and constant attack on Heaven; they can disturb God,
    Which if not Victory is yet Revenge.
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, when the Free Traders take Jern on board, they ask who had it in for his master, then shrug and dismiss it: if he wants revenge later, it's nothing to do with them.
  • Mael Duin of the medieval Irish romance The Voyage of Máel Dúin sets out to sea to find and kill the pirates that killed his father. When, years later, he finally has the opportunity to take revenge, he declines it.
  • This is the prime motivation for all of Opal Koboi's villainy in the Artemis Fowl books beginning with The Opal Deception, particularly against the protagonists Artemis, Holly and Foaly.
  • Valhalla opens with the murder of the main character's parents. She immediately kills their murderers, and spends some of the novel taking down the gang lord partially responsible.
  • Karl Edward Wagner in Kane uses this trope a lot.
    • In Darkness Weaves Eldritch Abomination spawn Efrel hires Kane to lead her armies on her former husband's capital in revenge for what he did to her when he found out she was cheating on him.
    • In "Cold Light" three of Lord Gaethaa's men, Jan, Bell and Sed tho'Dosso, join him on his crusade against Kane because they have their own personal score to settle.
    • In "Raven's Eyrie" Ionor will stop at nothing to get her revenge on Kane, who killed her family, kidnapped and raped her, she is even willing to sacrifice her daughter Klesst to the demon lord Tloluvin.
    • In "Reflections on the Winter of my Soul" a group of cultists tries to hunt Kane down for killing their leader Orted, whom Kane in turn also killed in revenge.
    • The whole plot of "Sing the Last Song of Valdese" revolves around Chaos Gods cultist Korjonos's scheme to get even with six men who mutilated him and killed his lover.
    • In The Dark Crusade Jarvo has a lot of reasons to get even with Kane - losing his good looks and getting scars on his face being just one.
  • In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber Amberites seem to perceive personal revenge as something acceptable or even desirable. Luke/Rinaldo gets away with killing Caine in revenge for killing his father Brand, even though the said father was a lunatic bent on destroying the universe. And Corwin spends a lot of time and energy planning revenge on his brother Eric, although ultimately he changes his mind.
  • Kelsier from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy decides to overthrow the virtually immortal and powerful Lord Ruler to avenge the death of his beloved wife Mare and his own suffering at the Pits of Hathsin.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Shadowthrone and Cotillion seek revenge on Empress Laseen for killing them and usurping the throne of the Malazan Empire they built. Though this might be a case of Early Installment Weirdness in Gardens of the Moon, since them getting killed was their stepping stone to ascend to godhood and their big revenge plan is not addressed again further down the line...
  • In Clark Ashton Smith's "The Dark Eidolon", a beggar boy once trampled by a Prince's horse returns to the capital city decades later as Namirrha, the most powerful and infamous sorcerer on the planet, to settle the score with the Prince — who has no idea of Namirrha's grudge. Even Namirrha's God of Evil warns him of the folly of the plan, and indeed, all of his magic only gets him Hoist by His Own Petard that much more brutally.
  • In River of Teeth, Houndstooth takes the job he is offered partly because it gives him a chance to take revenge upon Cal Hotchkiss for burning down his hippo ranch. It is eventually revealed that Cal did it on behalf of Travers, who wanted Houndstooths land and to get him back for refusing to introduce a more vicious strain to the feral hippos of the Harriet. Houndstooth is fairly consumed by his desire for revenge and wants to kill first Cal, then Travers. He does manage to see both of them dead by the end.